Around the time of the Athlon64 and Athlon64 FX launch on September 23rd, we were talking with Elite PC about evaluating a full-blown gaming system that they were planning to build around the Athlon64 FX. There were several delays due to Elite PC's desire to use a Dual Socket 940 board and the new ATI Radeon XT. There were some difficulties with their early Dual boards and they wanted everything to be right before sending us a review system. When the system was finally shipped to AnandTech, there were several miscues as well. We really expected the Elite PC Titan FX to be the first full-size system review at AnandTech, but events conspired to delay it for a while. We do think, however, that you will agree that this is a system worth waiting for.

Elite PC is a web-based reseller that maintains a storefront in Tempe, Arizona. You can see, configure, and order systems at their website at www.elitepc.com. The System we are evaluating is their top gaming system, the Titan FX, and you can see the available options and prices at the Titan FX page. Since Elite PC also maintains a 20-station LAN Center that is open 7 days a week for LAN Gaming, it is clear that they have a very good idea of what most gamers want in a gaming PC.

The Titan FX is built around the Dual Processor version of the MSI K8T Master motherboard. While Elite PC normally ships the system with one Athlon64 FX CPU, they wanted to give gamers the option for a future upgrade to Dual Opteron chips. In addition, the rest of the top-of-the-line features include 1GB of high-speed Registered DDR400 memory, SATA RAID 0 with 2 Western Digital Raptor 10,000RPM hard drives, ATI Radeon XT 256Mb, Sound Blaster Audigy 2 6.1, MSI TV@nywhere card with Remote Control, Sony DVD +/- burner, 16X DVD, USB Multi-flash reader, 120mm Case fan, blue case lighting, and Windows XP Professional, all wrapped in a silver and black Chenbro Xpider case with a 460-watt power supply and a 3-year onsite warranty.

UPDATE 12/01/2003: Elite PC has provided an update on Dual Processor usage. "The only AMD processors that can be run in DUAL mode are the 200 and 800 series Opteron processors. The motherboard in the Titan FX machine will run all 940 pin processors, however only the 200 and 800 series Opteron processors will run as Dual processors." AnandTech just tried to benchmark the Titan FX system with 2 FX51, and while the system worked, the boot screen only identified ONE CPU even though two were installed. Oddly, the few benchmarks we ran were higher than single CPU, but not at the levels we would expect with Dual Opteron chips. Elite PC recommends the 200 or 800 Opterons for Dual CPU operation.


We asked Elite PC to ship us the system without a monitor and speakers for our testing. Gamers often already have a monitor and speaker system, but they can also choose from a wide array of CRTs or flat panel monitors, and select whatever they prefer for speakers. All the peripherals are in black to complement the silver and black chassis. While this was written, the price for the Titan FX, exactly as reviewed is $2999.99. This is for the base tower, and does not include monitor, speakers, keyboard, or pointing device. It does include a 3-year Warranty with On-Site Service.

In keeping with the AnandTech policy regarding complete systems, we evaluated the Elite PC Titan FX as it is received. While we do make driver and minor OS adjustments to be consistent with other testing done at Anandtech, we test the actual system, video card, and hard drives as received. This gives readers results that truly reflect performance of the system. We compare results to other similar systems that we have tested, and also compare results to the best components (motherboards) we have tested that use similar components. This differs from our test procedures with barebone SFF systems. Small Form Factor systems are usually sold as basic barebones, and we use the same standardized components in their build to allow better performance and noise-level comparisons.

System Specifications


 System Specifications
   Elite PC Titan FX  Dell Dimension XPS
Expansion Bays (5.25"/3.5"/Hidden) 4/1/6 3/1/3
Front USB Ports 3 2
Rear USB Ports 2 6
Internal USB Ports 0 0
Front Firewire Ports 1 Standard 1 Standard
Rear Firewire Ports 1 Standard 1 Standard
On-Board Parallel Port 1 Rear 1 Rear
On-Board Game Port 1 Rear None
Modem Ports None 2 Rear
Video Ports ATI XT Analog/Digital/SVGA
MSI @nywhere TV card
Rear SVGA, Coax, 2 Mini Jacks
ATI XT Analog/Digital/SVGA
On-Board Serial Ports 2 Rear 2 Rear
Front Audio Jacks 2 — Headphone and Mic 2 — Headphone
Rear Audio Jacks 6 Mini on Audigy 2 6 Mini on Audigy 2
SPDIF One — Rear
Mini Out
One — Rear
Mini Out
Number of Fans (including CPU/chipset) 3 — 70mm CPU, 80mm intake, 120mm out 4
Power Supply 460W 460W

Elite PC Titan FX: Chenbro Xpider Chassis
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  • sprockkets - Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - link

    Adding, but how much of the system actually follows industry standards. Like why would I want a D/Hell with a stupid bios that is worse than features included even on uATX boards? Reply
  • sprockkets - Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - link

    The power supply is FSP, and unlike the stupid dell is not proprietary. FSP are known for making good PS. Like the ones with the 120mm fans inside them.

    Of course the p4 systems can be faster with the RAID setup but neverless impressive. You should compare not only the specs and scores.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - link

    Doop - While AMD has stated from the beginning that the FX would not be multi-processor capable, MANY reviews have speculated that the shipping FX chips did not, in fact, have the 2nd and 3rd HT links disabled. If links were not disabled, then the chips WOULD work in a dual-processor board. Manufacturers tell us many things, but we still prefer to find out for ourselves, because things often turn out not to be exactly what we have been told by manufacturers.

    Now that we have tested this for ourselves, the article has been corrected. We have also added the recommendations from Elite PC on multiple CPU selection to the review, and I have just received a written response from AMD. We have done our best to answer the question with hands-on testing in a timely manner, and post the information as soon as it is available.

    I also read many other sites, and I don't recall an actual attempt to run 2 FX51 chips being reported. The question has never been AMD's intention with FX, but there have been many questions as to whether the other two HT links were actually being disabled on FX chips. We can now say that on FX chips we have tested, Dual-Processor operation with FX chips did not work, and the Opteron 2 and higher series should be used for dual processors.
    Reply
  • Doop - Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - link

    tfranzese, not many people think the Athlon FX is dual capable. AMD has clearly stated that they are not. This article was clearly not up Anandtech's usually extremely high level.

    Now this is purely wild speculation on may part but it could be possible that you get higher yeilds of opteron cores if you accept some with not all the functioning hypertransport links.

    Just like Radeons with 4 instead of 8 pipelines.

    You could enable the hypertransport links but there is possibility that you've got a chip where the links needed for dual operation will never work.
    Reply
  • tfranzese - Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - link

    I don't think it's been clear, because I and others were under the assumption that they were not disabled in an effort to get them out asap. Might have just been engineering samples though, because these assumptions came from an article. Reply
  • Shinei - Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - link

    Uh, tfraneze, I'm pretty sure it's been clear since the start that the FX-51 has had and always will have two disabled HT links... Turning them on MIGHT be possible, but that depends on how much time and money you're willing to waste (since a mistake can cost you $800). Reply
  • Shinei - Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - link

    Uh, tfraneze, I'm pretty sure it's been clear since the start that the FX-51 has had and always will have two disabled HT links... Turning them on MIGHT be possible, but that depends on how much time and money you're willing to waste (since a mistake can cost you $800). Reply
  • tfranzese - Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - link

    Locutus, the board is a design that uses only one memory controller to cut down on traces. There's a recent article, I think from GamePC that compares it with an Extended ATX dual board with use of both memory controllers. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - link

    #31 - The board is located on the MSI site under 'server workstation' at http://www.msi.com.tw/program/products/server/svr/... As stated in the review the board is the VIA K8T800 chipset. Reply
  • Locutus4657 - Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - link

    I couldn't find this motherboard on the MSI web site. But to me it looks like this is a dual system using a via chipset? If so I didn't think this was possible... Or at the very least sane. Could some one confirm this? Reply

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