Elite PC Titan FX: Setting New Standards in Gamingby Wesley Fink on November 30, 2003 10:57 PM EST
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Around the time of the Athlon64 and Athlon64 FX launch on September 23rd, we were talking with Elite PC about evaluating a full-blown gaming system that they were planning to build around the Athlon64 FX. There were several delays due to Elite PC's desire to use a Dual Socket 940 board and the new ATI Radeon XT. There were some difficulties with their early Dual boards and they wanted everything to be right before sending us a review system. When the system was finally shipped to AnandTech, there were several miscues as well. We really expected the Elite PC Titan FX to be the first full-size system review at AnandTech, but events conspired to delay it for a while. We do think, however, that you will agree that this is a system worth waiting for.
Elite PC is a web-based reseller that maintains a storefront in Tempe, Arizona. You can see, configure, and order systems at their website at www.elitepc.com. The System we are evaluating is their top gaming system, the Titan FX, and you can see the available options and prices at the Titan FX page. Since Elite PC also maintains a 20-station LAN Center that is open 7 days a week for LAN Gaming, it is clear that they have a very good idea of what most gamers want in a gaming PC.
The Titan FX is built around the Dual Processor version of the MSI K8T Master motherboard. While Elite PC normally ships the system with one Athlon64 FX CPU, they wanted to give gamers the option for a future upgrade to Dual Opteron chips. In addition, the rest of the top-of-the-line features include 1GB of high-speed Registered DDR400 memory, SATA RAID 0 with 2 Western Digital Raptor 10,000RPM hard drives, ATI Radeon XT 256Mb, Sound Blaster Audigy 2 6.1, MSI TV@nywhere card with Remote Control, Sony DVD +/- burner, 16X DVD, USB Multi-flash reader, 120mm Case fan, blue case lighting, and Windows XP Professional, all wrapped in a silver and black Chenbro Xpider case with a 460-watt power supply and a 3-year onsite warranty.
UPDATE 12/01/2003: Elite PC has provided an update on Dual Processor usage. "The only AMD processors that can be run in DUAL mode are the 200 and 800 series Opteron processors. The motherboard in the Titan FX machine will run all 940 pin processors, however only the 200 and 800 series Opteron processors will run as Dual processors." AnandTech just tried to benchmark the Titan FX system with 2 FX51, and while the system worked, the boot screen only identified ONE CPU even though two were installed. Oddly, the few benchmarks we ran were higher than single CPU, but not at the levels we would expect with Dual Opteron chips. Elite PC recommends the 200 or 800 Opterons for Dual CPU operation.
We asked Elite PC to ship us the system without a monitor and speakers for our testing. Gamers often already have a monitor and speaker system, but they can also choose from a wide array of CRTs or flat panel monitors, and select whatever they prefer for speakers. All the peripherals are in black to complement the silver and black chassis. While this was written, the price for the Titan FX, exactly as reviewed is $2999.99. This is for the base tower, and does not include monitor, speakers, keyboard, or pointing device. It does include a 3-year Warranty with On-Site Service.
In keeping with the AnandTech policy regarding complete systems, we evaluated the Elite PC Titan FX as it is received. While we do make driver and minor OS adjustments to be consistent with other testing done at Anandtech, we test the actual system, video card, and hard drives as received. This gives readers results that truly reflect performance of the system. We compare results to other similar systems that we have tested, and also compare results to the best components (motherboards) we have tested that use similar components. This differs from our test procedures with barebone SFF systems. Small Form Factor systems are usually sold as basic barebones, and we use the same standardized components in their build to allow better performance and noise-level comparisons.
|Elite PC Titan FX||Dell Dimension XPS|
|Expansion Bays (5.25"/3.5"/Hidden)||4/1/6||3/1/3|
|Front USB Ports||3||2|
|Rear USB Ports||2||6|
|Internal USB Ports||0||0|
|Front Firewire Ports||1 Standard||1 Standard|
|Rear Firewire Ports||1 Standard||1 Standard|
|On-Board Parallel Port||1 Rear||1 Rear|
|On-Board Game Port||1 Rear||None|
|Modem Ports||None||2 Rear|
|Video Ports||ATI XT Analog/Digital/SVGA
MSI @nywhere TV card Rear SVGA, Coax, 2 Mini Jacks
|ATI XT Analog/Digital/SVGA|
|On-Board Serial Ports||2 Rear||2 Rear|
|Front Audio Jacks||2 — Headphone and Mic||2 — Headphone|
|Rear Audio Jacks||6 Mini on Audigy 2||6 Mini on Audigy 2|
|SPDIF||One — Rear
|One — Rear
|Number of Fans (including CPU/chipset)||3 — 70mm CPU, 80mm intake, 120mm out||4|
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rupe120 - Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - linkSo no dual Opteron test?
Nighteye2 - Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - linkAbout the not working well with 4 sticks of RAM: maybe there are only 2 banks for each processor, given that each processor has it's own memory controller?
MS - Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - linkWes,
ok, I would need to check which version I am using .... D'UH, here it is: 3.43 from June 20 (release date). I guess I need oto check with nVidia and see whether there are newer drivers that increase performance :-)
(gotto run a few errands now, be back later)
Wesley Fink - Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - linkMichael,
We don't generally use nVidia's IDE drivers either, but we do use the chipset driver set. The nForce unified drivers released just a few weeks ago appear to improve performance quite a bit on the nF3 compared to the earlier unified driver.
MS - Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - linkWes,
Thanks for clearing that one up, actually I am just using a standard Barracuda SATA -V drive on the SiI controller without the nForce drivers, also, I am getting some 59.8 - 59.9 on the ASUS K8V and the ABIT KV8 MAX3 (VIA chipset)
With respect to the GunMetal benchmark, I am (presumably) using the same system as the one you have and the only thing that makes a difference there is how much eye-candy is turned on or off. --- I don't know either what to say here but GM appears to be more GPU limited than anything else. Which is why I would like to find out about your magic sauce for the FX-51..
Wesley Fink - Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - linkMichael - The Dell is a 3.2 P4, while the Shuttle AN50R is an nForce3-150 Athlon64. You likely used nVidia's latest drivers, which do improve benchmark performance. We are using them for our upcoming reviews, but the nF3-150 scores were from earlier reviews using the slower earlier drivers. Those are likely the differences between your scores and ours.
As I stated in the review, the Gun Metal 2 scores among FX51 chipsets remain a mystery. We are searching for answers.
MS - Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - link"While Dell just achieved the first Content Creation score to approach 60, the Titan FX scores almost 70 in the same test. The Titan FX score of 67.9 is almost 10 points higher than the best that we have ever seen in this benchmark. That is 10 points better than a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 running almost the same components in the Dell Dimension XPS."
We are getting over 60 with a standard Shuttle AN50R (single drive) and almost 65 with the FX-51 system, what's wrong here?
Also, I don't quite understand the GunMetal benchmark results of the FX51 system, can you elaborate on those, that is, why is the FX51 system so much faster than anything else? Just curious what it is that I am overlooking here...
Doop - Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - linkWell that's good Wesley Fink...AMD said they wouldn't work, you tested and they didn't work.
Sorry for the comment about the article didn't mean to offend, I just usually expect AnandTech to be the most complete.
It just seemed obvious to me to wonder why they would ship a single only CPU in a dual mobo. Glad you made the effort to check. Take care.
stncttr908 - Tuesday, December 2, 2003 - linkWow, if I were rich and didn't build my own systems, this would be on my desk in a heartbeat.
rupe120 - Tuesday, December 2, 2003 - linkSo when will the article be redone with dual Opterons? :o)