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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. All graphics driver image quality settings were left at their defaults, with the exception that vertical refresh sync (vsync) was always disabled and geometry instancing was enabled on ATI cards.

Note that some of our graphics cards are fakes. Specifically, the Radeon X850 XT is actually a Radeon X850 XT PE card that's been underclocked, and the pair of GeForce 6800 GT cards in SLI is actually an underclocked pair of 6800 Ultras.

Our test systems were configured like so:

Processor Athlon 64 4000+ 2.4GHz Athlon 64 4000+ 2.4GHz Athlon 64 4000+ 2.4GHz
System bus1GHz HyperTransport1GHz HyperTransport1GHz HyperTransport
MotherboardAsus A8V DeluxeAsus A8N-SLINVIDIA reference
BIOS revision1008 beta 11001-009 beta 0094.70
North bridgeK8T800 PronForce4 UltranForce4 Ultra
South bridgeVT8237
Chipset driversHyperion 4.55ForceWare 6.31 betaForceWare 6.31 beta
Memory size1GB (2 DIMMs)1GB (2 DIMMs)1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory typeOCZ PC3200 EL DDR SDRAM at 400MHzOCZ PC3200 EL DDR SDRAM at 400MHzOCZ PC3200 EL DDR SDRAM at 400MHz
CAS latency (CL)222
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)222
RAS precharge (tRP)222
Cycle time (tRAS)555
Hard driveMaxtor MaXLine III 250GB SATA 150
AudioIntegrated VT8237/ALC850 with 3.66 driversIntegratedIntegrated
Graphics 1 GeForce 6800 128MB AGP 
with ForceWare 66.93 drivers
GeForce 6800 GT 256MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 66.93 drivers
GeForce 6600 GT 128MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 66.93 drivers
Graphics 2Radeon X800 Pro 256MB AGP
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
Dual GeForce 6800 GT 256MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 66.93 drivers
Radeon X700 XT 128MB PCI-E
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
Graphics 3Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition 256MB AGP
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 66.93 drivers
 Radeon X800 XT 256MB PCI-E
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
Graphics 4 Dual GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 66.93 drivers
 
Graphics 5 Radeon X850 XT 256MB PCI-E
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
 
Graphics 6 Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition 256MB PCI-E
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
 
Graphics 7 Radeon X800 XL 256MB PCI-E
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
 
OSMicrosoft Windows XP Professional
OS updatesService Pack 2, DirectX 9.0c

Thanks to OCZ 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, OCZ's RAM is definitely worth considering.

Also, all of our test systems were powered by OCZ PowerStream power supply units. The PowerStream was one of our Editor's Choice winners in our latest PSU round-up.

The test systems' Windows desktops were set at 1152x864 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

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