Gigabyte GA-7VAXP Ultra - Page 7

..:: SiSoft SANDRA ::..

We’ll start off the days performance benchmarks with the usual SiSoft SANDRA. We’re using the latest release of SANDRA for these tests. In each of the benchmarks, we tested the nForce2 board with the memory in sync with the 266MHz FSB, and the GA-7VAXP Ultra with DDR400. We are testing it in this manner since the nForce2 chipset achieves highest performance when in sync with the FSB, while this is not true for the VIA KT400 chipset. Starting off with the arithmetic tests, we can see that the Leadtek board holds a slight advantage over the GA-7VAXP Ultra board in both integer and floating point performance. As we move on to the multimedia tests, we see that the story now changes with the GA-7VAXP Ultra holding a healthy lead over the Leadtek nForce2 motherboard. When we head back to the memory test however, the Leadtek nForce2 board once again takes the lead by a fair amount in both integer and floating performance. So far we are seeing a mixed bag of results; let’s see if any real differences show up in the SuperPi tests.

..:: SuperPI ::..

In the SuperPI tests, we run the program seven times at various intervals between 128,000 digits and 8 million digits. The numbers in the graph above show the time in seconds that it took the system to calculate pi to the set number of digits. In this benchmark, we can begin to see the performance gain from the nForce2 based system over the KT400 system. As we begin to escalate the number of digits in the calculation, we can see that although both systems do fare well, by the time we reach a calculation of 8 million digits, the nForce2 system holds a lead of 17 seconds. This is around a 2.5% lead for the nForce2 system. In an interesting note, the times posted by the GA-7VAXP Ultra in this test were identical to those we saw with the Leadtek nForce2 motherboard when it was running with DDR333 in asynchronous mode.

..:: Specviewperf 7.0 ::..

Another benchmark we’ve recently upgraded to here in the labs is SPECviewperf 7.0 We were previously using the more outdated 6.1.2, however we thought we’d punish these boards some more with 7.0. Anyway, in these tests we can see the results that we expected to see. Once again, the Leadtek nForce2 motherboard comes out on top in nearly all of the benchmarks with the exception of a single test. However, as we can also see from the benchmark results, the performance difference is sometimes large and sometimes small, although we are seeing around a 3.4% or so lead overall. For the benchmarking tests, we are seeing around a 5.4% increase in UGS01, a 9.4% increase in Proe01, a 3.2% increase in Light05, a 3.3 % increase in Dx07, a 3.3% loss in Drv08, and finally an increase of 3.5% in 3dsmax01.

..:: Cinebench 2000 ::..

The Cinebench 2000 tests show the boards coming in nearly equal in all tests, although the KT400 based GA-7VAXP Ultra does manage to take away the big W in two of the three tests. In the Cinebench test, a small margin can mean a good deal of performance difference in the end due to the fact it is indeed a very stressful test upon the system overall. Here we can see that the nForce2 system holds a lead of 1.2% in the OpenGL test, while the GA-7VAXP Ultra holds a lead of 4.4% in the Cinema4D test, and .025% in the Raytracing test. The performance gain of DualDDR over asynchronous buses has been showing up, although so far it has not been as large a gain as I had hoped to see. Let’s see how much of a gain we see in everyone’s three favorite benchmarks.

..:: FutureMark 3DMark2001SE ::..

There has been a good deal of controversy over the latest 3DMark03, so I have chosen to not yet adopt this benchmark into our tests. My main reasoning for this is that we currently do not have a DX9 capable graphics card to use for the most accurate results. Hence, we shall stick with 3DMark2001 SE for the time being. FutureMark 3DMark2001 SE shows us some very interesting results indeed. Here, we are seeing the KT400 based GA-7VAXP Ultra taking home the crown in each and every test. This is definitely something I did not expect to see happen, although when it comes to synthetic tests such as these, I really should never be surprised now should I? The performance lead of the KT400 motherboard here isn’t much to get excited over, maxing out at roughly 2.0%. Let’s see how these boards pit against each other in some real world benchmarks.

..:: Quake III Arena ::..

Well, the story that we just read with the FutureMark 3DMark2001SE tests has been debunked in the first real world tests. The nForce2 system running with synced buses once again holds a nice noticeable lead throughout the tests. The largest gain in performance can clearly be seen in the lower resolutions. In the lower resolutions, we see performance gains of 4.2% and 4.1% respectively. In the 1024 x 768 tests, we see a performance gain of 3.6% and 2.3% respectively, and in the final 1280 x 1024 tests, the performance gain dies down to 2.0% and .2% respectively. If you’re a low resolution gamer, enabling the nForce2 system is clearly the way to go, although when it comes to higher resolutions, there won’t be any noticeable change in the gaming experience.

..:: Unreal Tournament 2003 ::..

Last up for today we have the Unreal Tournament 2003 benchmark. We are using the built-in benchmarking utility with custom .ini files to make sure all settings are at high quality to allow for optimal benchmarking results for comparison. In these tests, although the performance difference between all boards is meager. In the 800 x 600 tests, we see a performance gain of 2.1% in the flyby, and 2.2% in the bot match. In the 1024 x 768 tests, we see performance gains of .93% in the flyby test, and 1.5% in the bot match. Lastly, in the 1280 x 960 tests, we see performance gains of 1.5% in the flyby, and .95% in the bot match. Overall, this test sums up what we have seen so far today, that being that the nForce2 motherboard is currently running around anywhere from 2-3% faster than is the GA-7VAXP Ultra depending on the benchmark.

Well, the nForce2 chipset has proven itself to be top in performance, albeit by a rather small amount when facing a KT400 based motherboard with the latest Hyperion drivers. From the benchmarks, we clan clearly ascertain that if you were to give one person and nForce2 system, and another a KT400 based system and let them try to guess which was which, odds are they wouldn’t be able to tell the two systems apart. Is the extra $$$ worth it for the minor performance gain that an nForce2 system will get you in the end? Well, that is a decision you’ll have to make on your own. If you’re utilizing the onboard graphics, then by all means you’ll want the nForce2 system for the option of DualDDR. If you’re a user who doesn’t utilize onboard graphics, well for the most part that extra bandwidth that is created goes to waste. Granted, I do still think the nForce2 chipset is the king of the hill right now, but when I’m seeing performance differences as small as were seen in today’s review, I tend to rethink things. Overall, I think that the Gigabyte GA-7VAXP Ultra would be a good choice when it comes to performance. Are there better boards out there? Sure, there are the nForce2 motherboards, and quite possibly a few other KT400 motherboards. The key to the GA-7VAXP Ultra doesn’t lie entirely in its performance though. Let’s get on to the conclusion to find out just what we thought of Gigabyte’s GA-7VAXP overall.