To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configuration used in this review can be seen below:
Processor: Intel Core i7 920 (2.66Ghz)
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
12GB Corsair XMS3 @ 9-9-9-24 1600MHz
6GB Corsair XMS3 @ 9-9-9-24 1600MHz
3GB Corsair XMS3 @ 9-9-9-24 1600MHz
Graphics Card: NVidia GTX280
Power Supply: Gigabyte Odin 1200W
CPU Cooling: OCZ Gladiator
Hard Disk: Hitachi Deskstar 7K160 7200rpm 80GB
Graphics Drivers: Geforce 182.0 CUDA
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1
During the testing of the setup above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations. For the 3DMark and gaming tests a single card configuration was used.
The testing process was a difficult one to decide upon. On the one hand it would be excellent if I could load up the memory fully, but this has to be consistant across the board for the results to be viable. Sadly, what loads a 12GB kit to 100% will cripple a 3GB kit and make obtaining results from the 3GB kit nigh on impossible (anyone who has had a system run out of memory and become unresponsive will be able to appreciate this!). Much the same in that what loads a 3GB kit will not make the 12GB kit break a sweat, so benchmarking the kits proved very difficult indeed. What I did do was analyse the kits performance thourout the testing and with regard to Photoshop (the bain of my life after this review!) after many attempts I found a happy medium for the image size to be used which stressed all kits without totally locking up the pc. This should also serve as a warning to those who intend on using a 3GB kit for processing large images, expect lots of frustration!
As an example please see the images below which show that at times 12GB was fully stressed but on others barely 6GB was used. Obviously this is run on a Vista setup with nothing installed but the drivers and programs used to benchmark but a system running programs and utilities in the background for everyday use would no doubt use a lot more memory. Consideration should therefore be given to this fact when analysing the results of the benchmarks.
To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities were used: