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Is GTX 680 3-Way SLI worth the price?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 21, 2013 5:37:43 AM

Hello,

I was wondering if running 3 Gigabyte Windforce GTX 680 cards in Tri-SLI would be worth it. I have 2 of the cards already in SLI but was curious as to how much improvement I could see by adding a 3rd card. I game at 2560x1440 and have seen some frame rate issues (though rare) with Crysis 3 and Metro 2033. Would adding another GTX 680 help with this?

My system:
Intel i7 3930K Sandy Bridge-E OC @ 4.4 GHz
ASRock X79 Champion LGA 2011 Intel X79 Motherboard
1 x Intel 520 Series Cherryville 120 GB SSD - OS
2 x WD Caviar Black 1TB HDD - Storage
1 x WD Velociraptor 600GB - Gaming
16 GB RAM - G.SKILL Sniper Gaming Series (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2133
2 x GIGABYTE GV-N680OC-2GD GeForce GTX 680 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 Graphics Card in SLI
Cooler Master HAF-X Case
March 21, 2013 5:44:38 AM

i would say no as SLI/Crossfire don't scale equally in all games and from what i've seen 2 cards generally scale in the 80% when the 3rd or 4th only add 10-20% more... and 10-20% for 400$ :S you see the point...

670 2 way vs 3 way (it should be about the same with 680)
http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/geforce_gtx_670_2_...
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March 21, 2013 5:45:24 AM

No, it would not really be worth it. Sli is usually meant for more than one monitor, so if you are going to add one or two monitors it will be worth it. Besides that you will just get about 15 more fps but there will be some spikes in frame rate because of the sli not being perfect.
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March 21, 2013 6:10:01 AM

spawnkiller said:
i would say no as SLI/Crossfire don't scale equally in all games and from what i've seen 2 cards generally scale in the 80% when the 3rd or 4th only add 10-20% more... and 10-20% for 400$ :S you see the point...

670 2 way vs 3 way (it should be about the same with 680)
http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/geforce_gtx_670_2_...


I agree with this. 2-way scaling is fantastic. 3-way scaling is pathetic.
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March 21, 2013 6:20:40 AM

Yeah, what the others have said: you really get plenty of power from 2-way as it is. You probably won't need 3-way.

It is worth noting, though, that 3-way SLI/crossfire eliminates microstutter completely. Not that you're likely to have a problem with an array this powerful.
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March 21, 2013 6:21:34 AM

Worth can only be decided by the user . . . personally I don't think it would be. But you specifically mentioned Metro, and on that link that spawnkiller linked on their Metro 2033 test their 670 benchmarks at 2560x1600 were:

670: 22 FPS
2x670: 36 FPS (+63%)
3x670: 60FPS (+172% over 1, 66% over 2)

Seems to scale in that specific game pretty linearly. It certainly won't in every game, and probably won't even be noticeable in a good majority of games. So if that's worth it to you, then go for it .
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March 21, 2013 6:26:42 AM

Traciatim said:
Worth can only be decided by the user . . . personally I don't think it would be. But you specifically mentioned Metro, and on that link that spawnkiller linked on their Metro 2033 test their 670 benchmarks at 2560x1600 were:

670: 22 FPS
2x670: 36 FPS (+63%)
3x670: 60FPS (+172% over 1, 66% over 2)

Seems to scale in that specific game pretty linearly. It certainly won't in every game, and probably won't even be noticeable in a good majority of games. So if that's worth it to you, then go for it .


Yeah but 400$ for a single game (if you still play it), it add some FPS for sure but in general it's not that much and for the price, it simply don't worth it in my opinion...
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March 21, 2013 6:49:39 AM

I'd give the two 680s to a friend for free and grab a couple of Titans.
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March 21, 2013 7:08:56 AM

Ninjawithagun said:
spawnkiller said:
i would say no as SLI/Crossfire don't scale equally in all games and from what i've seen 2 cards generally scale in the 80% when the 3rd or 4th only add 10-20% more... and 10-20% for 400$ :S you see the point...

670 2 way vs 3 way (it should be about the same with 680)
http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/geforce_gtx_670_2_...


This review is wayyyyyyyyy old. That hardware review was conducted right after the GTX680 cards were released. Use this review instead:

http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GeForce_GTX_T...


This guy is right. It looks like they improved things with the drivers for 3-way. With 2, you get near 100% scaling. The 3rd seems to add an additional 20-50% depending on the resolution. Glad you posted this newer review.
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March 21, 2013 7:14:53 AM

wasn't aware of that, sorry for the old info, newer drivers do an awesome job !! Tri-SLI now make a little more sense !!
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March 21, 2013 10:00:12 AM

Thanks for all of the replies!

I primarily built this new rig to play Skyrim (heavily modded), Crysis 1-3, the Metro games, possibly Starcraft 2 and a few other older games. It has been a while since I last gamed on my PC (about a year and a half.... I think) and was looking for solid perfomance across the games mentioned above.

I could turn the settings down a little to improve performance but I really like having as much "eye candy" as I can get. So with that I guess it is worth it to me to purchase a 3rd GTX 680. It has been stated that a 3rd card would help with microstuttering as well (I don't always notice it but from time-to-time).

Anyway, thanks for all of the replies again.
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March 21, 2013 10:05:00 AM

jmack5864 said:
Hello,

I was wondering if running 3 Gigabyte Windforce GTX 680 cards in Tri-SLI would be worth it. I have 2 of the cards already in SLI but was curious as to how much improvement I could see by adding a 3rd card. I game at 2560x1440 and have seen some frame rate issues (though rare) with Crysis 3 and Metro 2033. Would adding another GTX 680 help with this?


The problem with those games will not be helped with a new video card.

Crysis 3 is a hugely CPU bound game:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/crysis-3-performanc...

And Metro 2033 works great, except in a couple known spots which run awful regardless of your system. I don't even know the cause, but when you first run into those overgrown apes, your FPS takes a dumb regardless of settings, which means it is likely a CPU problem.
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March 21, 2013 10:56:46 AM

bystander said:

The problem with those games will not be helped with a new video card.

Crysis 3 is a hugely CPU bound game:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/crysis-3-performanc...

And Metro 2033 works great, except in a couple known spots which run awful regardless of your system. I don't even know the cause, but when you first run into those overgrown apes, your FPS takes a dumb regardless of settings, which means it is likely a CPU problem.


OP has a hugely OC'd 3930K. CPU is not a problem.
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March 21, 2013 11:06:18 AM

bemused_fred said:
bystander said:

The problem with those games will not be helped with a new video card.

Crysis 3 is a hugely CPU bound game:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/crysis-3-performanc...

And Metro 2033 works great, except in a couple known spots which run awful regardless of your system. I don't even know the cause, but when you first run into those overgrown apes, your FPS takes a dumb regardless of settings, which means it is likely a CPU problem.


OP has a hugely OC'd 3930K. CPU is not a problem.


Did you look at the CPU benchmarks, which include his CPU? All CPU's are not fast enough for super high FPS in Crysis 3.

Look through the review. The game just won't let you have constant high FPS, no matter your system.
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March 21, 2013 12:56:56 PM

bystander said:
bemused_fred said:

OP has a hugely OC'd 3930K. CPU is not a problem.


Did you look at the CPU benchmarks, which include his CPU? All CPU's are not fast enough for super high FPS in Crysis 3.

Look through the review. The game just won't let you have constant high FPS, no matter your system.


You realize that that is just because of an unexplained dent in the benchmark? Read the whole article: there's a huge dip in performance towards the end of the benchmark for all configurations, and the testers don't know why.

For gaming in Crysis 3, a 3930K should be fine. Here's proof.
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March 21, 2013 1:00:57 PM

bemused_fred said:
bystander said:
bemused_fred said:

OP has a hugely OC'd 3930K. CPU is not a problem.


Did you look at the CPU benchmarks, which include his CPU? All CPU's are not fast enough for super high FPS in Crysis 3.

Look through the review. The game just won't let you have constant high FPS, no matter your system.


You realize that that is just because of an unexplained dent in the benchmark? Read the whole article: there's a huge dip in performance towards the end of the benchmark for all configurations, and the testers don't know why.

For gaming in Crysis 3, a 3930K should be fine. Here's proof.


Keep in mind, at no point did I say he has to upgrade. My point is, the average FPS difference between a 680, Titan, 7970 and 680 SLI, 7970 CF is extremely small no matter what CPU is used. Adding a 3rd 680 is not going to help, and given the differences between the given setups, it is likely the CPU holding things back, meaning there is nothing that can be done with new hardware. He just has to accept that there are going to be some slow downs here and there.

The video may be smooth, but it is a video after all, and isn't covering the whole game.
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March 21, 2013 1:21:48 PM

bystander said:

Keep in mind, at no point did I say he has to upgrade. My point is, the average FPS difference between a 680, Titan, 7970 and 680 SLI, 7970 CF is extremely small no matter what CPU is used. Adding a 3rd 680 is not going to help, and given the differences between the given setups, it is likely the CPU holding things back, meaning there is nothing that can be done with new hardware. He just has to accept that there are going to be some slow downs here and there.

The video may be smooth, but it is a video after all, and isn't covering the whole game.


Since you evidently can't be bothered to read the article, let me quote it for you:

"When we look at frame rates over time, we see a temporary drop in performance affecting our minimum frame rate number at the end of our benchmark. The funny thing is that there's nothing particularly interesting happening during the test to make this happen (no room full of bad guys or massive explosions). So, the reason for that drop is unclear." [This drop applies to all cards and sets the minimum frame rate in the benchmarks in all the Tom's Hardware benchmarks for Crysis 3.]

"We've already seen the mysterious bottleneck that pulls performance down at the end of our run to 33 FPS or so, so we don't really learn anything new from the frame rate over time chart." [It saw a GTX 670 and a HD 7870 have the same minimum frame rates, despite a 20 FPS difference in average.]

The OP will be fine with their CPU if they choose to upgrade. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but they won't see a bottleneck.
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March 21, 2013 2:09:55 PM

bemused_fred said:
bystander said:

Keep in mind, at no point did I say he has to upgrade. My point is, the average FPS difference between a 680, Titan, 7970 and 680 SLI, 7970 CF is extremely small no matter what CPU is used. Adding a 3rd 680 is not going to help, and given the differences between the given setups, it is likely the CPU holding things back, meaning there is nothing that can be done with new hardware. He just has to accept that there are going to be some slow downs here and there.

The video may be smooth, but it is a video after all, and isn't covering the whole game.


Since you evidently can't be bothered to read the article, let me quote it for you:

"When we look at frame rates over time, we see a temporary drop in performance affecting our minimum frame rate number at the end of our benchmark. The funny thing is that there's nothing particularly interesting happening during the test to make this happen (no room full of bad guys or massive explosions). So, the reason for that drop is unclear." [This drop applies to all cards and sets the minimum frame rate in the benchmarks in all the Tom's Hardware benchmarks for Crysis 3.]

"We've already seen the mysterious bottleneck that pulls performance down at the end of our run to 33 FPS or so, so we don't really learn anything new from the frame rate over time chart." [It saw a GTX 670 and a HD 7870 have the same minimum frame rates, despite a 20 FPS difference in average.]

The OP will be fine with their CPU if they choose to upgrade. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but they won't see a bottleneck.


I was not calling it a CPU bottleneck game based on the minimums. Look at the average FPS. There is barely any improvement as you go up the GPU chain. A 7970 CF and 680 SLI setups do not improve performance by much. Imagine how little going 3-way would improve performance?
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March 21, 2013 2:58:26 PM

bystander said:

I was not calling it a CPU bottleneck game based on the minimums. Look at the average FPS. There is barely any improvement as you go up the GPU chain. A 7970 CF and 680 SLI setups do not improve performance by much. Imagine how little going 3-way would improve performance?


True. Triple-SLI 680's really aren't great value for money. But heigh-ho. It's OP's money. Let them spend it how they want to.
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March 21, 2013 3:43:28 PM

bemused_fred said:
bystander said:

I was not calling it a CPU bottleneck game based on the minimums. Look at the average FPS. There is barely any improvement as you go up the GPU chain. A 7970 CF and 680 SLI setups do not improve performance by much. Imagine how little going 3-way would improve performance?


True. Triple-SLI 680's really aren't great value for money. But heigh-ho. It's OP's money. Let them spend it how they want to.


He did ask if it would be worth the price. I was only answering his question.
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April 4, 2013 3:21:08 AM

I'm going through the same dilemma but with different graphics cards haha :) 
I'm deciding to go with EVGA GTX 680 FTW 4gb with either Tri SLI or normal SLI with Nvidia Surround.

I read this article recently and I thought it was really helpful. The author really covered the cards in a realistic condition with 5700x1080p.

He concludes that TRI SLI680's destroy Tri-Fire 7970's and that was with the 2gb versions. He reckons with 4gb versions, they'd really shine at high res :) 

http://www.hardocp.com/article/2012/04/25/geforce_gtx_6...

Another thing I've heard is that (at least with EVGA cards) sometimes the middle card toasts up but having the 3 cards under water is really good, plus you can OC the ass out of them :o 

Anyway, I'm not exactly pro when it comes to this stuff, I'm just echoing what I've read, so don't take my opinion too hard, I guess it does help we're on the same boat though :D 

I couldn't tell you if it was worth it, but I'm looking at biting the bullet and going through with it, I guess you could do the same, and if you're unhappy with it, just sell the third card?

Anyway, regardless of your decision, show us pictures and updates and stuff :D  I'd love to know how it looks and performs :D 
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