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Chipsets and SLI vs. Crossfire?

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September 12, 2010 3:11:26 AM

I am doing my research to build my first system in quite awhile. While I have many questions, I have one that I have been thinking about lately. I know that I want a motherboard with a AM3 socket (I only hope that there next gen CPU's "bulldozer" or something like that will be compatible as well) but I am leaning towards the newer Nvidia "Fermi" Video Cards (GTX 460). Everything seems so much simpler when sticking with AMD products because there chipsets support crossfire and there new chipsets looks great on paper (I have no real experience with them).

My question is am I going to loose out on any features or performance by using a motherboard that Uses the AM3 socket but uses a Nvidia chipset that would allow me to run SLI. The only reason I would do this is that I am leaning towards the Nvida cards instead of what ATI has to offer right now. I know that regardless of which route I chose to go I will only have a budget of about $250 for my first card and another $250 about 3-4 months later. I will be finalizing my decisions and ordering in the next 2-3 weeks.

Basically, whats the best route to go to run SLI with an AMD chip? Is this recommended? If I want to run SLI should I go with Intel? Should I just stick with crossfire if I want to run AMD cpu? These are my questions for now and I apologize in advance for sounding like a newbie. Obviously I am. I have not been into PC gaming or even built a PC since 1999-2000 so it's been awhile!

(Also, I hope I posted this in the right category.)

More about : chipsets sli crossfire

September 12, 2010 3:19:12 AM

If you really want to SLI i suggest going for a P55 board and an i5 760 instead of going the AMD route, it will cost about the same and give you the same performance but be a little more reliable, nVidia chipsets have a record of not being the greatest.
September 12, 2010 3:20:10 AM

Well, the first batch or line of the "bulldozer" cpus will support AM3, but everything else after I believe won't. The GTX 460 cards are great for the price/performance ratio.
The reason most people go with ATI/AMD is that AMD owns ATI (but you already probably knew that). ATI has even better price to performance ratio for "higher end" cards at the moment. But back the GTX 460, and overclocked one is competing with or out doing a 5850. 2 GTX 460s in SLi perform well, matching the 480, or beating it. If you do go SLi/AMD there are a few good boards out there, but all depends on what you want for features.
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September 12, 2010 4:20:31 AM

Thanks for the quick responses.

The great pice/performance from the GTX 460 is really the only reason that I am thinking of not going with ATI (I actually read on AMD's page that there next gen cards will no longer sport the ATI name, they are dropping the ATI name completely. Supposedly they had some focus groups tell them the most people would recognize AMD as the brains behind ATI so they think the ATI is no longer needed for brand loyalty. Something like that. Just had a A.D.D moment but back to what I was saying...) I also just read an article about SLI vs. Crossfire and apparently two HD 5770's (if I did go with AM3 socket and crossfire) in Xfire is a surprisingly good bang for the buck. Even keeping up with the GTX 470 single card and surpassing the HD 5850 single card. But I still think I would rather go the GTX 460 route (1 at initial build and another at Xmas time).

Idealy I would like to stick with AMD all around. AM3 socket, 890 chipset (or 790), and ATI cards. Unfortunately the lower end ATI cards ($250 or under) dont seem to perform nearly as well as Nvidia's lower end Fermi cards. The Ati's seem a little dated. If I was to comfortable go with my "All AMD" setup I would want to run at least a HD 5870 and no matter how I justify it this is just outside of my price range at the initial build time. So I am seeking out options and opinions.

I, of course, would like to be able to run the high-end "bulldozers" without ditching my fairly new motherboard but that's how the game goes. I am looking for something to get me by for 2 years or so and then I can jump on the current High-End band wagon at that time, whoever it may be. I think that two GTX 460's would do that for me. I just needed some reassuring that the few AMD boards that run SLI are good boards and that I wont be giving up any proprietary features that I would get with an AMD - ATI combo or a Intel - Nvidia combo.

If I go with Intel CPU then I can run SLI without the nvidia chpset right? I think the intel chipsets support SLI.

What are some good AM3 socket board that can run SLI (nvidia chipset)

If I do go AM3 and ATI what are some recommended boards for that?

The features I am looking for, besides what I already specified, would just be a good availability of features. Nothing seriously lacking and nothing I probably wont ever need.

And what are some good P55 boards that run SLI? (I am lees familiar with intel chipsets, is P55 the best option for SLI or Crossfire with 1156 socket?) I have really only been looking at AMD for my CPU. Not sure why, probably price and possible future compatibility. I have heard rumors that the 1156socket is already on its way out and 1366 would push me way out of my price range. But I am not saying that I would not go intel, it just seems foreign to me right now.

I hope that I am not asking to many questions (although I am sure I am), I am just writing down the questions that are going through my head and you guys are the only ones that I can talk to about it. Thanks again for all the help and advice.

PS - What are you guys running Intel - Nvidia or AMD - ATI or Intel - ATI and what were your reasons for going that route.

I have been doing most of my shopping at newegg because I have had suck good luck with them in the past.
September 12, 2010 4:45:49 AM

Err actually considering HD 6000 series looming and surely the Nvidia riposte also incoming i wouldn't consider CF/SLI : the thought of a game more demanding than Metro 2033 and the rate tech moves i wouldn't enjoy the thought of being stuck with not one but 2 obsolete GPUs hehe
September 12, 2010 4:54:06 AM

I guess before I go any further I should get some clarrification on some questions I have about my PSU. This PSU was given to me from a friend who was in a bind and needed to borrow $20 (pretty desperate I know) but he sold me his PSU (he knew I was looking for components) for the $20 (I tested his working system before we took it out so I know it works).

The PSU is this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Questions:
-Even though it says SLI ready, it will work for crossfire as well right?
-I see some PSU's marked as i5 or i7 ready. Have they change the motherboard plug on those boards or something? or is this just referring to the power requirements.
-I am assuming that this power supply is adequate for what I am looking at doing unless when I do ad a second card it puts me over my power requirements.
- I just wanted to double check that SLI and Xfire will work with this and that an AM3 processor and an 1156 processor will work with it as well

I know, I know, such newbie questions. All this to save my self a buck or two. I am a college student with a family so I am learning to take penny pinching to the extreme. lol. I am even lucky that I will be able to build my self anything at all. My wife thinks my Pentium d is just fine... I convinced her that it is just fine, for her, and If you let me build one then you can have this one all to your self and play SIMS all you want! LOL. I am just really excited to get back to PC gaming!
September 12, 2010 5:02:39 AM

batuchka said:
Err actually considering HD 6000 series looming and surely the Nvidia riposte also incoming i wouldn't consider CF/SLI : the thought of a game more demanding than Metro 2033 and the rate tech moves i wouldn't enjoy the thought of being stuck with not one but 2 obsolete GPUs hehe



I think of these things as well but what am I supposed to do If I want to be gaming at all in the mean time. Should I just buy a cheap ($200) card from either of the two and wait it out. It just seems like I could always say, "well nows not the time because something better is coming around the corner" I could say the same thing about the new "bulldozer" CPU's and not build a system until they come out. Pretty soon it'll be a year down the road and I still haven't enjoyed any games. I don't currently have a gaming system so I would like to be able to build something and get by for a year and maybe push it to 2.

Let's say I did want to wait to invest in my GPU. I would still need to decide whether the new Nvidia cards or the new AMD cards are going to be the best so that I can purchase hardware to accommodate one or the other when they come out. I really don't want to wait to purchase anything until I see these next gen cards.

I just think that whenever a person builds a system it is just part of the game that your going to wake up a few days later and all of your hard earned work is going to be out dated.
September 12, 2010 5:06:45 AM

The 1GB 460 is an anomaly. If you are gaming at 1920, then you want one or two of these cards. They are fast, cool, and quiet. And the SLI scaling is amazing.

If you are gaming at 1680 or 2560, the situation reverses. ATI (or AMD cards) are fast, cool, quiet - nVidia is fast but power hungry, hot, noisy, and expensive all around.

That's today. Tomorrow is always different.

As for Intel vs AMD . . . I'm personally not worried about upgrading my cpu without changing mobos. If I size the build for three years, the whole world will have changed by then. That's my experience, yours may differ.

Like you are familiar with AMD, I am only familiar with Intel. An Intel i5 750/GTX 460 configuration runs about $950. Since I did one about an hour ago (ignoring any combos or MIRs), I'll slap it in here:

Intel Core i5-750 $195
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115215

GIGABYTE GA-P55-USB3 $120
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128425

G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231396

Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W $80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371015

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185

Sony Optiarc Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA CD/DVD Burner $20
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827118039

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116754&cm_re=windows_7_home_premium_64_bit-_-32-116-754-_-Product

COOLER MASTER HAF 912 $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119233

ZOTAC ZT-40402-10P GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB $220
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500169
September 12, 2010 5:07:44 AM

Unless u insist on higher than Full HD or a healthy helping of AA/AF in games anything from a GTX 460 1GB - HD 5870 would be good to go for most current titles save Metro 2033 perhaps ^^^
September 12, 2010 5:09:09 AM

batuchka said:
Err actually considering HD 6000 series looming and surely the Nvidia riposte also incoming i wouldn't consider CF/SLI : the thought of a game more demanding than Metro 2033 and the rate tech moves i wouldn't enjoy the thought of being stuck with not one but 2 obsolete GPUs hehe


after reading your post once again I think I might see your point. I think you are saying to not worry about SLI/CF because I will probably be wanting to upgrade to a newer gen card sometime in the near future (because they are due to be out relatively soon, I am assuming) so I would be better off purchasing ONE DECENT card and hold out to see what is yet to come.

HMMMM. So many things to think about and its all really just to save a buck or two. I really cant wait to be in a position when the money being spent on this stuff is not as much of a big deal as it is to me know. Being a college student means that every penny may be your last. LOL

This is another approach that I think I like as well. I could still use the AM3 socket that I wanted to and the 890 chipset because I can through any card in if I am not worrying about being able to SLI or CF it.

Thanks for your advice.
September 12, 2010 5:35:44 AM

Twoboxer said:
The 1GB 460 is an anomaly. If you are gaming at 1920, then you want one or two of these cards. They are fast, cool, and quiet. And the SLI scaling is amazing.

If you are gaming at 1680 or 2560, the situation reverses. ATI (or AMD cards) are fast, cool, quiet - nVidia is fast but power hungry, hot, noisy, and expensive all around.

That's today. Tomorrow is always different.

As for Intel vs AMD . . . I'm personally not worried about upgrading my cpu without changing mobos. If I size the build for three years, the whole world will have changed by then. That's my experience, yours may differ.

Like you are familiar with AMD, I am only familiar with Intel. An Intel i5 750/GTX 460 configuration runs about $950. Since I did one about an hour ago (ignoring any combos or MIRs), I'll slap it in here:

Intel Core i5-750 $195
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115215

GIGABYTE GA-P55-USB3 $120
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128425

G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231396

Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W $80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371015

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185

Sony Optiarc Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA CD/DVD Burner $20
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827118039

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116754&cm_re=windows_7_home_premium_64_bit-_-32-116-754-_-Product

COOLER MASTER HAF 912 $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119233

ZOTAC ZT-40402-10P GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB $220
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500169




Thank you for your two cents. This is exactly the type of advice I was looking for. I will be purchasing my monitor at the same time as I purchase the parts but I am sure it will be 23" - 22" so I think that puts me at 1920 - 1680. I thought those were pretty close to the same? But you specified GTX 460 (1 or 2) for 1920 but ATI for 1680. What is you reason for this if those two resolutions are so close to the same, or am I not understanding the differences.

Also I am familiar with how good the scaling is with the GTX 460 and other fermi cards and how the scaling is different for different resolutions. You might get a 80% gain running SLI at a high 2560 but only 30% or lower on 1680. I havnt actually seen any scaling benchmarks for gtx460 only 470 and 480. I also saw great scaling from lower end HD 5770 as well. Uggg, there are so many different possibilities. Thats why we love this stuff though.

Also Thanks for the build you posted. That is very close to what I am looking for. I already have the PSU and Windows 7 Professional, and a new optical (similar to what you posted) but I need everything else. For some reason I am thinking that if I do go Nvidia then I will go Intel. Since I will be shooting for three years a build similar to your above would allow me to add another 460 around Christmas time and help me get even closer to that three years.

Also I see your logic on not worrying about retaining you mobo when upgrading your CPU. I feel that same way if its three years down the road. The "bulldozer" Cpu's are due out first quarter of next year thought so that would be a situation where I would want to retain my mobo if it was even worth it to do so. Again, If you build something knowing you want three years out of it your only going to get three years out of it if you let it go "as is" for three years. LOL.

Thanks again, I am really considering an intel build (mainly because I want to use Nvidia GPU's and I dont want to use Nvidia chipsets due to the bad press they get) and starting with one gtx 460 1gb. I also do a lot of video encoding and I heard that the Fermi cards are not capable of the GPU acceleration (yet) as other cuda cores do (ex: badaboom). Also will the lack of hyper threading with the core i5 significantly effect video encoding? (honestly I think it will be so fast compared to what I am used to I wouldnt notice the different. lol)
September 12, 2010 5:43:24 AM

Twoboxer said:
The 1GB 460 is an anomaly. If you are gaming at 1920, then you want one or two of these cards. They are fast, cool, and quiet. And the SLI scaling is amazing.

If you are gaming at 1680 or 2560, the situation reverses. ATI (or AMD cards) are fast, cool, quiet - nVidia is fast but power hungry, hot, noisy, and expensive all around.

That's today. Tomorrow is always different.

As for Intel vs AMD . . . I'm personally not worried about upgrading my cpu without changing mobos. If I size the build for three years, the whole world will have changed by then. That's my experience, yours may differ.

Like you are familiar with AMD, I am only familiar with Intel. An Intel i5 750/GTX 460 configuration runs about $950. Since I did one about an hour ago (ignoring any combos or MIRs), I'll slap it in here:

Intel Core i5-750 $195
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115215

GIGABYTE GA-P55-USB3 $120
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128425

G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231396

Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W $80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371015

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185

Sony Optiarc Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA CD/DVD Burner $20
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827118039

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116754&cm_re=windows_7_home_premium_64_bit-_-32-116-754-_-Product

COOLER MASTER HAF 912 $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119233

ZOTAC ZT-40402-10P GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB $220
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500169


One more thing: although I don't understand why the GTX 460 handles 1920 so much better than 1680 and since this is that card I think I will end up using I think I will start focusing my monitor shopping to 1920x1080 native resolution. That is really what I would prefer anyways.

And one last question. Since I am new to current gaming rigs If I wanted to save money and run a system much like you have listed above except an i3 instead of the i5, again to save a couple of pennies, how much in game performance do you think I can expect to loose. Would you consider it a stupid move to save $80 bucks or so? I already know I would loose a TON of video encoding performance but that can be done while I sleep. lol.

Thanks for any advice
September 12, 2010 3:34:15 PM

obsidian86 said:
you can sli on a cf board takes 10 minutes

http://xdevs.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.30

Extremely easy to do. Just requires running a batch file and that's it. Though it isn't guaranteed it will work on every motherboard


It looks like that was done using the X58 chipset. I definitly like the idea of being able to run Sli or CF on any board I would rather know that I will be running something that is tested and stable. Thanks for the input.

If anyone else has some input on using AM3 boards with nvidia chipsets I am all ears.
September 12, 2010 11:24:16 PM

The 460 can handle 1920, 1680, and anything lower just fine. But if you are gaming at 1680, you do not need to spend $230 on a 460 to get excellent gaming. Performance, price, power requirements, heat, noise all contribute to speccing different cards for different resolutions.

The article below shows the best card at many price points. It can also be used to find the least expensive card for "exceptional gaming at XXXX resolution".

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-460-radeon-hd-5570-gaming,2697.html

Differences in scaling are not quite as you outlined, but let's leave the subtleties for another time. Meanwhile, here's an article showing 460 scaling:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-460-sli-geforce-gtx-480,2694.html

The i5's lack of multithreading will certainly cause its performance to fall off vs., say, an 860. Here's a benchmark showing the 860, 750, and other cpu's in encoding (and other tasks):

http://www.anandtech.com/show/2839/4

Is the 860 worth another $85 to you?

Finally, here's a review of the 530/540:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/2901/12

Note that the gaming resolutions shown are 1680, a lighter load than 1920. Now, for one I could find showing the 540 at 1920. It begins to show why 750 is preferred at 1920.

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/clarkdale-review_9.html#sect0

Bottom line: if you stay with 22" 1680, you can easily use an i540 and a lesser gpu than the 460. If you are going to 24" 1920, a 750/460 combo is a better fit.
September 14, 2010 3:44:30 AM

Twoboxer said:
The 460 can handle 1920, 1680, and anything lower just fine. But if you are gaming at 1680, you do not need to spend $230 on a 460 to get excellent gaming. Performance, price, power requirements, heat, noise all contribute to speccing different cards for different resolutions.

The article below shows the best card at many price points. It can also be used to find the least expensive card for "exceptional gaming at XXXX resolution".

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-460-radeon-hd-5570-gaming,2697.html

Differences in scaling are not quite as you outlined, but let's leave the subtleties for another time. Meanwhile, here's an article showing 460 scaling:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-460-sli-geforce-gtx-480,2694.html

The i5's lack of multithreading will certainly cause its performance to fall off vs., say, an 860. Here's a benchmark showing the 860, 750, and other cpu's in encoding (and other tasks):

http://www.anandtech.com/show/2839/4

Is the 860 worth another $85 to you?

Finally, here's a review of the 530/540:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/2901/12

Note that the gaming resolutions shown are 1680, a lighter load than 1920. Now, for one I could find showing the 540 at 1920. It begins to show why 750 is preferred at 1920.

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/clarkdale-review_9.html#sect0

Bottom line: if you stay with 22" 1680, you can easily use an i540 and a lesser gpu than the 460. If you are going to 24" 1920, a 750/460 combo is a better fit.



Thanks your for the great links and your opinions. The SLI and CF scaling that I was refering to was just from an article in a current PC mag about SLI and CF scaling. They did not, however, have a 460 to test. They tested scaling at low and hi res on GTS250 (just cause I guess) 470, 480, HD 4770 5850 and 5870. I have already purchased a 24" 1920 monitor so that is what I will be gaming at. I am really leaning towards the 750/460 that you pointed out.
September 14, 2010 4:17:07 PM

RiJ said:
Well, the first batch or line of the "bulldozer" cpus will support AM3, but everything else after I believe won't. The GTX 460 cards are great for the price/performance ratio.
The reason most people go with ATI/AMD is that AMD owns ATI (but you already probably knew that). ATI has even better price to performance ratio for "higher end" cards at the moment. But back the GTX 460, and overclocked one is competing with or out doing a 5850. 2 GTX 460s in SLi perform well, matching the 480, or beating it. If you do go SLi/AMD there are a few good boards out there, but all depends on what you want for features.



i read an article saying socket am3 will not support the bulldozers only socket am3+ will however socket am3+ will be backwards compatible so it will support the phenomII processors
!