General Application Performance

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The performance of the board was very good and usually slotted itself in between the Intel D975XBX2 and ASUS Striker Extreme in our benchmark scores. While not a great SuperPi or Folding@Home number crunching motherboard, we did find the application performance to be very good and consistently near the 975X based Intel motherboard, with 3D performance normally leading both boards as our game benchmarks will reveal shortly. Throughout testing we generally found the AMD RD600 chipset to be slightly faster than the NVIDIA 680i when operating at like settings. We changed the tCAS, tRCD, tRP, tRAS, and the command timing rates (RD600/680i) for each board but left the sub-timings at auto settings for our tests. Once we optimized the sub-timings on both boards, the results improved about two percent when compared to the 975X.

However, neither chipset could match the stock performance of the Intel 975X board. In our Nero Recode test we consistently found the performance of the 680i to be lacking due to disk access issues. The conversion process would consistently slow down while the disk was being accessed. The quality of the video conversion was not affected but it appears under heavy CPU usage that disk performance suffers at this time. NVIDIA is aware of this issue and is working on a driver update currently. We will provide a full suite of benchmarks and include additional chipsets in our upcoming in-depth review.

Synthetic Graphics Performance

The 3DMark series of benchmarks developed and provided by Futuremark are among the most widely used tools for benchmark reporting and comparisons. Although the benchmarks are very useful for providing apple to apple comparisons across a broad array of GPU and CPU configurations they are not a substitute for actual application and gaming benchmarks. In this sense we consider the 3DMark benchmarks to be purely synthetic in nature but still very valuable for providing consistent measurements of performance.

General Graphics Performance

General Graphics Performance

In our 3DMark06 test, each platform score is so close that there is no real winner here. In the more memory and CPU sensitive 3DMark2001 benchmark we see the Intel 975X board pulling away from the 680i and RD600 boards due to its superior memory bandwidth at stock settings. Although our reported Sandra memory bandwidth scores along with Memtest86 testing consistently show the RD600 performing better than the 680i, our 3DMark2001 benchmark is not showing this advantage. While our first thought was to look at lower than expected video throughput performance our gaming scores indicate otherwise. In additional testing with higher memory speeds or optimized memory sub-timings we did find the 3DMark01 scores improved consistently, leading us to believe this board just does not perform as well as the others in this particular benchmark.

General System Performance

The PCMark05 benchmark developed and provided by Futuremark was designed for determining overall system performance for the typical home computing user. This tool provides both system and component level benchmarking results utilizing subsets of real world applications or programs. This benchmark is useful for providing comparative results across a broad array of Graphics subsystems, CPU, Hard Disk, and Memory configurations along with multithreading results. In this sense we consider the PCMark benchmark to be both synthetic and real world in nature while providing consistency in our benchmark results.

General System Performance

The ASUS 680i based board has a strong showing in this benchmark and finishes ahead of the other two offerings. All three boards actually score very close together and after reviewing the individual test results we noticed the 680i had very competitive disk benchmarks which is unusual considering our Nero Recode tests. The disk performance of the SB600 was slightly better than the ICH7R on the Intel board and both were about two percent faster on average than the 680i. However, the 680i performs best on the graphics subsystem tests with the RD600/975X splitting the three multitasking tests.

Testing and Overclocking Gaming Performance
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  • baronzemo78 - Monday, December 18, 2006 - link

    I would like to thank Gary for all the hard work getting this preview out so fast. I am still very excited about this board. I'm waiting for the R600 anyway, so hopefully by then the stability and BIOS options of the board will have improved. I'm very curious to see if the R600 in crossfire will need more then the x8 pcie bandwith. I certainly hope it doesn't as an overclocked RD600 with a R600 sounds awesome to me. Anyway thanks again for the preview and keep up the good work. Reply
  • Lord Evermore - Sunday, December 17, 2006 - link

    First page says SB600 offers multiple LAN ports, but SB600 has no LAN support, and the Marvell controllers are off the PCIe links from the northbridge.

    It seems odd that ATI didn't design the SB600 with at least a couple of extra PCIe lanes. Right off the bat, this mainboard has zero upgradeability for PCIe devices, if you set up the intended dual graphics and physics cards. No hot new PCIe sound cards, TV tuners, SCSI cards.

    SB600 automatically becomes a nice competitor to Intel's chipsets, due to the included PATA support, so there's no need for an add in PCI IDE controller. ATI/AMD's overview page though is a bit misleading, as they claim the built-in SATA controllers support "all RAID levels".

    You're blaming DFI's board layout for large heatsinks not fitting into smaller cases? They had to put the socket somewhere, if that's the issue, and no matter where board makers put things, reviewers ALWAYS seem to find some complaint because of odd components not fitting or cabling not being perfect. And you didn't even mention those 90 degree angled SATA ports. I haven't seen that before. Might those not be an issue if you don't use a cable with a clip, since the downward pull of the cables is now going longways instead of across the width of the connector? (Same thing could apply to any SATA or IDE ports aligned perpendicular to the expansion slots really, but most boards don't have them that way that I've seen, possibly for that very reason.) Yeah I know, it might get mentioned in a more in-depth review, but that stands out more to me than 0.1% of the available heatsinks not fitting in a tiny case.

    Why would the third PCIe slot need to be "jumpered for PCI Express card operation"?

    That Promise RAID looks like crap. The single drive SB600 performance almost beats it. Why no benchmarks with the SB600 RAID, or the Intel or Nvidia RAID? It would be nice to know if ATI can beat the roughly 50% performance gain of the others.

    Too bad this might be the only board ever made with this chipset, and that there won't be a more value-oriented line. I can do without the CrossFire support or the physics slot (although having the option of a non-graphics x8 or x2 slot with x16 physical support would be nice), and I can do with a reduction in the amount of tweaking options, or the add-in Promise controller, or dual LAN and the better audio solution. And the color scheme could be done without. I'm tempted by Core2Duo chips, but none of the other chipsets or boards really looks that great to me in terms of features.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, December 19, 2006 - link

    With the latest beta BIOS release -

    If you disable Promise and SB600 RAID you can use the second X16 slot (x8 electrical) for a RAID card, it will switch your first x16 slot from x16 to x8 operation.

    The physics slot (x2 electrical) works fine with our x1 Network or TV Tuner cards once you switch the jumper now. This is required to change the operation of the slot based upon the switching mechanism employed with the future Physics setup.

    I am not blaming DFI for large heatsinks not fitting in smaller cases. I was just pointing out the fact that it could be an issue for those that try it. I like the open space myself due to the offset but that creates another issue for some users. It is just information being provided.

    The SB600 can support LAN depending upon how they configure it. DFI that it would be best for dual Lan coming off the RD600 instead.

    The other RAID benchmarks are coming in our follow-up as stated in the article.

    The 90 degree angled SATA ports are being used in most of the new board designs now. Look at most of the 680i boards and you will find they are being used extensively now. We did not have any issues with the cables slipping out.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, December 18, 2006 - link

    quote:

    You're blaming DFI's board layout for large heatsinks not fitting into smaller cases? They had to put the socket somewhere, if that's the issue, and no matter where board makers put things, reviewers ALWAYS seem to find some complaint because of odd components not fitting or cabling not being perfect


    Thats why "we" just review the product, and not send them off to some salt mines, somewhere ;) This is after all, a review, everyone has an opinion, and if it doesn't bother you, simply disregard, and use common sense . . .
    Reply
  • Sh0ckwave - Sunday, December 17, 2006 - link

    Looks like a decentn my cramped case. board. I just need to know if my Infinity will fit on it i Reply
  • cornfedone - Sunday, December 17, 2006 - link

    From this initial review this mobo sure sounds temperamental and a shaky design if you see dramatic changes with BIOS settings and instability sometimes. The fact that it's performance changes radically with memory or CPU changes is not an indication of a stable mobo design.

    More BIOS adjustments does not necessarily make for a better mobo design if all the options do is make the mobo unstable or crash. This is a typical case of more is not better. The extra options are used as a rationale to jack the price and increase profits from consumers who lack the technical expertise to understand the motivation for such useless BIOS options.

    As far as the ATI/AMD labels go, I don't know why many in the online enthusiasts PC hardware segment make such a big deal out of AMD renaming the ATI products with AMD labels. Every company I know of that has bought another company, renames the products, so this ain't no big deal. If you don't like the product don't buy it. The name of the product has no impact on how it performs.
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, December 19, 2006 - link

    Also on the maning "issue".

    Most sites "big deal out of AMD renaming the ATI products" not because ot the renaming - no problem there.
    The thing is, one of the best chipsets/if not THE best for Intel comming form AMD, well, that IS something.

    Also remember, AMD chipset ? That has not been in the consumer market for LONG time. At the same note, most average people have no idea that X200=X3200IE=RD600 and is from the RD480line... to those (aned there are many of them!) this is a big deal as they do not have to dig the info themselves.

    Also, at least to me, seeing it makes me smile usually...
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, December 19, 2006 - link

    maning==naming Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, December 19, 2006 - link

    Well, at first You should understand what "temperamental when messing with BIOS" and temaperamental at "stock" means.

    When the board is "temperamental" when messing with BIOS, ti means YOU are messing with something you have no idea what it is or what it does!

    If you do not understand what overclocking really means, do NOT overclock at all.

    Overclocking is about running things "one the edge" ... and to find that "edge" you NEED to be able to push the board over it.
    To be able to do so is a dream of an overclocker as it enables him to get most performance from any set of components.

    I love those dumbass "overclockers" who assemble a mid-range machine, install some ClockGen-like utility, overclock it until it becomes unstable and consider themselves "overclockers".

    To topic:
    !!! I LOVE THE IDEA OF THOSE UNDERVOLTING OPTIONS !!!

    More boards should offer those, it is far more usefull and safe than overvolt jet most boards do not offer it... ;-(
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, December 19, 2006 - link

    sry for the typpos :) Reply

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