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Additional Hardware And Benchmark Settings

Gaming Across Three Screens: GTX 460, GTX 480, And Quad-SLI
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
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
GeForce GraphicsForceWare 258.96
ChipsetIntel INF

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a similar situation will thus be forced to buy a complete set of three new monitors to replace their non-matching, outdated models.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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