Quake 4

There has always been a lot of debate in the community surrounding pure timedemo benchmarking. We have opted to try the NetTimeDemo option instead of our normal timedemo test for benchmarking Quake 4. This means our test results focus on the capability of each platform to render Quake 4 in a way that one could experience during game play, and testing has shown the performance results to be relatively consistent. NetTimeDemo will usually generate lower scores than our normal timedemo. Additionally, Quake 4 limits frame rates to 60 fps during gameplay whether or not VSync is enabled. We are looking at chipset performance rather than gaming performance, however, and the purpose of a benchmark is to show how two different systems compare in running the same task.

Our benchmark utilizes the IdNetDemo demo recording. This includes mainly outdoor areas with numerous players trying to kill each other. We tested the game with Ultra Quality settings (uncompressed normal maps), and we enabled all the advanced graphics options except for VSync. Id does a pretty good job of keeping frame rates consistent so in-game frame rates above 30 are acceptable for single player and 60 for multiplayer.

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Company of Heroes

Company of Heroes was recently released and is proving to be a very addictive RTS game around the office. The game is extremely GPU intensive and also requires a hefty CPU at times. The visuals and audio experience within the game will at times have you believing the game is based more on a First Person Shooter than a traditional Real Time Strategy game. We set all options to High and turn on all additional video options. We found the Ultra settings to be almost unplayable with a single card and barely playable in certain areas with SLI or CrossFire.

The game contains a built-in performance test that utilizes the game engine to generate several different action scenes along with a coffee argument as a sideline distraction before the war starts. We found the performance test gives a good indication of how well your system will perform throughout the game on average, though some of the in-game action sequences can be more demanding than the performance test. We generally found the game to be enjoyable with an average frame rate above 35fps.

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Our final two game tests show the exact same pattern as in the previous three game benchmarks with the results basically being the same between our C1 and C2 stepping motherboards. Either P965 MCH stepping on the ASUS P5B-E provides for a very enjoyable gaming experience especially when combined with a high-end GPU such as the MSI X1950XTX.

Current Thoughts

In testing to date we have not found any noticeable differences between the C1 and C2 stepping on our ASUS P5B-E motherboard samples. We did notice a very minimal improvement in the synthetic benchmarks but our application and game tests ended in a tie. The C1 stepping actually overclocked a little better than our C2 stepping but we cannot call a 1 FSB and 8MHz improvement in CPU clock a real advantage. Based upon some of the preliminary results of C2 based motherboards across the internet we expected a great deal more from our production level C2 boards, but to date those improvements cannot be found. We take that statement back for a moment: we did find a sizeable difference when using a one off engineering sample but a C1 stepping on that same board would have certainly produced the same results. As far as we are concerned at this time the only true improvements you will see with a C2 stepping will be based on the quality of the motherboard and BIOS it is utilizing.

Does this mean the P965 C2 stepping is a failure? Certainly not, but we believe the perceived improvements were way over-hyped -- or maybe the information provided was simply misunderstood? We do expect to see great results from this chipset in the near future but those results will occur due to improved motherboard and BIOS designs, not due to the minor changes made in the latest stepping.

As a matter of fact, the C2 stepping is a drop in replacement for the C1 and does not require a BIOS change if the register information is already programmed. Those tweaks to the Fast Memory Access feature were actually designed to improve the G965 graphics core performance and were a requirement before mass production of motherboards began using this chipset. As you will see in an upcoming G965 article, the C2 stepping is actually a hindrance in overclocking on these boards.

We are currently running additional tests with other C2 motherboards along with a wide variety of memory and CPU options on the ASUS P5B-E motherboard. At this time, we still do not see a measurable performance difference that would have us fueling the rumor mill or waiting to purchase a current motherboard with the revised C2 stepping. Maybe in time our opinion will change, but right now if you're looking for something new "just around the corner", Core 2 Quad is a lot more interesting than the P965 C1 vs. C2 stepping debate.

Gaming Performance
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  • crash6767 - Friday, January 26, 2007 - link

    ORDER PLACED 1/23/2007 9:10:24 PM FROM NEWEGG.COM.
    RECEIVED 1/26/2007 1:14 PM.


    P5B-E 1.02G


    still waiting on the power supply to arrive (purchased from another retailer) so no OC numbers yet. BUT 1.02G IS ALIVE AND KICKING!!!!#!#!@!#@!@

    *crossposted everywhere*
  • agigolo - Wednesday, October 11, 2006 - link

    Ok, so I've read this and the unfortunate part (unless I missed it and I don't think I did) but when these acronyms are used (like MCH) I wish they would be defined on the 1st useage... can someone be a good soul and explain MCH please???
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, October 11, 2006 - link

    MCH - Memory Controller Hub, aka Northbridge. :)
  • cornfedone - Sunday, October 8, 2006 - link

    We've seen time and time again in the past few years where rushed out the door mobos are over-hyped and in fact don't perform as advertised. Many don't even run industry standard memory without problems which is a disgrace. These boards are way over priced and sought by naive consumers after they read the glowing online reviews that fail to mention the many defects in these products.

    Once the motherboard problems start to get online exposure the mobo makers move to the next model chipset and rave how it's so much better than the previous model. Naturally the mobo companies don't fix the problems with the previous products they shipped and in many cases refuse to even acknowledge the defects that become confirmed by tens of thousands of duped customers. Instead the mobo companies whip out the next trick of the week half baked mobo and make sure that hardware review sites get "special" versions for testing so the reviews are always positive despite the production board defects that exist. Unless a reviewer is buying the retail mobo from a retail outlet, they ain't necessarily getting the same mobo as all other consumers.

    You gotta wonder if the gullible fanboys will ever wake up to this scam or if they will keep paying through the nose for defective, over priced mobos. As long as sheep keep buying these dysfunctional mobos the manufacturers will keep shipping garbage. There is no incentive to deliver a properly functioning mobo if the sheep will buy half baked goods at twice the price they should sell for.

    The C1 / C2 chipset deal is just another example of hype yet people will believe the C2 will provide a 20% performance increase because they are so gullible. One accurate scientific test is worth much more than a thousand online opinions. The fanboys need to buy a clue instead of pissing their money away on crappy mobos and over hyped chipsets.
  • Binkt - Thursday, October 5, 2006 - link

    Hi, nice sleuthing so far guys, thanks.

    One thing that concerns me is the NB temperature. My Gigabyte 965p-DS3 has a very high operating temperature and I was wondering if you had observed a difference between the steppings in this regard.

  • Gary Key - Thursday, October 5, 2006 - link


    There were no temperature differences between the two boards on the MCH. We highly recommend that you replace the paste on the MCH heatsink with AS5 and place a 40mm on it if you plan on overclocking 24/7. The same holds true with the DS3, on my personal system I just replaced the MCH heatsink with this one - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82...">SwiftTech.
  • jambaz - Thursday, October 5, 2006 - link

    This picture shows a CPU speed of 2.4 Ghz when really the speeds are 1.86, 3.6 and 2.4 Ghz. The "general" picture below has the correct way of showing it imho.

    By the way, it would be nice if Anandtech would try to show performance of a lowbudget e6300 paired with value ram instead of this RAM they use that cost 800$..

    Like the benchmarks we see now are 1:1 @ 515 Mhz = DDR1030, but what if you did 5:4 or 4:3 so ram would be less of an expense?
    Thanks for great articles!
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 5, 2006 - link

    I don't believe you can go lower than 1:1 with the 975X/P965 chipsets and Core 2 Duo. That was from the days of Pentium 4/D where you could run the FSB at a higher speed than the RAM. So if you want to overclock, either you pay a boatload of money on RAM, or you don't OC as far, or you get a more expensive CPU. Not great choices unfortunately.
  • lopri - Thursday, October 5, 2006 - link

    I can do memory frequency lower than FSB on P5W-DH. Of course it is not a recommended configuration.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 6, 2006 - link

    Must vary by motherboard/BIOS implementation. I know I've seen several boards where 1:1 (DDR2-533) is the lowest possible selection. Or maybe there was a DDR2-400 choice I missed? Meh - can't check now, since I don't have the systems anymore.

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