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This year's upgrade prepare for Crossfire X or 9800 GTX ?

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April 25, 2008 9:36:22 PM

25-Apr-2008

No doubt there are other noobs like me out there to nVidia or to ATI.

We have the rather attractive offerings of the 9800GTX circa £200 or the rather marginal but not to be sniffed at 3870 X2 at circa £250. Other than that we are looking at the 9800GX2 at mega bucks, for those on my budget not an option.

Eventually I want to multi GPU which makes the 2 x 9800 GTX a more cost effective option in the long run. However after trawling the forums of the main mobo companies e.g. Asus, evga, etc the nVidia chipsets e.g. 680i (Asus Striker etc) there seem to be mixed reviews. Namely works like a dream or RMAs 3x and I'm done with nVidia chipsets.

Read a lot of reviews and I'm pretty much confused.

My balls say go with the 750i chipset as the worst thing they've said on the evga website (so far) is there has been probs with setting up raid 0 on sata and problems with temp recognition on the 45nm chips. Not my bag yet baby. But after my bad experience with the Asus P5N-SLI that turned into a tandoori oven when I plugged in my E6700 I'm perhaps once bitten twice shy. Good to see evga have got a fan on the northbridge vs the Asus offering as you know is passive only. If all goes well by mid next year I'll have a pair of 9800 GTX singing.

On the other hand as per my current experience the intel chipset it's rock solid. However I believe this may not be complimented by the current infancy of the ATI driver software which seems to be hampering the capability of the 3870 x2. If looking at the ATI solution would probably look towards the X38 because I can't afford to upgrade to DDR3 right now (X48 territory). By the time I look to upgrade after that DDR3 will be within my price range (along with another 3870 x2 and hopefully a new PSU).

Overclocking isn't a priority at the moment however there's a devil inside of me that may get the better of me one day. P5N-SLI playing got my celeron 3.2GHz to 4GHz but just playing. I hear you laugh but everyone's gotta start somewhere. From what I hear so far the 750i is a good overclocker but yet again so is the X38.

Question here is chipset & multi GPU stability. So if any of you guys and gals have any recommendations or horror stories you'd like to share with me along my trip toward multi GPU heaven I'd appreciate it.

HW

Thermaltake Tsunami Silver side panel has a 230mm fan
Thermaltake 500W with TWV
Asus P5GC-MX-1333 (Long story and oh so very temporary)
Intel E6700 (Stock speed,Stock cooler(related to the long story))
2.5 Gb Corsair Value Ram (1x2Gb,1x512Mb(related to the long story))
Asus EN8600GTS 256Mb
Seagate Baracuda 500Gb 7200.11 32Mb Cache
Sony Combo Drive

SW

Windows XP Home SP2 (32bit version)
VGA Driver nVidia Forceware 169.21
Oh so very temporary board drivers are as stock
April 25, 2008 11:14:50 PM

For motherboard:
780i and p35 runs at 1333mhz fsb natively, and reliably overclock to 1600mhz. X38 runs at 1600mhz fsb natively, and reliably overclock to 2000mhz. You'll likely to exceed the 1600/2000 marks for them respectively. But higher is not guaranteed. 750i overclocks slightly less than 780i and p35.

1600mhz fsb = 3.6ghz for 9x multiplier (Q6600, etc.) and 3.2ghz for 8x multiplier (Q9450, etc.)

As for 9800gtx, here's benchmark against g92 8800gts:
http://en.expreview.com/2008/04/03/geforce-9800gtx-revi...

And here are the prices:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
April 26, 2008 8:32:12 AM

780i is only about £30 more than what I'm expecting to pay for a 750i (£120) as you say dagger it's slightly quicker from an over clocking point of view and I'd get an extra PCI-E slot to boot.

p35 is about £40 cheaper but you only seem to get 4x or 1x on the second PCIe slot.x38 (a tenner more) runs both slots at 16x but that'll drop down to 8x on both slots with 2 3870

x2s.http://forums.amd.com/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=12&th...

As far as PCIe speeds are concerned 750i running at x16 on both slots with either the 8800 or the 9800 would be nice (only need 2 slots and overclocking isn't a priority). dagger that's an interesting review. The 8800GTS OC must in that case be running about the same as the ultra and at about £200 less.

Another interesting review that I've picked up along my search compares the 9800 GTX,9800 GX2, 3870 x2 and the ultra. Have a look and see what you think.

http://www.driverheaven.net/reviews.php?reviewid=544&pa...

With the same token what also makes the crossfire x solution quite nice is you're not bound to the running the same cards in both slots they'll run independant of one another.

To quote my previous post "Read a lot of reviews and I'm pretty much confused."
Related resources
April 26, 2008 2:22:34 PM

X38 runs both pcie at full 16x bandwidth. And they're both pcie2.0, which makes twice 16x (32x, if you will) on both slots in Crossfire. Not that it really make a difference those days though.
April 29, 2008 8:36:53 PM

Been doing some digging looking at the X38 mobos that are out there. As my last 2 motherboards have been Asus obviously I've entertained the Maximus Formula.

Trawled through various sites including Asus forums and seemingly the northbridge also doubles up as a slow cooker. Guys with 4 x 120mm fans blasting at the board and still getting 48C on idle with no over clock on air. Is that normal ?

I also looked at the Gigabyte forums just to see if this is an Asus thing or whether it's native to the chipset but it seems some Gigabyte users are having the same kinds of issues.

People have used various methods to try to circumvent the temperature problems. Removing all heat sinks and re-doing the thermal pastes. Sticking bolts through spare holes in the motherboard to mount additional cooling fans on.

Surely motherboard manufacturers know this is going on but what are they doing about it?

I want a mobo I can drop into my case pop my chips in and run out of the box. I don't really want to be entertaining pulling my hard earned cash to pieces to sort out a problem that the motherboard compay cannot be bothered solving.

Don't know when the evga 750i is due out in the UK but it can't come quick enough. Looks like evga have taken the liberty of strapping a fan on the northbridge so that the end user doesn't have to.

Can't remember being up this high when I got on the horse. Sorry to rant.

dagger did you have any problems with you're Gigabyte and what is you're case/cooling like ?
April 29, 2008 10:56:56 PM

Goz2K said:
Been doing some digging looking at the X38 mobos that are out there. As my last 2 motherboards have been Asus obviously I've entertained the Maximus Formula.

Trawled through various sites including Asus forums and seemingly the northbridge also doubles up as a slow cooker. Guys with 4 x 120mm fans blasting at the board and still getting 48C on idle with no over clock on air. Is that normal ?

I also looked at the Gigabyte forums just to see if this is an Asus thing or whether it's native to the chipset but it seems some Gigabyte users are having the same kinds of issues.

People have used various methods to try to circumvent the temperature problems. Removing all heat sinks and re-doing the thermal pastes. Sticking bolts through spare holes in the motherboard to mount additional cooling fans on.

Surely motherboard manufacturers know this is going on but what are they doing about it?

I want a mobo I can drop into my case pop my chips in and run out of the box. I don't really want to be entertaining pulling my hard earned cash to pieces to sort out a problem that the motherboard compay cannot be bothered solving.

Don't know when the evga 750i is due out in the UK but it can't come quick enough. Looks like evga have taken the liberty of strapping a fan on the northbridge so that the end user doesn't have to.

Can't remember being up this high when I got on the horse. Sorry to rant.

dagger did you have any problems with you're Gigabyte and what is you're case/cooling like ?

That's strange. My temperature on the Gigabyte board is 32 idle, at 1600mhz fsb. Didn't touch the stock heatsinks. I've never heard about temperature problems on Asus board either. Not sure what it's about.
April 30, 2008 11:04:26 PM

dagger had a look to see if anyone with you're board has been having issues with temps.

After about 15 min of looking I found this ...

http://www.ocforums.com/showthread.php?p=5575871

but that's it no reports of crashing and that's the only site I found. There were a couple of Gigabyte boards that were having more temp issues but your's sounds like a cracker !!.Unlike poor relaxed911 with the Maximus Formula over on the Asus forum.

http://vip.asus.com/forum/view.aspx?id=2008042916125254...

Looks like Power_Vano could be correct e.g. bad bonding on the northbridge heat sink. Bad board I think but I am warming to it as you may see if you visit the Asus forum.

Been doing a lot more scouting and looks like the majority of guys and gals that are having temperature issues are overclockers with a few odd exceptions. Goes with the territory I suppose. Like I say it's not my main priority.Just want to run games fast and eventually with 2 GPUs

Looks like the X38 is still in the running.

Now this is the thing that now drags me back toward the nVidia chipset and SLI. If 9800GTX is on a level pegging with the 8800 GTS G92 OC and the 9800GTX is nearly the same as the ultra .

2 x 8800GTS G92 OC for £320 (wait time 8 months)
1 x 9800GTX this year £200 then 1 x 9800GTX next year £200 = £400 (wait time 16 months)
1 x Ultra ... I'll just stop there
however ...
1 x 3870X2 this year £250 then 1 x ? next year £? = £250 + £? (wait time at least 16 months)

I had not planned to upgrade to a second GPU until at earliest spring 2009! Will need to check my PSU documentation/8800GTS G92 OC documenation to see what current my rails can deliver but think I'll need to install a new PSU before I SLI (an absolute certainty if I choose Crossfire). But at least I'd have the other 8800GTS G92 before they phase them out.

Think this could come down to price but then again there is also the flexibility of crossfire x vs rigidity of SLI.

So many options !!!!!
May 5, 2008 9:22:32 PM

OK here's the latest.

I have now officially got ants in my pants and my hard earned needs to be spent.

The 750i is out in the UK now but SCAN are the only company currently stocking it (it's a bit more expensive than my £120 but not by much £145).

Thought I'd have another quick look through the evga website just to see if there are any other howlers I should know about and I was glad I did ! I got depressed after 3 and a half pages of various problems and successes and thought to myself why should I need to?

Probs they seem to be having apart from those in my original post are ...

Depending on BIOS revision XP won't recognise more than 1 core (BIOS Rev S13 seems to be the one to sort this out)
Video and game play with vertical lines followed by a reboot (seeming inherant from other nVidia chipsets)
Sound DOA
Slight hardware issues e.g. onboard LEDs not working (OK no biggie)
Optical drives running really slow
The fan that I keep bigging up is quite noisy
Problems with some PCI sound cards.

What would be perfect is if we could do SLI without the need for the nVidia chipset unfortuantely we can't. nVidia should stick to what they do best GPUs.

X38 seems to be the winner here.

The Asus board (Maximus Formula) from what I've viewed on the forum seems to be a bit buggy (It must be quite bad because members actually seem to be running a competition to see how many links they can find related to problems).

The MSI board just looks down right weird

The Gigabyte board looks good (same as daggers) and gets rave reviews.

I've got £175 burning a hole in my pocket and presently the shopping list looks something like this

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EX38-DS4 £111.
Memory: Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-8500C5D (2Gb 1066MHz Matched Pair) £49.

If anybodys got any input into either of these 2 items please let me know.
May 9, 2008 10:16:13 PM

Well it's done!!!!

Motherboard as per previous post (still to receive)

Memory changed slightly 4Gb G.Skill 2x2048 PC2-6400 (4Gb still to receive).

Good reviews for both.

Thanks to dagger who's sig reminded me that there is more than Asus mobos on this planet. And thanks for pointing out that as far as FSB Intel is still the daddy!

Cheers dagger will let you know how I get on (no doubt I'll ask you for some tips being a noob n all).

Thanks once again.
May 10, 2008 4:52:45 AM

@OP: Well written posts! It is refreshing to read posts that are written so eloquently! A site for sore eyes gazing at a technical oriented forum.
May 10, 2008 8:58:58 AM

Thank you very much.

I am acutely aware that to some my opinions may be somewhat negative. And my posts may be a little on the long side. However I believe that by highlighting the issues (in detail) others in the same or similar circumstances may benefit.

There are obviously the true enthusiasts who will be more tolerant and persevere to overcome the issues that I have detailed. To those guys & gals I really have to take my hat off! However until I build a second rig I really can't afford that luxury (my rig needs to be all purpose for me & the good lady).

I just wish the Gig board had all the goodies the Maximus got, LCD poster, motherboard LEDs to let you know how hard you're pushing you're kit, etc. Speaking of the Gig it should arrive today. Really looking forward to it!

Believe me it was oh soo very nearly the Maximus.

Can't wait to get my first 3870X2 (I here the Asus is a stormer!). But I must admit there will be a lump in my throat when I take my nVidia out. It'll feel like I'd be cheating on the wife.

Stuborn nVidia. They should give Intel the rights to use SLI (Other than that dual CPU, FBDIMM based monster they've developed that costs an absolute fortune, and thats before you fork out for the CPUs,GPUs,etc).

Just one last thing before I shoot off, I'm currently using Asus PC Probe to monitor the CPU temp, 12V, CPU fan speed, etc. Does the Gig come with a similar tool? If not what would be the best tool for the job ?

Thanks once again for the compliment !!!, much appreciated

P.S. I've never cheated on my wife although big brain just barely manages to keep control over little brain. Just trying to draw parallels.
May 14, 2008 12:58:13 PM

Well I'm now the proud owner of a GA-X38-DS4 and 4Gb of G.Skill (3.5Gb usable due to the XP 32 bit barrier).

What can I say as far as install went. One word FLAWLESS.

Didn't re-install the OS just plugged everything in and boot first time. Installed my wifi driver, installed drivers from CD, changed my resolution back to what I'm used to and that was it. Gaming again within 2hrs.

That northbridge I'm so paranoid about is 30C at idle, CPU is 19C with fan at 782RPM, room temp 18C, GPU 45C. Just incase you're wondering I live in Scotland and the heating has been off for days because the weather has been great but it's begining to cool down again.

Temp reporting great through EasyTune5 just wish I had a graph. Hey what am I griping about Probe II or AI Booster never gave me that anyway!!!

I know I mentioned in my previous post about all the bling that came with the Maximus but when a board drops and goes as easy as this who needs an LCD poster. Alright I concede that the on board LEDs e.g. CRAZY etc could be usefull but from where I'm sitting at the moment e.g. no overclocking ... I don't need it!

Excellent install, never had one so easy.

If you're looking for a drop and go X38 in my experience (all one of them) this is excellent. Highly recommend it ! Hopefully it's this easy to live with!!! ;-)

!