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SLI or not SLI for new build

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May 6, 2012 6:39:03 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ASAP (currently just waiting for cards being on sale without being priced higher)
USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming - Diablo 3, Guild Wars 2, RPG's (like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Skyrim) primarily (plus misc other).
CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY: New build, will have 950W PSU.
OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: z77 mobo, Core i7 3770K (will OC to at least 4.5).
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: US/Newegg or Amazon preferred.
PARTS PREFERENCES: I'm looking at GTX 680 or GTX 690 primarily (past experience has had more luck with drivers/game compatibility with nvidia chipsets).
OVERCLOCKING: Not a key factor, but might try some degree of OC.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: That's the primary question I'm looking to get answered.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 2560x1440 (27" IPS)

I'm building a new ~3k computer and I'm not sure if should go with SLI or not. With a planned 2560x1440 resolution, I'd like a setup that's sufficient for running game at 60 FPS. I do want it to be somewhat future proof but it might make more sense to build one 680 today, and another graphics card in a year or so to replace it, than buying two today.


More about : sli sli build

a b U Graphics card
May 6, 2012 6:59:12 AM

A single GTX 680 should max the console-designed RPGs with no problem whatsoever. I would expect that it would also handle the others pretty well too. It makes sense to try one and see what you think before getting the second, right?

In my experience, planning for future SLI never really works out. I've tried to do it twice, and given the rapid evolution of performance its always just ended up making more sense to wait a little longer and buy a better single-card replacement rather than get 2.

Edit: Anandtech did a great 690 review that might help with your decision:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/5805/nvidia-geforce-gtx-6...
a b U Graphics card
May 6, 2012 7:13:27 AM

At that resolution, I would go for SLI.

IMO, a pair of GTX 680s should enable you to turn on eye candy as well as great frame rates.

Anything less wouldn't give your Dell U2711 (it is a Dell right?) justice IMO. It's a great monitor.

A GTX 690 is a lowered clock version of the GTX 680s.

From reviews, performance is ~5% less.

Also, availability of GTX 690 could also be an issue.

From experience, a single card now and adding a second card in SLI can prove to be a headache.

By the time you get around to it, something new is around the corner, leading to an upgrade dilemma.

Good luck with build.
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May 6, 2012 7:47:31 AM

deadlockedworld said:
A single GTX 680 should max the console-designed RPGs with no problem whatsoever. I would expect that it would also handle the others pretty well too. It makes sense to try one and see what you think before getting the second, right?

In my experience, planning for future SLI never really works out. I've tried to do it twice, and given the rapid evolution of performance its always just ended up making more sense to wait a little longer and buy a better single-card replacement rather than get 2.

Edit: Anandtech did a great 690 review that might help with your decision:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/5805/nvidia-geforce-gtx-6...


Not trying to derail the thread here, but you really think that planning for future with SLI is not worth it? I am agonizing over this decision myself.
May 6, 2012 7:48:02 AM

I would go with 2 way or 3 way sli with your rig, and just feast my eyes on great details and high frame rates (i love high fps)

you can always get one now and get one later
May 6, 2012 7:53:54 AM

I haven't bought the monitor yet - Dell and Apple are two options. I haven't seen Dell ones in action so hard to know.

Not necessarily planning for future SLI, but future next-gen graphics in a shorter upgrade period than I normally would upgrade the computer (say, yearly or every other year vs 3-4 yrs).

Some games definitely don't need SLI to max out on such a resolution, but something like GW2 might (be able to) push the computer pretty hard. I'm still leaning towards SLI at this point.

As for availability, I can't find any GTX 680 or GTX 690 on the market at reasonable prices right now, but I have several notifications set up for when they do become available. I'm aware that a 690 is slightly slower for about the same price (making it a dubious value proposition).
a b U Graphics card
May 6, 2012 7:56:45 AM

690 is on par with 680SLI.

But I would get a 680, no need to do SLI unless you're running 5760x1080 at ultra settings.

Save the money you would have spent on the 2nd 680 and get the GTX 880.
May 6, 2012 8:00:49 AM

Also, should I go with NVidia? I've used NVidia GTX cards going back many generations. In fact I think I went from Voodoo 3 to NVidia and have stuck with it since. It seems that in the past there has been more issues with Radeon cards (drivers/game compatibility).

Is it still the case? The wait/lack of ready availability isn't an issue, but the Radeon cards are a bit cheaper, and do have some strengths (memory bandwidth / amount of memory for example).
May 6, 2012 8:04:29 AM

well a computer is actually a want more than a need. specially gaming computer, so pretty much sli is a want and so is a gtx680 when he can make do with lower end older cards to play at low. and even at lower resolution as the important part is you can play it at playable rates, as we want more eye candy better this and that it also becomes a want.

imo there are also people like me who would get sli 680 even gaming on my old 1440x900 dell monitor ^_^ currently use sli 580 1.5gb on 1440x900 dell monitor (on my older system) too lazy to buy a new monitor with all these great new stuff coming around.

if there are bound to be people like me and people who go bang for buck and people who go all out on premium. lots of different people.

IMO sli is normally for multi monitor specially if you want max settings (everything totally maxed) with fps above 30min-40min


@neo

well me being nvidia fan I would say Nvidia but amd makes great stuff too.
May 6, 2012 8:20:57 AM

Just finished reading the AnandTech review, and I think based on their numbers, that SLI might be the best choice for resolutions about 1920x1200. It's going to be relatively future proof. Also although Radeon's did outperform in some tests, crossfire is abyssal in some games.

Whether I get a 690 (slightly slower, but uses less power and is somewhat quieter) or 680 SLI might come down to whatever I can buy first at this point. :) 
May 6, 2012 9:11:19 AM

actually nothings really future proof,

back then when I got my pentium II compaq pc and I play command and conquer tiberium sun and starcraft on it, I thought it was the best pc that I can use forever, until my pentium 3 compaq came, it was the best and decided to keep it, but after a while it's having problem with games, as it has like 8mb or 16mb vram or so if I recall right.

since then been tinkering with machines and so far I learned that nothing stays future proof but most stays solid (if getting a really high end) up to 5-6 years, and low-mid range 2-3 years
a c 271 U Graphics card
May 6, 2012 10:04:39 AM

deadlockedworld said:
A single GTX 680 should max the console-designed RPGs with no problem whatsoever. I would expect that it would also handle the others pretty well too. It makes sense to try one and see what you think before getting the second, right?

In my experience, planning for future SLI never really works out. I've tried to do it twice, and given the rapid evolution of performance its always just ended up making more sense to wait a little longer and buy a better single-card replacement rather than get 2.

Edit: Anandtech did a great 690 review that might help with your decision:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/5805/nvidia-geforce-gtx-6...

That's why I always suggest that SLi be done from the get go and niot be treated as an upgrade path.


nstiver said:
Not trying to derail the thread here, but you really think that planning for future with SLI is not worth it? I am agonizing over this decision myself.

I strongly suggest that you start your own thread with this question as the answer you are seeking may end up different to the one the OP of this thread chooses.
a c 271 U Graphics card
May 6, 2012 1:23:33 PM

Quote:
I got a GTX 480 9 months before my 2nd...
It depends on prices, and what's available down the road if you plan to wait it out before adding a 2nd card.

Both of my cards were very good value.
My 1st was 165 pounds, my 2nd was 170.... so you can see why i went with a 2nd one.

You're one of the lucky one's, myself and others have been at the other end where the second card is either unobtainable or more expensive than the first card was. Combine that with an ever evolving performance curve and Sli/Xfire as an upgrade path doesn't work for me but as a reasonably cheap and powerful setup from the get go that also has a bit of wriggle for possible upgrades in the future is the reason that I tend to give them the thumbs up.
May 6, 2012 1:39:37 PM

always had this issue myself. to SLI or not to SLI.

Personally i'd think that unless you are getting the SLI up as of date it really doesn't make all that sense to cater to it. You end up waiting to SLI and then get stuck in upgrade or second card for SLI issue.

Also on the flip side, if you do get the 690 today, you can dream of SLI 690s in future :p  [My personal insane recco]

And for the saner people, the 680 packs enough punch for most RPGs, so unless you looking at multi monitors, consider why you want it.
a b U Graphics card
May 6, 2012 3:44:51 PM

NeoTron said:
Just finished reading the AnandTech review, and I think based on their numbers, that SLI might be the best choice for resolutions about 1920x1200. It's going to be relatively future proof. Also although Radeon's did outperform in some tests, crossfire is abyssal in some games.

Whether I get a 690 (slightly slower, but uses less power and is somewhat quieter) or 680 SLI might come down to whatever I can buy first at this point. :) 


Awesome. I agree that either would be a good choice if you have got the money. I do have to insist here though that a ~$250 card can handle most games well at 1920x1200 -- so what you are buying is mostly luxury.

I think that buying one 680 and the other right after if you want more performance is a good option, I don't think that planning for SLI more than a year out is a good plan. You never really know what the market will look like in a year. (for example the 6950 I bought ~9 months ago is getting fazed out already)


Quote:
Also, should I go with NVidia? I've used NVidia GTX cards going back many generations. In fact I think I went from Voodoo 3 to NVidia and have stuck with it since. It seems that in the past there has been more issues with Radeon cards (drivers/game compatibility).

Is it still the case? The wait/lack of ready availability isn't an issue, but the Radeon cards are a bit cheaper, and do have some strengths (memory bandwidth / amount of memory for example).


The decision is mostly preference, and what games you play most. There are definitely some games where drivers from one company are better than the other -- but for most people I think it evens out. Personally, were I making a high end build with multiple cards right now, I would go with the company that had better power usage and lower heat in my performance range to ensure I didn't cook the $1000 investment ..

Fun comparison: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/588?vs=585&i=468...
May 6, 2012 7:01:39 PM

Buying one card, testing it and either upgrading right away (within weeks) or not is definitely a good option. Buying two 680's but just installing one, and then either reselling or returning the other one if one is sufficient might be even better (if I can find two cards to get in the first place!).
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