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Skulltrail - XFX GTX 280 XXX 3-Way SLi /4870X2 CFx


by Zardon - 17th August 2008
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Introduction

When Skulltrail was released around seven months ago it was heralded as the ultimate enthusiast gaming system. We all knew at the time this was never really going to be the case considering the fully buffered DDR2 limitation as well as the gargantuan cost, however as an exercise in Intel's engineering prowess it was certainly a marvellous showcase.

Gaming at the highest resolutions on Skulltrail was easy with support for both Crossfire and SLI graphics cards, then when finished it was easy to get back to work with the two 4-core QX9775 processors munching through even the heaviest of 3d rendering and Photoshop tasks.

Today, the system has somewhat already faded into the annals of tech history, a situation not helped by the extremely limited availability, however we felt that we should follow up our original article by pairing it with today's ultimate graphics card configurations to see how it fares.

ATI have kindly supplied two DriverHeaven award winning 4870X2 samples for this article (for Crossfire X), and XFX have donated three of their ultimate high end pre-overclocked GTX 280 XXX cards for SLI 3-Way testing.

Before we proceed with the review, it has to be said, that it was only until very recently this article was technically possible, thanks to Nvidia burying the hatchet with Intel and offering a 3 way SLI supported driver which works very well on the newest Intel Skulltrail D5400XS bios.

Even though comparisons will be made, our intention is not to directly compare ATI against Nvidia in this article, but more to see how both leading ultimate solutions will run on a system which should in theory be less CPU bound than most. To further downplay the side effects of the two Quad processors affecting the results, we have watercooled both CPU's and overclocked them to 4.4ghz (a 1.2ghz overclock @ 400x11). This will let both graphics solutions stretch their legs as much as possible at the highest resolutions.


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