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The 3D portion of testing uses our standard suite of benchmarks that you'll see in the rest of our graphics reviews. I ran Call of Duty 2, Counter Strike: Source, Quake 4, Battlefield 2 and 3DMark 06. Bar 3DMark06, these all run using our in-house pre-recorded timedemos in the most intense sections of each game I could find. Each setting is run three times and the average is taken, for reproducible and accurate results. I ran each game test at 1,280 x 1,024, 1,600 x 1,200, 1,920 x 1,440 and 2,048 x 1,536 each at 0x FSAA with trilinear filtering, 2x FSAA with 4x AF and 4x FSAA with 8x AF.
For the 2D portion, I did the same testing as I did for our Core 2 Duo article. I automated several every day tasks in both a single task and multi-tasking environment to simulate general usage as much as possible.
The first portion of testing uses Photoshop Elements, where a selection of 382 6-megapixel photographs totalling 610MB were passed through the multiple file processor. Photoshop performed all the quick fixes (Auto Levels, Auto Contrast, Auto Color, Sharpen), resized the image to 640 pixels wide while maintaining proportions, and then exported to a separate folder as a high quality JPEG.
The second portion of testing is video encoding using VirtualDub-MPEG. We took a 15 minute portion of "Doctor Who" recorded in MPEG2 using a DVB-T PC Card. Using the 1.2 Koepi compile of xVid which has SMP support, and the LAME MP3 codec, we did a two-pass encode to a target file size of 100MB. VirtualDub also de-interlaced and resized the video.
The third portion of testing has four sub-tests based around the popular file compression utility WinRar. The first test encodes our 282MB portion of "Doctor Who" with its highest quality compression and password encryption. This is then decompressed and decrypted. Finally, the same processes are repeated, but with our selection of 382 photographs.
The fourth section of the testing involves Audio encoding using the Lame stand alone MP3 encoder. We both compress and decompress the entire album "Music" by Madonna, using a high quality variable bit rate. This is done using both the Microsoft compiled and Intel compiled version of the codec to keep things fair when comparing platforms.
After defragementing the hard drive and rebooting, we go on to our multi-tasking testing which uses a combination of the above tests. The first test runs VirtualDub encoding in the background, with Photoshop Elements in the foreground. VirtualDub encoding takes about twice as long to complete as Photoshop Elements, so for the final half of the encode there is no other load on the system. This could skew results, so only the time taken to complete Photoshop is taken.
The second test is all of the audio compression/decompression tests run alongside the file compression/encryption - decompression/decryption. The quoted time is the total time taken to perform all eight tests.
The final test is Photoshop Elements with Audio compression/decompression running in the background. The time quoted is the total time taken to complete every test.