MSI Big Bang Fuzion: Pulling The Covers Off Of Lucid’s Hydra Tech

Test Setup And Benchmarks

Picking the hardware for today’s performance testing was particularly difficult. On one hand, it’s clear that Lucid put a lot of effort into optimizing and qualifying ATI’s Radeon HD 4000-series and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 200-series hardware. And we know that most of the company’s work went into Windows Vista, only recently shifting toward Windows 7.

With that said, Windows 7 is the de facto now. It’s the OS that lets us run with Catalyst 9.12 and GeForce 195.62 installed at the same time. It’s what makes X-mode possible. It’s in for sure.

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 200-series is really all Nvidia has right now. And while GTX 260s and 275s are probably the most common models, it’s hard to imagine anyone with less than a GeForce GTX 280 or 285 eyeing a $350 P55-based motherboard. The GeForce GTX 285 is a logical choice, too.

The more difficult choice was ATI’s Radeon HD 5870, supported by Lucid’s 1.4.1 driver as of December 31st, 2009. It becomes clear in the benchmarks that support for the 5000-series cards is still early, and we’re willing to take this into account as we go through our analysis. We’re just glad the company’s software team was as timely as they were—again, it’s hard to imagine anybody buying a $350 motherboard to mix their $150 Radeon HD 4000-series cards with an Nvidia board on the cusp of being eclipsed.

For each set of tests, we’ll run three resolutions with no anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering and then three resolutions with the eye candy turned on. For the no AA/no AF scores, we’ll also include a baseline single Radeon HD 5870 score for evaluating the overall effect of running in CrossFire or A-mode. One thing we're missing here is an example of dissimilar cards from the same vendor. This is something we'll possibly spend more time evaluating as new drivers arrive, shoring up compatibility in our gaming suite.

With the stage set, let’s move on to the numbers.

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Test Hardware
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-870 (Lynnfield) 2.93 GHz, LGA 1156, 8MB L3, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardsMSI Big Bang Fuzion (LGA 1156) P55/LucidLogix Hydra engine
Row 2 - Cell 0 Asus Maximus III Formula (LGA 1156) P55, BIOS 1202
MemoryCorsair 4GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1600 7-7-7-20 @ DDR3-1333
Hard DriveIntel SSDSA2M160G2GC 160 GB SATA 3 Gb/s
Graphics2 x BFG GeForce GTX 285 1GB
Row 6 - Cell 0 2 x ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP 1100W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 11
Platform DriverIntel INF Chipset Update Utility
Graphics DriverCatalyst 9.12
Row 13 - Cell 0 GeForce 195.62
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Benchmarks and Settings
CrysisHigh Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, 4xAA / No AF, vsync off, 1280x1024 / 1680x1050 / 1900x1200, DirectX 10, Patch 1.2.1, 64-bit executable
Left 4 Dead 2High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, 8xAA / 16xAF, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Tomshardware Demo, Steam Version
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Ultra High Settings, No AA / No AF, 4xAA / No AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, The Gulag, 60 second sequence, Fraps
DiRT2Ultra High Settings, No AA / No AF, 8xAA / No AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, In-Game Benchmark, Steam Version
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of PripyatHigh Quality Setting, No AA / No AF, 4xAA / no AF, vsync off, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, 2560x1600, DirectX 10 lighting
Batman: Arkham AsylumHigh Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, PhysX On/Off, vsync off, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, 2560x1600, Patch 1.1
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.02, Overall, GPU, and CPU scores
Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • Maziar
    Nice article,its very good for users for upgrading,because for current SLI/CF you need 2 exact cards but with Lucid you can use different cards as well,but it still needs to be more optimized and has a long way ahead of it,it looks very promising though
  • Von_Matrices
    I'm highly doubtful of the Steam hardware survey. I think it is underestimating the number of multi-GPU systems. I for one am running 4850 crossfire and steam has never detected a multi-GPU system when I was asked for the hardware survey. The 90% NVIDIA SLI seems also seems a little too high to me.
  • Bluescreendeath
    The CPU scores for the 3D vantage tests are way off. You need to turn off PhysX when benchmarking the CPU or it will skewer the results...
  • shubham1401
    Nice concept...
    A long way to go though.
  • Bluescreendeath,2526-6.html
  • Bluescreendeath
    So far, the best scaling has been in Crysis. The 5870/GTX285 combo benchmarks looked very promising.
  • cangelini
    BluescreendeathThe CPU scores for the 3D vantage tests are way off. You need to turn off PhysX when benchmarking the CPU or it will skewer the results...
    It's explained in the analysis ;-)
  • kravmaga
    "But when you spend $350 on a motherboard, you’re using graphics cards that cost more than that. If you’re not, you aren’t doing it right"

    Quoted from the last page; I disagree with that statement.
    There are plenty of people in situations where using this board is a better investment performance per dollars. This is all the more relevant as this technology will undoubtedly find its way into cheaper boards and budget oriented setups where it will make all the sense in the world to bench it using mid-end value parts.

    I, for one, would have liked to see what using gtx260s and 5770s would look like in this same setup. As is, this review leaves many questions unanswered.
  • SpadeM
    Well the review does give an answer in the form of: It's better to run a ATI card for rendering and a nvidia card for physics and cuda (if u're into transcoding/accelerating with coreavc etc.) with windows 7 installed.
    Or at least that is the conclusion i'm comfortable with at the moment.
  • HalfHuman
    i also agree with the fact that a person who will buy this board will necessarily go for the highest priced vid boards. maybe some will but not all. there will be more who will try to save the older vid cards.

    i also understand why you paired the 5870 with nvidia's greatest. there is a catch however... lucid guys did not have the chance to play with 5xxx series too much and you may be evaluating something that is not too ripe. i guess the 4xxx series would have been a better chance to see how well the technology works. couple that with games that are not yet certified for lucid, couple that with how much complexity this technology has to overcome... i think this is a magnificent accomplishment o lucid team part.

    i also think that in order for this technology to become viable it will go down in price and will be found in much cheaper boards. for the moment the "experimenting phase" is done on the expensive spectrum. i saw some early comparisons and the scaling was beautiful. i know that the system put together by lucid... but that is fine since that was only a demo to show that it works. judging on how fast this guys are evolving i guess that they will go mainstream this year.