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

Benchmark Results: Company of Heroes

This one is no contest at all. Nvidia crushes AMD, with a single GeForce GTX 280 at 2560x1600 trouncing a four-way CrossFireX configuration at 1920x1200.

It doesn’t really matter if you go Core i7 or Core 2 Extreme—both GTX 280-equipped setups dominate. However, we again see the Core i7 965 Extreme realizing an extra bit of performance that wasn’t available on Core 2.

This isn’t to say the Radeons are somehow “broken” in Company of Heroes. We still see scaling from one GPU to two and four. However, it’s much less pronounced than the gains realized by competing cards, and thus looks less significant on the same chart. The good news is that even a single Radeon HD 4870 is playable at 1920x1200 on any of our AMD-equipped machines. Graphics is holding up performance here, though, not processing power—a fact reflected by the Phenom’s ability to hang right with Intel’s high-end solutions.

In a nearly mirror image of what we saw in the previous chart, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 280s exert a commanding lead with anti-aliasing turned on. We hesitate to call the detail setting “free.” However, when you’re using three of Nvidia’s highest-end boards in an array of power-sucking cooperation, there is a minimal performance drop when the feature is turned on. Wait—scratch that. You actually gain performance when it’s enabled on a Core i7 system.

Once again, the Radeon HD 4870s run into a brick wall at about 57 FPS and simply cannot do any better. Yes, vsync was forced off in the drivers.

Perhaps even more amazing than AMD’s poor showing in this title is that turning on 8x anti-aliasing actually buys extra speed, with the exception of the 512 MB card’s attempt at 2560x1600. We’re thinking that something is terribly wrong in the latest Catalyst driver since these issues were manifest in testing with the shipping 8.10 set (790FX) and the very latest beta hotfix released to improve performance on X58.

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  • randomizer
    SLI scales so nicely on X58.
    1
  • DFGum
    Yep, i hafta say being able to switch brands of graphics cards on a whim and selling off the old is great. Knowing im going to be getting the preformance these cards are capable of (better price to preformance ratio) is nice also.
    1
  • cangelini
    randomizerSLI scales so nicely on X58.


    Hey you even got a "First" in there Randomizer!
    1
  • randomizer
    cangeliniHey you even got a "First" in there Randomizer!

    And modest old me didn't even mention it. :lol:
    0
  • enewmen
    Still waiting for the 4870 X2s to be used in these bechmarks. I thought THG got a couple for the $4500 exteme system. But still happy to see articles like this so early!
    3
  • cangelini
    enewmenStill waiting for the 4870 X2s to be used in these bechmarks. I thought THG got a couple for the $4500 exteme system. But still happy to see articles like this so early!


    Go check out the benchmark pages man! Every one with 1, 2, 4 4870s. The 2x and 4x configs are achieved with X2s, too.

    Oh, and latest drivers all around, too. Crazy, I know! =)
    4
  • enewmen
    cangelini

    I found it, just read the article too quickly. - My bad.
    "A single Radeon HD 4870 X2—representing our 2 x Radeon HD 4870 scores—is similarly capable of scaling fan speed on its own. "
    Hope to see driver updates like you said.
    0
  • spyde
    Hi there, my question regarding these benchmarks with the HD card is, "was a 2G card use or a 1G". I am about to buy a new system and was looking to buy 2 x HD4870X2 2G cards, but with these results its looking a bit ify. I hope you can answer my question.
    Cheers.
    0
  • Proximon
    That's a nice article. I especially like the way the graphs are done. everything is scaled right, and you get an accurate representation.
    1
  • cangelini
    These are 2GB cards =)
    0
  • spyde
    Thanks.
    0
  • Tjik
    How sure can we be that the difference between a nVidia and an AMD setup isn't related to the motherboard design? From the figures I would make the conclusion that the AMD + AMD setup is able to overcome some of the disadvantages of a weaker CPU, and in several cases there's no obvious - at least to me - reason why a Core i7 with the same single or dual set of AMD graphic cards would perform worse. It's easy to blame it on driver issues, but what proof is there to make that a more plausible conclusion? I'm not into some kind of weird conspiracy theory, I'm just technically curious to know why we should assume the X58 platform to be flawless when figures suggest differently.

    The conclusion I draw from this and other tests made is that Core i7 is great, but you need to spend big money on graphic cards to make it a gamers choice, or put it into a game performance per money perspective. As it is now, before future releases of mid range CPUs, or if AMD unexpectedly release some scary monster, I foremost see Core i7 as a solid solution for serious work. In rendering and other CPU dependent tasks it might be a blessing to cut some 40 % of the time to process.

    Another observation is that if the current scenario doesn't change in the near future we could well be back to old school over-clocking culture, when money and availability set the limits. I'm not against but in the last years we've seen more of a yuppie's over-clocker culture, where money and availability haven't been an issue. To be frank, what we have here is two ways of making priorities: one option is an AMD system which gives you a 790FX motherboard + CPU + RAM for the same price as a single Intel Core i7, and if you're not planning to play at resolutions higher than 1600x1200 and probably not buy anything above a possible single X2 Graphic Card it could well be the best offer for the money.

    Options are good and even with AMD well behind it opens up for many different choices. Some never really use but enjoy knowing they got a monster system, others only buy exactly what gives best value for money, some specialize systems for tasks with a cost conscious approach, and some don't have a clue. Every choice is good as long as the user is happy (and spendings doesn't hurt the family economy).

    Oh, a lot of text there. In conclusion I'm more interested in whether the X58 platform is ill suited (or less good) for AMD graphic cards at the moment, and for proof either way.
    2
  • Anonymous
    hi guys,

    nice @ first : )

    but now i got one big question about this review

    on page 12 you got a nice overview about the 3d mark benchmark

    what i don't understand is the CPU score of the i7 and c2q ex based on nvidia and ati graphic boards

    there is such a huge difference of the cpu score just because of changing graphic boards ???

    how can that be?

    i mean the cpu score is based on the cpu right? or does futuremark test
    something else with this cpu score than just the cpu itself?

    i don't get to see the reason, why just changing from nvidia to ati or otherwise could have such huge effect on that cpu score

    but maybe one of you could explain it to me, otherwise i could think there is something wrong with this or maybe all of these benchmarks in this review

    thx in advance : )
    0
  • arkadi
    well finally we getting more and more info about the i7, i guess it will take us few weeks 2 get it all right.I just love it when new staff comes out :)
    0
  • aznguy0028
    "there is such a huge difference of the cpu score just because of changing graphic boards ???"

    it was stated in the article on that page, at the top. the default run with PhysX artificially inflates the scores.
    4
  • z999
    lolz, there are some crazy problems w/ the ATI cards... like turning on AA and gaining 50FPS...
    You should do this benchmark again in a couple of months when the drivers give more accurate results, and in that one..... lose the phenom :P.
    0
  • chaohsiangchen
    Nice job well done! Thanks for the article.

    However, I didn't see specified CPU clocks, so I presume that all three CPUs tested were run at stock speed. Although I have little doubt that Phenom X4 will still lose to both Ci7 965EE and QX9770, it's just my curiocity to see how Phenom X4 at 3.2GHz would perform.
    0
  • zodiacfml
    I thought there will be little difference between core 2 and i7 in games, so it was just the graphics card that is holding i7 back in games. in my mind, i thought a single gtx 280 was held back by the fastest core2, wasting graphics power which was not the case here.

    i7 is really a cool system, much like the intel SSD. intel is on fire. :)
    0
  • bunnyblaster
    I've been an avid Toms Hardware reader for over 8 years now. This is my first post. It is an issue that has been nagging me the last few updates for Tomshardware. The "page scrolling function" on each page is terribly designed. I find it slow, disappears before I select the page and sometimes does not register at all. I have multiple computers and I draw the same conclusion on all of them. It gets rather annoying when I just want to read some implications or conclusions of some reviews and I can't get there easily without going through 27 pages.

    Why not just revert to the system everyone else uses with a simpler scroll-down bar?
    0
  • fahdriyami
    What a surprise, no Flight Simulator X Benchmarks
    -1