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Test System And Benchmarks

AMD CrossFire Vs. Nvidia SLI Scaling Analysis

Our charts list the graphics cards based on their retail prices, from the most expensive configuration on the top to the cheapest on the bottom. Our testing involves a number of graphics cards from many manufacturers, so we are setting all of the clock speeds to reference levels to keep things on an even playing field.

There is one testing configuration that we have to simulate: two Radeon HD 5850 cards in CrossFire. We only received a single Radeon HD 5850 in time for testing, so we’re pairing the card with a Radeon HD 5870. AMD has confirmed that the superior card will be crippled when these models are paired in CrossFire, resulting in Radeon HD 5850-class specifications, using 1440 of its 1600 stream processors and 72 of its 80 texture units.

We've set the clocks of both cards to Radeon HD 5850 reference speeds; the resulting performance should be exactly the same as two of these cards in CrossFire. The results show the performance exactly where we would expect a Radeon HD 5850 CrossFire configuration to be relative to the Radeon HD 5830 and Radeon HD 5870.

Test System

Intel Core i7-920 (Nehalem), 2.67 GHz, QPI-4200, 8 MB Cache
Overclocked to 3.61 GHz @ 172 MHz BCLK


Gigabyte X58A-UD3R
Intel X58, BIOS version FA

Onboard Gigabit LAN controller

Mushkin PC3-10700H
  3x 2048 MB, DDR3-1376, CL 10-10-10-25-1T


Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 Reference
1536 MB GDDR5
Zotac GeForce GTX 480 AMP! Edition
1536 MB GDDR5
HIS HD 5870 iCooler V Turbo X
Radeon HD 5870, 1 GB GDDR5
Gigabyte GV-R587SO-1GD
Radeon HD 5870, 1 GB GDDR5
MSI GeForce GTX 470
1280 MB GDDR5
Gigabyte GV-N470SO-13I
GeForce GTX 470, 1280 MB GDDR5
Gigabyte GV-R585OC-1GD
Radeon HD 5850, 1 GB GDDR5
AMD Radeon HD 5830 Reference
2x Gigabyte GV-N460OC-1GI
GeForce GTX 460, 1 GB GDDR5

(all clock rates have been set to reference specifications for the purpose of benchmarking)

Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar WD50 00AAJS-00YFA,
500 GB, 7200 RPM, 8 MB cache, SATA 3.0Gb/s


Thermaltake Toughpower 1200 W
1200 W, ATX 12V 2.2, EPS 12v 2.91

Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectX versionDirectX 11
Graphics Drivers

AMD Catalyst 10.7 Beta, Nvidia GeForce Driver 258.96 WHQL

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