Real-world testing allows us to see how well a product will perform when used in the same manner as it would be in your house or office. It is an important side to performance testing as it can uncover hidden glitches in the way a product performs.
It is especially true when testing a mainboard; there are so many components of a board that have to interact that any problems between parts can cause a failure of the whole.
For real-world testing we use some common applications and functions. We test with LightWave 3D for rendering performance, AutoGK for transcoding from DVD to AVI and two games for gaming testing.
Rendering of 3D Animation is a system intensive endeavor. You need a good CPU, memory and HDD speed to get good rendering times. For our testing we use LightWave 3D. This software from Newtek is an industry standard and has several pre-loaded scenes for us to use.
Although the scores here look really close (and they are), it is important to remember that animation is not measured in single frames. It is measured in frame per second (usually 28 FPS). This means that for an average 3 minute commercial there are around 5040 frames. At this number of frames per render a few seconds becomes very important in terms of performance and productivity.
Unfortunately the MSI X58 Big Bang XPower would not be a good choice for heavy 3D rendering, at least not with Lightwave 3D.
AutoGK stands for Auto Gordian Knot; it is a suite of transcoding tools that are compiled into an easy to install and use utility. It allows you to transcode non-protected DVDs and other media to Xvid or Divx format. For our testing purposes we use a non-DRM restricted movie that is roughly 2 hours in length. This is transcoded to a single Xvid AVI at 100% quality.
Oddly enough, the XPower did pretty well at transcoding. This is despite the slower than expected HDD performance.