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Single Graphics Card vs SLI setup?

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October 9, 2011 12:16:06 PM

Hello again everyone,

I'm looking to get a new graphics card to satisfy the needs of some new games I want to play in 3D. While doing some research into the current technology, I discovered to my dismay that my mboard (ASUS P7P55D LE) supports Crossfire but NOT SLI. This is a problem because I was planning to install two NVIDIA cards, probably 560ti's. I understand that Crossfire does not support multiple NVIDIA cards (if i'm wrong here please correct me).

As an alternative to the above mentioned setup, I thought perhaps to go with the new NVIDIA 590 or 580 3GB.

My question to anyone who has experience in high end 3D gaming is do you think the single 3GB 590/580 card will do as good a job as two 560ti's when it comes to 1080p 3D at 60hz?

As I currently have a (dusty old) GTX 285 installed I assume a 590 will fit just the same.

The rest of my setup should be sufficient for this sort of thing.

If you think it matters, I am looking to get an "Acer HN274H 27in LED 120Hz" 3D monitor for the games (and some stereoscopic 3D animation/editing)

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks.
October 9, 2011 10:08:33 PM

why not go with two high-end ati cards?
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October 10, 2011 1:04:09 AM

Hmm, I hadn't even thought about that - have always liked NVIDIA....I guess because I might need 3D Vision for my games? ( I say might because I also have TriDef which could also do the job)

More research is in order then. I need to know an ATI setup will also cater for my 3D animation/video editing needs.

Thanks Ben95
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October 10, 2011 1:55:16 AM

Can anyone give me an idea of a Crossfire setup that would match a high end NVIDIA SLI or a single GTX 590 3GB?

I suppose I should list some of my specs:

ASUS P7P55D LE
Intel Core i7 860 @ 2.8 Ghz
16GB DDR3 RAM
GTX 285 1GB
Crucial M4 256GB SSD (dedicated for software/games)

Also do you think that ATI cards are as good as NVIDIA for 3D animation and video editing?

Cheers.
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October 10, 2011 2:24:38 AM

sorry man I am an nvidia guy too. I really know much about the ati stuff, but I just thought since you had crossfire its worth looking into.

Maybe an ati dude can help us out ;) 
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October 10, 2011 2:32:09 AM

Don't do it. Get one high powered card. There's simply physical limitations that will give you issues. Maybe not on every game, but enough. I went the dual card route, never again. Twice the heat, about 60% more fps (but usually that means 60 goes to 90fps, fast is fast enough). And that's on games where it actually is supported. Even where it is supported, it's the nature of the beast to experience microstuttering.

And when both cards can't keep up with the latest high enders, you got twice the trash to dispose of.

YMMV.

-Chris
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October 10, 2011 2:56:04 AM

Right. In that case, I will prob go with either the GTX590 3GB or GTX580 3GB (which is a few hundred $$ cheaper).

I wonder if there is much of a diff between these two performance wise?

Which brand is better - Gigabyte, ASUS, EVGA etc?

Thanks for your help, guys.
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October 10, 2011 3:36:55 AM

Trist_58 said:
Right. In that case, I will prob go with either the GTX590 3GB or GTX580 3GB (which is a few hundred $$ cheaper).

I wonder if there is much of a diff between these two performance wise?

Which brand is better - Gigabyte, ASUS, EVGA etc?

Thanks for your help, guys.


I just swapped out 2x gtx280 for 1x gtx590 and can safely say it's performance is outstanding while at the same time it is soooo much quieter to run under load versus the old 280sli setup as well as giving the benefits of less heat, lower power consumption and less importantly it frees up a mass of power cabling versus the sli setup as well as freeing up a PCI-E lane for future use.

Having most recently tested the card out with the BF3 beta I can tell you that even with every graphical setting maxed out you can here the card teasing your apparent inability to make it work harder while it easily handles anything you can throw at it!

With regard to the make i went with, I bought the Gigabyte model as my preferred model (top-end Asus) is like gold dust and never available anywhere. Bizzarely the Gigabyte card comes in a massively sturdy hard plastic container box akin to a workman's toolbox which in my case is exactly what I now use it for.
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October 10, 2011 3:52:55 AM

Thanks dizzy_davidh!

The more I research it the more I am believing that the 590 is the card for me. Like you said, its not only quieter than an SLI setup but consumes less power and takes less space. Also (as I have mentioned earlier) my mobo won't support SLI.

As far as the brand goes, the store I usually buy from has the Gigabyte version available so I reckon I'll go with that.

The only thing I need to figure out is will this card function well for 3D design and editing as well as games, and I need to check if my PSU is sufficient for this beast.

So I'm pretty much sold on the NVIDIA GTX 590 3GB.

If anyone has a good reason why I shouldn't, please let me know.

Cheers.
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a b U Graphics card
October 10, 2011 5:36:12 AM

The latest article form Toms showed that nVidia 3D works in in more games and better. And yes, a GTX 580 will do your job on a single monitor with Stereoscopic 3D @ 1080p, and ofc the GTX 590 aswell
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October 10, 2011 7:05:46 AM

I am currently running 2 x GTX285's in SLI. Waiting for a good moment to upgrade, but it would require me getting new water blocks so it's gotta be a meaningful upgrade. Also while some people have had bad experiences with SLI I've had nothing but good. I attribute this to the fact that I do 3D vision for gaming. If a game engine is built properly then it'll scale very well with SLI, if it's a console port or just thrown together then it'll have issues.

In your cause, are you absolutely sold on your current board?

SLI is absolutely amazing for 3D Vision games. 3D vision requires that the graphics card do nearly 200% the work it normally would. Thankfully this is work that can easily be split into two. With 3D Vision you will experience near linear performance increase with SLI. In other words, having a second card will double your frame rate. Now seeing as your going to want to be locked @60fps anyway, what it usually means is higher graphics detail settings and higher resolution. Your basically wanting to run 1080p @ 120 fps.

If your running a single GTX285, then go for the 580. It's a significant jump in performance, and 6 months to a year later you can buy another one at a discount to double your performance.

That's been my buying model since my two 7900GS's. Buy one, then 6months to a year later buy a second, then wait until a single card comes out that is 20~40% better then my dual setup. I went from 7900GS -> 8800GT -> GTX285 doing this method.
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October 10, 2011 9:16:12 AM

I used a single 570 for my 3d gaming at 1920 x 1080. I found that I had to turn some detail down in the games but they still looked and ran great.

I now have 2 x 570s and it can be a pain sometimes if games do not support 2 cards, but I think you would have the same issue with a 590 (correct me if im wrong guys)

A single 580 would be great
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October 10, 2011 9:48:40 AM

bumnut53 said:
I used a single 570 for my 3d gaming at 1920 x 1080. I found that I had to turn some detail down in the games but they still looked and ran great.

I now have 2 x 570s and it can be a pain sometimes if games do not support 2 cards, but I think you would have the same issue with a 590 (correct me if im wrong guys)

A single 580 would be great


As far as I know, a 590 is not the same as SLI in the way that the two GPU's communicate. There are forums around that go into details about how they are engineered but this was the jist I got. So in theory I shouldn't have compatibility issues with the 590 compared to two separate cards in SLI when it comes to some games.

Also, I want to mininise power consumption, heat and noise so I think the 590 is for me.
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October 10, 2011 9:53:41 AM

Which brings me to my next question -

I have heard that the 590 emits some heat into the case (as well as out the vents). In my setup this would be directed towards my ssd/hdd's so I was wondering if it would be wise to find a general cooler of some kind to prevent overheating. I am definately not looking to overclock the card, everything I have read suggests you shouldn't.

Anyone who has the 590 experienced issues with overheating?
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October 10, 2011 11:36:17 AM

Trist_58 said:
As far as I know, a 590 is not the same as SLI in the way that the two GPU's communicate. There are forums around that go into details about how they are engineered but this was the jist I got. So in theory I shouldn't have compatibility issues with the 590 compared to two separate cards in SLI when it comes to some games.

Also, I want to mininise power consumption, heat and noise so I think the 590 is for me.


Games still see the 590 as 2 cards, if there is no sli support for a game, it will only use one GPU.
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October 10, 2011 11:43:29 AM

Ok, Ill take your word for it.

I hope most games from now on will support SLI. I'm mainly into RPGs, like The Witcher 2 and looking forward to playing the new Elder Scrolls in 3D when it comes out.

Thanks for the intel.
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a b U Graphics card
October 10, 2011 11:53:51 AM

The HD 6990 has issues with noise and heat. The GTX 590 on the other hand, doesn't have much heat or noise problems. Basically, it's just two underclocked 580s.
What is your current PSU?
Semms everything is upto mark, so GTX 590 it is then. :) 
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a b U Graphics card
October 10, 2011 11:59:12 AM

Trist_58 said:
Ok, Ill take your word for it.

I hope most games from now on will support SLI. I'm mainly into RPGs, like The Witcher 2 and looking forward to playing the new Elder Scrolls in 3D when it comes out.

Thanks for the intel.

Actually, almost all the games supports SLi or get patched in being able to support SLi. It's mostly RTS type games that doesn't have SLi support.
Otherwise, you can force SLi support through Nvidia control panel. :) 
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October 10, 2011 12:00:39 PM

@Gman450

Thats good to hear. I had a look at my PSU today and found its only 700w so I will probably have to get a better one, Im thinking 850 or even 1000w.

Im also concerned that the 590 won't fit into the space where I have my old 285 as its a couple cms wider.
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a b U Graphics card
October 10, 2011 12:04:16 PM

What is the brand of your PSU? The model number too.
700W meets the requirements, but I'd have to know the brand and model of the PSU first.
What is your current cabinet? :) 
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October 10, 2011 12:10:59 PM

Not sure about the brand, I am a bit pre-occupied to open the box up at the moment but I really appreciate your help, Gman. At the time of original build my technician assured me that it was of very good quality (but as if he would say otherwise lol). By cabinet I assume you mean case? Its an AOpen full tower, if that helps at all. Forgive my lack of expertise, Im still learning all this stuff as I go!
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October 10, 2011 12:15:14 PM

I tell u what, give me 10 minutes and ill have a look!
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October 10, 2011 12:28:07 PM

Ok, im back.

PSU: AOpen Model: AO700-12AE6

On the back of the box there's a serial number: 84202501JK

hope this helps!
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a b U Graphics card
October 10, 2011 1:47:17 PM

The dimensions of your case is adequate for a GTX 590.
I can see that the PSU is a good one, but want just a bit more info. Can you record and then post the power specifications of that PSU, because I can't seem to find your model in the manufacturer's website. So if you can post it, it'll be much appreciated. :) 

You can find the power specs on a chart or something that is attached to the PSU.
Check the amps on the +12v rail. :) 
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October 10, 2011 2:03:08 PM

Gman450 said:
The dimensions of your case is adequate for a GTX 590.
I can see that the PSU is a good one, but want just a bit more info. Can you record and then post the power specifications of that PSU, because I can't seem to find your model in the manufacturer's website. So if you can post it, it'll be much appreciated. :) 

You can find the power specs on a chart or something that is attached to the PSU.
Check the amps on the +12v rail. :) 


That's awesome news! Thankyou so much for putting my mind at ease. I will have another look at the PSU. The reason I think I will need a better one anyway is because I probably have more than average number of devices being supplied:

3 SSD's
1 HDD
1 Wacom Tablet
Surround sound system
Digital TV tuner
and soon to have a 120hz 27" LED 3D monitor.

These are on top of all the regular stuff.

Anyway I will post the info in about 15.

Cheers.
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a b U Graphics card
October 10, 2011 2:05:22 PM

Woah, that is a lot of hardware. Aren't we a rich huy, huh? :) 
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October 10, 2011 2:22:33 PM

Hehe, not really, just accumulated technology at the cost of a social life ;) 

Anyway, I took a photo of the PSU this this time.

The +12V1 has a max output current of 30A
+12V2 is also 30A

Is this the info you were after?
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October 10, 2011 4:31:26 PM

Trist_58 said:
Which brings me to my next question -

I have heard that the 590 emits some heat into the case (as well as out the vents). In my setup this would be directed towards my ssd/hdd's so I was wondering if it would be wise to find a general cooler of some kind to prevent overheating. I am definately not looking to overclock the card, everything I have read suggests you shouldn't.

Anyone who has the 590 experienced issues with overheating?



A 590 is just two 570's (or 560's can't remember exactly) SLI'd on the same PCB. Their still two different GPU's completely with two different memory banks, they just share a single card and power unit.

590s are a horrible choice for your money. Best to get a 580 then buy a second one in 6 months to a year, then sit on that for a generation or two. You end up spending less money and getting better performance in the long run instead of constantly upgrading to the newest thing out there.

That and the 590 is ridiculously hot. Two powerful GPU's sharing the same heatsink / fan is a very bad idea.
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October 10, 2011 4:36:14 PM

Thanks for the info. But would a single 580 be beefy enough to play games like The Witcher 2 in 3D with awesome settings?
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October 10, 2011 4:50:01 PM

Trist_58 said:
Thanks for the info. But would a single 580 be beefy enough to play games like The Witcher 2 in 3D with awesome settings?


My two GTX 285's can do that fine. A single 580 would be plenty for now, but you really might want to look at purchasing a second one later. Try to think ahead at least a year or two, never buy for the immediate needs. This is why I don't recommend getting two 560's or 570's, your upgrade options are limited and later when you do upgrade you end up with HW sitting in your closet.
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a b U Graphics card
October 10, 2011 5:17:44 PM

Well, some does right?
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a c 273 U Graphics card
October 10, 2011 5:21:15 PM

Gman450 said:
Well, some does right?

Maybe, but your statement was a bit of a blanket one and in all the articles I've ever seen the amount of configurations used to prove the point is very very small.
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October 10, 2011 8:19:08 PM

Well, look no further then Tom's Hardware:

Micro-Stuttering And GPU Scaling In CrossFire And SLI
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...


"Even at frame rates above 50 FPS, micro-stuttering rears its ugly head, pronounced enough to significantly detract from the gaming experience. A paradigm shift seems necessary, at least until both AMD and Nvidia are able to prevent or mask the artifact. Right now, if you asked us whether it'd be smart to "go cheap" on an inexpensive card and double-down later with another one, we'd have to suggest against it if you're the sort to be bothered by micro-stuttering."

And

"Bearing in mind that vendors purposely try to price two mid-range cards similarly to a faster single-GPU board wherever possible (generally, when the competitive landscape allows for it), we’d have to pick the single-GPU card every time."

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a c 273 U Graphics card
October 10, 2011 8:30:11 PM

cnox said:
Well, look no further then Tom's Hardware:

Micro-Stuttering And GPU Scaling In CrossFire And SLI
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...


"Even at frame rates above 50 FPS, micro-stuttering rears its ugly head, pronounced enough to significantly detract from the gaming experience. A paradigm shift seems necessary, at least until both AMD and Nvidia are able to prevent or mask the artifact. Right now, if you asked us whether it'd be smart to "go cheap" on an inexpensive card and double-down later with another one, we'd have to suggest against it if you're the sort to be bothered by micro-stuttering."

And

"Bearing in mind that vendors purposely try to price two mid-range cards similarly to a faster single-GPU board wherever possible (generally, when the competitive landscape allows for it), we’d have to pick the single-GPU card every time."

And how many different card/CPU/mobo configs were used for that article?
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October 10, 2011 8:46:57 PM

Ok, 1 single card using for 3D at 1080 will fail badly in alot of situations. Remember you also need a 120hz monitor which cost buckets.

Because you are 120hz, you basically run the same amount of pixels as 2x1080 resolutions . For this setup you need 2 high powered GPUs, as no single GPU will give you the frame rate you require or want.

560ti SLi would have been the best bet for performance vs price. The equil ATi would be 6950s.

You could ofc add the bios hook to that mb so that you can run nVidia gpus.

EVGA / Giga / Asus are the 3 'A' class vendors, just go with which ever gives you the best warranty (EVGA i would think in the US), also take into account the EVGA step up program

Micro Stuttering, I have never in all my time ever had any micro stutter for 2/3 way Sli or CFX, using all of the following

2x260
3x260
2x470
3x470
2x5850
3x5850

dont know why some ppl get it !
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October 10, 2011 9:39:02 PM

Mousemonkey said:
And how many different card/CPU/mobo configs were used for that article?


I'm going to say "not enough to change your opinion.".

However, they did show an interesting result that when you get into 3 way configurations, somehow the architecture works better. They have very detailed graphs about per frame rendering, and you can see that the micro stutter is measurable (which i think is very objective). So, if you're going to go multicard and have less issues form microstutter with 3 way cards than 2. But that's just based on the aforementioned article.
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a c 273 U Graphics card
October 10, 2011 9:53:20 PM

cnox said:
I'm going to say "not enough to change your opinion.".

However, they did show an interesting result that when you get into 3 way configurations, somehow the architecture works better. They have very detailed graphs about per frame rendering, and you can see that the micro stutter is measurable (which i think is very objective). So, if you're going to go multicard and have less issues form microstutter with 3 way cards than 2. But that's just based on the aforementioned article.

Well I'm on my third SLi rig and I have yet to see this much talked about microstutter, but then none of my configs seem to get mentioned in any of these articles so does that mean that it's going to be affected? Or is it one of the ones that doesn't suffer? Or it just didn't get tested so you can't post a link?
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October 11, 2011 1:18:26 AM

Mousemonkey said:
Well I'm on my third SLi rig and I have yet to see this much talked about microstutter, but then none of my configs seem to get mentioned in any of these articles so does that mean that it's going to be affected? Or is it one of the ones that doesn't suffer? Or it just didn't get tested so you can't post a link?


Fair enough, and I'm glad it works for you. However it's a blanket statement to say 'It works for me, so you're wrong.' I'm just giving personal experience with my setup and also pointing to published articles that get into very specific details. The bottom line is that with multigpu configurations, some frames get rendered very fast, some slower, and while your average fps looks high, if you dig into the details, you find that the volatility of FPS is a source of distraction that can be as bothersome as overall low FPS (nothing sucks more than having GREAT frames and then like every so often it is like a record skips a beat. What good is super hi-def bluray if you get pixelation throughout your movie?<-- metaphore).

I think it's worth cautioning people who are going to double down on their gfx configuration in order to get a superior gameplay experience should understand all the hurdles. You say you've never had any issues, and, with all due respect, I find that hard to believe, if only from looking at the patch notes around both GPU vendors about various bug fixes. Surely you must have had SOME issue.

Otherwise, I guess you're the luckiest guy on the internet.



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October 11, 2011 2:09:17 AM

The "MSI Lightning XE GTC 580 3GB" looks pretty awesome but I can't find it here in Australia atm. Is there another model of the GTX 580 3GB that is just as good? Like the "EVGA GeForce GTX 580 3GB"?

I am willing to invest in a high end card, but if the 590 overheats etc then I might try and avoid it.
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October 11, 2011 2:16:24 AM

Trist_58 said:
The "MSI Lightning XE GTC 580 3GB" looks pretty awesome but I can't find it here in Australia atm. Is there another model of the GTX 580 3GB that is just as good? Like the "EVGA GeForce GTX 580 3GB"?

I am willing to invest in a high end card, but if the 590 overheats etc then I might try and avoid it.


I'd go with the EVGA ones, they seem to be built well. Solid cooling design and all that.
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October 11, 2011 2:21:24 AM

Thanks, Palladin. I'm just checking out some forums to see if this card will be enough for 3d vision with great (im not expecting maxed out) settings @1080p. One thing I have learnt is just to do all the research. You are probably right that I should look to the long term benifits and not splurg on a 590. Overheating is my main concern and its always good to future proof.
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October 11, 2011 2:46:14 AM

Trist_58 said:
Thanks, Palladin. I'm just checking out some forums to see if this card will be enough for 3d vision with great (im not expecting maxed out) settings @1080p. One thing I have learnt is just to do all the research. You are probably right that I should look to the long term benifits and not splurg on a 590. Overheating is my main concern and its always good to future proof.


That's always a smart idea, unless you got tons of cash to blow on the latest stuff.

Currently I'm running the Acer 24 inch 1920x1080@120 hz screen with the NVidia 3D vision kit. Two EVGA GTX-285's with a Phenom II X4 970BE @4.3 Ghz and 4x4GB Crucial DDR3-1600 memory.

The caveat to this is that I'm running water cooling for the CPU and GPUs. I really hate loud fans when I'm playing games and the GTX-285's would crank up under load. So opted to go all water cooling and it's very silent now, the OC'ing was just the icing.

If your going with a GTX-280 make sure your case is big enough to vent the hot air.
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October 11, 2011 2:54:56 AM

Sounds like a good setup, similar to what I should end up with. I currently run a single GTX 285 so one would think a 580 would be fine. I will also look into water cooling if that's what I will need. Can't wait to get everything together!
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October 11, 2011 3:34:12 AM

Well you don't need water cooling, its just that I wanted it to reduce noise. A single GTX-285 can get loud under strain, just imagine what two do.
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a c 273 U Graphics card
October 11, 2011 4:17:22 PM

cnox said:
Fair enough, and I'm glad it works for you. However it's a blanket statement to say 'It works for me, so you're wrong.' I'm just giving personal experience with my setup and also pointing to published articles that get into very specific details. The bottom line is that with multigpu configurations, some frames get rendered very fast, some slower, and while your average fps looks high, if you dig into the details, you find that the volatility of FPS is a source of distraction that can be as bothersome as overall low FPS (nothing sucks more than having GREAT frames and then like every so often it is like a record skips a beat. What good is super hi-def bluray if you get pixelation throughout your movie?<-- metaphore).

I think it's worth cautioning people who are going to double down on their gfx configuration in order to get a superior gameplay experience should understand all the hurdles. You say you've never had any issues, and, with all due respect, I find that hard to believe, if only from looking at the patch notes around both GPU vendors about various bug fixes. Surely you must have had SOME issue.

Otherwise, I guess you're the luckiest guy on the internet.


Actually that would be a personal statement, a blanket one would be if I said it worked for everyone and what about all those who state that they have never had a problem with ATi drivers? Are they also the luckiest people on the internet? I have not issues with my SLi rigs but then they were built with the sole purpose of being SLi gaming rigs rather than being rigs that could be SLi'd later on as an upgrade.
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October 11, 2011 4:29:13 PM

Just a side note of my findings -

I mentioned earlier that I need the new card to work well in 3D Animation as well as 3D games. I have discovered that 3DS Max 2012 will only use the VRAM to the total of just one card in an SLI setup, not the sum of the two cards.

In theory, the GTX 580 3GB will actually perform better in a way because it's 3GB of VRAM is on the one card as opposed to the 590 who's 3GB is divided between the two SLI'd underclocked 580's.

Man am I glad I did my research and not just splurged on the most expensive brand of the moment.

I will def look into getting another 580 down the track for an even better gaming experience.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread.

:D 
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a c 273 U Graphics card
October 11, 2011 4:56:14 PM

Trist_58 said:
Just a side note of my findings -

I mentioned earlier that I need the new card to work well in 3D Animation as well as 3D games. I have discovered that 3DS Max 2012 will only use the VRAM to the total of just one card in an SLI setup, not the sum of the two cards.

In theory, the GTX 580 3GB will actually perform better in a way because it's 3GB of VRAM is on the one card as opposed to the 590 who's 3GB is divided between the two SLI'd underclocked 580's.

Man am I glad I did my research and not just splurged on the most expensive brand of the moment.

I will def look into getting another 580 down the track for an even better gaming experience.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread.

:D 

Just bear in mind that you would have to get another 3GB 580 to place in SLi with your current one to keep the 3GB of VRAM.
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October 12, 2011 12:22:40 AM

Yep, thanks mousemonkey.
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