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Test Settings

Triple-GPU Scaling: AMD CrossFire Vs. Nvidia SLI
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Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge) LGA 1155: 3.40-3.80 GHz, 8 MB L3 Cache
Overclocked to 4.00 GHz at 1.25 V
MotherboardAsus P8P67 WS Revolution: LGA 1155, BIOS 1007 (01/24/2011)
Intel P67 Express, Nvidia NF200 PCIe Bridge (2 x PCIe 2.0 x16)
RAMKingston KHX2133C9D3T1K2/4GX: 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-2133 at DDR3-1600 CAS 7-7-7-21, 1.60 V
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD1002FBYS: 1 TB, 7200 RPM, SATA 3Gb/s, 32 MB cache
GeForce GraphicsAsus ENGTX570/2DI/1280MD5: 742 MHz GF110 GPU, 1280 MB GDDR5-3800
Radeon GraphicsXFX HD-695A-CNFC: 800 MHz Cayman GPU, 2 GB GDDR5-5000
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerOCZ-Z1000M: 1000 W Modular, ATX12V v2.2, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
GeForce GraphicsGeForce/Ion 266.58
Radeon GraphicsAMD Catalyst 11.1
ChipsetIntel INF 9.2.0.1019


CPU “bottlenecks” are always a problem at medium (and lower) resolutions. Today’s tests start at medium resolutions, so we clocked Intel’s Core i7-2600K to 4.0 GHz in an effort to minimize that issue.

The Achilles-heel of Intel’s fastest processor is a platform that supports only sixteen PCIe 2.0 lanes directly from the processor to the graphics card. Asus solves that solution by incorporating Nvidia’s 32-lane NF200 bridge, thereby repeating the same information at full bandwidth to two cards simultaneously. Triple-GPU mode operates in an x8/x8/x16 configuration, as it would with most X58 motherboards.

Power might be the price for performance, but we wanted to see if it also scaled with performance as GPU numbers increased. OCZ’s 80 PLUS Gold-rated Z1000M provides that clean power while adding only around 11% overhead at our watt meter.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Aliens Vs. Predator BenchmarkAlien vs Predator Benchmark Tool
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Test Set 1: Highest Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Quality, 4x AA
F1 2010v1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
Just Cause 2Version 1.0.0.2, Built-In Benchmark "Concrete Jungle"
Test Set 1: Highest Details, No AA, 16x AF
Test Set 2: Highest Details, 4x AA, 16x AF
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of PripyatCall Of Pripyat Benchmark version, all options, HDAO
Test Set 1: Ultra Preset, DX11 EFDL, Ultra SSAO, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX11 EFDL, Ultra SSAO, 4x MSAA
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1.0, Benchmark Only
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Top Comments
  • 15 Hide
    scrumworks , March 14, 2011 5:23 AM
    Impressive and unexpected results. Speculations that crossfire scaling is worse than SLI can finally be put into rest.
Other Comments
  • 4 Hide
    amk09 , March 14, 2011 5:11 AM
    :(  i wish i could afford that
  • 8 Hide
    tacoslave , March 14, 2011 5:12 AM
    wow even though a 6950 is weaker than a 570 it dominates at higher resolutions eyefinity here i come.
  • 15 Hide
    scrumworks , March 14, 2011 5:23 AM
    Impressive and unexpected results. Speculations that crossfire scaling is worse than SLI can finally be put into rest.
  • -2 Hide
    aznguy0028 , March 14, 2011 5:33 AM
    scrumworksImpressive and unexpected results. Speculations that crossfire scaling is worse than SLI can finally be put into rest.

    Not true, I would have liked to see more games on the test. The choices were too limited for my taste. For example, everyone knows that Crysis is heavily Nvidia favored, so it's not surprising to see those results in the least.

    Here's another article on the 68xx series in Xfire
    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/radeon-hd6870-hd6850-crossfirex.html#sect0

    Xfire scaling was found to be 100% on 10 or the 19 games they tested, and remaining very high on the others. Nvidia and ATi seems to trade blows at different games tested, but it is evident that Ati has stepped up their Xfire drivers int he 6xxx series.
  • 7 Hide
    aznguy0028 , March 14, 2011 5:35 AM
    scrumworksImpressive and unexpected results. Speculations that crossfire scaling is worse than SLI can finally be put into rest.

    I misunderstood what you meant. But yes, xfire/sli scaling has improved alot this generation :) 
  • 2 Hide
    liquidsnake718 , March 14, 2011 6:11 AM
    Now im thinking if i should even spend on a now older 5850 to crossfire on my X58.
  • 5 Hide
    bavman , March 14, 2011 6:22 AM
    Its really cool to see amd stepping up their game. Multigpu scaling used to be only good on nvidia, but now amd is beating them. Though i feel that more games should be tested before a firm conclusion should be drawn.
  • 1 Hide
    _Pez_ , March 14, 2011 6:22 AM
    I would get two HD 6870 for a mobile crossfirex gaming rig ! :D 
  • 1 Hide
    anubis44 , March 14, 2011 6:30 AM


    No! Don't buy a 5000-series card to crossfire. The 6000 series cards are essentially all better at crossfire scaling than their predecessors. This performance advantage will likely only increase with additional driver revisions and better 6000-series optimization support than for older products.
  • 2 Hide
    Maziar , March 14, 2011 6:30 AM
    Great review ! It's good to see AMD did a lot of work on CF scaling.
  • 3 Hide
    classicaxe , March 14, 2011 6:31 AM
    I wish you Tom's would have done a 6970 trifire comparison instead. It's on average cheaper than the 570 on the Egg right now. I guess i get the memo, with showing that a cheaper solution is outperforming a more expensive option, but there would have been a good deal of performance increase across the board with the clock speed differences and opened shaders that is the 6970. Those differences come more alive in scaling especially with 3 cards.
  • 1 Hide
    Rizlla , March 14, 2011 6:35 AM
    You can see that AMD knows multicard setups are the future. Now i really want to get my 6950 :) 
  • 0 Hide
    avatar_raq , March 14, 2011 6:40 AM
    @Thomas:
    You can test eyefinity resolutions on single monitor IF that monitor has 3 inputs. Can you give this a try please?
  • 3 Hide
    anubis44 , March 14, 2011 6:52 AM
    Holy crap! After reading this review, I decided to look into the 6950 cards again.

    If you're in Canada, you can get an XFX 6950 1Gb card for $215.99 (after rebate)right now from NCIX! That's a stupidly amazing deal!!! Think I'll grab one!
    http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=58455&vpn=HD695XZNFC&manufacture=XFX&promoid=1293
  • 3 Hide
    Luay , March 14, 2011 7:21 AM
    Loved the idea of the article. Very disappointed with the display setup. It should go up to 5760x1200.
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , March 14, 2011 7:27 AM
    LuayLoved the idea of the article. Very disappointed with the display setup. It should go up to 5760x1200.
    Asus' 25" 1920x1200 display is still well priced, but I don't expect to see them around much longer. You should tell Chris to order three of these for every editor, before that bargain price vanishes!
  • 1 Hide
    liquidchild , March 14, 2011 7:28 AM
    why not test the 6970 and the 570? they are the same price point, the 6950 is one tier lower.
  • 0 Hide
    Sihastru , March 14, 2011 7:40 AM
    Quote:
    Things get ugly for Nvidia at 2560x1600. While a 67% performance gain for two-way and 112% gain for three-way SLI certainly aren't shabby, AMD’s 92% two-way and 245% 3-way gains put it in the winner’s circle.
    Well the graph for nVidia shows 212.11%, so a 112% gain is correct, but the graph for AMD shows 244.87%, so 245% gain is incorrect, that should be 145% gain. Still better then nVidia, but not that much better...
  • -6 Hide
    executor2 , March 14, 2011 7:45 AM
    "The closest competitor is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 570" Wrong !

    The closest competitor is the Nvidia`s GTX 560Ti price vs price. At least in my country.
  • 7 Hide
    Crashman , March 14, 2011 7:50 AM
    executor2"The closest competitor is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 570" Wrong ! The closest competitor is the Nvidia`s GTX 560Ti price vs price. At least in my country.
    Could you please show me the GTX 560 Ti model that supports 3-way SLI? I'd love to test those too!
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