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Benchmark Results: Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

Core i7: 4-Way CrossFire, 3-way SLI, Paradise?
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Supreme Commander is an absolute hog for graphics horsepower—an observation made apparent by our benchmark results.

AMD’s Phenom X4 9950 bears mention in this comparison because, despite the processor’s disadvantage versus Intel’s own Extreme chips, the fact that the 790FX chipset has as many as four Radeon HD 4870s in it means that AMD can claim a victory against the X58- and X48-based configurations with GeForce GTX 280s in them. In fact, two Radeon HD 4870s in the Phenom X4 setup beat out three GTX 280s in either of the other Intel arrangements. Swap over the Radeons in the Intel platforms, though, and you have the makings of an even faster setup.

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 280s do realize a substantial performance gain moving from one card to two, but adding the third board buys absolutely nothing. In fact, frame rates even step back a smidge. Likely, this has something to do with driver optimization, as Supreme Commander clearly responds very well to the addition of more graphics muscle.

Core i7 with one, two, or three GeForce GTX 280s is just ugly. There’s nothing to be gained once you crank up anti-aliasing in this title. Scaling on the Core 2 Extreme does exist, but it’s painfully weak. At least until Nvidia optimizes for Forged Alliance, there’s no point to buying second or third boards to speed up performance.

The Phenom X4-based setup competes readily with Intel’s new Core i7 965 Extreme. But if you really want to play this game with 8x anti-aliasing enabled, you’re going to need four Radeon HD 4870s and a Core 2 Extreme QX9770 at 1920x1200 for the most playable frame rates. The Core i7 and Phenom aren’t far behind at that res, but it is a greater than 20% gap.

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