How We Tested
During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only variable was the motherboard being tested and the addition or removal of a “real” video card (Sapphire Radeon HD 3450).
- Motherboard BIOS: 05/22/2008
- Motherboard revision: 1.0
- CPU: AMD Athlon X2 4600+ (2.4 GHz, 1 MB L2 memory cache)
- Memory: 2 GB Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-8500C5D (DDR2-1066/PC2-8500 with 5-5-5-15 timings), configured at 800 MHz with 5-5-5-18 timings.
- Hard Disk Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 160 GB (ST3160815AS, SATA-300, 7,200 rpm, 8 MB buffer)
- Video Card: Sapphire HD 3450 256 MB, 64-bit memory interface (on some tests, see text)
- Video resolution: 1440×900 75 Hz
- Video Monitor: Samsung Syncmaster 932BW
- Power Supply: OCZ ProXStream 1000 W
- CPU Cooler: AMD stock cooler
- Optical Drive: LG GSA-H54N
- Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
- Service Pack 1
- NVIDIA nForce driver version (includes video driver): 18.11
- ATI motherboard/video driver version: Catalyst 8.6
- PCMark Vantage Professional 1.0.0
- 3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 + October 2007 Hotfix
- Call of Duty 4 – Patch 1.6
- Half-Life 2: Episode Two – Patch June 9th 2008 + HardwareOC Half-Life 2 Episode Two Benchmark Tool 126.96.36.199
- Quake 4 – Patch 1.4.2
- Unreal Tournament 3 – Patch 1.2 + HardwareOC UT3 Benchmark Tool 188.8.131.52
Some Information About our Methodology
Both motherboards included in our comparison were configured with 256 MB shared memory.
Since we were reviewing a low-end motherboard with on-board video, we were very interested in compar
ing its 3D video performance with the performance achieved by its main competitor and also with a very low-end video card, so we could have an idea of how slower on-board video is compared to a very inexpensive video card. We chose Sapphire Radeon HD 3450 with 256 MB and 64-bit memory interface because this is one of the cheapest video cards available today.
Also because we are talking about an entry-level system, we chose an entry-level CPU to go with the motherboard, an Athlon X2 4600+. This CPU doesn’t suffer from the problem some AMD CPUs have of not being able to access memories at their full speed.
Even though we had DDR2-1066 memories, we configured them as DDR2-800 units, for two reasons. First, entry-level PCs won’t use DDR2-1066 memories and, second, Athlon X2 can only access memories up to 800 MHz.
We tried to use 3DMark Vantage but this program couldn’t run even on its lowest configuration.
We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.