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Is sli really worth it?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 21, 2008 4:50:24 PM

I've heard of "microstutters" when using sli, but does it make a difference, I'm considering a future sli of 2 gtx 280's but just wanted people that have sli to tell me if the micro stutters are still worth the extra power

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December 22, 2008 5:02:47 AM

so is that a yes or a no?....too much text and certain words i don't understand make that guide confusing to me, im not the smartest person
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December 22, 2008 12:37:22 PM

No not really.
Crossfire seems to scale better. I'd say your benefits won't be too big for the amount of money your going to spend.
December 22, 2008 1:25:12 PM

SLI is only woth it to those who have deepish pockets and are of the enthusiast mindset. (crossfire too)

Is 20-60% performance boost in some applications worth double the price? Well it sure is to some (it is to any enthusiast who wants teh best of the best at any rate.. yeah it is to me too..). Probably not to any mainstream PC user though.

If you want a dual GPU setup you have to be able to deal with some microstuttering, you have to be able to deal with less stability than a single card, and you have to be able to deal with the increased cost for less and less benefit as you add more GPU's.

ARe you willing to spend a lot of time tweaking bugs out? It seems not as you dont strike me as teh most computer savy person in teh world.. I would not think Crossfire or SLI are for you.. but spend your money how you may.. There are people that have quadfire or tri SLI to run WOW out there so you would not be alone if you dont understand SLI/don't need sli yet still buy into it.
December 22, 2008 1:41:16 PM

Heya,

It depends greatly on your display and the resolution you want to game at. A lot of people have LCD's, 720p HDTV's, 1080p HDTV's that they're gaming on. These have native resolutions. These devices look their best when using their native resolution. For some 22" LCD's, that resolution is 1680x1050. For 1080p HDTV's for example, that native resolution is 1920x1080. Now, consider what resolution people game at. Unless you have a powerful GPU, you're not going to play many games smoothly at those higher resolutions. There are a lot of games that can play at those resolutions on a good modern card, just fine. But there are a good number of games that simply don't let you turn on all the goodies while playing at that resolution. This is why SLI and CF come in handy. You don't have to be an enthusiast. An enthusiast is someone who buys three GTX280's and goes TRI SLI for $1,000. Where it's overkill for everything out there, and it's essentially just bragging rights at that point. You can comfortably SLI and CF though for the sake of being able to play your games at the wonderful native resolutions of your display without spending enough to buy a used car.

For example, the HD4870 is now only $199 ($179) at NewEgg. The GTX260 is only $199 as well at NewEgg. Both of these are fantastic single card solutions that will play most games at those top resolutions perfectly well (just not all of them perfectly well with things like AA enabled). On the other hand, one could get two 9800GT's for about $99 each ($198) or two HD4850's for about $120 each ($240). These two SLI and CF solutions not only out perform the above single card solutions, but they do so more importantly at those top resolution settings and with all the candy enabled.

So which do you buy? A single card? Or dual? Again, it totally is up to your display in my mind. If you're playing games at resolutions below 1600x1200, you probably shouldn't bother with SLI or CF. Dual cards really only benefits you when using them at very high resolutions to maintain performance. At lower resolutions, they do next to nothing for their cost, so it's better to use a good powerful single videocard.

Very best,
December 22, 2008 2:08:08 PM

Interesting topic. As I sidenote I just wanna know... can you SLI on a motherboard that is CF ready? and vice versa.
December 22, 2008 2:39:19 PM

After I upgraded to a 24" monitor my one 7800GTX had a problem with Sins of a Solar empire at the monitors default resilution so I found 2 extra 7800GTX for 50 bucks on ebay. Once Sli'ed it was smooth as butter. But we are talking only DX9 gaming.
December 22, 2008 5:17:44 PM

I've heard that some newbie boards support both SLi & CF.

But most of the consumers prefer CF over SLi.... SLi reports of having problems with driver.... and power consumption rate..
December 22, 2008 9:14:46 PM

SLI and CF certainly scales a lot better then it used to. 2 8800GT's or 2 HD4830's are fantastic combos, often beating out single cards that are much more expensive. That said, it greatly depends on the card, the game, the resolution, and the rest of your hardware.

Generally you will need more CPU horsepower to run 2 cards instead of one, without bottnecking, though, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. As long as you have a fast dual or quad core, you should be fine.

Resolution also makes a big difference. For the most part, the higher the resolution, the bigger the difference you will see. At lower resolutions such as 1024x768, the CPU does more work, and the dual cards don't always scale very well and deliver the performance you would expect. However, at higher resolutions, like 1680x1050 and above, dual cards really start to show their stuff. If you have a small monitor, chances are that a single card would be better suited.

It also depends on the game. Some games scale better with dual cards then others.... this is just a fact. Check out some games that you like and their performance with dual cards and see what you think.
December 22, 2008 9:51:22 PM

Vixe said:
Interesting topic. As I sidenote I just wanna know... can you SLI on a motherboard that is CF ready? and vice versa.



i have heard of motherboards that allow both, but im pretty sure they are either extremely expensive and or rare to find
December 22, 2008 9:55:19 PM

malveaux said:
Heya,

It depends greatly on your display and the resolution you want to game at. A lot of people have LCD's, 720p HDTV's, 1080p HDTV's that they're gaming on. These have native resolutions. These devices look their best when using their native resolution. For some 22" LCD's, that resolution is 1680x1050. For 1080p HDTV's for example, that native resolution is 1920x1080. Now, consider what resolution people game at. Unless you have a powerful GPU, you're not going to play many games smoothly at those higher resolutions. There are a lot of games that can play at those resolutions on a good modern card, just fine. But there are a good number of games that simply don't let you turn on all the goodies while playing at that resolution. This is why SLI and CF come in handy. You don't have to be an enthusiast. An enthusiast is someone who buys three GTX280's and goes TRI SLI for $1,000. Where it's overkill for everything out there, and it's essentially just bragging rights at that point. You can comfortably SLI and CF though for the sake of being able to play your games at the wonderful native resolutions of your display without spending enough to buy a used car.

For example, the HD4870 is now only $199 ($179) at NewEgg. The GTX260 is only $199 as well at NewEgg. Both of these are fantastic single card solutions that will play most games at those top resolutions perfectly well (just not all of them perfectly well with things like AA enabled). On the other hand, one could get two 9800GT's for about $99 each ($198) or two HD4850's for about $120 each ($240). These two SLI and CF solutions not only out perform the above single card solutions, but they do so more importantly at those top resolution settings and with all the candy enabled.

So which do you buy? A single card? Or dual? Again, it totally is up to your display in my mind. If you're playing games at resolutions below 1600x1200, you probably shouldn't bother with SLI or CF. Dual cards really only benefits you when using them at very high resolutions to maintain performance. At lower resolutions, they do next to nothing for their cost, so it's better to use a good powerful single videocard.

Very best,


my current native res is 1280x1024 but when i buy my new card i will have a monitor at 1680x1050 native. So by this i should probably just go with a single gtx 280, correct?
December 22, 2008 10:36:06 PM

godfatherscar said:
i have heard of motherboards that allow both, but im pretty sure they are either extremely expensive and or rare to find

Yep, the only one that comes off of the top of my head is intel's super expensive waste-o-money boards, which are already outdated anyway.
Although some have been successful with hacked drivers which allow them to SLI on a CF chipset or vise versa, although its probably illegal and theres a good chance it won't work.
December 22, 2008 10:37:58 PM

I have an HD4870, and at my resolution of 1680x1050, there hasn't been a game I couldn't max out with 4xAA and 8xAF.... and not get an average of 60-80 FPS. You should be absolutely fine with a GTX280... and it should even perform well with Crysis, as Crysis seems to like the GTX2xx series :) 
!