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

Our test systems were configured like so:

 Athlon XPK8T800 Opteron 240nForce3 Opteron 240 Opteron 146XeonPentium 4
Processor Athlon XP 'Barton' 3200+ 2.2GHzAMD Opteron 240 1.4GHz
2 x AMD Opteron 240 1.4GHz
AMD Opteron 240 1.4GHzAMD Opteron 146 2.0GHz2 x Xeon 2.66GHz Pentium 4 3.2GHz
Front-side bus400MHz (200MHz DDR)HT 16-bit/800MHz downstream
HT 16-bit/800MHz upstream
HT 16-bit/600MHz downstream
HT 8-bit/600MHz upstream
HT 16-bit/600MHz downstream
HT 8-bit/600MHz upstream
533MHz (133MHz quad-pumped)800MHz (200MHz quad-pumped)
MotherboardAsus A7N8X Deluxe v2.0MSI 9130Asus SK8NAsus SK8NTyan Tiger i7505Abit IC7-G
North bridgenForce2 SPPK8T800nForce3 PronForce3 ProE7505 MCH82875P MCH
South bridgenForce2 MCP-TVT823782801DB ICH482801ER ICH5R
Chipset driversnForce Unified 2.454-in-1 v.4.49
AGP 4.42
AGP 3.34
ATA 3.44
Audio 5.10.0.5100
AGP 3.34
ATA 3.44
Audio 5.10.0.5100
INF Update 5.0.2
IAA 2.3.0.2160
Audio 5.10.0.5250
INF Update 5.0.1015
ATA 5.0.1007.0
Audio 5.10.0.5250
BIOS revision10051.0100210021.011.6
Memory size1GB (2 DIMMs)1GB (2 DIMMs)1GB (2 DIMMs)1GB (2 DIMMs)1GB (4 DIMMs)1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory typeCorsair TwinX XMS4000 DDR SDRAM at 400MHzInfineon PC2700 registered ECC DDR SDRAM at 333MHzInfineon PC2700 registered ECC DDR SDRAM at 333MHzInfineon PC3200 registered ECC DDR SDRAM at 400MHzCorsair TwinX XMS3200LL DDR SDRAM at 266MHzCorsair TwinX XMS4000 DDR SDRAM at 400MHz
Hard driveSeagate Barracuda V 120GB ATA/100Seagate Barracuda V 120GB SATA 150Seagate Barracuda V 120GB ATA/100Seagate Barracuda V 120GB ATA/100Seagate Barracuda V 120GB ATA/100Seagate Barracuda V 120GB SATA 150
AudionForce2 MCP/ALC650Creative SoundBlaster Live!nForce3 Pro/ALC650nForce3 Pro/ALC650ICH4/ALC650ICH5/ALC650
GraphicsGeForce FX 5900 Ultra
OSMicrosoft Windows XP Professional
OS updatesService Pack 1, DirectX 9.0b

All tests on the Pentium 4 and Xeon systems were run with Hyper-Threading enabled.

One note about sound. The MSI 9130's audio ports are located on a PCI slot plate that connects to the 9130 via a header. We first received the 9130 sans manual or audio connectors, so we tested it with a separate sound card. We used built-in audio solutions on the other platforms.

Thanks to Corsair for providing us with memory for our testing. If you're looking to tweak out your system to the max and maybe overclock it a little, Corsair's RAM is definitely worth considering.

The test systems' Windows desktops were set at 1152x864 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.