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Our testing methods
Obsessive readers may note that the components used in this build differ slightly from those that Cyril uses in his case reviews. The table below shows the specifics of the hardware we'll be using for our test bed.

Processor AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (140W)
Processor cooler Thermaltake Frio (single fan in a pull configuration)
Motherboard MSI 790FX-GD70
Chipset AMD 790FX
Memory size 4GB (4 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair XMS3 at 1333MHz
Memory timings 9-9-9-24-2T
Audio Realtek ALC889
with default Windows drivers
Graphics XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5
with Catalyst 11.5 drivers
Hard drive Seagate NL35.2 500GB 7,200 RPM
Optical drive Asus DRW-1814
Power supply OCZ GameXStream 700W
OS Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

In an attempt to promote some consistency, the chosen parts for this system use roughly the same amount of power as Cyril's at full load. Using a Kill-a-watt P3 meter, I measured the following peak power utilization numbers (at the wall) to use as a reference.

System idle 146W
CPU load only 302W
GPU load only 280W
CPU & GPU loads 394W

Due to the similar energy usage, you can compare these test results to Cyril's with the requisite salt shaker in hand. To make things scientific, however, I'm maintaining a separate data set going forward, representing only the cases I've tested using these parts in the same environmental conditions. The components used may not be the newest kids on the block, but they have approximately the same power and thermal characteristics as today's high-end hardware.

Most of the tests and methods employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have any questions about our methods, hit up our forums to talk with us about them. Below is a list of the relevant software pieces used in this review.