How we tested

By Dave Salvator  |  Posted 2004-06-24 Print this article Print

"> To start off, we put the Intel HD audio sub-system through our usual audio obstacle course:
Test Purpose
Audio WinBench 99 1.1 Measures CPU usage playing sounds via DirectSound and DirectSound3D. We measured CPU usage while playing 32 simultaneous sounds, using both static and streaming buffers
RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.3 Measures audio signal quality and measurements including frequency response, noise, dynamic range, intermodulation distortion, THD+N, and stereo crosstalk
Close Listening Tests
(using headphones)
Measures circuit noise, hash, and blitter noise. We used a set of Shure e5c in-ear earphones to assess the headphone jack and the front right/left output
3DMark Sound Test Runs the benchmarks Game Test 1 scene at 640x480, first with no sound, then with 24 sounds, and finally with 60 sounds if the hardware supports it
Ad Hoc Game Tests We ran Unreal Tournament 2003 and Call of Duty benchmarks (with various audio settings enabled) to see performance impact on real games
Our test system had the following components:
  • Intel 3.4GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition
  • Intel 915GUX motherboard with the Intel 915G chipset
  • 1GB of DDR-2 SDRAM
  • Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra PCI Express 3D card (NV45) running 61.45 drivers
  • Two TK S-ATA hard-drives running in a RAID 0 configuration
  • DVD/CD-R/W combo drive
  • Windows XP with SP1
  • DirectX 9.0b
We first tried to bring up HD Audio on a 925X motherboard made by Intel, but the audio section was apparently DOA. Unfortunately the audio output on the 915GUX board is stereo-only, so we didnt get a chance to conduct multi-channel audio listening tests. We were able to successfully run multichannel audio on a different 925X system, but werent able to run extensive tests on that system. Next page: Test results

Dave came to have his insatiable tech jones by way of music—,and because his parents wouldn't let him run away to join the circus. After a brief and ill-fated career in professional wrestling, Dave now covers audio, HDTV, and 3D graphics technologies at ExtremeTech.

Dave came to ExtremeTech as its first hire from Computer Gaming World, where he was Technical Director and Lead (okay, the only) Saxophonist for five years. While there, he and Loyd Case pioneered the area of testing 3D graphics using PC games. This culminated in 3D GameGauge, a suite of OpenGL and Direct3D game demo loops that CGW and other Ziff-Davis publications, such as PC Magazine, still use.

Dave has also helped guide Ziff-Davis benchmark development over the years, particularly on 3D WinBench and Audio WinBench. Before coming to CGW, Dave worked at ZD Labs for three years (now eTesting Labs) as a project leader, testing a wide variety of products, ranging from sound cards to servers and everything in between. He also developed both subjective and objective multimedia test methodologies, focusing on audio and digital video. Before all that he toured with a blues band for two years, notable gigs included opening for Mitch Ryder and appearing at the Detroit Blues Festival.


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