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Tri sli setup issues

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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June 16, 2009 3:02:57 PM

Well, I took the leap and bought a 3rd gtx 260 (core 192). Unfortunately my performance is less than I had expected. :??:  I'm not completely sure that I have the whole rig setup right and was hoping that some of you could give me hints/suggestions for proper setup of this system. :hello: 

The performance is lower than I had expected given the scaling that I have seen from tri sli reviews. For example in the tomshardware test of the gtx 260's tri sli the scaling for gtx 260's in tri sli gave almost 60fps. (see: Yes I do realize that these are core 216's and they are on a core i7, but still i doubt that the performance difference would be that massive...

My results were:
In crysis, (Very High, 1920x1200, no AA or AF) 2 way sli: 35 fps 3 way sli: 42 fps


My specs are:

CPU - q9450 2.66 intel core 2 quad OC'd to 3.55

RAM - 4 gigs corsair ram pc8500 1066mhz oc'd to 1110mhz

Motherboard - 780i evga mobo (using built in sound)

Video Card(s) - 3 way sli gtx 260's (driver version 186.08 beta drivers. clean install)

Harddrive - 500gb seagate harddrive 7200rpm

PSU - corsair HX1000 (1000w psu)

Case - antec 1200

Monitor - samsung 24" 1920x1200 2443bwx

EXTRA INFO: DO NOT READ BELOW THIS LINE IF YOU DONT WANT TO:
things i have already tried:
1. reinstalling videodrivers
2. changing settings for rendering modes in nvidia control panel
3. checked temperatures for videocards.... temps fine
4. making sure that settings in crysis are identcal to the test they used
5. ocing cpu (helped some)
6. ocing ram (also helped)
7. tried multiple nvidia drivers (all from 181 and up)
8. tried modifying various settings using nhancer
9. tried ocing the cards (helped some, but only one to two fps)
10. banging head against wall and screaming at computer :p 

More about : tri sli setup issues

a c 271 U Graphics card
June 16, 2009 3:12:32 PM

What about 11. COD4, 12.Any other game that is not the POS called Crysis?
June 16, 2009 3:35:36 PM

I havent tried benchmarking call of duty yet. Will do it later. Right now im defragging my HD to see if that helps. Ive played call of duty and get good fps, but i had over 90fps with sli in that game. Plus, there's no built-in bench for that game... Honestly, the only games that really need the boost are far cry 2 and crysis. all the other games i have (CoD4, CoD5, Oblivion, fallout 3, mass effect, UT3, mirrors edge, etc already run at constant 60fps... getting higher fps in those games is useless since my monitor doesnt go that high
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a c 271 U Graphics card
June 16, 2009 3:38:38 PM

I just run Rivatuners OSD, which you can save to a logfile I believe.
June 16, 2009 8:01:10 PM

well i tried using a monitoring program to see what happens... I found something that doesn't make sense. The middle card is the coolest by 5-15 degrees. I'm wondering if the middle card is not working fully since logically it should be the hottest because its in between the other two... (by the way, i tried multiple cards in the center spot, so its not that one of my cards is faulty..)
a b U Graphics card
June 16, 2009 8:08:28 PM

"I do realize that these are core 216's and they are on a core i7, but still i doubt that the performance difference would be that massive..."

Then I guess now you know better then? Not using core 216's or an i7 makes a huge difference.

I have no doubt you could swqueeze a few more fps out of that rig.. but triple cf/sli scales terribly. You are not going to see much more than 45fps on that rig with that setup. That is only 12 fps shy of what is a profoundly supperior computer in the review... Multi GPU setup scaling is hugely dictated by the CPU, and the old versions of the 260 are quite a bit slower than the core 216's.
a b U Graphics card
June 16, 2009 8:23:00 PM

Tri-SLI isn't really worth beans from what I've seen. Some games don't even run Crossfire or SLI as effectively as they could/should, let alone Tri-SLI.

Honestly from some of the benchmarks I've seen, I'm surprised you didn't see a loss in performance. LOL I've seen early Tri-SLI benchmarks that did indeed lose FPS count.

Unfortunately, SLI and Tri-SLI has a pretty solid rule of diminished returns. SLI sometimes isn't worth it, and Tri-SLI usually isn't (at least that I've seen in reviews/benchmarks).

You'd probably have seen a bigger performance increase in upgrading to the i7 line-up than getting the 3rd GPU I'd think.
June 16, 2009 8:32:08 PM

daedalus685 said:
"I do realize that these are core 216's and they are on a core i7, but still i doubt that the performance difference would be that massive..."

Then I guess now you know better then? Not using core 216's or an i7 makes a huge difference.

I have no doubt you could swqueeze a few more fps out of that rig.. but triple cf/sli scales terribly. You are not going to see much more than 45fps on that rig with that setup. That is only 12 fps shy of what is a profoundly supperior computer in the review... Multi GPU setup scaling is hugely dictated by the CPU, and the old versions of the 260 are quite a bit slower than the core 216's.


Although you are undoubtedly right that their computer is faster than mine, i still think that i can get mine to push more than it is... Maybe im wrong, but i doubt that the middle card is supposed to run consistantly COOLer than the others. ;)  Im not sure that the middle card is being used to the full extent and would like to find out if im correct and how to fix it. I got the third gtx 260 because I found it for $120 - much cheaper than any i7 upgrade would be. I have gotten performance increases, but the scaling is not even on par with those of people with rigs similar to mine. Obviously a core i7 is faster than what I have, but i really dont want to spend $500 upgrading my system. (or more.) :hello: 

By the way, you said that i could get more fps out of this rig... any pointers :wahoo: 
a c 271 U Graphics card
June 16, 2009 9:26:15 PM

Forum member Baddad has a tri-Sli setup so it could be worth dropping him a PM.
June 17, 2009 3:51:34 AM

Mousemonkey said:
Forum member Baddad has a tri-Sli setup so it could be worth dropping him a PM.


Thanks I'll pm him
a b U Graphics card
June 17, 2009 3:10:23 PM

Is it possible the CPU or the FSB becomes the bottleneck in this setup?

Maybe someone will give you an offer for the 3 cards and you can try a pair of GTX 295s to get your desired framerates?

a b U Graphics card
June 17, 2009 3:57:28 PM

jednx01 said:
Although you are undoubtedly right that their computer is faster than mine, i still think that i can get mine to push more than it is... Maybe im wrong, but i doubt that the middle card is supposed to run consistantly COOLer than the others. ;)  Im not sure that the middle card is being used to the full extent and would like to find out if im correct and how to fix it. I got the third gtx 260 because I found it for $120 - much cheaper than any i7 upgrade would be. I have gotten performance increases, but the scaling is not even on par with those of people with rigs similar to mine. Obviously a core i7 is faster than what I have, but i really dont want to spend $500 upgrading my system. (or more.) :hello: 

By the way, you said that i could get more fps out of this rig... any pointers :wahoo: 


There are dozens of tweaks to your memory timings, HDD, Page file, and general windows changes that can squeeze out a couple extra fps. None really matter for a gamer, but things like that are requied for the minority that only play 3dmark Vantage :D . There are stickis around in the OS forums etc about things like registry tweaks to get your HDD a bit faster.

As for the middle card being cooler. It sure is possible it isnt gettign an equal load, as I said you should check that on GPUz. Though that probalby would be an issue with tri SLI/CF (as stated it scales like ***) and you wont be able to fix it. Make sure your slots are working in at least 8x configuration. If you have one at x4 that could be the issue. However, airflow is a strange mistress. It really isnt surprising that the middle card is coolest, even if they all have equal loading. Air can stagnate in spots depending on the rig. If the air is stagnant over the top card it may get hot as no heat is being pulled off the back of it. The density difference at different parts of the case can be surprisingly large, which can pull air in strange directions. Things like that are solved by having a LOT of fans to force air exactly where you want it to go. Even then you will get dead spots that tend to get a lot hotter, these spots are commonly off the back of a warm card, around your HDDs, or in the corners of the case where there is no fan. Go buy a smoke gun if you want to see it, fluid dynamics doesnt always behave 'intuitively.' Just because air is moving does not mean heat is being taken away either. If you still don't believe me I can take hours to explain to you what "could" cause it to happen, but it is more liekely that the top and bottom cards are stagnating and running hotter than ideal, not that the middle is "cooler."

Regardless, the top card is almost always the hottest as there is little air flow off the back of it, and its fan is obstructed. This of course assumes equal spacing of teh cards, if there is a larger gap bewtween middle and bottom than top and middle then this is clearly an air flow thing, and nothing you can do to fix it besides water cooling. There is no way to make the top card cooler than the lower cards on open air cooling. Anyway.. without getting totally over the top.. there are thousands of reasons for teh middle card to be relatively cooler, you shoudlnt worry about it so much, but it couldnt hurt to check the loads and pcix ratings. It all comes down to airflow and case setup. Soem you can control, some you cannot (like PCIx slot spacing).

You are also underestimating a few things. First is how important having a good CPU to drive tri+ GPU configs (i7 will make a big difference here). Second is how much faster the core 216 is than the ones you have. Given itentical rigs you are probalbyonly talking 3-4 FPS lost from not having the 216.. but that is 20% of the difference we are talking about here.

Check out thsi for multi GPU scalign on an i7. It makes a huge difference. (additionally, you shouldn't judge the entire system on crysis...)

http://www.guru3d.com/article/core-i7-multigpu-sli-cros...

That shows you jsut how huge of a differnce it makes. You are getting 35fps on you 2 way SLI.. they are getting 38. Yuor numbers seem perfectly fine to me. There is the 3fps taht coems from tweakign and using core 216's. The rest is from not having an i7 to realyl drive 3 gpu's. Remember that you ahve to comapre apples to apples, otherwise you will never meet your expectations.

June 17, 2009 6:29:21 PM

Just curious - what OS are you running with that?
a b U Graphics card
June 17, 2009 7:36:19 PM

cimtaurus said:
Just curious - what OS are you running with that?


A good point, Unless you are running vista 64 you are really gimping yourself. (or 7 64)
June 18, 2009 2:59:15 AM

daedalus685 said:
A good point, Unless you are running vista 64 you are really gimping yourself. (or 7 64)


I wish speeding things up was simply a matter of upgrading my os. :p  Unfortunately I am already running vista 64bit so thats not the issue. I imagine that as has been stated that my cpu is bottlenecking things, but I'm still not sure. Do any of you know if there are any programs that show gpu usage independently. (Similar to cpu monitoring programs that show which core is being used. Maybe it could tell me if my gpu's are really spreading the work evenly...) I do realize that my system is truely bottlenecked by my cpu, but unfortunately I may not be able to upgrade to an i7 for a while.... If at all. (Getting ready to go off to college, etc... Money's gonna be a lot tighter than in the past.) :??:  My rig was paid for intirely off of money that I've earned from various summer jobs, lifegaurding, and other stuff. My main goal is simply to get the most performance that I can out of the rig as the specs stand.

Thank you for all of your help.... I'll continue to try tweaking and other stuff, but I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to boost performance substantially without hardware upgrades. My cpu has just about taken as much oc'ing as i think i can give it without its voltages going too high. Any other suggestions about tweaks, etc would be appreciated.

On a funny note, I was able to drop temperatures CONSIDERABLY in my case with the purchase of a new fan from newegg. Unfortunately, one thing I forgot to look at was the volume of the fan. :sarcastic:  When I started up my new Delta fan, my case sounded like a mini turboprop roaring to life next to me. When my Dad got home, he thought I was vacuuming upstairs. :lol: 
!