My first X79 build, back in November 2011, was pretty modest. Well, as modest as a PC with a 1,000-dollar processor can be. It performed well in CPU-intensive benchmarks, but it had only a single GTX 580, so it did about a third as well as top-tier systems in graphics tests.
Back when I built that PC, the Core i7-3960X was the only Sandy Bridge-E CPU available to us, and the GTX 580 was the fastest single-GPU card on the market. Well, this time I’m going to build a Sandy Bridge-E system with the new quad-core Core i7-3820 and the new fastest single-GPU videocard on the market: AMD’s Radeon HD 7970.
Wait, just kidding. I’m not going to use a 7970. I’m going to use three of ‘em!
While most of us were sitting around watching football and ringing in the New Year over the holiday weekend, our friends over at VR-Zone were getting their geek on by modding and benchmarking AMD Radeon HD 7970 graphics cards. They started with a single HD 7970 board, of which they quickly modded with a special BIOS that allowed them to bump up the core voltage from 1.15V to 1.25V.
In a first for Alienware, the company has introduced a CrossFireX-capable gaming notebook for mobile gamers looking to pack some added heat (figuratively, though likely literally as well) in time for the holiday gaming season. Wealthy fraggers can outfit the new M17 with a pair of ATI's Mobility Radeon HD 3870 videocards for plenty of pixel-pushing power on the notebook's 17-inch WXGA+ or optional WUXGA widescreen display.
"By incorporating the all-out performance of CrossFireX graphics and quad-core processing into Alienware's award-winning notebook lineup," says Frank Azor, executive vice-president for Alienware's Product and Marketing Group, "the M17 delivers an impressive feature set at a price point that doesn't break the bank."
Gamers can also double up on storage with up to 640GB of hard drive space in a RAID 0 array (2x320GB), or up to 1TB in RAID 0 for those willing to drop down to a 5400RPM spindle speed (2x500GB), enough to hold 250,000 songs according to Alienware. Other specs and options include Intel Core 2 Duo, Quad, and Extreme processor support, PM45 chipset, up to 4GB of DDR3 memory, RAID 1 support, ATSC HDTV tuner, Blu-ray optical drive, three USB 2.0 ports, eSATA port, WiFi, and other goodies.
The hardware comes wrapped in a "Stealh Black" soft matte finish bearing Alienware's logo and trademark aesthetic flair. But the real surprise is in the price. A base configuration starts at a comparatively modest $1,400, with less than a $2,000 investment required for a configuration consisting of a Core 2 Duo processor, dual-videocards, and 3GB of DDR3 memory on a 1920x1200 HD display.
It pays to be an Intel fan these days. You have not only the supremely powerful Penryn CPU in your corner, but also a host of performance-oriented, feature-packed motherboards to choose from. Contributing to the bounty are two recently released enthusiast core-logic chipsets—Intel’s own X48 and Nvidia’s nForce 790i Ultra SLI—which represent the pinnacle of LGA775 computing. But which should you choose? Even two chipsets that offer similar features can differ markedly in performance. And the variations even persist within different mobos using the same chipset. That’s why we’ve called in four of the hottest Intel-based motherboards currently available, two representing X48 and two representing 790i. We’ll put these boards through their paces to determine a winner in each camp—and ultimately, the superior chipset.
The complete feature, including links to reviews, benchmarks, and more after the jump!
I’ve been skeptical of multi multi-GPU support since the days of
Nvidia’s original Quad SLI. Back then, bad drivers, a lack of game
support, and 30-inch panels that cost a month’s pay made the prospect