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Test notes
Although we used the results from our Socket AM3 Phenom II review, we did a little hedge trimming and left out several configurations. The Core 2 Extreme QX9775 "Skulltrail" config and Core 2 Extreme QX9770 were the first to go, since the QX9770 is discontinued now, and the QX9775 setup's high asking price would make our scatter plots harder to read. Besides, we really wouldn't recommend blowing three large on a pair of Core 2 processors today, since the Core i7 is available.

We also removed our DDR3-powered Phenom II X4 810 setup for consistency's sake. That shouldn't be particularly consequential, because the X4 810 performed almost identically in our real-world tests regardless of the memory type we used. If you'd like to see the DDR3 performance results anyway, feel free to check out our review.

As for our remaining setups, we carried over several little testing peculiarities: our Core 2 Quad Q8200 is actually an underclocked Q8300, the Phenom II X4 920 is an underclocked X4 940, and the Core 2 Quad Q9550 is an underclocked Core 2 Extreme QX9650. We expect the performance of these "simulated" CPUs to be identical to the real things, but we kept some of them out of our power consumption testing because we do anticipate power use would vary slightly from the actual products.

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
2.4 GHz
Core 2 Duo E8400
3.00 GHz
Core 2 Duo E8600
3.33 GHz
Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.33 GHz
Core 2 Quad Q9300 2.5 GHz
Core 2 Quad Q9400 2.66 GHz
Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83 GHz
Core i7-940 2.66 GHz
Core i7-940 2.93 GHz
Core i7-965
Extreme 3.2 GHz
Athlon 64 X2 6400+
3.2 GHz
Phenom X3 8750
2.4 GHz
Phenom II X4 920
2.8 GHz
Phenom II X4 940
3.0 GHz
Phenom X4 9950
Black 2.6 GHz
Phenom II X3 720
2.8 GHz
Phenom II X4 810
2.6 GHz
System bus 1066 MT/s
(266 MHz)
1333 MT/s
(333 MHz)
QPI 4.8 GT/s
(2.4 GHz)
QPI 6.4 GT/s
(3.2 GHz)
HT 2.0 GT/s
(1.0 GHz)
HT 3.6 GT/s (1.8 GHz) HT 3.6 GT/s (1.8 GHz)
HT 4.0 GT/s (2.0 GHz) HT 4.0 GT/s (2.0 GHz)
Motherboard Asus P5E3 Premium Asus P5E3 Premium Intel DX58SO Intel DX58SO Asus M3A79-T Deluxe Asus M3A79-T Deluxe MSI DKA790GX Platinum
BIOS revision 0605 0605 SOX5810J.86A.2260.
2008.0918.1758
SOX5810J.86A.2260.
2008.0918.1758
0403 0403 11/25/08
1.6 (1/21/09)
North bridge X48 Express MCH X48 Express MCH X58 IOH X58 IOH 790FX 790FX 790GX
South bridge ICH9R ICH9R ICH10R ICH10R SB750 SB750 SB750
Chipset drivers INF Update 9.0.0.1008
Matrix Storage Manager 8.5.0.1032
INF Update 9.0.0.1008
Matrix Storage Manager 8.5.0.1032
INF update 9.1.0.1007
Matrix Storage Manager 8.5.0.1032
INF update 9.1.0.1007
Matrix Storage Manager 8.5.0.1032
AHCI controller 3.1.1540.61 AHCI controller 3.1.1540.61 AHCI controller 3.1.1540.61
Memory size 4GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs) 6GB (3 DIMMs) 6GB (3 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair TW3X4G1800C8DF
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair TW3X4G1800C8DF
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair TWIN4X4096-8500C5DF
DDR2 SDRAM
Corsair TWIN4X4096-8500C5DF
DDR2 SDRAM
Corsair TWIN4X4096-8500C5DF
DDR2 SDRAM
Memory speed (Effective) 1066 MHz 1333 MHz 1066 MHz 1600 MHz 800 MHz 1066 MHz 1066 MHz
CAS latency (CL) 7 8 7 8 4 5 5
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 7 8 7 8 4 5 5
RAS precharge (tRP) 7 8 7 8 4 5 5
Cycle time (tRAS) 20 20 20 24 12 15 15
Command rate 2T 2T 2T 1T 2T 2T 2T
Audio Integrated ICH9R/AD1988B
with SoundMAX 6.10.2.6480 drivers
Integrated ICH9R/AD1988B
with SoundMAX 6.10.2.6480 drivers
Integrated ICH10R/ALC889
with Realtek 6.0.1.5704 drivers
Integrated ICH10R/ALC889
with Realtek 6.0.1.5704 drivers
Integrated SB750/AD2000B
with SoundMAX 6.10.2.6480 drivers
Integrated SB750/AD2000B
with SoundMAX 6.10.2.6480 drivers
Integrated
SB750/ALC888
with Realtek 6.0.1.5704 drivers
Hard drive WD Caviar SE16 320GB SATA
Graphics Radeon HD 4870 512MB PCIe with Catalyst 8.55.4-081009a-070794E-ATI drivers
OS Windows Vista Ultimate x64 Edition
OS updates Service Pack 1, DirectX redist update August 2008

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 single-socket test systems were powered by OCZ GameXStream 700W power supply units. The dual-socket system was powered by a PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 1KW-SR power supply. 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 1600x1200 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.