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M2N32-SLI Deluxe Mobo, ATI 2900 or 8800gtx

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July 17, 2007 9:04:22 AM

I recently bought an ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe Wireless Edition mobo with the intent of getting 1 nvidia 8800gtx now and upgrading with a second for sli in 6 -18 months. I am now considering buying an ATI 2900 now and later replacing the mobo and getting a second 2900 for crossfire. I really didn't like the whole slave/master thing with crossfire and sli seemed the better choice, but now it's looking like ATIs cards are making a comeback. I have owned the mobo for almost a month and have been piecing the computer together and have not used it yet for lack of a decent video card, and am wondering if I should return it if I can and get a mobo that supports dual ATI cards. I noticed that newegg carries no 2900 crossfire edition cards, nor does ATI list the 2900 in any certified configurations.

Was wondering if anyone had any input on what I should do. I already have all new parts for the entire computer except the video card and am itching to get it running. The only thing is that ATI had to put out a comparable card at a much lower price just as I was about to finish the system as an sli system. The mobo is sli ready and the psu is sli certified, but I'm not sure if that effects crossfire or not.

I am a student on a budget and am about to go back to school this fall and am in a bit of a quandry. I would love to build 2 identical systems, one with 2 8800s in sli and one with 2 2900s in crossfire and run them side by side and see which is better, as benchmarks mean crap in real-use situations, but lack of currency denies me that.

So I'm thinking;
1: Keep the mobo, buy 1 8800gtx now, 1 later
2: Keep the mobo, buy 1 2900xt now, 2 8800gtxs later
3: Replace the mobo with an ATI compatable one, buy a 2900xt now and hope that I can find a crossfire edition 2900xt

Any input on this?
July 17, 2007 9:29:29 AM

hey

from what i have seen the 8800gtx still kicks the crap outa a 2900xt,so if you have the money,do it. however,it also depends what screen and resolution you are running.iv heard that there isint much between these two cards when it comes to resolutions lower than 1050X1680.so its a tough call that im also considering at the moment.the bottom line however is that i think you should always buy the best hardware you can afford, the 8800 is about 25%more expensive, and i think that its extra power will make it the winner in the long run,especially when crysis and other next gen titles come out.

ati/amd stated that their response to the 8800gtx would be two 2900s.but id like to see what they have to say when more people start running 8800s in sli

dude,get the 8800,you know its the right thing to do
July 17, 2007 9:34:50 AM

How about buying 1 8800GTS now, 1 later? because from what i read & heard (which is a lot :) ), the 8800GTS performs on par with the 2900XT if not better at some games.

- i think it's really just choosing between a 8800 GTS or GTX. and it depends on your monitor's native resolution.

res > 1920x1200 get GTX
res > 1600x1200 get 640MB GTS or GTX
res < 1600x1200 get 320MB GTS

- also, try to keep ur mobo, the M2N32-Sli is a rock solid, highly overclockable board, and ATI's chipsets still don't match Nvidia ones.
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July 17, 2007 9:46:00 AM

thanks for the advice so far. Right now I'm have a 20" 1600*1200 and a 27" 1280*720 and am thinking of getting a 22" 1680*1050, but that would probably be only if i went with the cheaper ati card. I would definitly get the 8800gtx over the gts if i went that route.
July 17, 2007 9:47:52 AM

i agree with red devil,exept that i would say a2900xt is quite q bit faster than the 8800gts640mb. its already outperforming it at almost everything and its snapping at the heals of the gtx in some tests,i can post some benchmarks a friend of mine did if you like,but the general outcome was that the 2900 sits snuggly between the 8800gts640 and the 8800gtx.we also have to look at the fact that ati havnt had as long as nvidia to perfect their drivers and that the performance will only get better with each revision (hopefully).i would say that stick to either the 2900xt if you dont feel like spending as much,or go all out and get the 8800gtx.

interestingly,the same friend is busy benchmarking the same cards in terms of their overclocking ability.i havnt seen any figures yet,all he will tell me is that the 2900 has significantly more o.c room than the 8800,just to make your decision even tougher,hehe
July 17, 2007 10:06:39 AM

oh my, looks like i didn't read a lot after all :) .

thanks for the correction, in that case. GTX is the way to go. that card is a beast!!!
July 17, 2007 11:14:02 AM

Thanks for the input, it makes me happier spending the money on the sli setup. Looks like 1 8800GTX card now and another later for sli mode :-)
July 17, 2007 12:33:49 PM

In the end it all depends on what you wish. 2900XT had a serious performance boost with the latest ATI drivers. It now clearly outperforms 8800GTS 640MB (and in some benchies even the 8800GTX) but only if AA/AF is low or none. However this is clearly a driver issue and I expect to see it solved very soon.

The price tag is very different that the one of 8800GTX (in Europe 2900XT is cheaper than the 8800GTS 640MB) and that is a factor as well.

Crossfire as a technology is superior to SLI. SLI was created by the legendary 3dfx, it was purchased by Nvidia and has been the same ever since (minor changes). You need 2 Nvidia Graphics cards exactly the same in SLI! And 2 is the limit! However Crossfire can (theoretically) have infinite number of graphics cards. There are some crossfire boards that support 3 graphics adapters! And the best thing is that all graphics cards can be different! So you can have a pair of ATI 2900XT's 1GB GDDR4 (king of performance in Vista wiping out even the 8800GTX) and one cheaper 2600XT doing the physics!

So...My suggestion would be Suggestion Number 3, especially if you are using Windows Vista (Remember, DX10 will work only with Vista!)

Buy a Crossfire board with a 2900XT! Future driver releases and Windows Vista guarantee you will be king in performance. However if you stick with XP and you do not wish to wait a bit for new ATI drivers (ATI releases drivers very frequently, which is not the case for Nvidia) and u want everything maxed in performance right now, then 8800gtx is your choice.

Clearly though I do not see why you should make such a choice. What if ATI releases new driver in 2 weeks and the AA/AF issue is solved? And what if the new drivers guarantee superior performance for the 2900XT GDDR4 1GB version (I strongly believe this will be the case)

In that case you will be stuck with a board that supports up to 2 GFX cards, and it will propably take too long for these cards to perform well in Vista, since Nvidia is really bad with drivers!

My reccomendation...Go for crossfire and the 2900XT 1GB GDDR4 version.
Guaranteed DX10 performance and meaningful future driver updates!
July 17, 2007 1:30:48 PM

fair enough.its a tough call,paladin makes a good argument.good luck
July 17, 2007 2:10:23 PM

paladin13 said:
In the end it all depends on what you wish. 2900XT had a serious performance boost with the latest ATI drivers. It now clearly outperforms 8800GTS 640MB (and in some benchies even the 8800GTX) but only if AA/AF is low or none. However this is clearly a driver issue and I expect to see it solved very soon.

The price tag is very different that the one of 8800GTX (in Europe 2900XT is cheaper than the 8800GTS 640MB) and that is a factor as well.

Crossfire as a technology is superior to SLI. SLI was created by the legendary 3dfx, it was purchased by Nvidia and has been the same ever since (minor changes). You need 2 Nvidia Graphics cards exactly the same in SLI! And 2 is the limit! However Crossfire can (theoretically) have infinite number of graphics cards. There are some crossfire boards that support 3 graphics adapters! And the best thing is that all graphics cards can be different! So you can have a pair of ATI 2900XT's 1GB GDDR4 (king of performance in Vista wiping out even the 8800GTX) and one cheaper 2600XT doing the physics!

So...My suggestion would be Suggestion Number 3, especially if you are using Windows Vista (Remember, DX10 will work only with Vista!)

Buy a Crossfire board with a 2900XT! Future driver releases and Windows Vista guarantee you will be king in performance. However if you stick with XP and you do not wish to wait a bit for new ATI drivers (ATI releases drivers very frequently, which is not the case for Nvidia) and u want everything maxed in performance right now, then 8800gtx is your choice.

Clearly though I do not see why you should make such a choice. What if ATI releases new driver in 2 weeks and the AA/AF issue is solved? And what if the new drivers guarantee superior performance for the 2900XT GDDR4 1GB version (I strongly believe this will be the case)

In that case you will be stuck with a board that supports up to 2 GFX cards, and it will propably take too long for these cards to perform well in Vista, since Nvidia is really bad with drivers!

My reccomendation...Go for crossfire and the 2900XT 1GB GDDR4 version.
Guaranteed DX10 performance and meaningful future driver updates!
The SLI 3dfx created and the SLI Nvidia created are completely different. The 8800GTX having two SLI connectors allows for the possibility of using more than two cards in an SLI configuration, so it's not as limited as you're saying. I'd personally stay away from SLI/Crossfire unless you've got a 30 inch LCD. The reason the HD 2900XT can't compete with the 8800GTX when antialiasing and anisotropic filtering is enabled doesn't come from driver issues, but the fact that it only has 16 ROPs where the 8800GTX has 24.
July 17, 2007 9:28:49 PM

Heyyou27 what you are saying is not entirely true. What I said is that SLI is based on the 3dfx SLI and it is true! Changes have been made but the basic architecture still is the same! Of course, for purposes of modern GFX cards lots of things changed, however the base is the same! Also u r saying u can have more than 2 Nvidia cards in SLI. That is not true again. It is limited in 2 GFX cards. The only option would be to produce multi-gpu GFX cards (like some 7950 models with 2 GPUs) and have 2 GFX cards with a total of 4 GPUs. That is the maximum and the number of 4 GPUs comes in an indirect way. There are no motherboards to support more than two Nvidia GFX cards. And SLI needs a major architecture change to have such an option.

As far as the 16 compared to 24 ROPs it is true but not entirely. There are other sections that ATI hardware seems superior but only in papers! So the gap that exists (which is quite large really) in AA/AF performance will be definetely reduced with new drivers! I did not say ATI will become better in AA/AF, but the gap will be small!

The truth though now is that if someone wants DirectX9 AA/AF performance in XP, NVIDIA is the choice. If someone is interested in DX10 in Vista and gaming in Vista, ATI is by far the best choice! And again, it is very important to mention that the ATI driver department is superior! Saying that, things WILL change with drivers!
July 17, 2007 11:26:55 PM

Crackbooger,

I see the quandry that you have. I want you to know that if you do choose to go with ATI, their crossfire platform is now mature. Their new cards (HD2000 series) should not require any master crossfire card. ATI started to implement the internal bridges just as Nvidia had done prior. I had this same concern when I wanted to build my new system in late 2006. I wanted to go crossfire but did not want the slave master card problem, or the external crossfire dongle. I ended up purchasing two X1950pro (256 MB) cards, manufactured by Sapphire. I simply installed both cards, with the internal crossfire bridge ribbon cables, installed the drivers and enabled crossfire in the CCC. All has been well since. I forgot to mention that I am using the MSI K9A Platinum board based on the RD580 crossfire chipset. It has two full speed PCI-E 16 slots for crossfire. For those on a budget it isn't a bad deal as two cards like mine now cost only 136.99 USD at Newegg.com. I paid 169.00 for each card back in 2006. I can also play most games at 1680X1050 with most settings on high. If you're looking toward the future of DX10 you'll have to look at 8800 series by Nvidia or HD2900 series by ATI. Don't be dupped into Nvidia or ATI's low end DX10 cards either, e.g. 8600 or HD2600, they just don't perform as well as expected by many tech review sites.
July 17, 2007 11:51:09 PM

Thats true , new ati card do not need a master card to do crossfire.
A friend of mine has 2 identical 2900's and work great in crossfire without the need of 1 bieng master and another one being slave
July 18, 2007 12:34:38 AM

Paladin13 wrote:
(The truth though now is that if someone wants DirectX9 AA/AF performance in XP, NVIDIA is the choice. If someone is interested in DX10 in Vista and gaming in Vista, ATI is by far the best choice! And again, it is very important to mention that the ATI driver department is superior! Saying that, things WILL change with drivers![/quotemsg]


So the x2900 plays crysis better than the 8800? Hmm ok then :non: 
July 18, 2007 3:36:28 AM

Paladin13 how many coffees have you drinked?
Saying that the sli is the same as nvidia took it from 3dfx is like saying an 2006 mercedes s-klasse is the same as an 1906(i don't know a car that wold but i bet it still has a steering wheel and 4 wheels) something, and saying that nvidia are bad with drivers is not really nice in the past they where better then ati ones(you remember vpu recovery) and now they are the same.
And i don't think new drivers bring the performance you say it will(do you work at ati), if that was true why didn't my ex fx5200 play doom 3 and unreal tournament 2004 at high setting with new driver revisions?
That's all ive gotta say.
And to be on the topic i would recommend getting an 8800gts 320 and waiting until winter for the new generation of graphics card from both companies, ho nows maybe we will see vista service pack 1 until then.
July 18, 2007 6:17:02 AM

I rest my case...
If u ppl read in one of my posts that 3dfx SLI and NVIDIA SLI is the same please quote it for me!
I will write it for the last time. The 3dfx SLI and the NVIDIA SLI in basic architecture and philosophy are the same! Up to 2 FGX cards, that must be identical! NVIDIA developed their SLI on the one they purchased from 3dfx! Is it so hard to believe? It is not the same of course, but the basic architecture and idea is! They developed SLI on the 3dfx SLI!
cristip60 I dont drink coffee in general but I do not understand why is it so difficult for you to uderstand what I am saying exactly!
And as far as not believing that it is based on the same architecture and NVIDIA developed on 3dfx SLI their SLI...Can u answer me one question please?
Intel developed a specific CPU acrhitecture back when they created their first Pentium Pro processor. Are you familiar how many years it took them to move to the next CPU architecture? Find out and then advice me again to have a cup of coffee or ask me to comment you your mercedes question (btw cars use the same engines for up to 10 years. Models change, looks change, electrics change but the engine stays more or less the same. Ask to learn about that as well).
;-)

Anyway...ddwaldon, look for Windows Vista benchies having 2 crossfire HD 2900XT's and having 2 8800 GTX in SLI.
Almost triple the performance for ATI!!!
Again this is for Vista, but remember that DX10 will be Vista only!
I am not a fanboy, I own 2 PCs.
I own a Core 2 6400 with 7900GT NVIDIA and an older PC with Dual AMD Athlon Mobile 2800+ adn an ATI 9500 Pro 128MB.
I always buy what's best for me.
Having said that my choice right now would be ATI! Their driver improvement is impressive and I don't see NVIDIA doing the same for Vista! Not for a long time! Their SLI in Vista is really problematic and Benchies reveal it! Trully, ddwaldon look for these benchies and u will see what I am talking about.

crackbooge is going to buy 2 GFX cards! He needs a gaming PC! He WILL propably use Vista for DX10! So Why not buy a Crossfire solution that performs NOW 2 or 3 times better in Vista even with AA/AF enabled! Not to mention he can buy a board that can take 3 GFX cards.
July 18, 2007 7:28:09 AM

wow. what an idiot. that was enough to make me forget what the OP wanted.
July 18, 2007 10:05:15 AM

Well you certainly rested your case, Do you know how many years have passed since nvidia bought 3dfx? Considering that in graphics cards the industry surpases it's previous generation within a year more commonly, i would like to roll back to my car explanation.
And for the op don't spend to much now wait until vista sp1 and the new generation of cards.
July 18, 2007 11:02:53 AM

Hmm..Lets see...its 7 years isn't it?
Is it really that many?
W r offtopic here anyway...But u did not answer the Pentium Pro question...
If you find the answer to that question u will see that 7 years is not really that much considering that the only thing kept is the basic architecture for data transfer between the two cards. Of course its evoluted for PCI-E etc etc..But the basics r the same!

Anyway...Crossifre uses an entirely different approach and it is superior!

My recon for the op, buy a crossfire board with an HD 2900XT 1GB card and a Core 2 CPU.
July 18, 2007 3:15:14 PM

Paladin13, you are quite ignorant on many things you post about.

To OP:, for you, it would be better to go the GTX route because you already have the motherboard. The GTX outperforms the 2900 in 99% of the games available and by a good margin with AA enabled. (which I cannot do without). 8 months from now, you may decide you do not even want to go SLI, so get what performs the best NOW, not what may perform better after drivers are updated, this and that, blah blah blah....
July 18, 2007 3:56:53 PM

Paladin..Where are those benchmarks links with the c/fire and sli benchmarks under vista/dx10. You made me second guess my knowledge today and would like to do more research b/c i too am debating a gtx combo or 2900xt combo
!