Using an Asus A8R-MVP for comparison we took it upon ourselves to pit the two boards head to head, to find out if the extra eight PCI Express lanes per card actually increase performance. We used an AMD Athlon FX-60, two 1GB Corsair CMX1024-3500LLPRO memory modules and an ATI reference X1900 XT Crossfire setup.
Tests were run using Call of Duty 2, Quake 4, Counter-Strike: Source and 3DMark06. All tests were done using intensive time demos recorded in-house. In the case of CS:S, the demo was recorded on the Militia map which uses the same HDR technology as seen in Half Life 2:Lost Coast. All tests were run three times and the averages were taken to remove anomalous data from the results.
We ran all the tests at 1,280 x 1,024, 1,600 x 1,200, 1,920 x 1,440 and 2,048 x 1,536 each at 4x FSAA with trilinear filtering and 4x FSAA with 8x AF.
The results achieved were quite strange. 3DMark, being a synthetic benchmark not surprisingly tallied with the theoretical improvement with a global minor increase in performance.
Call of Duty 2 showed a slightly more exaggerated result with around a 10 per cent increase in performance across the board.
Quake 4 showed no increase in performance at all, perhaps due to ATI’s implementation of OpenGL – in a few cases in fact, RD480 scores better.
Most surprisingly though, were the Counter-Strike: Source results where RD480 was consistently around 10 per cent faster. This goes against all logic, but the results speak for themselves.
In a best case scenario, RD580 offers 10 per cent performance increase over the older board, but in some cases it is slower or no better at all. However, it is a considerably better overclocker than RD480 ever was.
At £135.11, the A8R32-MVP is almost double the price of the A8R-MVP. Ignoring performance difference, this brings slightly better audio, two more SATA II channels and considerably better overclocking potential. Whether you consider those benefits enough to justify the extra cost is a matter of personal choice and will ultimately depend on how important overclocking is to you.