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Our testing methods
As ever, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. Tests were run at least three times, and the results were averaged.

Our test systems were configured like so:

Processor Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz
Core 2 Extreme QX6800 2.93GHz
Core 2 Duo E6750 2.66GHz
Core 2 Extreme QX6850 3.00GHz
Dual Xeon X5365 3.00GHz Athlon 64 X2 5600+ 2.8GHz
Athlon 64 X2 6000+ 3.0GHz
Athlon 64 X2 6400+ 3.2GHz
Dual Athlon 64 FX-74 3.0GHz
Core 2 Extreme QX9650 3.00GHz
System bus 1066MHz (266MHz quad-pumped) 1333MHz (333MHz quad-pumped) 1333MHz (333MHz quad-pumped) 1GHz HyperTransport 1GHz HyperTransport
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-P35T-DQ6 Gigabyte GA-P35T-DQ6 Intel S5000VXN Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe Asus L1N64-SLI WS
BIOS revision F1 F1 S5000.86B.06.00.0076.
0409200070751
1201 0505
F4
North bridge P35 Express MCH P35 Express MCH 5000X MCH nForce 590 SLI SPP nForce 680a SLI
South bridge ICH9R ICH9R 6231 ESB ICH nForce 590 SLI MCP nForce 680a SLI
Chipset drivers INF Update 8.3.0.1013
Intel Matrix Storage Manager 7.5
INF Update 8.3.0.1013
Intel Matrix Storage Manager 7.5
INF Update 8.3.0.1013
Intel Matrix Storage Manager 7.5
ForceWare 15.01 ForceWare 15.01
Memory size 4GB (4 DIMMs) 4GB (4 DIMMs) 4GB (4 DIMMs) 4GB (4 DIMMs) 4GB (4 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair TWIN3X2048-1333C9DHX
DDR3 SDRAM
at 1066MHz
Corsair TWIN3X2048-1333C9DHX
DDR3 SDRAM
at 1333MHz
Samsung ECC DDR2-667
FB-DIMM at 667MHz
Corsair TWIN2X2048-8500
DDR2 SDRAM
at ~800MHz
Corsair TWIN2X2048-8500C5D
DDR2 SDRAM
at ~ 800MHz
CAS latency (CL) 8 8 5 4 4
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 8 9 5 4 4
RAS precharge (tRP) 8 9 5 4 4
Cycle time (tRAS) 20 24 15 18 18
Audio Integrated ICH9R/ALC889A
with Realtek 6.0.1.5449 drivers
Integrated ICH9R/ALC889A
with Realtek 6.0.1.5449 drivers
Integrated ICH9R/ALC260
with Realtek 6.0.1.5449 drivers
Integrated nForce 590 MCP/AD1988B
with Soundmax 6.10.2.6100 drivers
Integrated nForce 680a SLI/AD1988B
with Soundmax 6.10.2.6100 drivers
Hard drive WD Caviar SE16 320GB SATA
Graphics GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB PCIe with ForceWare 163.11 and 163.71 drivers
OS Windows Vista Ultimate x64 Edition
OS updates KB940105, KB929777 (nForce systems only), KB938194, KB938979

Please note that testing was conducted in two stages. Non-gaming apps and Supreme Commander were tested with Vista patches KB940105 and KB929777 (nForce systems only) and ForceWare 163.11 drivers. The other games were tested with the additional Vista patches KB938194 and KB938979 and ForceWare 163.71 drivers.

Thanks to Corsair for providing us with memory for our testing. Their products and support are far and away superior to generic, no-name memory.

Our primary test systems were powered by OCZ GameXStream 700W power supply units. The dual-socket Xeon and Quad FX systems were powered by PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 1KW-SR power supplies. Thanks to OCZ for providing these units for our use in testing.

Also, the folks at NCIXUS.com hooked us up with a nice deal on the WD Caviar SE16 drives used in our test rigs. NCIX now sells to U.S. customers, so check them out.

The test systems' Windows desktops were set at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The tests and methods we employ are usually publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.