Core Component Choices
Processor - Core 2 Duo
It's extremely clear that there is only one processor line up worth paying any attention to at the moment. Intel's Core 2 Duo is the hottest item since slice bread and the enthusiast community needed it. We like to cater to your average enthusiast here so our particular partner in crime is the Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 processor.
The E6600 is a smarter processor to choose for our test system due to the extra 2MB of cache when compared to the cheaper E6300 and E6400 models. Out of the box the processor is clocked at 2.4GHz but like our old Athlon X2, we wanted to overclock it so we can remove as much CPU limitation as possible as this is an issue when testing high-end graphics cards.
Memory - G.Skill HZ DDR-2
G.Skill is creating a fantastic line up of memory at the moment which finds the HZ series at the top of the list. Using the extremely famous Micron IC, users are achieving speeds in excess of 1000MHz DDR on memory rated for 667MHz DDR.
We're using the HZ 8000 memory which offers a stock standard speed of 1000MHz at 4-4-4-5. We did try some of the 6400HZ at one stage and let's just say we can understand why it's so popular. With the system memory already running at excess of 900MHz we stuck the 6400HZ straight in and away it went.
Motherboard - DFI INFINITY 975X/G
DFI are known extremely well known in the industry for having a fantastic motherboard though word everywhere is that their new 975X variant under the Infinity tag doesn't overclock so well. We can't disagree with that - it is not as fast when compared to some other 975X boards though unlike a lot of other companies DFI are dealing with the people who buy the product and a flurry of beta BIOSes have been released to overcome this problem.
The DFI 975X is one of the cheapest 975X boards available on the market, is Core 2 Duo ready out of the box and like all 975X motherboards supports Crossfire.
Cooling - ThermalTake Big Typhoon
Behind every overclock is a cooler and in this case it's the ThermalTake Big Typhoon. The big 120mm fan, copper heat pipes and aluminum fins make it's an excellent all round cooler. Anyone who doesn't want to break the bank with cooling and wants to stick to air seems to be moving to the Big Typhoon and for good reason.
The other stuff
We are continue to use the trusty Hitachi 80GB 7,200RPM SATA-2 drive because they simply are one of the fastest SATA hard drives around besides the Raptor series from Western Digital. Currently everything is being powered by an 1100-watt Tagan PSU but quite often we find ourselves back on the 700Watt Zippy power supply that has never missed a beat.
Software wise Windows XP Professional with SP2 is still being used and PREY has been added to the testing line up although it isn't seen in this article. There never seems to be a graphics card in the system for more then 3 days so there really isn't much else to mention. As usual all the core components are mentioned in our "Test System Setup" section before the benchmarking begins.
With the DFI 975X being part of the Infinity series it doesn't have a zillion different options for overclocking so you can get straight into it with ease. Pushing the Front Side Bus (FSB) to 381MHz we get just over a 1000MHz overclock with our processor coming in at 3.43GHz over the stock 2.4GHz.
Since we are using such good quality memory, we want to try and get as much out of it as possible. When using a divider of 4:5 (meaning that for every 4MHz FSB, we have the memory clocked at 5MHz) it comes in at 476MHz or 952MHz DDR at SPD timings. While still a bit under stock it makes sure we have plenty of memory bandwidth available.