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Our testing methods
Today we'll be comparing the performance of EVGA's nForce 680i SLI-based 122-CK-NF68 motherboard to that of boards based on Intel's P965 and 975X Express chipsets, as well as Nvidia's nForce 570 SLI, 590 SLI, and nForce4 SLI X16 core logic.

Surprisingly, we couldn't get positional 3D audio to work with the Analog Devices drivers that ship with the P5N32-SLI Premium. The drivers available on Asus's web site don't provide 3D audio support, either. However, a set of AD1988B codec drivers on the driver CD for Asus's M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard worked flawlessly on the P5N32-SLI Premium. The boards use the same codec, so that's not entirely surprising. Asus and Nvidia are looking into the issue, but we've yet to hear back from them on it.

All tests were run at least twice, and their results were averaged, using the following test systems.

Processor Core 2 Duo E6700 2.67GHz
System bus 1066MHz (266MHz quad-pumped)
Motherboard Asus P5B Deluxe Wifi-AP Edition Asus P5W DH Deluxe Asus P5N32-SLI SE Deluxe Asus P5NSLI Asus P5N32-SLI Premium EVGA 122-CK-NF68
Bios revision 0505 0303 0801 0601 0401 P17
North bridge Intel P965 Intel 975X Nvidia nForce4 SLI X16 SPP Nvidia nForce 570 SLI SPP Nvidia nForce 590 SLI SPP Nvidia nForce 680i SLI SPP
South bridge Intel ICH8R Intel ICH7R Nvidia nForce SLI X16 MCP Nvidia nForce 570 SLI MCP Nvidia nForce 590 SLI MCP Nvidia nForce 680i SLI MCP
Chipset drivers Chipset 8.0.1.1002
AHCI 6.0.0.1022
Chipset 8.0.1.1002
AHCI 6.0.0.1022
ForceWare 6.86 ForceWare 8.22 ForceWare 9.53 ForceWare 9.53
Memory size 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair TWIN2X2048-8500C5 DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz
CAS latency (CL) 4 4 4 4 4 4
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 4 4 4 4 4 4
RAS precharge (tRP) 4 4 4 4 4 4
Cycle time (tRAS) 12 12 12 12 12 12
Audio codec Integrated ICH8R/AD1988B with 5.10.1.4530 drivers Integrated ICH7R/ALC882M with Realtek HD 1.41 drivers Integrated nForce4 SLI X16 MCP/ALC850 with Realtek 3.91 drivers Integrated nForce 570 SLI MCP/AD1986A with 5.10.1.4151 drivers Integrated nForce 590 SLI MCP/AD1988B with 5.10.1.4530 drivers Integrated nForce 680i SLI MCP/ALC885 with Realtek HD 1.47 drivers
Graphics GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB PCI-E with ForceWare 91.31 drivers
Hard drive Western Digital Caviar RE2 400GB
OS Windows XP Professional
OS updates Service Pack 2

Thanks to Corsair for providing us with memory for our testing. 2GB of RAM seems to be the new standard for most folks, and Corsair hooked us up with some of its 1GB DIMMs for testing.

Also, all of our test systems were powered by OCZ GameXStream 700W power supply units. Thanks to OCZ for providing these units for our use in testing.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems' Windows desktop was set at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests. Most of the 3D gaming tests used the Medium detail image quality settings, with the exception that the resolution was set to 640x480 in 32-bit color.

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.