VOGONS


First post, by slivercr

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1. INDEX
-Front fan case mod
-A few comments on cooling, storage, and drivers.

2. FILE REPOSITORY —> HERE.
It includes drivers, datasheets, manuals, etc.
If you have anything I can add, send it my way please!

3. CURRENT CONFIGURATION
"Need" are things intended for the build. "Want" are luxuries or things I'd like to play with.
Have:
MS-7135
Turion ML-42 (2.4 GHz, 512 kB L2)
—Zalman CNPS7000-AlCu
2 GB PC-3200 DDR (3.3.3.8 )
GeForce 7950 GX2
320 GB HDD
Need:
Sound Blaster X-Fi
RAM with better timings
At least a couple of SSDs
Modular SeaSonic PSU, custom cabling
Want:
Turion ML-44
AMD Wraith MAX/Prism
USB3 card and front USB3 connectors
Yamaha YMF744/724
x1950 xtx, just to keep the all-red theme



4. ORIGINAL POST
Hey people! I hope this post finds you well in these pandemic-ridden times.

About a year ago, while on holiday at my parents' place, I found my old Athlon64 computer and pretty much decided then and there I would restore it to its former glory. Unfortunately, besides plotting out a rudimentary capacitor map of the board, not much more was done and the project was shelved. Fast-forward to a few days ago: I noticed khyypio's post in which he used the same board on a WinXP system—I immediately took mine out of storage and starting playing with it!

I've had this motherboard since release, got it in early 2005 along with an Athlon64 3000+. I was on a student budget, so I picked this board in particular to use my old AGP card. The plan was to hold out as long as possible while saving money to buy a PCIe card down the line. Well, I held out about one and a half years and got myself a Radeon x1950 Pro, I guess having no money allowed me to put up for so long with the crappy performance of the fake AGP port. MSI called this pseudo-AGP port "AGR", Advanced Graphics Riser. Even though WikiPedia claims its a PCIe connection (based on an old review), the peeps at coreboot tell us—and its confirmed by yours truly—its nothing more than a PCI connection.

Later on there were reports that boards with nForce4 chipsets like this one could be pencil-modded to enable SLI and SATA300 (another source). I remember very vividly removing the chipset heatsink with the intention of enabling SATA2, and discovering the chip had the necessary components already in place—the chipset said nForce4-4x, but it was effectively a nForce4 SLI! True enough, SATA300 worked without fuzz when I got a faster HDD. With only one PCIe slot though there's no way to test SLI unless I get something like a 7950 GX2, which I don't have handy.


In any case, the core build I have right now is;

  • K8N Neo3 [MS-7135]
  • Athlon64 3000+ [Newcastle, 2000 MHz, 512 kB L2]
  • 2 GB of PC-3200 DDR, effectively the max of the board.
  • Radeon x1950 Pro

Of these, I only plan to swap out the CPU. In fact I already got the replacement...

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This is a Turion ML-42. Its the second fastest Turion available, behind the ML-44. The only difference between the two is the ML-44 sports 1 MB of L2 cache, while mine has only 512 kB. They both have a frequency of 2.4 GHz, which puts them on par with the fastest desktop s754 CPU, the Athlon64 3700+. These three CPUs, at 2.4 GHz, have the 2nd fastest frequency for the socket: the fastest belongs to the Mobile Athlon64 4000+, rocking a cool 2600 MHz.

Why did I choose this CPU instead of any of the other ones?

  • Compared to the Athlon64 3700+, the Turion has SSE3 and a lower voltage (less heat = less noise!);
  • Compared to the Mobile A64 4000+, the Turion has official support in the BIOS (after running Tualatins on OR840, I want something easy for this project);
  • Compared to the Turion ML-44, this one had a reasonable price.

The plan, then, is to build a nice Windows XP / Linux machine—precisely what this computer used to be!
This thread will be my build log as I put the machine together and try to answer some questions. Off the top of my head...

  1. Board needs to be recapped: its running on a bunch of Teapo caps (eww) right out of the capacitor plague era (EWWWWW);
  2. The Turion has no heatspreader—mod the heatsink's mounting mechanism to accommodate the difference in height;
  3. A couple of mods to the original case this computer was housed on;
  4. Repair a small damage around the SATA ports ;
  5. (Optional) It would be nice to change the SATA plugs actually, to right-angle connectors so they don't interfere with the Radeon;
  6. Get X-Fi for this computer (non-negotiable: EAX5 for BioShock)—choose between PCI or PCIe. There are reports of issues with the PCI ones;
  7. I'd like USB3. I can't have it at full speed, but the 1x PCIe 1.0 could theoretically allow about half of its speed: this would be 4 times as fast as USB2!
    Is it needed though? Its SATA300 after all, I'd need to RAID to take advantage of faster transfer speeds from USB. Also, it would take up the 1x PCIe for the sound card;
  8. Get a few SSDs to RAID, I'm actually quite curious about the RAID performance of this chipset since I've never used it;
  9. Put an older GPU in the pseudo-AGP slot to improve compatibility with older games.
    Since its a PCI connection my first thought was "3dfx, those are also fake AGP", unfortunately the slot is keyed for 1.5 V so 3dfx cards are a no go.
    GeForce2 MX maybe?
  10. Benchmark the performance of the pseudo-AGP slot;
  11. Test SLI? It apparently works on older drivers and dual GPU cards!
  12. etc.

Let's have some fun!

Last edited by slivercr on 2020-06-09, 02:22. Edited 2 times in total.

Outrigger: an ongoing adventure with the OR840
QuForce FX 5800: turn your Quadro into a GeForce

Reply 1 of 28, by slivercr

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Today I had some time to work on the case, the task at hand: fit a 120 mm fan in the front. The task was fairly straightforward, nothing a Dremel and some careful measuring couldnt handle. I used templates from jmmods.com—I didn't know of them before the mod, I just googled "120 mm fan template pdf" and they were right on top.

The case is a SUPER generic mid-naughties case, a true product of its time really. I do like that it has a motherboard tray, that's a feature I really like in older cases. I also can't remember the last time I properly modded a case, so in part that's also why I'm working on it... takes me back to simpler time, when I would browse virtualhideout.net's "cool case gallery" all afternoon.

Anyway, a few pictures. The job could be made neater in a couple of spots, but I will be placing a magnetic filter on top of the hole so it won't really be visible—it stays like this.

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Notice I removed the buttons and leds from the front panel. I have one of those 3.5 inch bay units that has a lot of front panel I/O: 4 USB2 ports, headphones and mic, and FireWire. Its pretty nice, too, made of metal and fairly high quality. I will be removing the FireWire port and replacing it with a power button like this one:

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That way I can leave the I/O and power button "fixed" to the frame, allowing me to remove the front panel easily—a feature I really like in newer cases. I'll have to fill-up the holes in the plastic, sand the whole panel and paint it, but that's for another post!

Outrigger: an ongoing adventure with the OR840
QuForce FX 5800: turn your Quadro into a GeForce

Reply 3 of 28, by austinham

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chrismeyer6 wrote on 2020-06-01, 12:33:

Excellent project looking forward to seeing the finished product. That hole you cut for the 120 fan looks very clean and we'll done.

I second this, how did you pull that off with just a Dremel ?

Reply 4 of 28, by slivercr

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austinham wrote on 2020-06-01, 13:37:
chrismeyer6 wrote on 2020-06-01, 12:33:

Excellent project looking forward to seeing the finished product. That hole you cut for the 120 fan looks very clean and we'll done.

I second this, how did you pull that off with just a Dremel ?

Thanks, both of you!

Well, for starters, I cheated. The template I found was for a round hole, and I knew trying to get a nice looking round shape would be difficult. I used the template to drill the fan's holes, screwed it in and then traced the fan's shape with a pencil. That shape is a lot easier because there are more straight lines.

Besides going for an easier shape, I just took my time really. I went through 3 "heavy duty" cutting discs to get it looking like that, and used a file to get rid of any sharp edge. The one tip I could give, which I discovered as I worked on this, is to secure a piece of wood under the metal and let the dremel cut into it as well. I found it made my cuts much more precise than just holding the piece with a vise.

Outrigger: an ongoing adventure with the OR840
QuForce FX 5800: turn your Quadro into a GeForce

Reply 5 of 28, by austinham

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slivercr wrote on 2020-06-01, 14:05:

Thanks, both of you!

Well, for starters, I cheated. The template I found was for a round hole, and I knew trying to get a nice looking round shape would be difficult. I used the template to drill the fan's holes, screwed it in and then traced the fan's shape with a pencil. That shape is a lot easier because there are more straight lines.

Besides going for an easier shape, I just took my time really. I went through 3 "heavy duty" cutting discs to get it looking like that, and used a file to get rid of any sharp edge. The one tip I could give, which I discovered as I worked on this, is to secure a piece of wood under the metal and let the dremel cut into it as well. I found it made my cuts much more precise than just holding the piece with a vise.

Sounds like you know what your doing. Do you plan to do anything to the rear fan port?

Reply 6 of 28, by slivercr

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austinham wrote on 2020-06-01, 14:16:

Sounds like you know what your doing. Do you plan to do anything to the rear fan port?

Nah, I probably won't touch it. Its too difficult because the surface is not level, there's a sort of step right in the middle of the fan position. Cutting a hole there would be detrimental to the overall sturdiness of the case. It was designed for one of those plastic brackets that hold the fan in place, but I don't have it, if I feel like I need it, I'll figure something out, print something probably. Right now I don't feel like I need it though, I was more interested in a bigger and quieter intake fan. Big fan in + slow PSU fan out should do the trick for my purposes.


So, as it turns out, by an absurd coincidence, I just picked this up:

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A Geforce 7950 GX2, which cost me a grand total of 20000 colones (I'm in Costa Rica for the time being)—around $35. It surprised me because there's not a huge market for retro things around here (that I know of at least), and I found it yesterday while browsing Facebook Marketplace of all places.

After I found it and coordinated with the seller I started reading about the card a bit more. I originally wanted it because I thought this would be a way to test the motherboard's "unlocked SLI capabilities" I mentioned in the first post (pencil modding, yada yada). Turns out, as it happens often, I was wrong. The card will work in any motherboard, not only SLI enabled ones. So, while it won't allow me to test the "unlocked SLI", I still thought it was a good deal and went for it.

The card itself seems to be working properly, but its super dirty. Its also super long and would not fit in the case without removing the support bracket. The problem is the bracket runs all the way to the front of the card and is used to hold the "sandwich" in place with screws, without it, the cards are held together by the inner SLI bridge and a single spacer with 2 screws. I'll take it apart to clean it and look for some replacement spacers, then and only then it may see regular use.

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(In this picture you can see the "step" I was referring to in the rear fan position.)

Outrigger: an ongoing adventure with the OR840
QuForce FX 5800: turn your Quadro into a GeForce

Reply 7 of 28, by chinny22

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You have actually done really well getting that 7950!
These are the last cards to support quad SLI in XP.
Challenge will be finding another now at a good price, mine cost closer to $50 each from memory.

Did you say that was the original case as well? Always like seeing hardware from someones past still getting used, that's full nostalgia right there.
If it was me I'd go for the PCIe sound card over USB. Which will you use more often on a gaming rig? Besides If you network the PC it gets rid of the need for USB altogether .

Reply 9 of 28, by slivercr

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chrismeyer6 wrote on 2020-06-02, 11:20:

That 7950 gx2 is amazing find and cant beat that price. I wanted one of those so badly back in the day. I still look occasionally for one hopefully one day.

chinny22 wrote on 2020-06-02, 09:54:
You have actually done really well getting that 7950! These are the last cards to support quad SLI in XP. Challenge will be find […]
Show full quote

You have actually done really well getting that 7950!
These are the last cards to support quad SLI in XP.
Challenge will be finding another now at a good price, mine cost closer to $50 each from memory.
...

Yeah, I thought it was too good of a deal to let it pass by! Who knows when I'll see another one, let alone for a decent price.

chinny22 wrote on 2020-06-02, 09:54:

...
Did you say that was the original case as well? Always like seeing hardware from someones past still getting used, that's full nostalgia right there.
If it was me I'd go for the PCIe sound card over USB. Which will you use more often on a gaming rig? Besides If you network the PC it gets rid of the need for USB altogether .

It is the original case! It was actually such a nostalgia trip to find it, so many good memories! I'm trying my best to do a good job with the mods and keep it with me.

About the sound card: stars seem to be aligning with this build because I found a cheap X-Fi locally! I'll be going PCI now, leaving the 1x PCIe open for use. In any case, I don't think the PCIe X-Fi has Windows XP drivers so it didn't really serve my purpose I guess.

The X-Fi will be delivered on Thursday, so this weekend will be busy with recapping/cleaning the motherboard, a bit of case modding, and a trial test of almost all the hardware together (missing storage).

Outrigger: an ongoing adventure with the OR840
QuForce FX 5800: turn your Quadro into a GeForce

Reply 10 of 28, by chrismeyer6

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With the gx2 and the xfi your going to have one hell of a XP machine. I've had 2 pci XFI fatality cards since they came out and I think there my favorite sound cards for XP and win 7

Reply 12 of 28, by slivercr

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Just a friendly reminder to clean every piece of gear you get. This is from a SUPERFICIAL cleaning of ONE card from the GX2, I haven't even disassembled the fan yet...

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Outrigger: an ongoing adventure with the OR840
QuForce FX 5800: turn your Quadro into a GeForce

Reply 14 of 28, by mastergamma12

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slivercr wrote on 2020-06-03, 02:35:
Yeah, I thought it was too good of a deal to let it pass by! Who knows when I'll see another one, let alone for a decent price. […]
Show full quote
chrismeyer6 wrote on 2020-06-02, 11:20:

That 7950 gx2 is amazing find and cant beat that price. I wanted one of those so badly back in the day. I still look occasionally for one hopefully one day.

chinny22 wrote on 2020-06-02, 09:54:
You have actually done really well getting that 7950! These are the last cards to support quad SLI in XP. Challenge will be find […]
Show full quote

You have actually done really well getting that 7950!
These are the last cards to support quad SLI in XP.
Challenge will be finding another now at a good price, mine cost closer to $50 each from memory.
...

Yeah, I thought it was too good of a deal to let it pass by! Who knows when I'll see another one, let alone for a decent price.

chinny22 wrote on 2020-06-02, 09:54:

...
Did you say that was the original case as well? Always like seeing hardware from someones past still getting used, that's full nostalgia right there.
If it was me I'd go for the PCIe sound card over USB. Which will you use more often on a gaming rig? Besides If you network the PC it gets rid of the need for USB altogether .

It is the original case! It was actually such a nostalgia trip to find it, so many good memories! I'm trying my best to do a good job with the mods and keep it with me.

About the sound card: stars seem to be aligning with this build because I found a cheap X-Fi locally! I'll be going PCI now, leaving the 1x PCIe open for use. In any case, I don't think the PCIe X-Fi has Windows XP drivers so it didn't really serve my purpose I guess.

The X-Fi will be delivered on Thursday, so this weekend will be busy with recapping/cleaning the motherboard, a bit of case modding, and a trial test of almost all the hardware together (missing storage).

FYI, the X-FI Titanium's do support xp, only the Titanium HD doesn't.

KR4f9Rr.png

Reply 15 of 28, by slivercr

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mastergamma12 wrote on 2020-06-06, 00:44:

FYI, the X-FI Titanium's do support xp, only the Titanium HD doesn't.

Ahhh, I'm wrong again! Good to know, thanks.
It may actually work out in my favor because the guy with the X-Fi I found locally backed out of the deal. I'll look into X-Fi Titaniums on ebay.

Outrigger: an ongoing adventure with the OR840
QuForce FX 5800: turn your Quadro into a GeForce

Reply 16 of 28, by slivercr

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I've been cleaning/recapping the motherboard today, while working not-too-diligently on other mods and fixes. Tbh, most of my time has been spent playing with the PC and the 2 GPUs I have handy at the moment: a 7600 GT and the 7950 GX2 (the x1950 Pro is down for maintenance, I cleaned it and discarded the RAM thermal pads because I thought I had spares—I didn't).

A few notes;

  • I tried to "modify" the Zalman's retention mechanism to work with the Turion—stick a couple of washers between the clamp and heatsink to effectively lower it and force it to make contact. It works great, with one caveat: It will only allow me to use one RAM slot because it bumps the nearest DIMM. Not good. As an alternative solution I decapped the Athlon64 3000+ I had—the thermal paste was completely useless after so many years anyway—and have been using the lid on the Turion while I figure something more "permanent". I'm really tempted to get a Wraith Max or Wraith Prism just for the AMD branding and the sweet red ring that would go so well with the motherboard. Not a priority, though.
  • Here's a shot of the nForce4-4x: it has all the components enabling the features of its elder brother nForce4-SLI. Wolf in sheep's clothes.
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  • The nforce is now rocking one of these chinese pseudo-flower copper coolers I bought a long time ago. It keeps the chip cool and fits the motherboard quite well. It also fits the time period and the cooling-world's infatuation with flower designs back then. It is pretty bulky and the fan is a VERY whiny 6k RPM 40mm one. If I intend to keep this config, the fan has to change because I can't stand it. One downside is the cooler is so bulky it effectively limits the use of the 1x PCIe, but since I have no card for the slot at the moment it can stay there.
  • SATA port 3 is missing two small capacitors that I need to replace (you can see the empty pads between ports 3 and 4 in the following picture). I need to either order them or scavenge them from another motherboard. I can't order them because I don't really know what to order—does anyone know the value of these caps that go in the SATA bus data lines? I think my best bet is to get them from another board, since they are directly in the SATA line they must have a standard value (please correct me if this is not the case!).
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  • I modded a nice (and red!) IDE to SATA adapter I had laying around. I like it quite a bit actually, it plugs into the motherboard and has 2 chips to plug SATA drives as Master/Slave. I disliked that it stood up so I changed the connector to make it lay against the mobo tray. Given the location of this motherboard's IDE connectors, it works quite well. In the last picture you can see I had to relocate a capacitor to be able to plug it. There's a small cable connecting 2 pins to fool the motherboard into thinking an 80 wire cable is plugged in, this enables UATA66 and higher.
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  • The latest nForce4 drivers for WinXP are v15.23, they don't seem to include controls for ActiveArmor, nvidia's hardware firewall. Version 6.86 does include controls for this. WikiPedia mentions problems with this feature, but I cant find any official statements supporting this info.
  • I haven't been able to test MediaShield, nvidia's RAID controller. I noticed it integrates into nVidia's Control Panel if there is an nVidia GPU installed—keeps things pretty tidy.
  • nVidia's overclocking software nTune (later rebranded nvidia System Tools) is not very useful, at least with this board. I tried various revisions (nTune 2.05.15.08, nTune 5.00.11.06, nTune 5.05.54.00, and System Tools 6.08) and all of them only allow to change a few settings: 3 RAM timings, the HyperTransport multiplier, and the PCIe frequency. If you have a nVidia GPU installed it will also include the GPU's frequency to tweak. It includes a System Monitor, but it includes to few things and in a couple of those is waaaaay off. The selling point is its supposed to auto-overclock the system for you. I tried it for laughs and it achieved a pretty unimpressive result, around 2.5 GHz (stock is 2.4 GHz). Considering I can manually tune in around 2. 8 GHz which I tested as stable with AIDA64, I don't care much for this software. It also integrates into nvidia's Control Panel, so that's nice I guess.
  • MSI's own CoreCenter software for this motherboard is based on nTune, but modified to work better with the board. It still allows only minimal tweaking from Windows, but the voltages and frequencies it monitors at least make sense. I think I'll stick with the BIOS for overclocking. For monitoring I've been trying out SIV and I must say I'm really enjoying it! At first it had some errors reporting voltages and memory settings, but the author quickly adjusted a few things and now it works beautifully! Recommended for this board.
  • The included AC97 audio chip is the ALC655. Its a fun chip that I've been forced to use while I find the soundcards I want.
  • As I did with the OR840
    I'm compiling a repository for this board which can be found HERE

More later.

Outrigger: an ongoing adventure with the OR840
QuForce FX 5800: turn your Quadro into a GeForce

Reply 18 of 28, by slivercr

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chrismeyer6 wrote on 2020-06-07, 00:22:

I'm really liking how your build is coming. It reminds me of my computer from back then great memories indeed.

Thanks!

I know what you mean. I often browse through Vogons or watch youtube videos and see builds that remind me of computers I had, yet this is the first time I'm actually building something I had. I've always wanted to rebuild 2 particular systems I'm very fond of—this is one of those—but always end up building obtuse things that are cool to play with and I like a lot, but have no nostalgia factor.

I've built a lot of systems since I started in the hobby, but this is only my 3rd system build thread. The first one started as an attempt to rebuild the other system I'm fond of—a Celeron 300a, MY 300a which I've kept over the years—and ended up as a dual-Pentium3 monstrosity. I like it a lot, and grew fond of it as I worked on it, but there are no memories associated with it besides those of building it. The second was a Willamette P4 build with an abit board which was "cool" to me because of the apparent rarity of such builds. I grew unenthusiastic and pulled the plug on that one early on because well, my late dual-P3 can pretty much do anything that P4 could. (I also learned the difference between a plaything-build and a thread-worthy build. Not everything I try needs a thread here!)

Now this one, this one is quite different. This one is hitting hard in the nostalgia department. Its bringing back a lot of incredible memories of working my ass off to get these parts, playing a lot of great games (some of which I've wanted to replay for a while—looking at you SW: Republic Commando), playing online games and making friends I still talk to, etc.

I'm quite happy to be working on it!

Outrigger: an ongoing adventure with the OR840
QuForce FX 5800: turn your Quadro into a GeForce

Reply 19 of 28, by slivercr

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So, I haven't done much to the PC today besides playing. The 7950 GX2 is an absolute BEAST, I'm very impressed by it and very glad I got it! It did throw a wrench on a couple of my plans—keeping an all-red theme and trying out an older AGP card in the AGR slot—, but its just too good to not use.

Some 3dMark05 results from the 7600 GT and 7950 GX2;

7600 GT
defaults = 6101
4xAA, 16xAF = 4991

7950 GX2 (SINGLE)
defaults = 7962
4xAA, 16xAF = 6781

7950 GX2 (SLI)
defaults = 10361
4xAA, 16xAF = 9775

Does anyone have/know of a system I can use for reference? I've been keeping Phil's FX-57 video in mind because I watched it recently, but the differences in CPU frequency, platform (faster RAM, Dual vs Single Channel, faster HyperTransport, ULI chipset, ...) and GPU frequencies (7900GTO@650:660 vs GX2(single)@500:600) give him a huge advantage: his score with a 7900GTO is ~10000, mine with the GX2 in single mode is ~8000, a 2000 point difference—that's the difference between the 7600 GT and the GX2 in single mode! I guess an easy way to compare is to overclock my system and see if I get scores in the same ballpark.

I noticed the card runs somewhat toasty, too. Nothing too severe I think, but I'd like to get feedback from people with GX2 cards about idle temps. I cleaned the card and heatsink, replaced thermal paste, cleaned and lubricated the fans, and there's unobstructed airflow from the 120mm fan getting to the card, yet I'm getting ~55 ºC on the outer card and ~65 ºC on the inner card, with the fans going at around 35% each. They only rarely ramp up, actually, only under heavy load and for a brief time

In contrast, the Turion idles at around 33 ºC and maxes at ~45 ºC under HEAVY load with a closed case—pretty cool 😎

Outrigger: an ongoing adventure with the OR840
QuForce FX 5800: turn your Quadro into a GeForce