With the exception of SiSoft Sandra, all of our benchmarks have been engineered to give you numbers that you are likely to find useful when actually using the products we have evaluated in the real world.
We are also focusing a lot more of our time on evaluating the stability of the motherboards (and platforms) using a stress test designed to highlight any of the potential weaknesses that the product may have. That involves a gradually increasing amount of stress starting with Prime95 torture test on all cores and expanding to a looping 3DMark06. This is to ensure that all parts of the system are stressed simultaneously over a period of time.
We believe that the consumer is never likely to subject their platform to this level of stress and we are not expecting every product to complete an entire extended stress test. However, most poorly engineered products fail within the first couple of hours, or even minutes, allowing us to make a conscious decision on whether a motherboard (or platform) is worth your money, regardless of how well it performs in our benchmarks.
XFX nForce 780i SLI (Release P01 BIOS);
Inno3D nForce 680i SLI (P30 BIOS);
Abit IX38 Quad GT BIOS 11;
Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 2.67GHz
2GB DDR2 at 800MHz 3-3-3-9 Memory Timings
Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT (two used for SLI)
Nvidia Forceware 169.25 WHQL Vista 32-bit Drivers
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
Seagate 7200.9 250GB SATA Hard Drive
PC Power and Cooling 750W Silencer PSU
We were able to set the same memory timings on both nForce motherboards with OCZ FlexXLC 9200 and Kingston HyperX KHX96002K2/2G Memory at the faster 3-3-3-9-18 memory timings, however were limited to a 2T Command Rate. Both would boot with 1T set, but proved unstable in the OS. The Abit IX38-Quad GT was stable all the way down to 3-3-3-9-18tRC-4tWR-1T in comparison.
The Abit X38 board does not support SLI; hence there are no results for it in both real world testing and gaming performance. For CrossFire versus SLI performance results - consult our graphics articles instead.