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[Guru3D] Quad SLI Tested - 9800GX2

post #1 of 5
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The verdict

Well now, I have to admit Quad SLI gaming as presented today is interesting, the implementation we see right now stretched far beyond what we have seen over the initial implementation we saw with the first Quad SLI 7950 GX2 release, which was limited to better AA modes only.

The difference is that the new implementation actually works out well for your overall performance, it is implemented into the drivers in such a way that a lot of games can and will benefit from it; and for future games, with the help of application profiles enabling Quad SLI should really be a breeze to get going.

That doesn't mean though that Quad-SLI gaming comes trouble-free as we surely had our share of issues to get it running properly. I talked to NVIDIA and several other editors and board-partners about issues we experienced in the initial phase of testing. During that process we learned that the bigger part and thus for most people Quad SLI worked fine and most definitely seems to be better implemented than too soon rushed to the market AMD CrossFireX implementation. But you guys know me by now, I tell it like it is and what we experience. In our case we did stumble into a bucket-load of issues that to date I find frustrating.

For example our initial boards (NVIDIA reference) were not 100% SLI compatible (for whatever silly reason). I had already spent 14 hours on the project just to find out ... it was just not going to work. Apparently the first NV reference sample batches were not compatible. When I popped in a retail BFG card I noticed way higher BIOS versions in the products (yes, one GX2 actually has multiple BIOSes). From there on I started noticing a big change. Several games started rendering way faster, others just did nothing but there was improvement for sure.

Now then; you've been able to see it in the benchmarks, there are several games where Quad SLI just would not kick in. Surprisingly enough the one title that worked wonders for other colleagues, Crysis, did not kick in for us. And this I'm afraid is just the reality with multi-GPU gaming. There are, and always will be, some issues with platforms like this. This is why I love single-GPU solutions so much; you slide the graphics card into the system and boom ... performance. And when you start to do stuff in a more complex manner, chances are you will run into some issues. We tested Frontlines: Fuel of War; no real foreseeable result. War Front: Turning point; lower and diverse framerates than one GX2.

So that was our reality, we certainly have had our share of issues with Quad SLI, while others didn't. Contrary to wher you think this conclusion is heading; after sorting out the majority of problems and based on the games that actually did kick in just fine, the surprise factor can lead to only one conclusion, if it works ... it works really nice.

Call of Duty 4 was the title that just knocked me of my feet completely. When I saw a framerate of over 100 FPS flying over the screen at 2560x1600 with the best possible IQ settings ... I was like - *** man! COD4 is a game that actually also scaled really well in the lower resolutions. If feel, oh yeah ... I feel a one-liner coming up: It's 'air out of your lungs' sucking far-fetched performance.

But let me round up; I'm leaving pricing out of the equation as everybody know that gaming at such an investment doesn't really make sense anymore. Next to that, we measure power consumption levels of nearing 630 Watts coming from our PC. In a much more green aware world this is just not a good development either. Though in NVIDIA's defense I have to include here that the new 65nm fabrication node of the chips is way more energy efficient. Four GTXes would have used up 4x200 Watt. And the four GPU's we used today combined use maybe 400-500 watt yet offering very similar performance. So energy awareness is a very good trend, and if marketed right actually a great sales pitch.

So our experiences so far have been both good and bad. Bad in the sense that if you spend 1200 USD on two graphics cards and find out that sometimes games just won't work properly, that would be a waste of money. The good then. I'm giving NVIDIA the benefit of the doubt they have created with Quad SLI GeForce 7950 GX2. The AFR implementation as we see them in the drivers is an easy to follow and upgrade path (for NVIDIA). I foresee good driver implementation for this technology at the same level as SLI gaming. When properly implemented, it's just easy to keep it implemented for NVIDIA.

BTW - did I already hint to NVIDIA driver dev team we like to see selectable languages in their drivers ?


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So yes, as long as it works, Quad SLI is very impressive to see and despite the setbacks we had on this project, I loved every moment working on it. Quad SLI gaming can offer you a massively pleasing gameplay experience when you play at these "uber" resolutions, but for now that really is a large requirement ... you need to game at very high resolutions. But I expect that if you drop that much cash into a gaming PC, your monitor won't be a small one either, right? Hey, I won't hold it against you man.

Last but certainly not the least, I really want to thank BFG technology for their continued support and always helping us out with their samples. Due to our initial reference board issues, they had to rush a second 9800 GX2 over all the way from the USA towards the Netherlands. I have heaps of respect for them, their support and their products, be sure to give them a visit and undoubtedly consider them when you are in the market for a quality graphics card. Respect guys !

Cheers everyone, and stay tuned for actually, yet another NVIDIA graphics card review next week. Okay, that's it for this AG session. My fellow Anonymous Guruholics it's time for the group hug !
Yet another interesting read about Quad SLI.
The numbers really dont look too bad. Drivers need to mature though because scaling in some games in rediculous and scaling in others is horrible.
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post #2 of 5
lol.. nice find again.. trick
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post #3 of 5
lol @ how bad it sucks scales
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post #4 of 5
http://www.overclock.net/nvidia/3109...consensus.html


Should be in the nvidia section mate...
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post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by edeekeos View Post
coming from a guy who uses an ati card


ur right, CF does scale better, instead of 5FPS with one card, ya get 15FPS with two
coming from a guy with nvidia cards in SLI.

you forget that quad SLI will run you over 1200 dollars, but Quadfire will only cost you about 800.... for 400 extra dollars you nvidia tards BETTER be getting some good frames lol.

But judging from that review you're not lmao.
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