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Test Settings

GeForce GTX 295 In Quad-SLI
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The biggest problem we’ve encountered when using high-end graphics solutions is that at the highest resolutions and settings, the cards cannot get data fast enough from the CPU and RAM to keep their graphics cores busy. In an effort to reduce this so-called “CPU bottleneck,” we overclocked our Core i7 processor to 4.00 GHz at a 200 MHz base clock.

Test System Configuration

CPU

Intel Core i7 920 (2.66 GHz, 8.0 MB Cache)

Overclocked to 4.00 GHz (BCLK 200)

CPU Cooler

Swiftech Liquid Cooling: Apogee GTZ water block,

MCP-655b pump, and 3x120mm radiator

Motherboard

Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme

Intel X58/ICH10R Chipset, LGA-1366

RAM

6.0 GB Crucial DDR3-1600 Triple-Channel Kit

Overclocked to CAS 8-8-8-16

GTX 295 Graphics

2x GeForce GTX 295

2x 576 MHz GPU, GDDR3-1998

GTX 280 Graphics

3x EVGA GeForce GTX 280 PN: 01G-P3-1280-AR

602 MHz GPU, GDDR3-2214

Radeon HD 4870 X2 Graphics

2x Sapphire HD 4870 X2 PN: 100251SR

2x 750 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3600

Hard Drives

Seagate Barracuda ST3500641AS

0.5 TB, 7,200 RPM, 16 MB Cache

Sound

Integrated HD Audio

Network

Integrated Gigabit Networking

Power

Cooler Master RS-850-EMBA

ATX12V v2.2. EPS12V, 850W, 64A combined +12V

Optical

LG GGC-H20LK 6X Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM, 16X DVD±R

Software

OS

Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1

Graphics

NVidia Forceware 181.20 Beta

ATI 8.561.3.0000 Beta

Chipset

Intel INF 8.3.0.1016


Cooling an overclocked Core i7 CPU isn’t a task for lightweights, so we added Swiftech’s latest Apogee GTZ water block to the liquid-cooling kit we normally use for motherboard testing.

Feeding data quickly to the CPU are three 2.0 GB DDR3-1600 modules from Crucial. These particular samples are part of an upcoming High-End Triple-Channel shootout; watch for it in a few days.

Including 3-way SLI tests required a motherboard with proper slot spacing. Gigabyte’s EX58-Extreme worked well on our open platform, though the third card does extend below the lowest slot on standard cases.

Our second card came from MSI; its N295GTX-M201792 arrived overclocked to 655MHz GPU with GDDR3-2100 memory. We actually had to underclock this card to 576MHz/GDDR3-2000 reference speeds to make it cooperate with our reference card in Quad SLI. MSI says it could be releasing an overclocked board soon, which we'll be anxiously awaiting.

Our GTX-295 graphics cards were set to reference clock speeds, so it made sense to use reference-speed HD 4870 X2s in an apples-to-apples comparison. Our cards came from Sapphire.

Finally, the GTX 280 sets the standard for judging GTX 295 performance improvements. We tested three reference-speed cards in single, SLI, and 3-way SLI.

Benchmark Configuration

Call of Duty: World at War

Patch 1.1, FRAPS/saved game
Highest Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off
Highest Quality Settings, 4x AA / Max AF, vsync off

Crysis

Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Very High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF (Forced)
Very High Quality Settings, 4x AA / 8x AF (Forced)

Far Cry 2

DirectX 10, Steam Version, in-game benchmark
Very High Quality Settings, No AA, No AF (Forced)
Very High Quality Settings, 4x AA, 8x AF (Forced)

Left 4 Dead

Very High Details, No AA / No AF, vsync off
Very High Details, 4xAA / 8x AF, vysnc off

World in Conflict

Patch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo
Very High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off
Very High Quality Settings, 4x AA / 16x AF, vsync off

3D Mark Vantage

Version 1.02: 3DMARK, GPU, CPU scores
Performance, High, Extreme Presets

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