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Looking at the numbers, 106.8fps in Doom 3 at 1,024 x 768 with 8x Anisotropic Filtering enabled is not to be sneezed at. But more impressively the test setup managed 100.2fps with the same filtering settings at 1,600 x 1,200 and enabling 4x Anti Aliasing dropped this to 72.4fps.
Moving on to Half-Life 2 I got over 90fps no matter what the settings were changed to at 1,024 x 768 – basically this indicates that the CPU is the limiting factor, with the graphics cards not being used to their full potential. Similarly at 1,600 x 1,200 there was little change in performance, although for some odd reason the results were slower using 4x FSAA than with 4x FSAA and 4x AF.
3DMark 03 is getting old now, so a score of 20,903 is high, but somewhat moot. That said, the 3DMark 05 score of 8463 is quite impressive. The PCMark 2004 scores are the only system level benchmarks that I managed to run due to the stability issues, but the memory score here is very healthy at 6380, beating the 925XE chipset by 110 points using the same CPU. I haven’t tested the new Intel 955X chipset yet so I can’t make a comparison here, but it seems like nVidia has created a very fast platform.
This is a product that’s quite hard to sum up - on one hand we have what looks to be the best performing chipset for Intel processors, while on the other hand the stability issues of the Gigabyte board were a letdown. To be fair though, this is often the case with pre-production motherboards and I would hope that the full retail products will have these issues ironed out.
Feature wise the GA-8N-SLi Royal is up there with the top of the range boards on the market and this is exactly were Gigabyte is pitching it.
The GA-8N-SLi Royal is fairly expensive at £159.80 when compared to most of the AMD nForce 4 SLi boards, but this is the first of its breed and Intel platforms tend to be more pricey than AMD ones anyway.
Our sample of the Gigabyte GA-8N-SLi Royal might not be quite retail ready, but it put in some impressive benchmark numbers in the tests that I managed to run. The board also has a wide range of features apart from the SLi core – just make sure you need the complete feature set before putting down a wad of cash.
We've been contacted by Gigabyte with regards to the U-PLUS D.P.S power module and the poor fitting of it. As this was a pre-production board, the module supplied will not be the same as the one that will ship with final production boards. A module will be designed specifically for the GA-8N-SLi Royal which won't cause any installation problems.