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  • MadAd - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    Overall another good review Gary, thanks a lot, just one thing

    Quote:
    "We will be reviewing additional sound card results in our next article."

    Could you please include at least one external USB sound card/processor? They are getting more and more available and my thinking is based on the observation that more and more mobo designs are making it hard to plug in PCI cards when you have double width x16 cards.

    SLId double width cards in the P5N32 (as well as the A8N32, not being tested here) would only leave one pci slot and since I have an ide raid array with at least a year or 2s life in it, that leaves me with no slot for a sound card therefore say, a USB Audigy NX would be useful. This would apply to other people with other cards such as mpeg, extra nics etc... two other boards in the review here (Asus + Epox) leave only 2 pci slots so its still a possibility to offload sound to the usb, provided the performance was not horrible.

    Thanks a lot
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Could you please include at least one external USB sound card/processor?


    I will see what I can do. The next article will have the X-FI, HDA Mystique 7.1, and a surprise audio solution. ;-)

    I completely agree about losing the slots and did not like Asus's AMD layout with both PCI slots in the middle. Due to SLI and CrossFire the available real estate on the board is shrinking rapidly and at this time we know of no PCI-e audio solutions on the horizon. It will be PCI or on-board for a while so proper slot layout or better audio solutions are a must.

    I have found through repeated testing (over 300 runs) of our BF2 benchmark that the largest impact to the sound results were with the aircraft. We would get frame stuttering with the ALC88x solutions when the aircraft came on screen during the benchmark. However, the sound quality was very good in all games and was quite a surprise after hearing the SB Z2S in comparison (not saying it is better but good enough for most people). I am continuing testing in this area along with headphones and 7.1 output now instead of 2,4, and 5.1 output.

    Reply
  • Missing Ghost - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    That's sad. I want pcie sound cards. Reply
  • yacoub - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    See, sound enabled can make a HUGE difference. Thanks for testing that, Gary. The obnoxious few around here that actually DON'T want you to test that because they think they know everything and "oh it doesn't make that much difference and it's just making more work for the reviewer" can go eat their feet. Here's damning proof it can and does make a huge difference in the performance even on this system with an 820D and 7800GTX OC! Reply
  • Houdani - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    Dude, no one argues that sound has no influence on benchmarks. Particularly the case of integrated sound. It makes sense to test the affect of sound when you're testing a motherboard which has on-board sound to see it's impact.

    HOWEVER, when you're reviewing a graphics card or processor, the sound should be removed from the equation entirely so as to test the product with the fewest amount of outside variables possible. After all, in those reviews we want to see the performance of the individual component, NOT the performance of the system as a whole.
    Reply
  • yacoub - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    You might, but that would be silly. Gamers care infinitely more how the new graphics card does in the real world - ie, playing games - and that would be with sound enabled considering most of us are not deaf. It's great that it's all uber and whatnot - cool, that's fine. Now also show us how it does in a real rig under real conditions. It's not asking much and it's a lot more useful for those of us trying to decide which GPU we should get. Reply
  • peldor - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    It's just not interesting to do so. Anyone serious enough about gaming to buy an expensive video card can spend <$50 for a sound card which puts the actual fps difference into the low single digits. In a video card review, all that's going to happen is that the scores drop by 2-4 fps across the board. That's not going to really change the relative performance. Reply
  • yacoub - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    Situation: You have to upgrade your GPU no matter what. You have a soundcard you are happy with. You want to know if CardA will provide enough performance gain for your system or if you should go with CardB instead. You cannot tell that with the current GPU tests done at Anandtech. Reply
  • Houdani - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    Well, see, that's where I go out and read sound card reviews -- to see how much system overhead they require. I pick and choose based on individual price/performance for all the components, which gives me an idea of how the completed system will perform.

    We clearly have different philosophies for how we select our components, and there's nothing wrong with that. I just happen to prefer the "filtered" performance benchmarks which isolate (as much as possible) the individual components because that provides me with the purest data for making my buying choices. It's then up to me to put all the pieces together in my head, knowing the individual contributions for each component based on reviews for each part.

    Today I get to enjoy the goodness of putting together a Shuttle SFF, X2 4400+, 7800GT, 2GB RAM, et al. Reading a review of the 7800GT on a DFI motherboard with an X-Fi soundcard isn't nearly as useful to me as reading a review of the vid card in an isolated environment. Why? Because my system isn't the same as the reviewer's benchmarking system. Therefore, the isolated scores of the video card works best for me. The same can be said for the HDD, memory, processor, optical drive, ...
    Reply
  • yacoub - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Well, see, that's where I go out and read sound card reviews -- to see how much system overhead they require. I pick and choose based on individual price/performance for all the components, which gives me an idea of how the completed system will perform.


    Funny, when I'm in the market for a new GPU, I don't go read soundcard reviews - I already have a soundcard! What I would want to know, though, is whether or not a -CardA- is going to give me enough performance boost over my current card or if I need to step up to a -CardB-. Your backwards approach is funny, and it supports the status quo, but it still isn't logical.
    Reply
  • Houdani - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    My approach is not backwards in the least. It's mainstream. And I do support the status quo because it's not broken. Your argument is that you want to see how sound affects gameplay ... period. For that, you should go read soundcard reviews.

    If you are arguing that CardB will suffer more than CardA due to the sound solution, then clearly I've missed something significant!
    Reply
  • yacoub - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Your argument is that you want to see how sound affects gameplay ... period

    No, not "period". At all. I want to see real world tests of GPUs so I can see how ALL expected impacts during gaming affect the latest and greatests GPUs, especially in light of conclusions in many reviews pointing out that "buy the best GPU you can afford" is the answer for gamers and GPUs are the most expensive piece of equipment in most cases since $200 CPUs can are enough for most cases.

    It's necessary to know if, in light of the real world impacts like sound processing, that X800XL that looks like it can push enough fps in the GPU-exclusive testing done on it, actually falls beneath a playable threshhold in your machine at the games/resolutions/graphical settings the review showed to be fine. A 15fps difference is clearly HUGE (especially when most cards reviewed are pushing 30-50fps in most tests) and can EASILY push a seemingly sufficient card into the slideshow/stuttering realm of "holy crap that review screwed me big time. I should have sacrificed the extra $50 to jump up to CardB". If anything these dick-waving reviews are HARMFUL to actual consumers concerned with upgrading their gaming rigs as opposed to techies simply interested in reading about the latest GPU, because many of them don't even mention that sound is off and why that can have a big impact on the actual gaming performance of the card. They might waste time and money on an upgrade because the review data was worthless compared to how it actually performed in their system.

    Food for thought.
    Reply
  • MadAd - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    This is a mobo review and OB sound is on mobos so it has a place being tested here, not on GFX cards.

    In the context of current reviews, you want a change to the established way of doing things so that some finite aspect of sound card performance can be included, thats your opinion and fair enough you can have it. However rather than argue that the (perfectly good for most) system should be changed, instead why dont you ask the AT reviewers for a comparitive system review including sound?

    If its worthwhile doing im sure one of the reviewers would agree, perhaps a few other readers would back you up if they think it would make a difference however I'm in the 'keep the status quo' camp so am biassed thinking its really not worth the time when it can be predicted from seperate reviews.
    Reply
  • yacoub - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    Here's a vague comparison: Measuring automobile horsepower at the crank instead of the wheels - it ignores drivetrain loss and isn't as accurate a measurement. This is why the industry recently mandated a revised rating system. Yes, most cars will now market a must lower (but more accurate) number for their horsepower rating.

    The GPU review industry needs to start doing the same thing. Give more accurate numbers so the consumer is better infomred and can actually use the reviews to make a solid purchase decision. After all, that's what reviews started out to do years ago - help consumers understand the features of new hardware AND how they actually performed playing the games people played, so people could decide what the best upgrade strategy would be for their system based on worthwhile data.
    Reply
  • TheInvincibleMustard - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    I saw that graph with min/max/average framerates! Woohoo! Convince others to implement that as well, especially in video card reviews (*cough*7800 GTX 512*cough*) :D

    It's a shame that the Foxconn only goes up to 1.9v, as everything else about the board seems really decent ... is there word from Foxconn that this might be possible to fix in a future BIOS upgrade, or is it a hardware-specific issue?

    -TIM
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    quote:

    It's a shame that the Foxconn only goes up to 1.9v, as everything else about the board seems really decent ... is there word from Foxconn that this might be possible to fix in a future BIOS upgrade, or is it a hardware-specific issue?


    The board is very solid, has an excellent price point, and we are hoping Foxconn will implement further changes in their bios in the near future. I will update the article if we receive a new one.
    Reply
  • Furen - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    You know you don't have to throw a long quote at the beginning of each article, right? I mean, it seems a bit excessive... like you're trying too hard to link the article to the grand scope of human life. We all appreciate an article's technical merits (this is a tech site, after all) but reading a piece of philosophy or literature at the heading kind of grows old after one or two times (dare I say, it reminds me of Omid at THG and his latin-infused writings so many years ago). I'm not complaining about the article, by the way, maybe I'm just being anal... Reply
  • Kensei - Friday, November 18, 2005 - link

    I'm way late to this party but here goes anyway. I couldn't disagree more. It makes for much more interesting reading and the linkages to literature are a very minor part of each article. As I've said before, Gary is an extremely talented writer and others should be learning from his example. I strongly feel that people with strong technical interests need to spend time in other pursuits to make them more well rounded persons. I could write a book on the people I've met who possess great technical knowledge but it does them little good because they lack the interpersonal and communication skills to convey it to any other carbon-based life form.

    So dust off that copy of Jane Austin's Pride & Predjudice in your sister's room and see how the other half lives..... OK.... just go see the movie.

    Kensei

    Reply
  • Gary Key - Saturday, November 19, 2005 - link

    quote:

    So dust off that copy of Jane Austin's Pride & Predjudice in your sister's room and see how the other half lives..... OK.... just go see the movie.


    I appreciate your comments and you made my evening. My sister was named after Elizabeth although she acts more like Mr. Darcy in real life. I might just pull out the 1996 BBC rendition (reminds me of my Rendition Verite based Reactor 3D card I found recently) and view it over the holidays. :) :) :) :)
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    quote:

    I'm not complaining about the article, by the way, maybe I'm just being anal...


    I appreciate the feedback. I flip flop at times about the quotes myself but figured it would provide a difference in the article besides starting out with same, "Intel introduces the 945P, a chipset that is very good, and is in three boards today....", syndrome. However, I can see your point where it can grow old after a few times also so maybe we should mix it up at various times. ;->
    Reply
  • Houdani - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    The other reviewers here at Anandtech offer their own style, thereby providing the "mix it up" factor. I personally don't think you need to adjust your style, as I happen to like the cultural infusion supplied by your literary quotes. Reply
  • Furen - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    Fair enough, I was just giving my personal opinion on the matter. Reply
  • bersl2 - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    What's wrong with being exposed to what the author believes to be wisdom? Surely you don't read these articles simply for the technical specifications; otherwise, you would read the spec sheet. Why, then, do you object to the author trying to relate an idea to you? Reply
  • Furen - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    I read the articles for their technical merits. Spec sheets do not show how the different components interact with one another nor can they show performance, stability, etc; and, most importantly of all, they're made by the manufacturer, who is hardly to be considered an unbiased source. The problem with throwing a strong idea in front of the reader before giving him article is that this idea becomes the filter through which the rest of the article is viewed. This is, of course, very effective if you are trying to persuade the user to reach the same conclusions as you, but it skews the reader's ability to analize the purely technical merits of the products. Reply
  • mbhame - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    What makes you so sure Conroe is the last P4? ;)
    quote:

    The Pentium 4 will never die!
    Long Live the Pentium 4!!!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    Conroe isn't a P4. It's the next generation architecture that Intel has not yet named - also referred to as the NGATIHNYN. :p Reply

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