Need to build a new rig on the cheap? Need modest Crossfire support, and a decent feature-set? The ECS P45T-A might be worthy of your consideration, as it packs in a good amount of functionality, solid performance, a cool color scheme and of course, a good price tag, of around $110.
For our video conversion test, we use VirtualDub to transcode (converting from one codec to another) a 0.99GB high-quality DivX H.264 AVI video of Half-Life 2: Episode Two gameplay with stereo audio. The video is just under 4 minutes in length and has a 720p resolution (1280×720).
For our testing, we encode the video two different ways. The first transcoding run (“720p Video Recode”) encodes the video at the same 720p resolution but with a lower quality, to achieve a more acceptable file size for distribution (~150MB).
The second transcoding run (“Mobile Video Recode”) scales the video to a 480×272 resolution, similar to what some mobile devices such as Apple’s iPod use. For both tests, “Enhanced multithreading” is enabled in the codec control panel, as well as “Experimental full search” using the highest version of the SSE instruction set that the CPU supports.
Photo manipulation benchmarks are more relevant than ever, given the proliferation of high-end digital photography hardware. For this benchmark, we test the system’s handling of RAW photo data using Adobe Lightroom, an excellent RAW photo editor and organizer that’s easy to use and looks fantastic.
For our testing, we take 100 RAW files (in Nikon’s .NEF file format) which have a 10-megapixel resolution, and export them as JPEG files in 1000×669 resolution, like most of the photos we use here on the website. Such a result could also be easily distributed online or saved as a low-resolution backup. This test involves not only scaling of the image itself, but encoding in a different image format entirely. The test is timed indirectly using a stopwatch, and times are accurate to within +/- 0.25 seconds.
Autodesk’s 3ds Max 9 is considered the industry standard when it comes to 3D modeling and animation, counting DreamWorks, BioWare, and Blizzard Entertainment among its users. It’s a multithreaded application that’s designed to be right at home on multi-CPU workstations or render farms, so it’s right up our alley for testing systems with multi-core processors.
Instead of the polygon-based rasterization handled by most GPUs, 3ds Max 9 uses scanline rendering as its chief method, but some ray-tracing plugins exist (which we don’t use).
In our testing, we use a standard dragon model provided with 3ds Max, ‘Dragon_Character_Rig.max’. The scene is rendered in two formats. First, a single frame from the animation is rendered at a resolution of 1920×1080 (1080p). Then, a 60-frame sequence of the same model is rendered to a 490×270 resolution AVI file, which can be exported to a portable media player.
The P45T-A might have done well in the SYSmark test, but the overall lack of memory frequency made the differences with our three real-world tests. It didn’t perform horribly, but just an inch slower than the rest.