Intel Skulltrail Enthusiast Platform Preview

by Rob Williams on February 4, 2008 in Processors

Consisting of two Extreme Quad-Core processors, Intel is looking to redefine what we know as “high-end”. Skulltrail is touted as being the “ultimate” enthusiast platform, offering SLI and Crossfire support, huge overclocking abilities and enough sheer power to make the competition weep.

Testing Methodology

Regardless of the OS we are running or product being reviewed, there are a few conditions that are met to assure accurate, repeatable results.

  • Desktop and scrap files are cleaned up, including emptying of recycle bin/trash.
  • No virus scanner or firewall is installed.
  • Internet is disabled.
  • Computer has proper airflow and room temperature is 80°F or less.
  • Hard-drives affected by testing are defragged using Diskeeper 2008 before each fresh run.

Below are the two systems used in today’s testing:

Testing Machine

Compared Machine

Please note that due to unforeseen occurrences, certain tests will not be completed in todays article. That includes SLI comparisons between Skulltrail and another machine, and also overclocking.

Shipping complications prevented our SilverStone DA1200 power supply from arriving on time, so overclocking was unable to be performed, since our Antec Quattro 1000W does not include dual 8-Pin EPS motherboard connections. Our SLI testing could not be completed either, due to issues that the Antec Quattro 1000W has with certain 8800 GPUs. More information can be seen in this thread.

This will not be our only Skulltrail-related article, however, and testing for both SLI and overclocking will be tackled once the required power supply arrives. Apologies for not being able to include both pieces of testing in todays article.

Operating Systems

For our processor reviews, we use three different operating systems: Windows XP, Windows Vista and Gentoo Linux. Although Vista has been out for close to a year, we’ve encountered numerous issues with our benchmarking, so we use it only where necessary, which at this time is only for PCMark Vantage. Skulltrail-specific comparisons will be performed in Vista as well, but that will be explained further in the article.

    Windows XP Professional SP2

  • Screensaver and all power-related options are disabled.
  • All chipset/motherboard drivers are installed, in addition to GPU.
  • Windows Update is called in if a specific update is needed.
  • Internet is disabled.
    Windows Vista Ultimate

  • Screensaver and all power-related options are disabled.
  • Welcome Center is disabled.
  • UAC is disabled.
  • Critical Windows Updates are downloaded, including a fix for the GPU.
  • Security Center is altered to never nag about the settings.
  • Internet is disabled, and Aero theme is enabled.
    Gentoo 2007.0

  • A minimal install of the OS is used, without a desktop environment.
  • System is updated to latest stable versions. including the latest Gentoo-patched kernel.
  • Internet is disabled.

Game Benchmarks

Because of our inability to test out SLI in todays article, we are going to stick to the same four game titles that we’ve used in our past few processor reviews, which include Call of Duty 4, Crysis, Half-Life 2: Episode Two and also F.E.A.R.

For our processor and GPU reviews, we do not use any time demos. All levels are played through manually, twice over, with the results averaged. Frames-per-second are recorded with FRAPS 2.9.4, with each play-through lasting between four and six minutes.

It’s important to note that because no time demos are used, the average FPS will vary in between runs, even on the same CPU, due to changing circumstances in the game. It’s for this reason that we play on each setting twice, then average the two. To cover the bases, both 1280×1024 and 2560×1600 resolutions are used, to see if benefits can be seen at either the low-end or high-end.

Below, you can view all of the games we will be using, as well as the settings used.

Call of Duty 4



Half-Life 2: Episode Two

All other non-game benchmarks will be explained along the way.

Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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