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SLI vs CF in the midrange

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Are You Satisfied with the Quality of experience that SLI and CF provide?

Total: 20 votes (8 blank votes)

  • Yes
  • 75 %
  • No
  • 25 %
a b U Graphics card
April 29, 2011 8:18:09 PM

So I have built myself a new pc with an i5 2500k and asus p8p67 pro


I am looking to buy either an ati 6850 or a gtx 560 (non ti being released in a couple of weeks).
I am not looking for advice on graphic cards... I am pretty well informed about relative performance and what not...

But my question is...
for people who have crossfire or sli right now... are you satisfied with the QUALITY of the experience... I am not asking about fps.. I want to know things such as flickering, stuttering, excessive troubleshooting etc. that occur when you have two graphic cards installed. I hear that games don't generally support CF or SLI until new driver versions are out, is this true? I also know evga has their own patches they release (http://www.evga.com/articles/00463/) that help with SLI, these obviously work with all NVIDIA cards right?

I want to know if I should just get a single fast card and be done with it, or should I get a 6850 level card (more than enough for me for now) and cf it later (or SLI later starting with a 560)


Bottom line: my question is,
for people who have crossfire or sli right now... are you satisfied with the QUALITY of the experience...if you answer no Id like to know why,

thanks,
Amir

More about : sli midrange

a c 125 U Graphics card
April 29, 2011 8:35:53 PM

I'm satisfied with SLI, so much so I'm getting a third card tomorrow. The performance is incrediable, the only time I've had any problems with drivers crashing is when its been my fault, due to overclocking to much, I've also had a burnt out 24 pin extension cable cause the nvidia driver to crash...

All my games support SLI except Need for speed shift 2 unleashed, which is a fault of the game rather than SLI.
a c 216 U Graphics card
April 29, 2011 8:39:22 PM

I think your pole is a little incomplete.

I don't believe you should SLI/CF mid range cards. If you can get the performance out of a single high end card, I'd rather get the high end card. However, if you find yourself needing more performance due to a very high resolution or multiple displays, then I'd get two high end cards.
Related resources
a c 271 U Graphics card
April 29, 2011 10:36:48 PM

I'm quite happy with the performance of SLi'd GTX560's and unlike bystander I think that if you can get the same or more performance as an expensive single card using two cheaper cards that that have a lower combined cost then all the better and if one does go faulty then the PC is still usable whilst awaiting an RMA and such.
a c 216 U Graphics card
April 29, 2011 11:01:43 PM

While it may be cheaper, and most the time will work fine, there are games which don't support it or have glitches with it. I'd rather have something always work, than sometimes work. At least if you SLI/CF high end cards, you still have 1 high end card when it fails.

I have old cards to use for a spare if I have to, but that again is much rarer with a single card.
April 30, 2011 12:20:28 AM

I'm loving my sli 560Ti's! The performance is beyond any single card for the most part and I have yet to play a game that didn't support them. I have an sli 560Ti benchmark thread in here that shows the kind of performance you can expect.
a b U Graphics card
April 30, 2011 4:53:20 AM

thanks for all the answers!... hope some ATi people can tell me about their experiences as well, the card I just bought is an asus direct cu 6850... really nice card, no noise and overclocks to 980mhz
May 1, 2011 4:00:03 AM

I have crossfire AMD 6950s. Yes... Yes! Yes! Yes! I'm more than satisfied with crossfire on these cards. The performance with these things is incredible. If I could go back in time and redo my video card purchase over again, I would get exactly the same cards over again.
May 1, 2011 4:04:37 AM

I used to have sli gtx 260s, but I replaced them with crossfire AMD 6950s. I loved the sli gtx 260s also. Much better than one card. I've had awesome experiences with dual card setups. Would I get dual card setups over again? Oh heck yes. :p 
a b U Graphics card
May 1, 2011 10:47:57 AM

I ditched crossfire 6870s, they had pretty much every problem that you have mentioned, it was consistent across many drivers/games... very poor minimum fps (actually lower with dual cards then with a single) anyways I was so frustrated after waiting and waiting for drivers that I sold the pair and went for a gtx 570 and oc'ed it and im happy at 1080p, the overall exp for me (with crossfire 6870s) was terrible and I'm much happier with a single (slower but more reliable) card... I have never owned an sli system but from what I've heard/ seen it more or less works like it is advertised.

also as jednx01 ans some others have mentioned i have heard that 6950/70s in crossfire do quite well, however my exp with the 6800 series was subpar. Personally like some have said, I would not ever try to crossfire or sli a midrange card.... it is a good value but you are better off getting a single high end card then adding a second down the road, imho
a b U Graphics card
May 1, 2011 10:51:08 AM

overall I think your poll is too ambiguous but for the most part, I'd say "yes", however in my case the 6870s just plain sucked, just to share my experience with some known issues... then again I think I am more anal then most :)  hope that helps
a b U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 4:00:44 AM

Yea Im not paying too much attention to the poll, the responses are what help me, thanks everyone for them so far, I have read these issues you point to jjb8675309 for the 6800 series... I'm thinking ill probably return the 6850 I have and get a 560, enjoy it for a while and get a second one later on (one 560 is more than enough for now and a while to come)... I'd buy a 460 since it is the same as the 560... but seeing as how the stock has already dwindled I dont think theres a good chance I can find another one....
a b U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 12:21:16 PM

This topic seems to come up a lot around here, so I am just going to be lazy and quote myself from the last post I made concerning my Crossfire performance:

Quote:
The odd thing about Crossfire for me has been that it typically works on games that I really need it to work on, and any title that really doesn't need the extra horsepower, seems to not be supported, or is, but is a waste and so I run it in single card mode. Games that I enjoy, that I knew I'd need the extra gpu power on, like Metro 2033, DOW 2, Resident Evil 5, Company of Heroes, and Bulletstorm, etc all work fine for me in Crossfire. Considering I got my two HD 5770 cards for $115 and $120 each new back last June, I'd say I have gotten my moneys worth. Granted, that doesn't apply to everyone, but for me, I can't complain really. I got what I wanted. Anyone who paid for the NFS titles though and are having dual card issues, you can aim your blame the development studios just as much as Nvidia and AMD, if not more so, as it is mostly their problem. And you would have every right to bitch too. Nothing worse then plopping down a lot of cash for a decent gaming rig, then spending another 50 bucks on up for a game, and have it look average maxed out as is, and run like crap on good hardware, regardless of single or dual card configs.


As for SLI, it works well too, but I have found it to have the same issues as Crossfire on certain titles. There are simply games out there that do not like running with dual card setups, regardless of the manufacturer being AMD or Nvidia.
a c 271 U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 12:38:38 PM

professorprofessorson said:
This topic seems to come up a lot around here, so I am just going to be lazy and quote myself from the last post I made concerning my Crossfire performance:

Quote:
The odd thing about Crossfire for me has been that it typically works on games that I really need it to work on, and any title that really doesn't need the extra horsepower, seems to not be supported, or is, but is a waste and so I run it in single card mode. Games that I enjoy, that I knew I'd need the extra gpu power on, like Metro 2033, DOW 2, Resident Evil 5, Company of Heroes, and Bulletstorm, etc all work fine for me in Crossfire. Considering I got my two HD 5770 cards for $115 and $120 each new back last June, I'd say I have gotten my moneys worth. Granted, that doesn't apply to everyone, but for me, I can't complain really. I got what I wanted. Anyone who paid for the NFS titles though and are having dual card issues, you can aim your blame the development studios just as much as Nvidia and AMD, if not more so, as it is mostly their problem. And you would have every right to bitch too. Nothing worse then plopping down a lot of cash for a decent gaming rig, then spending another 50 bucks on up for a game, and have it look average maxed out as is, and run like crap on good hardware, regardless of single or dual card configs.


As for SLI, it works well too, but I have found it to have the same issues as Crossfire on certain titles. There are simply games out there that do not like running with dual card setups, regardless of the manufacturer being AMD or Nvidia.

Why did you get DX11 cards then? Because more games are dual card enabled than are DX11 but you still bought DX11 cards, why?
a b U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 1:23:21 PM

Mousemonkey said:
Why did you get DX11 cards then? Because more games are dual card enabled than are DX11 but you still bought DX11 cards, why?


Well, at the time when I was purchasing parts for my current Crossfire system, I was using a older but reliable Crossfire system using the following:
Phenom X3 8400 with TLB fix disabled
Asus M2A-MVP
two HD3850 cards
Ageia Physx card
SB Audegy

That system was still doing fine for the most part at the time (late May 2010), but I was ready to upgrade to a bit of a better motherboard and cpu to use the HD 3850 cards with. While shopping around I came across a seller on ebay who was selling graphics cards and other items at extremely low prices. I noticed he had some new retail HD 5770 cards available from XFX, HIS, Power Color, and Biostar. I was really attracted to the HD 5770 cards due to the reviews published here and elsewhere concerning their single card and dual card performance in DX9-DX11. I didn't just buy them for DX11 performance, because at the time there was not many DX 11 titles on the market anyway. For what there was though DX 11 wise, Crossfire performance on two HD 5770 cards for Metro 2033, Dirt 2, Aliens Versus Predator, and Call of Pripyat was basically on par with a HD 5870 or HD 5830, which was far more expensive at the time then what I paid for both HD 5770 cards. I got my HIS HD 5770 for a tad under $120, and my Biostar HD 5770 for a tad under $115. That included shipping. So, for $235 total shipped basically I was able to get HD 5870 performance on certain titles. I honestly couldn't see why to not go for it. Buying the new cards gave me far better performance over the HD 3850 cards in both single card and crossfire mode. All in all it was a sound upgrade that continues to pay off even now.

As for the older Asus Crosfire board, Phenom X3, and HD 3850 cards? I sold one of the cards for about 40 bucks, and used the rest of the parts in a build for my daughter. They are still serving her well. She mostly plays the Sims 2-3 and console ported stuff, which the HD 3850 still handles well.

For those that would care to know, here are the specs for both my dual card set-ups:
Crossfire system:
Athlon II X4 635 @2.9ghz
MSI 790XT-G45
4gb DDR2
two HD 5770 cards
250gb WD Blue and 160gb Seagate Sata hd
LG Super Multi DVD-R burner
onboard Realtek HD audio
BFG 1000 Watt psu
GMC X7 X-Station
-----------------
SLI system:
Athlon64 FX-62 @2.8ghz
EPoX EP-MF570SLI
3gb DDR2
two 8800GTS 320mb cards
160 GB WD Blue
Pioneer DVD-R burner
Soundblaster Audegy SE
BFG GS-650 watt
Aerocool Terminator 3 themed case

Both are running Windows 7 Ultimate. The SLI system I mainly use for titles that use physx like Terminator Salvation, the Bionic Commando titles, or older titles like NFS Carbon, Pro Street, Quake Wars, etc. That and it makes a good solid back up system. I had actually hoped to run the Bet on Solder titles on the SLI system using Physx, but those games have issues with Win7 and Vista due to their Starforce crap, so I am currently working on building a system specifically to handle those games, since my current Win XP gaming system uses a Sempron 2500+, which is not up to snuff for any of the BOS titles.
a b U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 2:46:15 PM

Quote:
Yea Im not paying too much attention to the poll, the responses are what help me, thanks everyone for them so far, I have read these issues you point to jjb8675309 for the 6800 series... I'm thinking ill probably return the 6850 I have and get a 560, enjoy it for a while and get a second one later on (one 560 is more than enough for now and a while to come)... I'd buy a 460 since it is the same as the 560... but seeing as how the stock has already dwindled I dont think theres a good chance I can find another one....


If 6850 is fine for you then i see no sence of getting GTX560Ti, also remember than jjb wrote about HIS isses with CF and not everyone have them. GTX 460 is more or less equal in performance to HD 6850, so it won't be an upgrade at all, also if you are talking about GTX 560 non-Ti then it won't be much better than your current 6850.
a b U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 2:50:07 PM

yeah get the gtx 560ti and then a second down the road, good luck
a c 271 U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 2:54:17 PM

jjb8675309 said:
yeah get the gtx 560ti and then a second down the road, good luck

Or get two from the get go and then not have to bother upgrading for three years or so.
a b U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 2:55:49 PM

^ yeah go for two if you can afford it and you will be flying high.... the mouse has spoken
a b U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 3:58:32 PM

@Shrkbay no i wasnt planning an "upgrade" from my 6850, I still have like 8 days or something to return the 6850 for money back and go with an equivalent gtx460 (or non ti 560 since it will have stock for longer thus allowing me to buy a second one, as opposed to the dwindling 460).

The only reason I wanted to switch was because I hear nvidia SLI provides a better Quality of experience (vs just straight up avg. fps).
a b U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 4:02:20 PM

I would not get the non ti, if your going that route go for two 460s...

I'm not sure where you are coming from with this comment but...VVV

""The only reason I wanted to switch was because I hear nvidia SLI provides a better Quality of experience (vs just straight up avg. fps). ""

this statement is a little ambiguous and makes little sense it is all relative to what you are talking about, anyways, imo single card solutions are always to most reliable dual card solutions might provide more performance but it just all depends, in the end you just have to try it for yourself...
a c 125 U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 4:12:49 PM

I've had fairly few issues with crossfire 5850s. Almost everytime I've noticed an issue (which is usually that my performance is bad, which I then see is caused by 0% GPU2 usage) gets fixed with a driver reinstallation. I've had actually fairly little crossfire specific troubleshooting to do on the whole, a lot of issues are simply with the game or some settings and would occure with single or CF cards.

SLI 560s would be very good. I'm curious why it's that or CF6850 and not CF6870? Also, Sapphire 5850 Xtreme are around $150 and are performance wise in between 6850 and 6870 so it's a great deal.
a b U Graphics card
May 2, 2011 6:50:14 PM

OP: imo there's no sence of "upgrading" to GTX460, it will more be like a downgrade rather than upgrade, also when 560 non - Ti will be released it'll cost i believe (around 200$), which is ~30$ more than 6850 normally. GTX 560Ti is a good option, but if it's 50+$ more than 6850 then imo there's no sence of going with that, and Hey, do you have any issues with your current 6850 that you want to go for nVidia? If no then i see no point in changing your GPU, unless you get a good deal ;) . Also Sapphire 5850 Xtreme is really cheap these days, and it performs 10% better than 6850/460 and probably 560 non-Ti *personal note* and finally it appeared on my market, so i'll probably buy one soon :) 
a b U Graphics card
May 3, 2011 5:55:24 AM

Okay guys, I need to refocus this discussion, some things I should clarify, please read these notes before posting again:

-for now a 6850 and 460/560 (non-ti) are more than enough for me (price wise and perfromance wise, I can overclock well). My post is to decide which of these midrange cards I will chose based on getting a second one in the future.

-My current card (I bought like 4 days ago) is an Asus direct CU 6850, I bought at a local canadian store for 175 plus 20 MIR, and I have 8 days to take it back for a replacement (NOT an upgrade) if I decide that I like SLI better than CF.

-I understand my single card performance will be the same lol so I know that it is not an upgrade I just wanted to see in general if CF or SLI has the least troubleshooting errors/ stuttering/ and any problems associated with dual card setups.

-The 6870 ($210 here) and 560ti ($250) are out of my range of what I would like to pay.

-5850 I don't want because both the 6850 and 460/560 can overclock to match it anyways, and they both have better dual card scaling, and in Canada the 5850 isn't as cheap as in the US, (cheapest I found is 180).

-Only reason I was saying before I won't buy a 460 is because of dwindling stocks already, so how would I find a second one a year down the road for SLI?


Hopefully this can refocus the discussion back to whether I should chose an SLI based system or a CF bases system.

Thanks for all the input, I appreciate it.
May 3, 2011 10:53:43 AM

bottom line is that CF has some dirvers issues. But when they work, they kick ass. Nvidia seems to have the least problems, and 2 460s are getting exellent reviews. If I was you I'll go with GTX 460/560 SLI. Here's the thing with availability later, you may find it later but at the same price as a newer and maybe better midrange card.
I think I understand that right now you dont have the budget to go with a higher card so you'll settle for something that will meet your needs and later when it doesnt slap in another card in the future for cheaper. Thats what I would do right now but I will go with one GTX 570 then slap another one next year or so.
May 3, 2011 11:00:45 AM

I believe that with roughly the same specs but different brand the performance shouldnt be noticeable. One think to know is that SLI seems to performe better at higher resolution (x1200) than lower and CF performe better at lower res (x1050). But I doubt you'll notice it.
a b U Graphics card
May 3, 2011 1:05:33 PM

OP: AMD and Nvidia both have problems sometimes. 6800 series have good CF scaling that will beat GTX460SLI by 5-10% and be a bit faster than 560 non-Ti. Also, if you haven't tried SLI/CF yet then imo you should not take others' comments about all the problems with them, just try if it'll be worth it.
a b U Graphics card
May 3, 2011 1:07:47 PM

@Maverick knight, I think your theory about SLI performing better on higher resolution than on lower is wrong, even in single GPU comparision AMD cards tend to be better on higher resolution. *correct me if i'm wrong*
a c 125 U Graphics card
May 3, 2011 2:40:12 PM

560 is significantly better than a 6850 and quite a decent amount better than a 460...


Pretty much any of these cards in CF/SLI will perform at least as well if not better than CF5850 - which I own and can say I'm extremely happy with. Any game can be played at max settings (including Metro 2033 with all settings although it plays at around 30fps - turn off DoF and it's over 60)

Personally I'd go to the 560 from the 6850.
May 3, 2011 2:51:15 PM

Quote:
@Maverick knight, I think your theory about SLI performing better on higher resolution than on lower is wrong, even in single GPU comparision AMD cards tend to be better on higher resolution. *correct me if i'm wrong*


Im basing this on an article by a PC magazine. Heres the article

http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/sli_vs_crossf...

..."AMD has invested substantial time and resources improving CrossFire X, but it’s clear that Nvidia’s SLI is currently the superior dual GPU solution. Nvidia’s generation of DX11 cards scale very well when adding the second card, and SLI still works with more titles than CrossFire X, thought that gap is narrowing.

One thing that’s quite evident from all our testing: the Radeon HD 5830 is very much an odd duck. It’s been our experience that both single card HD 5830s and 5830s running in CrossFire X mode just don’t have the horsepower to justify its current cost point.

On the other hand, there might be times you might want to consider paired Radeon HD 5850s or 5870s, particularly if power, heat and noise issues are of concern. However, both the GTX 470 and 480 in SLI seriously spank AMD’s best in sheer performance.

In many ways, the 460 GTX impresses us more. Running in SLI mode, these cards scale well, never seem to get particularly loud or too hot, and can either stay close in terms of performance to AMDs high end card. They can certainly outperform the HD 5850 in most cases. And if you’re looking at Nvidia specific features, like PhysX or 3D Vision, the GTX 460 are affordable, even if you buy a pair. We’d strongly suggest stepping up to the 1GB version, however.

So are dual GPUs worth the cost and hassle? If you’re a serious gamer with 1080p displays or better, the answer is definitely “yes.” But take a look at what you plan on running, your resolution and other factors before you drop in that second card."...
a b U Graphics card
May 3, 2011 3:34:46 PM

Thank you for all the new input guys!

also @wolfram Im not talking about the 560ti which is significantly better, but the 560 that will be released shortly, which has the same specs as the 460, but better overclockability due to being GF114
May 3, 2011 3:42:41 PM

I have had ZERO issues with my 560's in SLI so far. They work on every game and benchmark I have and have given me up to 100% increase in performance over the single card. Honestly, even the single card ran everything I have playable at max settings....
a c 271 U Graphics card
May 3, 2011 4:43:23 PM

amirp said:
-Only reason I was saying before I won't buy a 460 is because of dwindling stocks already, so how would I find a second one a year down the road for SLI?


This is why I don't follow the pack with the 'buy one now and add another later' mantra as I've found that it usually doesn't work out because the cards are either no longer available new (and I don't buy second hand cards) or there is a better option for the same price, so I say SLi from the get go and then don't bother changing anything for the next three years or so.
a c 125 U Graphics card
May 3, 2011 5:26:21 PM

I guess I'll have to wait and see what the 560 looks like compared to the 560 Ti. If it is in fact just a rebranded 460, well it's still pretty darn good to SLI. It would have better scaling than my 5850s but they are still very close, and CF5850s is an extremely potent set up at 1080p so it should be great for a while. I'm only looking at replacing my GPUs so that I can go multimonitor or maybe 3D... either way, I'll need more power to keep things maxed.
a b U Graphics card
May 4, 2011 12:50:28 PM

@skullcrusher, 560Ti is out of his price range.

@Maverick, there's no word about high resolution scaling, also they keep saying CFX, which is Quad Crossfire not 2-way/3-way.
May 4, 2011 3:01:03 PM

maybe it was in another article. If people are loyal to a certain brand then they will be blind to other solutions. Or worse be blind to facts. I personaly dont think one brand is better than the other. Both offer very good quality and reliability. When I find the article I'll post it. Is in the PCgamer magazine "pc builders bible 2011".
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