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More so than Crysis, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a graphics beast. This is a great title for demonstrating multi-card scaling. We’re using Extreme detail settings, DirectX 11 rendering, high-quality HDAO, and tessellation. At 1680x1050, that’s enough to show off a literal doubling of performance with 4xAA turned on going from one GeForce GTX 480 to two. The third card adds performance, but it’s not as pronounced of a gain. Interestingly, while we’d otherwise assume the GTX 480 would outperform AMD’s Radeon HD 5870, single- and dual-card comparisons at this lower resolution show both architectures neck in neck.
AMD starts pulling ahead ever so slightly at 1920x1200, but the story is largely the same. There’s amazing scaling going from one of either card to two, and a third GeForce GTX 480 has an especially impressive effect on the anti-aliasing-enhanced results.
Card versus card, the Radeon HD 5870 and GeForce GTX 480 are fairly even at 2560x1600. Adding the second board lets Nvidia flex its rendering muscle, though, and the SLIed pair pulls ahead, again doubling the performance of a single GTX 480. With three cards installed, you’re looking at enough performance to play this game with AA turned on.