Summary: Earlier this month we gave away an AMD CrossFire rig powered by dual Radeon HD 4870 cards and AMD's Phenom 9850 Black Edition CPU. GPU launches from ATI and NVIDIA however prevented me from taking the time out to properly build and OC the system until now. See all the parts inside the system and how it performed in this article!
The rig is built around AMD’s 790FX platform, with AMD’s Phenom 9850 Black Edition at the heart of the system. Meanwhile graphics duties are handled by a pair of Radeon HD 4870 512MB cards running in CrossFire.
In this article we’re going to go over the components AMD uses inside the system followed by overclocking and benchmarks. We’ll start by discussing the Radeon 4870 graphics subsystem first.
Graphics: 2x ATI Radeon 4870 512MB
ATI shook up the graphics world with the debut of their RV770 graphics core. The chip contains 800 stream processors, the most of any ATI GPU to date, and supports DirectX 10.1, making it ready for upcoming games that support the technology. ATI has also addressed one of R600’s biggest limitations with RV770 -- its AA performance -- in fact we’ve found that ATI’s RV770 architecture provides better 8xAA scaling performance than NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 200 series. 8xAA is quite playable in many games at 1600x1200 and 1920x1200.
Since ATI sent over two cards for CrossFire though, all these figures are doubled. That means the system boasts 2.4 TeraFLOPS of graphics processing power thanks to its 1600 shaders. And with dual 4870 cards running in CrossFire, you can max out all graphics settings in games and crank up the AA settings for max performance.
As we’ve told you many times over the years, the graphics subsystem is the most critical component inside your PC for gamers. If you’re gaming at high resolutions (1600x1200 or better), it’s the graphics card(s) that will play the biggest role in your overall gaming performance. Having a fast CPU and memory also helps, but at these resolutions the processor won’t affect your overall frame rate.
With our CrossFire rig sporting dual Radeon 4870s, it doesn’t get much better than this if you’re a gamer.
CPU: AMD Phenom 9850 Black Edition
For processing duties AMD sent over their Phenom 9850 Black Edition CPU.
Motherboard: ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe WiFi
Based on AMD’s 790FX chipset, the ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe WiFi is ASUS’s high-end CrossFire offering. The motherboard sports quad graphics slots, support for the latest 140W Phenom processors, and dual-channel DDR2-1066 memory. ASUS also ships the motherboard with their Mempipe memory cooling. Mempipe, short for memory heatpipe, consists of a pair of coolers which can be attached to your system memory for additional cooling.
Memory: Corsair Dominator CM2X1024-8500C5Dand OCZ Titanium PC2 8500
When it comes to high-end memory modules, Corsair and OCZ are widely considered to be the two top memory manufacturers by many. Certainly both companies are among the most popular manufacturers used in most enthusiasts machines.
For handling storage tasks AMD sent over a 500GB Western Digital Caviar SE16 hard drive. The Caviar SE16 supports perpendicular storage. By storing bits in a vertical, or perpendicular, arrangement, drive capacity is increased, ushering in the first terabyte hard drives. The SE16 features a 16MB cache and 7200 RPM spindle speed.
The SE16 isn’t quite as speedy as WD’s latest Black series hard drives, but in its day it was a pretty good performer for a large capacity HDD. Today the drive is known for its price/performance: the 500GB drive can be found on Newegg today for just $69.99.
LG GH20NS10 Super Multi DVD Rewriter
Arguably the most distinguishing feature of LG’s GH20NS10 is its Serial ATA interface, making it easier to install with less cable clutter. The drive also supports CD read speeds up to 48x, and DVD read speeds up to 16x, while write speeds are up to 48x for CDs and 20x for DVD-RAM, 12x DVD-R, and 8x for DVD-RW.
Case: Cooler Master Cosmos CSX 1000
If you’re looking for a high-end case that’s roomy, easy to work with, and flexible you’ll certainly want to put Cooler Master’s Cosmos 1000 series at the top of your list. This is one of our favorite cases.
The other defining characteristic of the Cosmos is its excellent ventilation. The case ships with three fans, two 120mm ventilation fans located at the top of the chassis, while a third 120mm fan sits in the rear of the chassis for exhaust. Cooler Master also provides ventilation holes in the bottom of the case for the power supply and any optional cooling you’d like to mount inside the system. Despite all these fans the system runs extremely quiet, you can hardly hear it when it’s in use. To help combat noise Cooler Master provides sound insulation.
I/O options are also pretty good. Cooler Master provides one external eSATA port on the front panel of the chassis as well as four USB ports, a Firewire port, and audio jacks for headphones and microphone. The case also supports liquid cooling.
As you can see in the pictures this isn’t your typical Cosmos 1000 case though. This is a limited edition CSX case with a custom paint job from Smooth Creations. BioWare’s RPG Mass Effect is prominently featured on the front and sides of the case.
PSU: Be Quiet Dark Power Pro 1000W
To be honest, before we received this system we’d never heard of Be Quiet and their Dark Power Pro line of power supplies. But we’ve certainly got no complaints with their Dark Power Pro 1000W. It runs quietly and boasts some impressive specs. The PSU has six different 12V rails, all delivering 20A of power to the 12V rail, 24A on the 3.3V rail, and 28A on the 5V rail. This is more than enough power to run a 4870 CrossFire setup with a quad-core 9850 processor. Another aspect of the Dark Power Pro 1000W is that it’s a modular power supply, helping with cable management inside the case.
To finish off the system AMD sent over a copy of Vista Ultimate x86 OEM. The Ultimate Edition is Microsoft’s fully-featured version of the OS, with features such as DreamScene, which allows you to run full motion video as your desktop background. Ultimate also includes support for features such as system image-based backup and recovery, as well as encrypting file system with Windows BitLocker.
Overclocking the system
The only downside to this is that I needed to send 1.5V of juice to the CPU in order for the system to run with complete stability within Windows. At lower voltages stability wasn’t the greatest. This may be a little higher than some people would run, especially on stock AMD cooling. I was pretty pleased with the 500MHz OC though, with an ACC capable motherboard I’m sure this processor could push 3.2GHz or more without any problems.
On the graphics subsystem, I was a bit concerned about the scalability of the two 4870 cards running in CrossFire mode and if it would OC at all; unfortunately my concerns ended up proving correct as I only managed to hit 780MHz on the graphics core (an OC of 30MHz) and 945MHz on the memory (an improvement of 45MHz). The cards would actually run at much higher speeds (790MHz core/1000MHz memory), but not with complete stability. Devil May Cry 4 was particularly sensitive to our OC’ing endeavors.
In closing, we’d like to thank AMD for sponsoring this contest. They’ve certainly sent over high-end components; this will make a great gaming rig for the CrossFire contest winner, Astriir1. The only adjustment I’d suggest would be replacing the stock AMD cooler for an aftermarket heatsink/fan unit, and with the Cooler Master Cosmos CSX chassis he’ll have plenty of room to grow with additional drives.
|© Copyright 2003 FS Media, Inc.|