Our synthetic tests will cover most of the features available within the most popular forms of DirectX (DX 9, 10 and 11). These tests are included as the repeatable "static" numbers to ensure that we are not getting results that are out of the normal range. Our tests used for this were 3DMark Vantage, Unigine's Heaven 2.0 Bench and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat bench.
For synthetic gaming tests we used the industry standard and overlockers bragging tool 3DMark Vantage. This is a test that strives to mimic the impact modern games have on a system. Futuremark went a long way to change from the early days of graphics driven tests to a broader approach including physics, AI and more advanced graphics simulations.
3DMark Vantage uses the DX10 API in addition to having support for PhysX. As we are no longer using an NVIDIA GPU for testing (at least until we can get a GTX 4xx card) you will only see the CPU based PhysX results in the scores. For testing we use the Performance test run.
The way things stack up here is very interesting. Adding a second GTX 480 only yields a 30% performance gain, while dropping in two gives you 47%. Adding that last GTX 480 brings us up to a 51% improvement over a single card, which is a little less than expected.
It was during this test run that we saw that massive 1000+ Watt draw from the wall. During this test we carefully monitored the X58A-UD9 for the aroma of overheating silicon. Fortunately, there was none and the board ran without issue.
Unigine Heaven Bench
Unigine's Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk. It offers a good combination of features like; Support of DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0, tessellation, Advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion), volumetric cumulonimbus clouds, changing light conditions and dynamic sky with light scattering.
We ran the Heaven Bench in both DX10 and DX11 modes to see where things landed.
With the Heaven Bench we again see that adding in more cards will get you a good boost. Of course, this is another synthetic test and as such is something that can be tweaked and optimized for in drivers. Still, these are some excellent numbers from the X58A-UD9 when it is loaded up.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat Bench
The game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat is based off of the XRAY 1.6 engine. This same engine runs the benchmark and in both DX11 and DX10 modes. Like the game it can simulate hard contact shadows and tessellation. The benchmark runs through several lighting conditions; Day, Night, Rain and Sun Streaks. These comprise the bench four runs. We take the average frame rates for each and recorded them here.
This one was something very out of place. For some reason the three-way SLI setup with the GTX 480 was faster than the four way setup. Our thoughts here are that the benchmark does not know what to do with the extra card.
The DX10 run shows things as we would expect them to be. The three and four way setups with the GTX 480 are out on top.
As we expected, the X58A-UD9 is a benchmarking monster when you load it up with four GTX 480s. The only odd occurrence was with the DX11 run of the Stalker COP bench. For some reason this test showed a decrease when we dropped in that fourth and final GPU.