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AMD’s CrossFire technology might be an excellent way to turn a mundane gaming machine into an FPS-shredding powerhouse, but with multiple Intel-based platforms supporting the feature across several different PCI Express lane configurations, not everyone is equally convinced. Putting aside the fact that many games only benefit from CrossFire at high resolutions and high-quality settings, many users are concerned about whether or not their motherboard can provide enough bandwidth to realize the full potential of CrossFire.
We hear questions like, “should I upgrade my motherboard first ?” and “CrossFire Upgrade or New Build” in our user forums, with a different set of answers each time. It’s time to put some data behind those responses.
With Core 2 chipset development halted in light of Core i7 and recent worldwide financial events causing many buyers to re-evaluate their spending habits, now is the perfect time to analyze how CrossFire scales on various chipsets as a guide for those looking to enable the best possible performance at the right price.
Digging deep into our hardware stash, we found Core 2-compatible motherboards going all the way back to the venerable 975X chipset, along with every generation of Intel LGA775-based motherboard since.
Of course, we had to pick a starting point, so today’s article brings with it all the prior upgrades that owners of high-end systems up to two years old could reasonably be expected to have purchased, such as Intel’s fastest Core 2 Duo processor and four gigabytes of high-speed memory. Follow along as we detail each build and attempt to determine which motherboards are suitable for CrossFire upgrades and which are better retired to platform heaven.