SLI Scaling: Can Three GeForce GTX 760s Beat Two 780s?

Test System And Benchmarks

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-4770K: 3.50 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, LGA 1150
Overclocked to 4.5 GHz at 1.20 V
MotherboardASRock Z87 Extreme9/AC, BIOS 1.80, PEX 8747 48-Lane PCIe 3.0 Switch
CPU CoolerThermalright MUX-120 with Zalman ZM-STG1 Paste
RAMG.Skill F3-17600CL9Q-16GBXLD (16 GB)
XMP-2200 CAS 11 at DDR3-1600 CAS 9 Defaults
GTX 780 GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 780: 863-902 MHz GPU, 3 GB GDDR5-6008
GTX 760 GraphicsEVGA 04G-P4-2766-KR: 980-1033 MHz GPU, 4 GB GDDR5-6008
Hard DriveSamsung 840 Series MZ-7PD256, 256 GB SSD
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerCorsair AX860i: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Platinum
System Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional RTM x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 331.58 WHQL
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.0.1017

The biggest issue we face when it comes to testing three-way SLI is that Intel’s fastest mainstream CPUs only have 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes. The LGA 2011 platform is an alternative, though the processor architecture it hosts is one generation older. The other alternative is to use a motherboard with a bridge chip able to turn 16 lanes of PCI Express connectivity into 32. ASRock sent over our lab's first Z87-based platform with the requisite on-board components, its Z87 Extreme9/AC.

The reason bridges work so well is that they’re able to send multiple copies of the same data to each card. Because the members of an SLI array operate on identical information, this has the benefit of multiplying out bandwidth without needing a much more complicated on-die PCI Express controller. A slightly latency penalty is the only noticeable drawback to this approach, since data has to go through one more piece of silicon.

Games
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)
Far Cry 3V. 1.05, DirectX 11, 50-Second Fraps "Amanaki Outpost"
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC, SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
F1 2012Steam version, in-game benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Metro: Last LightSteam version, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" Scene
Test Set 1: DX11, Med Quality, 4x AF, Low Blur, No SSAA, No Tesselation, No PhysX
Test Set 2: DX11, High Quality, 16x AF, Normal Blur, SSAA, Tesselation Normal, No PhysX
Tomb RaiderSteam version, Built-In Benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset (8x AF, FXAA), Motion Blur, Screen Effects
Test Set 2: Ultimate Quality, (16x AF,  FXAA), Tesselation, TressFX
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark ProfessionalVersion 1.1, SystemInfo 4.17.0.0, Fire Strike Benchmark (Extreme Off/On)
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36 comments
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  • Zac Lloyd-Jones
    Very interesting article. Would have been great to have the GTX 770 SLI'd in there for comparison :).
  • rolli59
    Agree with the conclusion totally since after the price drop on the GTX780 I stopped recommending dual GTX760 over the GTX780.
  • Amdlova
    770 is the 680 with more hz... 760 is a new nvidia product is a 660ti with more muscle. 760 = 670 in power
  • iam2thecrowe
    there are some major fps drops in the sli configurations on bf3, wonder why? did that happen on the single monitor solution? and in other games? crap like that is why i switched my sli config out for a better single card.
  • airplanegeek
    would've been interesting to see the 2GB cards in SLI also
  • Crashman
    388413 said:
    there are some major fps drops in the sli configurations on bf3, wonder why? did that happen on the single monitor solution? and in other games? crap like that is why i switched my sli config out for a better single card.
    I checked and found 1 stuck frame on the GTX 780 SLI at 1920x1080. It lasted far less than a second and dropped FPS from 200 (capped) to 54.
    1021242 said:
    would've been interesting to see the 2GB cards in SLI also
    Yes, but the problem is that it's hard to find six cards laying around (three of each), and we quit buying 2GB cards for 3-way SLI a couple years back when they started running out of memory at 2560x1600. It got worse in Surround mode.
  • bystander
    I noticed in Tomb Raider that 780 SLI was broken, yet 760 SLI worked well. 780 SLI had worse scores than a single 780 using Surround setups, yet the 760 SLI worked with surround setups quite well. I wonder what is up with that.
  • iam2thecrowe
    314633 said:
    I noticed in Tomb Raider that 780 SLI was broken, yet 760 SLI worked well. 780 SLI had worse scores than a single 780 using Surround setups, yet the 760 SLI worked with surround setups quite well. I wonder what is up with that.


    weird sh!t sometimes happens with multi-card setups. i have owned both crossfire and sli in the last couple years, and now i'm dead set on single card is the only way to go, only takes one game not to work properly to ruin your day. Multi card for me, is only for when the best card available isn't powerful enough for you, or maybe second best card as the best is often overpriced ridiculously.
  • giovanni86
    Waiting for Maxwell. Prices on both sides need to come down. Best for single GPU's was $500 with dual gpu's being double the price, i miss old prices.
  • Au_equus
    How about 2x 760 v 780 ti and 3x 780 v 2x 780 ti?
    http://www.ocaholic.ch/modules/smartsection/item.php?page=0&itemid=1172
  • aint2good
    Why is it that the graphs show 1 760 at 100% price, 2 at 200% price, and 3 at 400% price? Should 3 of them be 300% price?
  • Crashman
    1524676 said:
    Why is it that the graphs show 1 760 at 100% price, 2 at 200% price, and 3 at 400% price? Should 3 of them be 300% price?
    Thanks for pointing out that the last page charts were based on QUAD pricing and Tri performance! Fortunately, knocking the B out of FUBAR is my specialty :p
  • redgarl
    I am sorry, but it is quite evident that what we are seeing here is a lack of support and bad quality drivers. 3 760 GTX result should have been more in the line of Tomb Raider results. Funny to see NVIDIA fanboys cry over ATI bad drivers, but at least a third AMD card generally ends in better framerate... unlike what we can conclude here.
  • RCguitarist
    Funny, my single MSI 660 only runs 5fps slower than the single 760 in all of those tests. I must have a freak of a good card.
  • boytitan2
    Why no 770 I feel 4 x 3 gb of gpu ram is over kill and it is just a 30-40 buck price difference between the 770 2gb and 760 4gb. The 770 would have been a better buy.
  • bucknutty
    Why not test this on COD Ghosts? Oh that's right, its been out for 6 weeks and it still does not work right with SLI. All the flickering sights and trees are making me nauseous.
  • Crashman
    393703 said:
    Why not test this on COD Ghosts? Oh that's right, its been out for 6 weeks and it still does not work right with SLI. All the flickering sights and trees are making me nauseous.
    Funny, because the article was written about six weeks ago :) We had a flood of launch articles in November dalay a bunch of non-timed articles by 4-6 weeks.
  • larsoncc
    This article is relevant to my interests! LOL
  • husker
    I'm curious if SLI (or xfire) is ever really a good value when you consider things like game support, time invested, mental sanity, and so forth. I mean how much savings is that much aggravation worth? Just because I could save money by using old newspapers instead of toilet paper doesn't mean I should.
  • bystander
    290340 said:
    I'm curious if SLI (or xfire) is ever really a good value when you consider things like game support, time invested, mental sanity, and so forth. I mean how much savings is that much aggravation worth? Just because I could save money by using old newspapers instead of toilet paper doesn't mean I should.


    In the case of two way SLI, there is rarely aggravation. It just works in almost every game. The ones it doesn't work in usually don't need SLI to get good performance and you just don't realize it isn't working.

    That said, a single card is a better way to go, IF you can get that performance from a single GPU. If you want more performance than a single GPU can give, then go with two.

    IMO, SLI should only be done with higher end GPU's, when you want more performance than a single card can give.
  • g-unit1111
    Man those numbers are amazingly close and value wise three GTX 760s cost just a little more than a single Titan. I'd still take dual GTX 780TIs any day of the week though!
  • JackNaylorPE
    nVidia's wizing up....

    580 sales tanked cause two 560s was 40% faster and 20% cheaper.
    Two $150 650 Ti Boosts paired up edged any single gpu card waaay more

    Tho over 75% of the builds I do are SLI/ CF, I have however always had trouble making a case for Tri SLI and Tri CF is not a place many will venture.
  • Mike Friesen
    I found that the answer to the title was obvious. 780 vs 760, 2304 vs 1152 shaders? One has literally twice as many, and 2x2304=4608, whereas 1152*3= 3456. I know this oversimplifies the question, as number of shaders aren't everything, but when comparing shaders, even when considering the higher clock rate, the 780's will win. Even with perfect scaling, the 760's just don't have the computing power. 2 770's vs 3 780's would have been more interesting; same number of shaders(approx), but 770 is clocked much higher, and the 780's have better scaling. OC'd 780's would put up a very fair fight, I'd say.
  • damian86
    Just buy a 780 ffs.And how can you have over 120 fps at 1920x1080? I can only get 60