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What motherboard is best to run 2x nVidia 560Ti Grafix cards in SLi?

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July 8, 2011 8:39:24 PM

Hi there,

I am planning to build a gaming PC and have done a lot of research on hardware to find out what is the best value for money. I want great performace but don't want to waste money on small improvements or simply to be able to say I have the best gear on the market.

So with that in mind I'm looking at the following setup:

Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth with P67-B3 Chipset and Mil spec components
CPU: Intel Sandybridge i7-2600K 3.4GHz Quad Core, with overclocking
RAM: 8GB (2 Pair 2GB) Kingston Hyper-X T1 DDR3 1866MHz,CL9,support XMP, Tall Heatsink
PSU: Coolermaster Silent power Pro Gold 1000W, 80Plus Gold, Modular Cabling
Case: Coolermaster HAF-X Nvidia Edition
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS11X Extreme
GPU: 2 x Asus ENGTX560 Ti DCii, 1GB 256bit DDR5, 384 cuda cores @ 1.8GHz

My question concerns the motherboard and SLi setup.

The Asus Sabertooth uses 1 PCIe in 16x mode, but when 2 cards are inserted it runs the 2 PCIe slots in 8x mode. Does this lack in PCIe bandwith cause a bottleneck and will it slow down the 560 Ti cards running in SLi?

I could go for the Asus P8P67 WS Revolution board wich supports 16x + 16x + 8x + 8x SLi, but that board costs 30% more. Will I get a 20 to 30% FPS increase running the cards in 16x + 16x vs. running them in 8x + 8x or will there be a small and unnoticable performance increase only?

I'm not looking at going for a 3-way or 4-way SLi setup so the extra slots will never be used.

Your opinions on the setup and on the PCIe bandwidth issue wil be appreciated greatly!

Thank you,
Ernst Smit

More about : motherboard run nvidia 560ti grafix cards sli

July 8, 2011 9:07:10 PM

gernstsmit said:
Hi there,

I am planning to build a gaming PC and have done a lot of research on hardware to find out what is the best value for money. I want great performace but don't want to waste money on small improvements or simply to be able to say I have the best gear on the market.

So with that in mind I'm looking at the following setup:

Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth with P67-B3 Chipset and Mil spec components
CPU: Intel Sandybridge i7-2600K 3.4GHz Quad Core, with overclocking
RAM: 8GB (2 Pair 2GB) Kingston Hyper-X T1 DDR3 1866MHz,CL9,support XMP, Tall Heatsink
PSU: Coolermaster Silent power Pro Gold 1000W, 80Plus Gold, Modular Cabling
Case: Coolermaster HAF-X Nvidia Edition
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS11X Extreme
GPU: 2 x Asus ENGTX560 Ti DCii, 1GB 256bit DDR5, 384 cuda cores @ 1.8GHz

My question concerns the motherboard and SLi setup.

The Asus Sabertooth uses 1 PCIe in 16x mode, but when 2 cards are inserted it runs the 2 PCIe slots in 8x mode. Does this lack in PCIe bandwith cause a bottleneck and will it slow down the 560 Ti cards running in SLi?

I could go for the Asus P8P67 WS Revolution board wich supports 16x + 16x + 8x + 8x SLi, but that board costs 30% more. Will I get a 20 to 30% FPS increase running the cards in 16x + 16x vs. running them in 8x + 8x or will there be a small and unnoticable performance increase only?

I'm not looking at going for a 3-way or 4-way SLi setup so the extra slots will never be used.

Your opinions on the setup and on the PCIe bandwidth issue wil be appreciated greatly!

Thank you,
Ernst Smit



Hello Ernst!

I just finished building a very very similar system. That motherboard will work, but there are a few things to consider. There have been mixed reviews about the effectiveness of the "thermal armor" on the Sabertooth motherboards. Some people think they are the greatest thing since sliced bread but others have noticed heat increases if you do not install the additional 80mm fan that the "armor" has a spot for. As far as the drop off from 16 x 16 to 8 x 8 I do not believe there is a huge drop off. I ended up going with the Asus P67 Pro which was like 40 bucks cheaper than the Sabertooth and I am loving it. I installed my second 560ti yesterday and it runs cool, quiet and FAAAAAAAAST. Another thing with your build that causes me some concern is the PSU you chose. Cooler master PSU's historically have quite a bit of "ripple" ie, fluctuations in their output. Just something to consider. Also you said you don't want to "waste money on small improvements". You probably want to switch to 2500k chip because the difference in gaming between 2600k and 2500k is very very small as well. Theres 90 bucks in your pocket. I went with 2600k because I thought I might need multi-threading for non gaming.

Here is a nice article about the bandwidth issue.

http://hardocp.com/article/2010/08/23/gtx_480_sli_pcie_...

If you don't want to read it all basically the only time you will see a drop in frame rates in current highest games will be in 3 monitor scenarios and even then it's only an average drop of 3-4 fps. Hope this helps
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a c 249 U Graphics card
a c 243 V Motherboard
July 8, 2011 10:18:10 PM

The Sabertooth is a great board and a perfectly suitable selection for anyone wishing to keep a box past the normal 3 year warranty. But those mil spec components come at a cost and if ya not planning on keeping the thing more than 3 years, your money might be best spent elsewhere. I avoid Asrock as I'm not prepared to build a Z68 based system for someone and then have to answer the question as to why I used a MoBo w/ only a 1 year warranty....their "premium" B3 1155 based boards have a 2 year warranty which still doesn't cut it ..... for me anyway.

I'd offer the following alternatives:

Asus P8P67 Pro - extremely popular board, great overclocker....x8 x8 GFX
Asus WS Revolution - "no brainer" choice if ya considering getting the Deluxe; does x16 x16 GFX

Both give ya $20 of the CPU if bought in a "combo" on newegg,
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

The 560 is the point where I'd consider x16 x16 to matter. Most games might be hard to tell the difference but average frame rates on some games can be 9 or 10% .... minimum frame rates it has a bigger effect on. However, whether it's worth the additional cost of $80 is something only you can decide. The 30% increase in MoBo cost is a red herring. It's system cost that is relevant as it's your entire system that runs faster ......$80 in a $2k system is only 4%. With the difference between the 2500k and 2600k system being $95, I have a harder time justifying that as you will see no change in any game as you will not be able to OC the 2600 as high as the 2500 (unless of course you turn off HT). Still w/o video editing, 3D rendering or some other HT enabled app, the 2600 just isn't doing anything for you.

Other comments:

-Here's the scoop on tall heatsinks. The only cooling effect of these big coolers is that they "look cool". While they served a purpose (when they were effective) w/ DDR2, they are absolutely useless on DDR3.

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...
Quote:
At more than 2" tall in certain areas the Corsair Vengeance could pose a problem for users like me who use large coolers such as the Scythe Mugen 2. I was able to use the Corsair Vengeance only after I mounted the fan on my cooler on the backside. Size is definitely a concern with heat spreaders of this size and therefore I encourage users to check that they will have enough space under their heatsinks before purchasing the Corsair Vengeance kit.


http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...
Quote:
The problem I have with the Corsair Vengeance is the same I have with many kits of RAM on the market. Companies insist on putting large coolers on their RAM and it limits the choice in CPU heatsinks that can be used within users system. DDR3 does not require these elaborate coolers with its lower voltages which translate to lower temperatures then RAM saw during the DDR, and DDR2 era. Corsair is correcting this with low profile versions of its Vengeance line but ultimately I would like to see the average size of coolers drop instead of having to look for specific low profile versions of a memory line.


Want 1866 speeds for $99 w/ no tall heat sink to get in the way ?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

-No need for a 1000 watt PSU, 750 is more than enough. Coolermaster simply doesn't impress on the PSU front with its 8.0 performance rating on jonnyguru

http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...

I'd opt for a 10.0 rated unit such as Seasonic X series, Corsair HX (but not the new 1050) or AX series, Antec SG or CP series.

-HAF-X is a great case, my 2nd favorite. But comes in 2nd in my opinion to the DF-85. Main reason for my preference is the ability to take the CPX form factor PSU's which have a clear acoustic and cooling advantage over comparable ATX models. The DF-85 w/ CP-850 PSU is a stellar combination and I find more and more uses for that hot swap 2.5" drive bay. The HAF-X 'tool less" features seem flimsy to my hands, and have given me trouble in a few builds.

-Wasn't impressed by the Zalman 10x cooler a sit fell clearly in the 2nd tier. The 11X isn't impressing either.

http://www.rwlabs.com/article.php?cat=&id=436&pagenumbe...

The Thermalright Silver Arrow, Archon, Prolimatech, Noctua DH-14 all beat it by a considerable margin for the same price or lower. I'm currently using the Silver Arrow....as much as I like it's stellar thermal performance, it's dead quiet under all operating conditions on the 2500/2600's at 4.8 Ghz

-For GFXX, I'd suggest the TOP version of that card as it comes stock clocked to 900Mhz and a bigger / better cooler. It's also a great OC'er as I was able to OC most of them to 1000 MHz w/o even touching the voltage setting.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b U Graphics card
July 8, 2011 10:28:41 PM

gernstsmit said:
,

I am planning to build a gaming The Asus Sabertooth uses 1 PCIe in 16x mode, but when 2 cards are inserted it runs the 2 PCIe slots in 8x mode. Does this lack in PCIe bandwith cause a bottleneck and will it slow down the 560 Ti cards running in SLi?t


No.

1-2% (and insignificant) difference...

(Concur with above recommendation to opt for the 2500k over 2600k)
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July 9, 2011 2:15:32 AM

Its a great build. In the first line of your post you mention "value for money". With some of those parts you could save considerable money by going back a step and still get awesome performance eg:
2600K = 2500K
Sabertooth = P8P67 PRO
8GB Kingston Hyper X 1866 = 8GB 1600 (choose your fav brand)
Coolermaster 1000W = Corsair HX 850W
Coolermaster HAFX - HAF 932
Zalman CPU Cooler = Hyper212+
GPU = great choice

All top notch parts you list there... Just looking at it from a 'value' perspective :) 
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a c 274 U Graphics card
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July 9, 2011 1:06:22 PM

A pair of OC'd GTX560's and a slightly OC'd 2600K can be run by a Corsair 620HX, s'true.
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July 11, 2011 5:41:09 PM

WOW, thanks all for the great input!!

I will definitely consider getting the 2500K and getting a different PSU. My first choice was Antec, but they got a bad review on not having enough expansion power cables with their modular design. Thats why I opted for CM. But will be looking again at Corsair and Antec.

I was worried about not having enough Watts to run the i7 and dual GFX's with overclocking. But I suppose 850W is plenty.

I like the idea of the thermal armor on the mobo. I know many people don't like it, but I like that it covers the sensitive parts and with a fan installed it directs airflow where normally there would be none or very little. I also like the look :-)

The case I purely chose for its great looks and also the price is very good for a gaming case. I love the bright green !! Also the airflow is great for OC. Later down the line I might consider getting two SSD's in a RAID setup to upgrade the system. It's nice that the case supports SSD's out of the box without any brackets.

My main concern was with the 16x + 16x SLi. But it seams it does not make that much of a difference. I'm really only concerned with the gaming performance because when you convert video or something you don't sit and wait for it anyway, and really nobody can accuse a sandy bridge i7 of being slow :-D.

Looking forward to some awesome gaming!!

Ernst
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July 11, 2011 6:05:25 PM

Best answer selected by gernstsmit.
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July 11, 2011 6:06:51 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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