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CrossFire Versus SLI Scaling: Does AMD's FX Actually Favor GeForce?

Test Settings And Benchmarks

Test System Configuration
Intel CPUIntel Core i7-3770K (Ivy Bridge): 3.5 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, LGA 1155 Overclocked to 4.4 GHz at 1.25 V
Intel MotherboardAsus Sabertooth Z77, BIOS 1504 (08/03/2012)
Intel CPU CoolerThermalright MUX-120 w/Zalman ZM-STG1 Paste
AMD CPUAMD FX-8350 (Vishera): 4.0 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, Socket AM3+ Overclocked to 4.4 GHz at 1.35 V
AMD MotherboardAsus Sabertooth 990FX, BIOS 1604 (10/24/2012)
AMD CPU CoolerSunbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer w/Zalman ZM-STG1 Paste
RAMG.Skill F3-17600CL9Q-16GBXLD (16 GB) DDR3-2200 CAS 9-11-9-36 1.65 V
AMD Graphics2 x MSI R7970-2PMD3GD5/OC: 1,010 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5500
Nvidia Graphics2 x Gigabyte GV-N680OC-4GD: 1,137 MHz GPU, GDDR5-6008
Hard DriveMushkin Chronos Deluxe DX 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerSeasonic X760 SS-760KM: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional RTM x64
AMD GraphicsAMD Catalyst 12.10
Nvidia GraphicsNvidia GeForce 310.90

Great performance and quick installation keep Thermalright’s MUX-120 and Sunbeamtech’s Core Contact Freezer in my inventory of favorite testing components. The brackets that come with these older samples make them non-interchangeable, however.

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G.Skill’s F3-17600CL9Q-16GBXLD has a remarkable DDR3-2200 CAS 9 rating, using Intel XMP technology for semi-automatic configuration. As a non-Intel platform, the Sabertooth 990FX configures XMP values through Asus' DOCP setting.

Seasonic’s X760 provides the consistent efficiency required to assess platform power differences.

Keeping the benchmark set from our previous round cut back testing time, though it also meant utilizing older drivers. The thing to remember is that we aren't trying to compare the performance of AMD's and Nvidia's graphics cards, and we're breaking each GPU vendor into separate charts to prevent this. Rather, we're interested in how each configuration behaves attached to AMD- and Intel-based platforms.

3D Game Benchmarks
Aliens vs PredatorUsing AvP Tool v 1.03, SSAO/Tesselation/Shadows On Test Set 1: High Textures, No AA, 4x AF Test Set 2: Very High Textures, 4x AA, 16x AF
Battlefield 3Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" 90-Second Fraps Test Set 1: Medium Quality Defaults (No AA, 4x AF) Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Defaults (4x AA, 16x AF)
F1 2012Steam version, In-game benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUpdate 1.7, Celedon Aethirborn Level 6, 25-Second Fraps Test Set 1: DX11, High Details No AA, 8x AF, FXAA enabled Test Set 2: DX11, Ultra Details, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA enabled
Metro 2033Full Game, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" Scene Test Set 1: DX11, High, AAA, 4x AF, No PhysX, No DoF Test Set 2: DX11, Very High, 4x AA, 16x AF, No PhysX, DoF On
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.