Articles: Mainboards
 

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Performance

Today, we have the following testbed:

  • Athlon XP 1700+ CPU;
  • 2x256MB Corsair XMS3200 C2 memory;
  • Seagate Barracuda ATA IV 40GB HDD;
  • ATI RADEON 9700 PRO graphics card;
  • Windows XP Professional SP1;
  • Chipset drivers: VIA Hyperion 4.47;
  • Graphics driver: ATI Catalyst 3.4.

You may consider it strange but I used a relatively slow processor. The Athlon XP 2700+ processor I usually use for benchmarking is a sample we have got after its official announcement. Maybe the sample nature of the chip caused the problem: some of the reviewed mainboards couldn’t tell the CPU temperature correctly and enabled the overheating protection system. As such systems are quite fast nowadays, I had the mainboard running for a second, no more. So, this is the reason I took Athlon XP 1700+, which I usually use for overclocking tests. However, this time I won’t overclock it as we are trying to measure the mainboard performance rather than the chipset performance, and will do our best to reveal any problems caused by BIOS, for instance.

 

AOpen

ABIT

EPoX

Gigabyte

Soltek

Business Winstone 2002, Score

25.8

25.8

26.4

26.1

26.6

Content Creation Winstone 2003, Score

27.6

27.6

28

27.9

28

3DMark2001 SE, Score

11223

11301

11496

11314

11486

3DMark03, Score

4592

4597

4602

4588

4608

3DMark03, CPU Score

373

375

381

376

379

PCMark2002, CPU Score

4389

4399

4429

4422

4428

PCMark2002, Memory Score

3837

3913

3914

3846

3995

UT2003, dm-antalus, 1024x768

123

124.3

126.1

123.8

124.8

UT2003, flyby-antalus, 1024x768

103.5

104.8

106.6

104.2

105.7

UT2003, dm-antalus, 640x480

43

43.46

44.03

43.38

44.06

UT2003, flyby-antalus, 640x480

124.22

124.03

126.08

124.08

125.81

RTCW, Checkpoint, 1024x768, High Quality

43.04

43.38

44.1

43.23

43.96

RTCW, Checkpoint, 640x480, Fastest

123.22

123.98

125.86

123.95

125.31

Well, as you see all the mainboards are running close to each other, which is actually no great wonder. However, there are two products we can definitely call the leaders: they are the boards from Soltek and Gigabyte. By the way, I tested the Gigabyte mainboard without turning on the Top Performance option, although it boosted the speed of the product considerably. Why so? Just look at the two next screenshots (top – Top Performance enabled, bottom – disabled).

You see that the Top Performance option boosts the FSB frequency and, accordingly, the CPU clock-rate, too. That’s why the Gigabyte mainboard would be a clear winner in this mode. Moreover, I may venture a supposition that the mainboard also reduces the chipset timings and makes some other useful things, but you cannot single them out from the frequency growth without the next benchmarking round. By the way, Gigabyte doesn’t mention this overclocking anywhere, so this looks like cheating in a way. However, this doesn’t mount up to the scandal we had with NVIDIA and 3DMark03.

Last thing I’d like to say is that all the mainboards showed similar performance level. The slight difference may well be eliminated by a new BIOS version.

 
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