Gaming Across Three Screens: GTX 460, GTX 480, And Quad-SLI

Additional Hardware And Benchmark Settings

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-980X (3.33 GHz, 12 MB Cache)
Overclocked to 4.00 GHz at +100 mV, 160 MHz BCLK
MotherboardGigabyte X58A-UD9 BIOS F3 (05/28/2010)
Intel X58 Express, LGA 1366
RAMKingston KHX16000D3ULT1K3/6GX (6 GB)
DDR3-2000 at DDR3-1600 CAS 7-7-7-21
GTX 480 GraphicsMSI GeForce GTX 480 1.5 GB
700 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3696, two-way, three-way, and four-way SLI
GTX 460 GraphicsSparkle GeForce GTX 460 1 GB
700 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3600, two-way SLI
Hard DriveWestern Digital Velociraptor WD3000HLFS, 300 GB
10 000 RPM, SATA 3Gb/s, 16 MB cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerOCZ-Z1000 1,000 W Modular
ATX12V v2.2, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
GeForce GraphicsForceWare 258.96
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.1.1020


The filled platform looks ready-to-rumble, even before we added its drives and power supply.

The most controversial component will certainly be OCZ’s Z1000 modular power supply. Independently verified to deliver 1000 W at 89% efficiency, the controversy stems from its inability to support four cards natively, as it’s only wired to support three. It also lacks the 1200 W rating we would normally recommend as a minimum for four of these cards when using a lesser processor.


Originally intended for a three-way article, putting the Z1000 in a four-way configuration could make up for the lost coverage, so long as the unit survives today’s particularly harsh treatment. We got around its shortage of power connectors by adding a 6-pin splitter plus a 4-pin to 6-pin adapter (two things we don’t recommend to our readers). Our feeling is that if this unit can tolerate today’s four-way SLI test, it should at least be recommendable for any three-way SLI, single-CPU configuration.

Nvidia states that every monitor in a surround configuration must be capable of the same resolution and timings, but that's not the whole story. No combination of the four monitors we originally attempted to use would span successfully, in spite of that fact that each was capable of displaying 1080p at 60Hz. In the end, we had to track down three completely identical monitors for today's test. Many readers facing a similar situation will thus be forced to buy a complete set of three new monitors to replace their non-matching, outdated models.

We searched the Web for the best price-per-inch and found that a new crop of 1600x900 displays is displacing 1280x1024 in value, with prices starting at around $100 per panel. The 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 resolutions have both been displaced by 1920x1080 (1080p), starting at around $160 per panel. Since our 1600x900 and 1920x1080 resolutions were both designed for 16:9 displays, we added 1280x720 (720p) as an FPS-boosting alternative setting.

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
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Campaign, Act III, Second Sun (45 sec. FRAPS)
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
DiRT 2Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of PripyatCall Of Pripyat Benchmark version
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x MSAA
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores
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127 comments
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    Top Comments
  • amk09
    sweet jesus, quad sli uses enough watts to power a small town
    24
  • Bluescreendeath
    GTX480 Quad SLI - Yes, it can play Crysis. Maxed out at 5760x1080 too! :D
    19
  • damasvara
    BluescreendeathGTX480 Quad SLI - Yes, it can play Crysis. Maxed out at 5760x1080 too!

    It's so hot, it can also make steak BBQ for you! Watch out for anti-terrorist bust over the Fermi thermal suspicion though... :lol:
    16
  • Other Comments
  • amk09
    sweet jesus, quad sli uses enough watts to power a small town
    24
  • Bluescreendeath
    GTX480 Quad SLI - Yes, it can play Crysis. Maxed out at 5760x1080 too! :D
    19
  • duk3
    Sapphire’s 700 MHz cards
    They look like sparkle cards to me.
    EDIT: Now fixed, I thought it was funny that sapphire made gtx460s
    -2
  • damasvara
    BluescreendeathGTX480 Quad SLI - Yes, it can play Crysis. Maxed out at 5760x1080 too!

    It's so hot, it can also make steak BBQ for you! Watch out for anti-terrorist bust over the Fermi thermal suspicion though... :lol:
    16
  • Anonymous
    Now i am curious to see a performance difference between tri and quad sli in triple 30" 2500x1600 monitors (7500x1600 resolution).
    7
  • hurt74
    @duk3

    Isnt it nice to know that sappire tech now makes NVIDIA cards because the last time i know they are an ATI exclusive. Good job toms
    -6
  • vicskyline96
    cool, so the drivers support quad 480s now? i wonder if they support tri SLI 200 series cards, i'm sure theres still people out there who want to try this on their older generation cards
    -6
  • joytech22
    Wow, that power usage is insane! it's hard to believe that these 480's use so much power.. you'd need like a thermaltake toughpower 1500w or something, or maybe 2 PSU's!
    8
  • andrern2000
    4 GTX 480s are a gig. But how much price is it is totally another matter. I prefer to 2-way SLI GTX 480.
    1
  • vicskyline96
    cool, so the drivers support quad 480s now? i wonder if they support tri SLI 200 series cards, i'm sure theres still people out there who want to try this on their older generation cards
    -8
  • taso11
    Has anyone ever seen and article or test that compared gaming success/kills/scores at 1920X1200 versus 1280X720? I do understand that playing at native resolution will give best image quality versus forcing a lower resolution will be blockier image quality wise cause of blended pixels. The reason I ask is because when I'm normally playing a first person shooter im not looking at how nice the grass or pavement is rendered. I'm trying to locate a threat and avoid being shot. Are threats easier to locate high detail and smaller size or low detail and bigger size on the same size monitor?
    0
  • taso11
    @vicskyline96

    I am currently running 3 GTX 260's in triple sli on three monitors in surround mode on Windows 7 Professional 64 bit. It works great!
    2
  • cscott_it
    I think you guys should do an article comparing multi-display and 3d vision between AMD & Nvidia.

    Considering the next gen (The enthusiast cards like Cayman, not the Bart XT cards) will support Eyefinity5 and 3DHD (unsure of the names).

    I'm more interested in the multi-monitor gaming aspect, but it would be nice to see an apples to apples comparison of the platforms. To see where Nvidia's implementation stands against the more mature eyefinity platform and Nvidia's more mature 3D platform against AMD's new platform.
    4
  • silversurfernhs
    Why no 2 way in the lineup!? sheesh - most common of the sli setups... you guys left that out though it woulda been simple to add. Why no Eyfinity in their for comparison purposes either??
    -8
  • silversurfernhs
    My bad - i just found it (must be late for me) Still, wheres the Eyefinity for comparison?
    0
  • cangelini
    wasabiman123What's wrong with gaming on one bigger screen instead, more than one screen for gaming is overrated IMO, I do think however that Nvidia's 3D vision is a really cool idea and has great potential in the future.


    The short answer is cost. Three small displays offer more "real estate" for less cost vs. a single 30" monitor capable of 2560x1600.
    2
  • gaborbarla
    wasabiman123What's wrong with gaming on one bigger screen instead, more than one screen for gaming is overrated IMO, I do think however that Nvidia's 3D vision is a really cool idea and has great potential in the future.


    I think the great merit of Eyefinity/Surround is the fact that your Field of vision becomes huge. Vistas are rolling by in simulators and in multiplayer FPSs you can see the little bugger hiding in the bush in the corner of your eye.
    5
  • gaborbarla
    Why is there no single or double 5870/5850 thrown in there for good measure? I know there was one or two reviews of eyeFinity but it would be good to see in reference for the ton of us that have those cards as opposed to the few that have 480SLI setups.
    16
  • Gin Fushicho
    Quote:
    The good news for mid-budget gamers is that spanning across three 720p displays


    "Mid-budget"
    I think anyone who can afford three monitors is going to be rich enough to buy four GTX480's. There is no "Mid-budget" for three monitors, just "costs too much you rich jerks".
    -6
  • SpadeM
    You can always purchase 3 Samsung 2343BW LCD monitors and go with the portrait route .. that gives you 3456 x 2048 resolution ... better for fps.
    2