Gaming Across Three Screens: GTX 460, GTX 480, And Quad-SLI

Conclusion

Looking at the average performance charts, one might be deceived into believing that four-way SLI is a dud. The truth is somewhat murkier however, as our maximum settings for two games required four-way SLI to achieve smooth game play. The problem is consistency, as it appears that CPU overhead has reduced the configuration’s maximum frame rate under moderate graphics load in a way that really hurts any analysis of average performance.

At the other end of the price spectrum, anyone who doesn’t require anti-aliasing will find the GeForce GTX 460 SLI configuration suitable for playing nearly any game across three 1600x900 displays. Some games can successfully be expanded to triple 1920x1080 displays using these cards, while others can handle the middle resolution with AA enabled.

In the middle, two GTX 480 graphics cards can handle three 1920x1080 displays, but occasionally require AA to be disabled. The added performance of three-way SLI, though signficant, is rarely a barrier-breaker.

Our biggest disappointment came from the monitors themselves. Playing at 1080p across three monitors is akin to sighting your enemy through a gun slit. Gaming aficionado Chris Angelini voiced an interest in large 4:3 displays, but this editor can’t think of any that are large enough to separate forward vision from peripheral vision.

Perhaps a triplet of 1920x1200 displays would be the best compromise, but the 16:10 aspect ratio is becoming difficult to find. Anyone who completely agrees with that assessment might want to take a small risk with a trio of these (opens in new tab) mid-quality units while they’re still available.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • amk09
    sweet jesus, quad sli uses enough watts to power a small town
    Reply
  • Bluescreendeath
    GTX480 Quad SLI - Yes, it can play Crysis. Maxed out at 5760x1080 too! :D
    Reply
  • duk3
    Sapphire’s 700 MHz cards
    They look like sparkle cards to me.
    EDIT: Now fixed, I thought it was funny that sapphire made gtx460s
    Reply
  • damasvara
    BluescreendeathGTX480 Quad SLI - Yes, it can play Crysis. Maxed out at 5760x1080 too!It's so hot, it can also make steak BBQ for you! Watch out for anti-terrorist bust over the Fermi thermal suspicion though... :lol:
    Reply
  • Now i am curious to see a performance difference between tri and quad sli in triple 30" 2500x1600 monitors (7500x1600 resolution).
    Reply
  • hurt74
    @duk3

    Isnt it nice to know that sappire tech now makes NVIDIA cards because the last time i know they are an ATI exclusive. Good job toms
    Reply
  • vicskyline96
    cool, so the drivers support quad 480s now? i wonder if they support tri SLI 200 series cards, i'm sure theres still people out there who want to try this on their older generation cards
    Reply
  • joytech22
    Wow, that power usage is insane! it's hard to believe that these 480's use so much power.. you'd need like a thermaltake toughpower 1500w or something, or maybe 2 PSU's!
    Reply
  • andrern2000
    4 GTX 480s are a gig. But how much price is it is totally another matter. I prefer to 2-way SLI GTX 480.
    Reply
  • vicskyline96
    cool, so the drivers support quad 480s now? i wonder if they support tri SLI 200 series cards, i'm sure theres still people out there who want to try this on their older generation cards
    Reply