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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 Athlon 64 X2 4800+ 2.4GHz
System bus1GHz HyperTransport
MotherboardAsus A8N32-SLI DeluxeAsus A8V DeluxeATI RD480 CrossFire reference board
BIOS revision08061018080012
North bridgenForce4 SLI X16K8T800 ProRadeon Xpress 200P CrossFire Edition
South bridgeVT8237SB450
Chipset driversSMBus driver 4.50Hyperion Pro 5.04aSMBus driver 5.10.1000.5
Memory size2GB (2 DIMMs)2GB (2 DIMMs)2GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory typeCrucial PC3200 DDR SDRAM at 400MHzCrucial PC3200 DDR SDRAM at 400MHzCrucial PC3200 DDR SDRAM at 400MHz
CAS latency (CL)2.52.52.5
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)333
RAS precharge (tRP)333
Cycle time (tRAS)888
Hard driveMaxtor DiamondMax 10 250GB SATA 150Maxtor DiamondMax 10 250GB SATA 150Maxtor DiamondMax 10 250GB SATA 150
AudioIntegrated nForce4/ALC850 with Realtek 5.10.0.5970 driversIntegrated VT8237/ALC850 with Realtek 5.10.0.5970 driversIntegrated SB450/ALC880 with Realtek 5.10.00.5188 drivers
Graphics GeForce 6800 GS 256MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 81.98 drivers
BFG Tech GeForce 7800 GS OC 256MB AGP
with ForceWare 81.98 drivers
Radeon X1800 XL 256MB PCI-E 
with Catalyst 8-203-3-060104a-029367E drivers
XFX GeForce 7800 GT 256MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 81.98 drivers
Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition 256MB AGP
with Catalyst 6.1 drivers 
Radeon X1800 XT 512MB PCI-E
with Catalyst 8-203-3-060104a-029367E drivers
MSI GeForce 7800 GTX 256MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 81.98 drivers
 Radeon X1900 XTX 512MB PCI-E
with Catalyst 8-203-3-060104a-029367E drivers
GeForce 7800 GTX 512 512MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 81.98 drivers
 Radeon X1900 CrossFire 512MB PCI-E
with Catalyst 8-203-3-060104a-029367E drivers
  All-in-Wonder X1900 256MB PCI-E
with Catalyst 8-203-3-060104a-029367E drivers
OSWindows XP Professional (32-bit)
OS updatesService Pack 2, DirectX 9.0c SDK update (December 2005)

Thanks to Crucial for providing us with memory for our testing. 2GB of RAM seems to be the new standard for most folks, and Crucial hooked us up with some of its 1GB DIMMs for testing. Although these particular modules are rated for CAS 3 at 400MHz, they ran perfectly for us at 2.5-3-3-8 with 2.85V.

All of our test systems were powered by OCZ PowerStream 520W power supply units. The PowerStream was one of our Editor's Choice winners in our last PSU round-up.

Unless otherwise specified, the image quality settings for both ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards were left at the control panel defaults.

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 for all tests.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

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