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Memory performance
With Intel moving the memory controller into its Nehalem-based CPUs, motherboards and chipsets have less influence on memory performance. Still, this is a good place to start. I ran Stream with four threads on the P55 motherboards and eight on the X58. Because these systems were configured with tighter memory timings than the ones Scott used in his Lynnfield CPU review, the results aren't directly comparable.

The X58 board has a predictable edge in our memory bandwidth test, even with the Lynnfield systems running their DIMMs at a higher clock speed. However, the P55 platforms have a decisive advantage when we look at memory access latency. A third memory channel apparently doesn't help much in CPU-Z's latency test.

There's very little difference in memory performance between the three P55 boards, which is to be expected. Gigabyte appears to be pushing the CPU's onboard memory controller a little harder than the others, though.

Application performance
Chipsets and motherboards don't affect application performance as much as they used to. Still, we've used a small collection of application tests that simulate common tasks to highlight the differences between our P55 and X58 systems.

Interestingly, the P55 scores better in the first pass of our x264 encoding test. The X58 pulls ahead in round two, suggesting that the second pass may take better advantage of more than four cores. Or maybe it's just hungrier for memory bandwidth.

7-Zip can spin up eight threads on the Core i7, and that translates to a healthy lead for our X58 system. The scaling from four threads on P55 to eight on X58 isn't nearly linear, though.

Only a second separates the P55 and X58 systems in our panoramic stitch test. I suspect the X58 config's superior memory bandwidth is responsible for its slight edge.