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With no less than 27 graphs to look through, analysing the performance difference is a tough old job. So if you fancy looking for yourself, just stick to what is relevant to your needs.
First up is 2D performance, which as stated in our Core 2 Duo article absolutely wipes the floor with the AM2 system. What we are looking for, is to see how it compares to our reference FX6800 system, which is set up almost identically. In Audio encoding/decoding it was almost identical, as was VirtualDub. However, both the Photoshop Elements and File Compression/Encryption tests where a few seconds behind. At first I thought that this might be the hard drive difference, as this will affect performance slightly. On closer inspection, I believe this difference to be because of the Virus checker installed on the Evesham, while our reference machine doesn't have one installed.
3D performance is where things are more interesting. The Conroe chip really lets the CrossFire setup run wild. Battlefield 2 showed a huge increase in performance, with anything from 20 to 40 frames per second improvement over the previous Evesham Axis Asteroid. However, when these frame rates are between 120 and 170 frames per second, you have to wonder what the point is. However, this does demonstrate performance headroom for future games.
Call of Duty 2 paints a similar picture, with 15 to 40 frames per second difference. However, this is mainly seen in 1,280 x 1,024 where even the FX62 is managing frame rates in the 80s. At 2,046 x 1,576 the difference between the two machines is almost indiscernible, both managing frame rates in the low 50s. This is where GPU limitation is holding the machine back.
In 2D, this is a no brainer, the X6800 Core 2 Extreme powered Solar Extreme is streets ahead of our reference FX62 system and every bit as good as our reference X6800 system.
With CrossFire supporting HDR and FSAA simultaneously, this is obviously a big plus point to wanting this setup over an SLI configuration. It is interesting to see how quickly GPU limitation sets in, even in a Multi-GPU configuration. Although some games showed as much 40 frames per second improvement, indicating good future protection, the GPU intensive Call of Duty 2 showed little difference between the two machines, indicating that future games may well be just as GPU limited. Naturally, Quake 4 was faster on the SLI rig, due to OpenGL performance being superior on nVidia hardware and the inbuilt support for UltraShadow II.
Without trying to sound like I'm trying to be quoted, just like the previously tested Evesham Axis Asteroid, this machine is currently the fastest machine we've tested for both 2D and 3D performance.
At £2,599, this is a lot of money to spend and is really let down by its unattractive case. This doesn't include a display, so this needs to be added in to your budgeting if you’re considering a purchase. But if you want power over looks, this may well be the machine for you.
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