Skip to main content

Core i7: 4-Way CrossFire, 3-way SLI, Paradise?

Benchmark Results Far Cry 2

We couldn’t ignore the release of Far Cry 2, though after several successive driver releases to improve performance in this one title, it certainly would have been nice. Bear in mind that AMD and Nvidia are both scrambling to improve their position in what promises to be a game that a great number of enthusiasts immerse themselves in.

Stunningly, our Core i7 965 Extreme machine lays down great scaling from one- to two- to 3-way SLI, peaking in excess of 100 FPS even at 2560x1600. The scores on the Core 2 Extreme box are far less compelling, though easily playable even with a single GeForce GTX 280 at 2560x1200.

The situation isn’t quite as rosy for the Radeon HD 4870s. In every test at 2560x1600, adding graphics processors actually costs frame rate. In every test except for one at 1920x1200, the same phenomenon holds true. We’re actually going back and forth with AMD for a better explanation of what’s going on here, since the latest hotfix didn’t have this effect on Crysis or Crysis: Warhead.

Ah, problem solved. Just turn on a little anti-aliasing, it seems, and AMD’s graphics subsystem start behaving a little more predictably. Although there are a couple of test settings where Far Cry 2’s built-in benchmark outright fails to compete; as a general rule, performance at 1920x1200 with 8x anti-aliasing scales very well, making a compelling case for picking up a Radeon HD 4870 X2, at least. You’ll see another substantial jump with the purchase of two, regardless if it’s a Core i7, Core 2 Extreme, or Phenom X4 on which you’re gaming.

On the flip-side, it doesn’t look like playing at 2560x1600 will be possible—at least until AMD can further optimize its drivers for the more demanding settings. For now, we’re happy enough to see the two Radeon HD 4870 X2s keeping up with the three GeForce GTX 280s at 1920x1200.

Given that Far Cry 2 belongs to Nvidia’s TWIMTBP marketing initiative, it’s hardly a surprise to see the GeForce GTX 280 already well-optimized after one publicly-available driver effort. What is surprising, however, is the performance difference between the Core i7 965 Extreme and Core 2 Extreme platforms with two- and 3-way SLI activated. There’s quite a noticeable jump from one machine to the other.

Yes, we battled the substantial amount of heat exhausted by three GeForce GTX 280s, but we simply cannot argue against the additional performance Nvidia’s technology delivers here—the scaling from one card to three at 1920x1200 and 2560x1600 is nothing short of impressive.

  • randomizer
    SLI scales so nicely on X58.
    Reply
  • DFGum
    Yep, i hafta say being able to switch brands of graphics cards on a whim and selling off the old is great. Knowing im going to be getting the preformance these cards are capable of (better price to preformance ratio) is nice also.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    randomizerSLI scales so nicely on X58.
    Hey you even got a "First" in there Randomizer!
    Reply
  • randomizer
    cangeliniHey you even got a "First" in there Randomizer!And modest old me didn't even mention it. :lol:
    Reply
  • enewmen
    Still waiting for the 4870 X2s to be used in these bechmarks. I thought THG got a couple for the $4500 exteme system. But still happy to see articles like this so early!
    Reply
  • cangelini
    enewmenStill waiting for the 4870 X2s to be used in these bechmarks. I thought THG got a couple for the $4500 exteme system. But still happy to see articles like this so early!
    Go check out the benchmark pages man! Every one with 1, 2, 4 4870s. The 2x and 4x configs are achieved with X2s, too.

    Oh, and latest drivers all around, too. Crazy, I know! =)
    Reply
  • enewmen
    cangeliniI found it, just read the article too quickly. - My bad.
    "A single Radeon HD 4870 X2—representing our 2 x Radeon HD 4870 scores—is similarly capable of scaling fan speed on its own. "
    Hope to see driver updates like you said.
    Reply
  • spyde
    Hi there, my question regarding these benchmarks with the HD card is, "was a 2G card use or a 1G". I am about to buy a new system and was looking to buy 2 x HD4870X2 2G cards, but with these results its looking a bit ify. I hope you can answer my question.
    Cheers.
    Reply
  • Proximon
    That's a nice article. I especially like the way the graphs are done. everything is scaled right, and you get an accurate representation.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    These are 2GB cards =)
    Reply