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Averaging It All Out

Core i7: 4-Way CrossFire, 3-way SLI, Paradise?

In the course of running the nearly 500 benchmark scores included in this exploration into Core i7 gaming, we ran into an abnormal number of fishy scores. Some were fairly explainable, while a great number of others are going to require follow-up with AMD and Nvidia—there is simply no reason some of the results should have been as low as they were.

So, to better smooth out the overall experience on each platform as a whole, we took the averages across all seven benchmarked games, ignoring 3DMark, and compiled them into the following two charts.

It’s almost uncanny to see how things smooth out, despite failed runs and uncharacteristically low numbers. First and foremost, compare gaming on Intel’s new Core i7 965 Extreme to gaming on the Core 2 Extreme. If you’re using a single GeForce GTX 280 or any combination of Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards, the experience really doesn’t change much overall. Drop in two or three GTX 280s, though, and the scores do increase noticeably.

Also, when the dust clears, AMD’s Phenom X4 9950 really doesn’t fare too poorly versus our other Radeon-based gaming platforms, especially when you consider the price difference. No, 2560x1600 is probably not going to be a viable gaming resolution for you in most cases, but at 1920x1200, the more mainstream system build handles business so long as you have two or more GPUs installed.

Turn on the eye candy and the GTX 280-equipped Core i7 really shines against Core 2 Extreme—most notably in a 3-way SLI configuration. We’re hoping that AMD is able to take a good, hard look at the scaling of its multi-GPU solutions, as the move from two to four RV770s is parallel at 1920x1200. It’s closer to Nvidia’s scaling at 2560x1200 in terms of percentage, but still substantially lower with regard to overall performance.

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