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P67, X58, And NF200: The Best Platform For CrossFire And SLI

Conclusion

We already knew that the fastest processor available for the P67 platform offered better performance than the fastest processor available for X58 in games, but the winning CPU can also hit higher clock speeds by virtue of the 32 nm process used to manufacture it, too. We also knew that the newer Sandy Bridge architecture is faster at the same frequency than its quad-core predecessors based on the Nehalem design. The overclock we used today should have diminished CPU bottlenecks, though.

All things being equal, the P67 platform should lose any triple-GPU gaming test due to its limited PCIe pathways compared to X58. Then again, all things are never equal. If nothing else, the settings we used to overclock the X58 platform’s processor might even be considered cheating in its favor. After all, we used a 200 MHz base clock compared to the competing platform’s 100 MHz base clock, and gave the X58 platform 2 GB more memory to enable its triple-channel function. We even encumbered our P67-compatible processor with an artificially-low overclock (compared to what we know it's capable of running at), just to keep it within the limits of its elder competitor.

Even though our attempts to make both platforms equal gives LGA 1366 an even greater bandwidth advantage, LGA 1155 still wins. Were we to remove the artificially-low O/C limit imposed upon our P67 platforms and run them at the 4.4 or 4.5 GHz we know they'll take, it would simply win by an even greater margin. And if that reasoning isn’t enough to negate the newer platform’s PCIe limits in the eyes of extreme gaming enthusiasts, adding Nvidia’s NF200 to LGA 1155 enables X58-style x16-x8-x8 connections.

While the NF200 doesn’t completely solve the dearth of PCIe lanes available on LGA 1155 platforms, its ability to send identical data to multiple cards makes it perfect for SLI and CrossFire. That benefit, when combined with the Sandy Bridge processor’s superior performance and overclocking capabilities, slams the lid on the coffin for X58 gaming. Anyone who needs the added flexibility of X58 to host other devices, such as high-end drive controllers or six-core processors in a workstation environment, must bow to the gaming superiority of NF200-equiped Sandy Bridge motherboards like Asus' P8P67 WS Revolution.

  • jsowoc
    Very nice, thorough analysis. It is articles like these that keep me reading Tom's Hardware.
    Reply
  • aznguy0028
    Great job on this article toms. Here's another article with X58 vs 1155. Using the 990x and 2500/2600k

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core-i7-2600k-990x.html

    same conclusions. the S.B slows the 1366 out of the water when it comes to gaming, good read too :)



    Reply
  • jprahman
    LGA1366 is officially dead, at least for gaming. Ever since Sandy Bridge was released (honestly ever since LGA1156) the only justification for people buying LGA1366 systems was the notion that somehow LGA1155 (or LGA1156) would "bottleneck" SLI or Crossfire, which this clearly shows to be false. Only point for LGA1366 now is for workstation builds which need 6 cores or for $3000+ bragging rights builds with quad-SLI/quad-Crossfire. Even then, anyone in the market for such systems know that LGA2011 is still going to come out later this year and will want to wait for that, instead of buying into LGA1366.
    Reply
  • amk09
    There will be an astronomical number of people who will butthurt after seeing the conclusion.
    Reply
  • gracefully
    Part 4 should be triple monitor, triple GPU scaling test. Let's see what happens when the bottleneck is returned to the GPU. Then we can raise the clocks of the processors to lessen the chance of CPU bottlenecking.
    Reply
  • BarackMcBush
    With the biggest difference being 10% and the average only being 2% , I hardly see "LGA1366 is officially dead, at least for gaming." This is a great article but LGA1366 is still a Very Fast Platform.
    Reply
  • BarackMcBush
    With the biggest difference being 10% and the average only being 2% , I hardly see "LGA1366 is officially dead, at least for gaming." This is a great article but LGA1366 is still a Very Fast Platform.
    Reply
  • BarackMcBush
    P67 definitely wins on Price Performance , You can get a 2600k ,a nice Motherboard and Ram for the same price as just the i7 990x cpu!
    Reply
  • rolli59
    Great article but I come to a different conclusion. If your plan is to build a rig with 1 or 2 GPU's, then there is no reason to spend extra money on a NF200 equipped board, the performance difference between the 2 cards at x16/x16 and x8/x8 is next to nothing. If you are going with 3 GPU setup is when the NF200 comes in and is worth the expense.
    Reply
  • andrewcutter
    thank you for the review. however i do think that you made a decision without taking into account all situations. it is clear that for one monitor what you said is true. however will you guys be doing the same tests on a multi monitor setup of say 3 1200 monitors, crank settings high to m put these dual cards on sever stress and then see if the same holds true. i feel this is a major part that you haven't looked at. if you are going to do this then i take back my word and will wait eagerly for that article. In case you are not planning to , lease consider doing it.
    Reply