Dream Machine: Kentsfield + 8800GTX SLI + 680i SLI

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Final Thoughts and Conclusions

I’d like to thank all the companies that sent us out the hardware to build this test system.  If it wasn’t for ATI, Corsair, eVGA, Intel, NVIDIA, SilverStone, Western Digital and XFX this article wouldn’t have been possible as over $6,000 in hardware was needed to get the two test platforms up and running.  If I would have been a consumer that had to spend the $3900 for the original test system that we planned on using I would have been more than upset, but like NVIDIA’s engineers pointed out it could be our pre-production Kentsfield processor that Intel sent out causing all the issues.  Since we don’t have any spare retail QX6700 processors or $1300 burning a hole in our pockets we had to call it quits and switch over to the Intel X6800 dual-core processor to complete the benchmarks. 

The hardware

Those that read LR frequently might recall that I had this processor up to 3.93GHz on Intel 975 Express motherboards and for some reason we could not hit that on the eVGA 680i motherboard. I pumped up the voltage to 1.644V on the core, which is more than I wanted to run on water, but it was needed to run 3.66GHz on the processor with stability. Once again this is on an engineering sample processor from Intel, so maybe all of our issues are due to this.

The benchmark results although short and sweet paint a perfect picture of the future of the industry.  NVIDIA has taken the performance crown back from ATI and with the R600 still a ways out it is going to cause a number of companies to think for a bit. Intel really needs to work out a deal with NVIDIA to get SLI support back on their i975X Express chipsets, but I’m sure NVIDIA wouldn’t want that as they want to sell their own chipsets.  If you have a single NVIDIA graphics card using an NVIDIA SLI chipset will offer you an upgrade path to SLI, which is something no Intel chipset can offer. Right now Intel chipsets support CrossFire technology, which is now funny because that is now owned by AMD.  

It’s great seeing the graphics industry starting to get hot and heavy again.  With Intel looking into making their on graphics solutions and AMD announcing Fusion (integrates the central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU) at the silicon level) it means that NVIDIA is the stand alone player in the graphics industry and needing to make a move.  By launching the first DirectX 10 compliant graphics card and a fully unified architecture they have played their first hand of cards and to be honest it looks like they had a pretty damn good one.

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Once I get all the growing pains figured out here on the test bench I will bring you our full eVGA 680i motherboard review, but since the BIOS updates are coming daily and new 7x.xx drivers are due out any day I didn’t feel a review this week would mean much with all the updates coming out here shortly.  I also noticed that not many review sites used quad-core processors for their 680i motherboard reviews, so I wonder if more people might be having the problem I am or if they haven’t checked yet. 

Using the NVIDIA Forceware 96.97 drivers on the pair of XFX GeForce 8800 GTX’s was an awesome experience and I can’t wait for improved drivers to come out and improve performance even more. The test system would run the opening scene from the first game test in 3DMark06 at over 112FPS, which is something you got to see to believe! When it came to power consumption with out system overclocked and running gaming benchmarks we saw the system peak above 600W just once, so the 750W power supply requirement is no joke.

Something no one has mentioned today is the fact that AMD will shortly be launching their upcoming 4×4 platform, which is said to support four graphics cards. If this is the case that would mean AMD’s 4×4 platform could do run four G80’s if someone figured out how to make four 8800 GTX cards fit! The idea might not be that far fetched as BFG Technologies has announced a single slot 8800 GTX graphics card that is water cooled. (picture) It will be interesting to see if AMD’s 4×4 lives up to the ‘quad-father’ hype that it has been affectionately dubbed.

Hope you enjoyed the sneak peak at a pair of XFX GeForce 8800 GTX video cards in SLI!  If you enjoyed this article please be sure to support the site and DIGG IT.

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