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EVGA nForce 4 SLI Mainboard Review - Page 12 of 13

GAME BENCHMARKS

For the gaming benchmarks all component and system settings remained at default values. Specific settings for resolution and application of AA and AF are identified in the tables below. The intent of the tests was to compare performance between the single card and SLI configurations and to achieve stability in all stress tests of the video cards and system components.

Recorded scores are in frames per second (FPS) and were the result of averaging the scores of a minimum of three runs through the particular benchmark at the indicated settings.

Doom3, HL2, and FarCry make up the benchmark suite for this review. The latest patches/versions were used. Quality settings set to maximum detail in all benchmarks. Resolutions were set in the benchmark and AA/AF settings applied by the NIVIDA control panel. Forceware 77.77 drivers were used in all benchmarks.

Game Benchmark Results



The 7800GTX provided good gameplay in Doom3 up to 1600x1200, 4xAA/8xAF, but struggled when pushed to 8XS/16AF. In actual gameplay I found 4xAA and 16xAF provided good overall gameplay. The 6800 GTs in SLI best setting was 1600x1200, no AA/AF, with playable frame rates found at 4xAA/8xAF. In actual gameplay 2xAA/8xAF, provided solid play.

HL2 provided a CPU bottleneck for the 7800GTX except when opened up to 1600x1200, 8XS/16xAF, where even though stressed put up good numbers averaging 72.9 FPS. A brief round of play in the game proved this setting would be acceptable. Again, the 6800 GTs were handicapped by the CPU bottleneck. The SLI proved also that the settings could be cranked to maximum and still get good smooth gameplay. Either single card 7800GTX or an SLI-configured setup would be a good choice for HL2 using this motherboard as the basis of a gaming system.

In game settings were set to 'maximum details' and maintained throughout all benchmark runs in FarCry. The 7800GTX makes use of the extra 80 MHz clock advantage and the 100 MHz in memory speed advantage does not hurt. Still, the SLI setup with the GTs running 350/1.0 did a commendable job in this benchmark staying even with the 7800GTX in all resolutions without AA or AF applied. Once AA and AF applications were set the tide turned in favor of the 7800GTX outperforming the SLI setup at around 10% at 1280x1024, 8xAA/16xAF, and about 19% at 1600x1200. 8XS/16AF put a strain on both setups and neither would be acceptable except for maybe the 7800GTX at 1280x1024.

OVERCLOCKING

Overclocking starts with the motherboard and its adjustment capabilities (tweaks). It takes quality components (both on-board and add-on), a good circuit design, board layout, and a good Bios to set these adjustments. Probably the best Bios for overclocking that I have seen to date is provided on the DFI series of motherboards. Though adjustments on those can be intimidating to the novice overclocker and can even make the most knowledgeable scratch their heads. The EVGA 133-K8-NF41-AX did not disappoint in the overclocking area. The Bios could be improved but provides some interesting possibilities for the overclocker as evident with the VDIMM selection ranging from 2.55V to 3.25V.

High front side bus (FSB) settings are highly desirable but can be at a cost to performance. Obtaining a high overclock does not necessarily translate into higher performance. Indeed, the highest performance setting that you may acquire with a given system will usually be at some clock setting less than the highest actual overclock settings obtainable.

For the memory settings I am open to experimentation of trying both loose and tight timings. I do avoid the DRAM 2T command rate and strictly go with 1T when I am looking for the highest overall performance possible. I am talking about the best overall performance achievable and not putting down the use of 2T command rate as it may offer the only course to system stability in a particular application. Of course, to get the highest possible it takes good high quality fast ram.

Of the ram I have available for this review I choose Patriot PC3200 XBL because of its low latency at 2-2-2-5, 1T, and the fact that I have used these particular two sticks of 512MB memories on at least five different motherboards. Performance of these memory modules have been consistent on DFI NF3, NF4, and Intel 775, Gigabyte NF3 and 4, and MSI KT800.

The first overclock goal was 220MHz with the default multiplier (11x) and was achieved with 2-2-2-5 timings, 225MHz was no-go as some instability became apparent. Loosening timings to 2-3-3-7 produced a very stable and high performing overclock at 225MHz up to 230MHz. The attempt at 250MHz was achieved but with loosening the timings even further to 3-4-4-8. Performance was good but still the 230MHz exhibited better overall results. Dropping the multiplier allowed for passing 265 MHz but due to time restraints this concluded my experimentation with overclocking this motherboard.



Next Page: Conclusion

Last Updated on August 23, 2005


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