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2 9800GX2's benched in SLI, a consensus reached

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
http://enthusiast.hardocp.com/articl...50aHVzaWFzdA==

The Bottom Line


Except for Crysis, GeForce 9800 GX2 Quad SLI provides no real gameplay advantages and quite frankly we do not see Quad SLI benefitting much else right now. And haven’t we all played through Crysis enough times by now? A single GeForce 9800 GX2 is able to accelerate “demanding†titles like the shader-intensive Jericho and the tremendously popular Call of Duty 4 quite well; adding another GX2 does not provide gaming improvements to justify the cost. The only game that does possibly call for Quad SLI is Crysis; and even then AA higher resolutions is still not a reality due to the 9800 GX2’s limited memory amount and bus width.


We would rather use GeForce 8800 GTX SLI in current games and wait to see what the future holds in store. You can pick up a BFGTech 8800 GTX for $319.99 after MIR, which could make it very attractive for some of you. Quad SLI is hugely expensive, and except for Crysis, we do not see any games demanding it now. NVIDIA still has seemingly trumped its own “new†high-end solutions with cards it put out in 2006. If you have an 8800 GTX and are looking to upgrade, there are simply still very few choices out there for you. SLI motherboards are starting to look more appealing to us in the form of the 790i Ultra. Now we just need to see NVIDIA get their promised Hybrid SLI working as promised so that we can turn off these high powered video cards when they are not using 3D. If there ever was an argument for going 8800 GTX SLI, the 9800 GX2 is the poster child

http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3271&p=7

(Not so) Final Words
Unfortunately, we can’t really draw a fair final conclusion from the data we have here. Certainly this is an expensive solution, and it is absolutely not for everyone. But does it fill the needs of those who would want and could afford it? Maybe and maybe not.

In almost every game other than Crysis, we don’t have a need to move beyond one 9800 GX2. And in Crysis, we aren’t simply going to trust NVIDIA when they say we should see 60% scaling. We need to actually make it happen ourselves. The fact that we’ve run into some pretty strange problems doesn’t bode well for the solution in general, but we are willing to see what we can do to make it perform near to what we expect before we cast final judgment.

At the same time, that final judgment must include all the facts about what you gain from Quad SLI for the money. If it makes Crysis smooth as butter at Very High settings (it is actually playable even with the 40 average fps system limitation), then that is something. But $1200 for a Crysis accelerator is a bit of overkill. NVIDIA has made the point to me that $1200 spent on graphics cards is better placed than $1200 spent on an Extreme edition CPU. That isn’t a particularly compelling argument for us as I don’t believe we have ever recommended the purchase of an Extreme edition processor. You certainly don’t get what you pay for unless you really need it for a specific CPU heavy workload. Content creation, engineering, math, and workstation applications might be a good fit, but certainly not gaming and especially not in a world where the more Extreme you get the more cores you have.

Which brings me to a side rant. Parallelism is a good thing, but neither Intel nor AMD can ignore the single threaded code path. Not everything can be split up easily, and every thread will always be limited in performance by the speed of the core it is running on. Of course, specialized cores on a heterogeneous processor would help, as would dedicated hardware. But that just makes us lament the death of the PPU through the NVIDIA acquisition even more.

But I digress. On the topic of 9800 GX2 Quad SLI, there are benefits aside from the potential of Crysis that we haven’t covered here. NVIDIA has enabled AA on S.T.A.L.K.E.R., but it is very processing and memory heavy. Quad SLI could enable playable frame rates at higher resolutions with 2x AA enabled. With Clear Sky coming out soon, this could be a good thing for fans. You also get SLI AA modes. These do offer a benefit, but AA has diminishing returns at higher resolutions, and especially at higher AA levels. We will bet testing SLI AA again at some point, but we want to look at both image quality and performance when we do so.

These cards also act as incredible space heaters.

The bottom line right now is that this is not a solution for most people. Unless we see great scaling in Crysis, there are only a few other compelling features that can currently be enabled through the use of Quad SLI. Sure, it might handle future games with ease, but we always advise against trying to future proof when it comes to graphics. That’s always a path that leads to heartache and the hemorrhaging of money. If you aren’t obsessed with Crysis, skip it. If you are obsessed with Crysis, we’ll get back to you with some numbers on what performance is like once we find a system we can get some headroom on: I’ll have 790i this week and I’ll be hard at work testing it out.



Glad I didn't jump on this
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post #2 of 10
Hmm...the very first drivers released for the card. I am semi-impressed. Need to see some fixes with slow-downs and stuttering. I got an 9800GX2 from Fry's yesterday, and while the game plays the crap out of anything so far, Crysis actually plays a helluva lot better than my Ultra did at the same settings. I am concerned with some serious slow-downs at times, and even in TF2, I got dramatic framerate issues in the water area of 2Fort, there is also some sort of choking problem at rare occasions that will give me complete pauses for a second. Rather annoying. I did not have the real noticeable choking with my 8800 Ultra.

I am wondering if it has something to do with the RAM on the cards. I play at 1900x1200.
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post #3 of 10
Same here, I did some research before I decided to hold off. I think I might just wait until a whole new chip comes out. I will admit though one card does hold it's own pretty well IMO.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
You are essentially proving the point of the article. I think its ram and architecture. The only place the new GPU's are ahead of an 8800GTX is clockspeed and shaders and the ultras typically have faster clocks.
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post #5 of 10
Good read. I may give some thoughts first before I decide what to do.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Luke2 View Post
Same here, I did some research before I decided to hold off. I think I might just wait until a whole new chip comes out. I will admit though one card does hold it's own pretty well IMO.
One card is a semi-good investment for a person with a non-sli motherboard (that doesn't want to go crossfire). (Although the ATI 3870x2 is about $150 cheaper)

With an SLI board, there are too many other cost effective options to make it worthwhile.

To hardOCP's point above, you can get 2 8800GTX for about $40 more than a GX2.

you can get two 8800GT's for about $200 less than a GX2

you can get 2 8800GTS 512 MB for about $100 less than a GX2

you can get 2 9600GT's for about $340 less than a GX2.

If it was selling for around the same price as the ATI 3870x2 (around the $450 range), it would be much easier to recommend.
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post #7 of 10
^^ Agreed.
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post #8 of 10
Yep I agree with you Robilar. It's just retarded they are charging so much for GPU's now a days.
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by linskingdom View Post
Good read. I may give some thoughts first before I decide what to do.
I agree. For cheeper you could just get 8800GT 512mb sli. Which is what I should have done in the first place.
post #10 of 10
I'm dissapointed they think putting all these cards out that don't have much of a difference is condesending to the buyers who they know are not stupid.

The most demanding games now are still not handled much better for twice the money.
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