Audio Performance

For audio testing, we used Rightmark 3D Sound CPU utilization test.. This benchmark measures the overhead or CPU utilization required by a codec or hardware audio chip.

Audio Performance - Empty CPU

Audio Performance - 2D Audio

Audio Performance - 3D Audio

As you can see, none of the onboard audio solutions were quite as low in CPU utilization as the hardware Creative SoundBlaster Live! chip, which is used on the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum. However, ATI's High Definition Audio turned in an outstanding performance in all 3 utilization tests: Empty CPU, 2D, and 3D. Results for ATI HD Audio were in every case almost as good as the hardware solution.

It is important to point out that the ATI Crossfire AMD is the first Athlon 64 board that we have seen to deliver Azalia High Definition audio. Those who have been complaining about the poor AC'97 audio present on most AMD boards should be very pleased to find Azalia HD on the ATI. While NVIDIA recently introduced their first HD audio solution, it is only targeted at the high end of the micro ATX integrated graphics market. nForce4 SLI motherboards, which will compete directly with ATI Crossfire AMD, do not currently offer High Definition audio.

We did some brief subjective listening tests with the ATI Azalia HD through a Dolby amplifier and a 5.1 speaker setup. The ATI Azalia HD was in a completely different league from the other audio solutions that we have tested on Athlon 64. Noise was virtually non-existent, and the imaging and depth were superb when listening to demanding recordings. The same CD sounded thin, noisy, and artificial through a more common ALC850 fed to the same Dolby amp and 5.1 speakers. This is not to say that the Azalia HD is at the same level as the very best audio cards, but it is a lot closer than we think that many of you imagine.

It is worth noting that ATI has implemented Azalia HD on the Crossfire AMD with the Realtek ALC880 chipset. This makes it easy for manufacturers to add Dolby Digital Live with "D" versions of this chipset, which are pin-compatible. For more information on the HD Realtek ALC880, go to the Realtek web site.

Ethernet Performance Final Words


View All Comments

  • Starcraftfreak - Friday, September 30, 2005 - link

    So you are saying, the Board supports the dividers for DDR500 also on a Revision C core? I can remember when you published an article explaining it's a new feature of Revision E. Please clarify. Reply
  • SLI - Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - link

    Everything I have seen thus far on the ATI chipset points to the FSB dropping to DDR333 *IF* you populate all 4 DIMM slots (with DDR400 RAM) This was an issue at the CPU level with AMD Athalon on board memory controller (at first) but has been addressed with the newer steppings. VIA and Nvidia chipsets have support for DDR400 with all 4 slots populated. This is a very important aspect to me and it needs to be addressed. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - link

    It was addressed in tRAS and Memory Stress Tests in the review - p.5. We had no trouble with 4 dimms at DDR400, though we did have to drop to 2T with 4 dimms as we do on every other AMD chipset. This is more a function of the on-CPU memory controller. Reply
  • sxr7171 - Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - link

    I don't get it. We switched to SATA to get worse performance? SATA performed worse than IDE in every single benchmark. Reply
  • Scarceas - Tuesday, September 27, 2005 - link

    I'd like to know what happens when you try two 6800s in a crossfire motherboard...

    I'm also curious about what happens why you try crossfire graphics cards on an NF4 SLI motherboard...

    Early on I heard rumors that the motherboard implementation would be similar between the two and that mixing motherboard/graphics manufacturers *might* be possible...

    Now the hardware is showing up and no one has tried it?
  • vailr - Tuesday, September 27, 2005 - link

    Check: page 11 "Ethernet Performance" has format errors:">
    Copied & pasted:
    It will almost always be <em>much</em> lower than what we have measured.<br /> <br /> </span> </div> <div class="adcontainer"></div> <table border="0" width="100%"> <tr> <td align="right" colspan="2"> <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"> <tr> <td><strong><a href="showdoc.aspx?i=2542&amp;p=12" class="smalllink">Audio
  • tanekaha - Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - link

    Ethernet page has same problem as b4 here
    I`m using firefox latest beta and the browser considers the page done after this line.

    Ntttcpr - m 4,0,

    I guess u use a template for these reviews I had exactly the same prob with ( and commented similarly ) with I think the asrock dual article.
    I guess not many others are getting this prob but I`m glad 2 see some! else has a prob and not just me.
    What browser are u using ?
    Wesley have u tried 2 view the article with firefox beta ? or even firefox ?
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, September 29, 2005 - link

    Articles are created in a document engine by our Web Editor, from basic information layouts we send the Web Editor. The engine generates HTML code. We don't individually generate the code for articles. Any problems with viewing the pages should be emailed to our webmaster Reply
  • tanekaha - Thursday, September 29, 2005 - link

    Thanks for the replies gents
    I am not using any blockers or extentions .. apart from FF default pop up blocker.
    I will mail jason with the facts (as I see them)
    I`ll also send the info to the FF team
    THX again
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - link

    If you're using any extensions to block ads or other content, you might want to try disabling those. I've been using Firefox for over a year now, and I don't have any issues with the pages. (Some pages render improperly the first time and I need to hit refresh, but that's generally only on long pages, and it seems more of a FF bug than anything.) Reply

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