Three Big Boards.


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An Enthusiastic Lament

Despite their wants to stand out from the crowd, be acknowledged within a heavily branded market, or respected by contemporaries as commanding the most meaty and majestic man cave assembled since a cave man’s fleshy fingers punched caught-ate-digest, the capricious community of PC Enthusiasts could be casually divided into two breeds, those with pounds to invest and a purpose to survive and the rest, best bang for the buck, but more bangs between bucks.

The net result? A dearth of debates, boatloads of benchmarks, a glut of gaming glory and gloom and, once the dust has settled amidst the battered blades and crippled bearings of a million spin-sodden case fans, nether a cent nor a penny to show for a car boot CRT.

I hasten to assert that what you’ve just read doesn’t constitute a sneaky session of Anglo/American pot poking, but rather a heartfelt attempt to graciously unify two fascinating species, each enriched through years of evolution and immeasurable experience with stories, facts, opinions and information of the utmost value and intrigue.

Take me for example. One clement Spring morning in 2013. Ah! Remember then? Back in the day the 2010’s? All that online business, apps and social media and stuff, Twitter, Facebook, it seemed so natural, so trendy to flaunt a phone with a screen the size of a Plasma, a bit the 80s. Ah! Remember then? Back in the day? Yuppies and Puffballs? Atari, Amstrad, Amiga, sharing games and music. It seemed so stylish, so rewarding to flash a phone the size of a breeze block and use it in a car. Ah! Cars, remember them? Those things with four wheels and an engine? Sorry, what year is this again?

Back on topic, the dawn I speak of was my Birthday and being lasered from the wafer of Enthusiasts with long-term survival instincts, I made what I hoped would be an investment that afforded me performance, stability, a hint of pride and a freedom from compulsions to tinker for several years, if not longer.

Barely a year and a half later and my mind, conscience, eyes and ears were beginning to waywardly wander websites in reluctant but relentless search of reviews and prices for key components I knew would be faster, more efficient and better value.

Having surveyed all I felt my precious ego could bear, an evening of nauseating self-reassurance commenced. Don’t worry, hold out, your decision was wise, judicious and well-informed. Cherish what you built. Allow it to grow and develop character. Avail its devotion to you, the creator. Work is paramount and downtime disastrous. Draw from its stability and be honoured to harness the prodigious power it continues to provide. Don’t macerate your masterpiece for the sake of a dozen dreary frames…don’t, even for a fleeting moment, be one of them.

The reason for this desperate divulgence stemmed from a need to cordially convey a comparison between three systems of a similar pedigree but hailing from different generations. Each motherboard, a conceptual creature with a server grade heritage, targeting players, primers and miners alike, with a fervent intent to establish the ultimate solution for business and pleasure.

System 1:

Motherboard: Intel D5400XS “Skulltrail”

CPUs: 2x QX9775 3.2ghz Socket 771 150W 45mn Quad Core “Yorkfiled” XE no Hyperthreading 12mb cache.
Memory: 8MB 800mhz FB-Dimms (Fully Buffered)
Video Card: Nvidia Geforce GTX 580
Hard Drives WD-Raptors (10.000rpm)
Heatsinks 2x Noctua NH-u12p 2x NF-12 fans, 1 per heatsink.

System 2:

Motherboard: EVGA SR-2

CPU: 2x Intel Xeon x5680 Socket 1336 3.33ghz Hex-Core 130W 32mn “Westmere” with Hyperthreading 12mb cache.
Video Card: Nvidia Geforce GTX 580.
Memory: 6x 2GB Crucial ECC DIMMS 1333mhz.
Hard Drives WD-Raptor (10.000rpm).
Heatsinks 2x Noctua NH-u12p 2x NF-12 fans, 1 per heatsink.

System 3:

Motherboard: EVGA SR-X

CPU: 2x Intel Xeon 2697 V2 Socket 2011 2.7ghz 22mn Twelve Core with Hyperthreading 130W 30MB Cache.
Video Card: 3x Nvidia Geforce GTX Titan.
Memory: 8x 2GB Crucial ECC DIMMS 1333mhz
Hard Drives 4x Samsung 256mb SSDs
Heatsinks 2x Noctua NH-uDH14 2x NF-p14 fans, 1 per heatsink.

So there they stand, our terrifying trio of devastating duality. A total of forty cores and seventy six threads, enough processing power to match that of an entire iPhone 9 – the preceding claim shall be suitably edited to reflect the truth as defined by time and Tim Cook, subject to the author still harbouring the requisite health. The benchmark I chose to challenge this titanic threesome was Maxon’s redoubtable Cinbench rendering romp.

In keeping with long standing tradition, conditions were a little off lab perfect and I pray my excuses merit some empathy. As do ships in the night, these systems passed through different eras of my existence Some parts were my own, others on loan and the rest, sold to finance more pressing priorities.

Though the application version and test conducted was the same for all three configurations, The “Skulltrail’s” QX9775’s were not capable of Hyper Threading, while the Westmere and Ivy Bridge based Xeons occupying the SR-2 and SR-x supported the feature, with both boards BIOS’ enabling it by default. Had I envisaged compiling this video sooner, I’d have disabled it to promote the most level playing field possible.

In addition, Cinbench R11.5 was acting its age on the SRX build and appears to identify only 32 threads of the 48 present. I re-ran the test entering the value manually but without remedy. The third time I checked the task manager and verified that all physical cores and virtual threads were in fact being exploited hence, the bug is evidently limited to the UI and the result can be treated as legitimate. Maxton recently released Cinbench R15 which resolves this anomaly. Anyway here it is…hope you enjoy it!

Skulltrail Vs. SR-2 Vs. SR-X

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