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2 Non-Sli cards or 1 better card?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 17, 2011 5:41:34 PM

If two exact cards are installed not in Crossfire mode in a 2 monitor setup do they have an advantage over only one card?

I am looking at 2-1GB card w/ 400 Stream Processing Units or 1-1GB card w/ 800 Stream Processing units. All other specs are the same.

It seems the two cards would be better but not sure because they are not Crossfire capable.

I already have one of the 400 Stream Procssing Units cards.

More about : sli cards card

a c 124 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
February 17, 2011 5:55:06 PM

First, SLI (in your title) and Crossfire (in the OP) are specific to Nvidia (SLI) and Radeon (CF).

Secondly, if the cards are not in CF/SLI, then there will be zero net gains. However, you could power a 2nd monitor off the 2nd card, but they will act independantly.

Third, the cards themselves matter greatly. The processor count is important but there's many other considerations too like the generation of card and what system you have.

So, if possible please supply more specifics. What is your FULL system specs right now? (CPU, Mobo, RAM, GPU, PSU, monitor resolution...) And which cards, specifically, are you looking at?
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February 17, 2011 6:35:20 PM

Thanks for the reply.

I am using AUTODesk Revit Mep which is a 3D drafting program to create "blueprints". The new computer I am getting has two PCIE x16 slots and comes with one ATI FirePro V4800. I am running three 3 - 28" 1900x1200 monitors.

The V4800 will handle the three monitors with 2 special "active" display port adapters ($60). Our company will let us modify our computers at our own expense.

I was wonder if I should buy a second V4800 for $160 to put the third monitor on instead of buying the $60 worth of adapters. These will not be in crossfire mode. Will this speed up or slow down the computer?

Also would a ATI V5800 (1GB, 800 Stream Processing Units) card be better than two ATI V4800 (1GB, 400 Steam Processing Units each) cards? All other specs for the cards are the same. The V5800 is $370 plus $60 adapters = $430 or I just have to buy one more V4800 at $160 or just the adapters at $60 in order to run three screens.

Computer is a Dell T3500 w/
Windows 7 Pro 64bit
Xeon W3530 (Quad 2.8, 1x4.8GT/s QPI = 19.2GB/s I/O)
12GB Ram
(2) 320 GB Raid
525W Power Supply
One ATI V4800
Not sure about the motherboard model number but it has 2 PCIE x16
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February 17, 2011 6:36:06 PM

I changed SLI to Crossfire in the message but forgot to in the subject.
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a c 124 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
February 17, 2011 6:44:21 PM

I would say you'd be better off getting the V5800 instead of two non crossfired cards.

I know with crossfire, if you compare gaming cars - let's say two 400 core cards in CF and a single 800 card, the 800 card should have better performance depending on core and memory speeds of course. The CF cards would be ~70-90% better than a single card depending on the application.

Obviously by not going CF, you might end up stressing a single card a lot and the other one barely at all. In this case, the single V5800 would definitely be a lot better equipped to handle it.
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February 17, 2011 8:11:30 PM

Thanks for the reply,

I think the cost of the V5800 coming out of my own pocket will make that option less appealing. I may wait until the next round of better cheaper cards come out and purchase one then. Maybe the "V4900" will be better than the V5800 and cost less.

As for now, do you think I will have any advantage in adding a second card for the third screen compared to having all three screens on one card? There is not a lot of money difference between these two options.

Also, I mainly use 2 screens for Revit and one screen for e-mail, Excel, etc. Would it be better to put the two Revit screens on one card or split the load between two cards? Does it slow down a computer to share one program across two non-crossfire cards?

Thanks for all of the help!
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February 18, 2011 9:42:10 AM

Those adapters seem awfully expensive. Do they have what you need at Monoprice?

I would wait and see if the performance in your program is poor before buying the 2nd v4800. The v5800 does not seem like a good buy for you.

Splitting the load would almost certainly be better if you had 2 cards. Having the 2nd card just for the 3rd screen wouldn't help much.
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a b U Graphics card
February 18, 2011 12:24:08 PM

wolfram23 said:
First, SLI (in your title) and Crossfire (in the OP) are specific to Nvidia (SLI) and Radeon (CF).





Actually, they're specific to Nvidia and AMD/ATI.


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February 18, 2011 12:34:32 PM

Crossfire only adds performance if there's a profile defined for the game you're running in the ATI drivers. I'm pretty sure there are no Crossfire profiles defined for Autodesk, since it's a gaming technology.

In any case, you're always better off going for a powerful single card than 2 less powerful cards. 800 cores in a single card will give greater performance than 2 linked cards with 400 cores, as there is a huge performance overhead for the Crossfire link.
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a c 124 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
February 18, 2011 2:01:56 PM

mavroxur said:
Actually, they're specific to Nvidia and AMD/ATI.


Not sure why you're even bothering to say that. You realise ATI doesn't exist anymore right? And the brand is now AMD Radeon?
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a b U Graphics card
February 18, 2011 7:27:47 PM

wolfram23 said:
Not sure why you're even bothering to say that. You realise ATI doesn't exist anymore right? And the brand is now AMD Radeon?




That's like saying the three leading truck makers in the US are Ford, Chevrolet, and Ram. The Ram is made by Dodge. The Radeon is made by AMD.



That's why I bothered to say that.






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February 18, 2011 9:17:52 PM

wribbs said:
Those adapters seem awfully expensive. Do they have what you need at Monoprice?


The reason the adapters are so expensive is because they are "active" adapters instead of "passive" adapters so they are around 3 to 4 times expensive. The prices I am getting are from and sold by Amazon.com and are listed by ATI as certified adapters.

I checked out monoprice and they do have "passive" adapters for $8 each. Here is a quote from there website:

"Note: This is a passive adapter. While DisplayPort connectors are capable of passing a DVI signal, DisplayPort and DVI signals are basically different and not compatible with each other. This adapter does not actively convert a DisplayPort signal into a DVI signal. In order for this adapter to function properly, you must have a DisplayPort source device capable of producing and passing out a DVI signal through the DisplayPort jack."
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February 18, 2011 9:25:32 PM

Ten98 said:
Crossfire only adds performance if there's a profile defined for the game you're running in the ATI drivers. I'm pretty sure there are no Crossfire profiles defined for Autodesk, since it's a gaming technology.

In any case, you're always better off going for a powerful single card than 2 less powerful cards. 800 cores in a single card will give greater performance than 2 linked cards with 400 cores, as there is a huge performance overhead for the Crossfire link.


I did not know that about Crossfire but these cards are not Crossfire capatible. The V5800 is though. Pretty much only adding the second V4800 ($160) or adding the "active" adapters ($60) to the one card is the only option I have decided to go with.

I just wasn't sure if having three screens with 1900x1200 resolution on one card would bog it down and it would be better to only have two screens on the card and the one on another just to not overload the one card and degrade performance.

Also a concern would be if the performance would be degraded by two cards having to communicate with the cpu. This cpu has the 1x4.8GT/s QPI interface and can handle 19.2GB/s. Each PCIE x16 slot is only 8GB/s each = 16G/s total for two cards. So there shouldn't be a problem with communicating with the processor.

FYI, the i7-860 processor that I talked my work out of getting has a DMI 1.0 interface and only has a bandwidth of 10GB/s to communicate with graphics cards etc.
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February 21, 2011 5:27:17 PM

Any thoughts on my last post?
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