Skip to main content

MSI Eclipse Plus: Does nForce 200 Boost 3-Way SLI?

Benchmark Results: Crysis And Far Cry 2

Crysis is barely playable at 2560x1600 and very-high detail levels, but the performance difference between motherboards is barely noticeable. Will adding AA emphasize that difference?

This is the level of difference we were expecting to see given our previous 3-way SLI experiences. Handicapped by its x4 lane width, the Asus P6T’s third PCI Express slot drags it out of contention at the highest tested resolution.

On the other hand, we didn’t know what to expect from the nForce 200-enhanced MSI Eclipse Plus. Its second and third slots have full x16 connections, but both slots share a single set of 16 pathways on the other side of the hub. It appears that sharing sixteen pathways is no better than owning eight pathways in this type of test.

Far Cry 2 doesn’t need AA to show a noticeable bandwidth limitation on the P6T’s third PCIe 2.0 slot. Did we just smell blood in the water?

Ouch. We’ve pointed out the weakness of the x16/x16/x4 slot arrangement several times in our $200-300 Core i7 motherboard comparison, praising EVGA and ASRock for keeping the x16/x8/x8 option open to buyers in this value-oriented-enthusiast market. Turning theory into practice lets us quantify that result.

MSI’s 16 shared pathways again fail to gain an edge over the Rampage II Extreme’s dedicated eight-per-card.

  • stumpystumped
    tri GTX295 that's a lot of power consumption.
    Reply
  • Proximon
    Interesting results to be sure, but now I want to know how much performance difference there is with just a single card. I kind of feel there is a control lacking because we don't see how just the single X16 performs in each case.
    Still, the consistent performance of the top end boards make me a believer, I just would have liked that baseline to see if there were any other factors at work.
    Reply
  • curnel_D
    ProximonInteresting results to be sure, but now I want to know how much performance difference there is with just a single card. I kind of feel there is a control lacking because we don't see how just the single X16 performs in each case.Still, the consistent performance of the top end boards make me a believer, I just would have liked that baseline to see if there were any other factors at work.
    By the data presented, we can pretty much gather that it'd be very close to the same. It's the same chipset controling the first slot on both boards, while the Nforce controler takes over the second and third on the msi. So there's really no point in benching a motherboard for something it wasnt designed for.
    Reply
  • phatboe
    Honestly I'm sick of Intel, I want them to allow NVidia to make core i7 chipsets so that we can see some kind of competition in chipsets.
    Reply
  • apache_lives
    phatboeHonestly I'm sick of Intel, I want them to allow NVidia to make core i7 chipsets so that we can see some kind of competition in chipsets.
    Nvidia chipsets are no match to Intel chipsets (drivers, overclocking, stability, reliability), and with Intel having SLI support theres no point in an Nvidia chipset.

    As for MSI - i wouldnt even spend $50 on an MSI product let alone this product - they are RUBBISH cheap crap poorly designed products.
    Reply
  • SpadeM
    This reminds me of an article waaaaaay back, actually 2 articles
    1. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nvidia-7800gs-confirms-agp-aint-dead,1213-2.html

    and

    2. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/pci-express-scaling-analysis,1572.html

    I'd be grateful if you could revisit the second one, since GTX285/GTX295 + HD4890/HD4870X2 are with us now, and there's PCIe 2.0.
    I know that things probably wouldn't have changed much since that article since PCIe 2.0 goes 2xPCIe link speed so it is simple math to get some numbers but, still, it might be worth looking into since new chipsets and processors are available also.

    Anyways thanks for the good read.
    Reply
  • Ramar
    apache_livesAs for MSI - i wouldnt even spend $50 on an MSI product let alone this product - they are RUBBISH cheap crap poorly designed products.
    I've got several friends running MSI boards that they love and have been running for years. They don't look like much but I've never seen one pop a cap or anything.
    Reply
  • neiroatopelcc
    apache_livesAs for MSI - i wouldnt even spend $50 on an MSI product let alone this product - they are RUBBISH cheap crap poorly designed products.Really? Have you ever had one?

    I've used msi boards now and then at least since canterwood, but have yet to see a single board that is rubbish - or cheap. The designs are usually superior to asus, but then apart from support that is asus' single biggest weakness.

    Overall the ONLY bad thing I can say about msi is the lack of active cooling on their 790GX boards. They do run without active cooling, but they run so much cooler with it. I usually end up running a socket a fan @ 7v on the chipset heatsink on those boards just to be sure I won't have to look at them again in a few years because they died.
    Reply
  • emyyhh
    Makes me glad to have bought a RIIE amisdt all the hype of the nForce 200.
    Reply
  • scook9
    The nForce 200 is simply a marketing ploy by nvidia, that until today was working. This article exposes the shortcoming of it, you cant make something from nothing, you will still be limited by the original PCIe lanes off the northbridge. And sadly - for the extreme high end user, I don't see northbridges with 48+ PCIe 2.0 lanes coming any time soon.

    I really wish Intel had played nice with nvidia and gotten us SLI on x38/x48, or maybe try to retroactively garner that ability. I have always preferred Intel's chipsets to Nvidia's. The nforce chips just can't overclock worth a dam. I mean really, who better to make a chipset for a CPU than the CPU designer.

    After this article I am still pretty happy with my Rampage II GENE and its x16-x16 SLI (GTX 275s). I only play on a 24" screen, so I can't justify 3 way SLI at all.

    If Tom's gets some spare time, I would like to see a 1x vs. 2x. vs. 3x SLI comparison, to see just how well the drivers actually scale.
    Reply