HD3870 Crossfire Scaling: P35 vs X38

Overall Score

Test system configuration:
To find out whether the P35 board has what it takes to support Crossfire effectively, two systems were compared which were identical except for the motherboard. In both systems a clean operating system installation was used with the latest chipset drivers.

Common components:

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 operating at 4.0 GHz (400 MHz FSB, 10x multiplier)
  • CPU cooler: D-Tek Fuzion waterblock
  • RAM: 2GB Crucial Ballistic Tracers PC2 6400 (DDR2-800), operating at 800 MHz, 4-4-4-12 timing
  • Video cards: Two Sapphire HD 3870, operating at 840 MHz core, 1281 MHz memory (DDR 2562 MHz) using the stock coolers
  • Hard drive: Western Digital 150 GB Raptor X
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows XP Professional with service pack 3
  • Video drivers: Catalyst 8.2

Motherboards:

The X38 representative is the Asus Maximus Formula SE, a well known X38 board using DDR2 RAM. This keeps it on a level playing field with the DDR2 using P35 representative as well. The Maximus Formula offers dual PCIe x16 slots, a 6-phase VRM, and a waterblock on the chipset from the factory. For the purposes of this test the chipset was water cooled using the factory block.

The P35 board used is Gigabyte’s GA-P35-DS3P rev 1.0. This board uses DDR2 RAM as well. Like the Maximus Formula the P35-DS3P uses a 6-phase VRM and provides two PCIe x16 slots, although the second one is electrically an x4 slot. The stock northbridge cooler has been replaced with a Swiftech MCW30 waterblock so the P35 will be kept as cool as the X38 for comparisons.

The tests:

  • 3DMark 2003
  • 3DMark 2006
  • Unreal Tournament 3 (retail version)
  • Call of Duty 4 (retail version with 1.4 patch)
  • Oblivion (retail version with Shivering Isles update)
  • Crysis (retail version with 1.1 patch)

Now that the test systems have been introduced, let’s move on to the test results.

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