PCMark & 3DMark Tests
AVADirect's X79 system managed to squeeze ahead of Maingear's X79 SHIFT Super Stock by the slimmest of margins in PCMark Vantage, and the results are so close that we're comfortable calling it a wash. That's not surprising since the two systems are so similarly spec'd, the main difference being the choice of videocards (AVADirect equipped its system with three GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards; Maingear opted for three Radeon HD 7970 GPUs). In theory, AVADirect's inclusion of Kepler GPUs should give it an edge, but we had to dial back the CPU's overclocked clockspeed for stability, and Maingear's SSDs were ever-so-slightly faster than AVADirect's. We're splitting hairs here, which is why the two machines benchmarked within a nanometer of each other in this particular test.
In PCMark 7, AVADirect's machine fell slightly behind Maingear by about 100 points, scoring 6,537 compared to 6,654. Both are extremely high scores, which is to be expected with the high-end hardware in their arsenal. As a reminder, AVADirect's system is wielding a pair of OCZ Vertex 3 SSDs in a RAID 0 configuration, 16GB of DDR3-1600 memory (quad-channel), an overclocked Intel Core i7 3960X processor, and three bodacious GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards.
The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark11, is specifically bound to Windows Vista and 7-based systems because it uses the advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 11, which isn't available on previous versions of Windows. 3DMark11 isn't simply a port of 3DMark Vantage to DirectX 11, though. With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated four new graphics tests, a physics tests, and a new combined test. We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark11's Performance preset option, as well as ran the system through a 3DMark Vantage run, which focuses on DirectX 10.
When we focused our attention on 3D performance, AVADirect's system was slingshot back to the top, this time by a more convincing margin. This is the highest 3DMark Vantage score we've benchmarked to date, which shows the kind of muscle you can flex with three high-end Kepler cards doing the heavy pixel lifting.
We saw more of the same our 3DMark 11 Extreme run (albeit by a smaller margin this time around), with AVADirect once again posting the highest score we've ever recorded. Much of the credit belongs to NVIDIA and its Kepler architecture, but AVADirect deserves props for a proper configuration.
The gap widens a bit in Futuremark's 3DMark 11 benchmark, in which AVADirect pulls ahead of the nearest competition by over 2,000 points. To put that into perspective, Dell's Alienware Area X51 scored barely more than a third of the difference (3,244) of AVADirect's score and Maingear's score. In case it's not abundantly clear at this point, 3D performance is not a concern with this system. In fact, it's a benchmark record-setter if ever we saw one.
Another close race between our top two titans, AVADirect again edges out Maingear, this time by 197 points, which is more a testament to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680s at play than anything else.