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

Results: F1 2012

We’ve already seen that F1 2012 is bottlenecked by memory throughput, so we’re not surprised to find AMD’s less effective memory controller holding back average frame rates at the low to medium settings that emphasize platform (rather than GPU) performance.

The only consistency we find appears to be a bottleneck outside of the graphics system, so we looked closer at the differences between single- and multi-GPU configurations.

Adding a second card to the FX-8350 platform actually drops F1 2012’s performance at its High Quality preset, with CrossFire imparting a bigger penalty than SLI. This game's Ultra detail setting is necessary to push the graphics workload beyond CPU and memory bottlenecks.

The FX-8350 appears to be a big limitation to Radeon HD 7970 performance. What happens when we switch to GeForce?

Looking exclusively at our 5760x1080 results, a single Radeon HD 7970 appears far more powerful than one GeForce GTX 680 in this game. We also see that the same GeForce GTX 680 appears far less CPU-bound than a single Radeon HD 7970 when we match either card up to AMD's FX-8350 processor. Unintended (and not ideal) though it might be, AMD's CPUs might really be allowing Nvidia's graphics cards to come closer to their potential than its own.

The FX-8350 appears to completely bind up CrossFire performance, while allowing SLI a little more space to stretch its legs at higher resolutions. This is again evidence of a platform-oriented issue, at least in one game thus far.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.