Testbed and Methods
Two mainboard are going to participate in today’s testing: Soltek KT400A and ASUS A7N8X. The first mainboard features a VIA VT8235 South Bridge and an AC’97 VIA VT1616 codec. The second one is based on the nForce2 MCP-T with the integrated APU SoundStorm and an AC’97 Realtek ALC650 codec. Of course, the mainboards are based on different chipsets, and we cannot compare them directly. So, I tested an add-on Creative Audigy2 sound card to be a reference-point for our analysis. Here are the testbed configurations:
- ASUS A7N8X (nForce2 APU; ALC650) and Soltek KT400A (VIA VT8235; VIA VT1616) mainboards;
- Creative Audigy2 sound card;
- AMD Athlon XP 1800+ CPU;
- 256MB PC2700 Kingstone DDR SDRAM;
- ATI RADEON 9500 graphics card;
- Samsung SP0411N HDD (40GB);
- Creative Inspire 6700 speaker system;
- Windows XP Pro SP1.
Performance: Comanche 4 Demo
The Comanche4 Demo game test is quite hungry for system resources. It gives out very precise results (the second run produces just a one-tenth fps deviation). So, I ran the test with and without sound. The first test round reflects the overall system performance, while the second helps to evaluate the slowdown you receive when sound processing is enabled.
In the diagram below you can see how well the audio processors of the integrated sound subsystem and the standalone sound card work. The graph tells that NVIDIA’s APU and Creative Audigy2 are peers in terms of hardware power. The performance drop is negligible. Once again, the results were taken on ASUS A7N8X mainboard.
The lack of an audio processor in the VT8235 South Bridge resulted in overall system slowdown. This time, an add-on sound card with a fast DSP onboard is quicker than VIA’s solution (4 fps in Commanche4 Demo is quite a lot).