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Dual 6870s vs GTX 580 - What's the deal?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
I just want to explain some stuff to some people that have never experienced a multi-GPU setup and are on edge about what card(s) to choose. Hopefully I can save a couple people from the stress of going dual 6870s over the 580 or another single GPU solution.

- CF/SLI drivers are not nearly as optimized as single GPU solutions, and I don't think they ever will be. They will likely never be mainstream, so most companies don't focus much time and money into optimizing games and drivers for dual GPUs. This results in some games offering no FPS gains, FPS loss, graphical glitches, even hard lock ups, etc. This is more common than you might imagine, on all 3 of my multi-GPU setups I have to disable my second card for a good ~30% of games for it to be enjoyable. ~20% of games don't offer any noticable benefits, and the other ~50% offer decent gains, however a good half of them will have slight graphical glitches or microstuttering issues. Setups include 2x 8800GTXs, a 4870X2, and a 5970.

- The majority of the time CF/SLI setups will have choppiness (or microstuttering) that a single GPU setup won't. Some people notice this more than others, and if you notice it you will likely not enjoy your setup. While you might be playing at 50FPS on your CF/SLI setup, the guy next to you playing the same game at 30FPS is having a much more smooth and enjoyable experience on his single GPU solution. This almost completely renders the 2nd card useless in a large amount of games. I have tested this on many, many setups with friends.

- While in theory, and on paper, CF/SLI looks far superior - in the real world it usually isn't that great. You will have issues, you won't feel like your actually playing at the FPS that FRAPS is telling you, and you will constantly run into games that do not play well with it. Some games will even BSOD, or freeze your computer completely until you disable SLI/CF or wait for a driver update (and many of the times the driver update never comes).

Don't do what many people, including myself, have done time and time again and be fooled by higher max/avg FPS. Just because they look amazing on the benchmarks does not mean they are a more enjoyable playing experience. 40FPS on a multi-GPU setup feels worse than 25FPS on a single GPU setup in most games. Don't take my word for it, google "microsuttering" and you will see thousands of people claiming the same thing.

If all you want is high benchmarking numbers, than by all means go with the 6870s. Hopefully this will help at least one person decide what solution is right for him.
Edited by Murlocke - 11/9/10 at 2:01pm
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post #2 of 34
i agree, dual GPU solutions only look good on paper, they are horrible in real world applications.. i've also had many first hand experiences (bad) with CF... not so much SLi though, but im sure it's the same

single GPU is always the best
post #3 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murlocke View Post
- While in theory, and on paper, CF/SLI looks far superior - in the real world it usually isn't that great. You will have issues, you won't feel like your actually playing at the FPS that FRAPS is telling you, and you will constantly run into games that do not play well with it. Some games will even BSOD, or freeze your computer completely until you disable SLI or wait for a driver update (and many of the times the driver update never comes).

TL:TR - Dual GPU setups are bad.
thanks for the artical, i was just about to drop cash on two 6870s.. somehow it was out of stock and i ran into your thread..

can anyone confirm this? It will be my first build..
post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tian105 View Post
thanks for the artical, i was just about to drop cash on two 6870s.. somehow it was out of stock and i ran into your thread..

can anyone confirm this? It will be my first build..
Well, i'm still the same person but i've had 3 dual gpu setups. 1 NVIDIA, 2 ATI.

The 8800GTXs were nonstop issues, I ended up having the 2nd one disabled 90% of the time. I'm not exaggerating either, I just stopped enabling it at one point.

The 4870X2 was actually my best dual GPU setup. I didn't game much on it though, but I didn't have that many critical issues with it. Wasnt as good as my single solution setups though, but this setup was actually barely do-able.

The 5970 was not as big of a headache as the 8800GTXs, but it's enough for me to sell it and get the GTX 580. I've had the card since launch, and it's gotten better, but it's still feels really buggy to me. I tend to get lower/equal FPS in about 50% games with CF enabled on this card. My computer is well rounded, it's not a bottleneck or PSU issue. It's drivers, and I can't blame ATI. NVIDIA's SLI drivers aren't much better. Right now I have my 2nd core disabled on the card, and only enabled it to test after each driver update.
Edited by Murlocke - 11/9/10 at 2:01pm
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post #5 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murlocke View Post
I just want to explain some stuff to some people that have never experienced a multi-GPU setup and are on edge about what card(s) to choose. Hopefully I can save a couple people from the stress of going dual 6870s over the 580 or another single GPU solution.

- CF/SLI drivers are not nearly as optimized as single GPU solutions, and I don't think they ever will be. They will likely never be mainstream, so most companies don't focus much time and money into optimizing games and drivers for dual GPUs. This results in some games offering no FPS gains, FPS loss, graphical glitches, even hard lock ups, etc. This is more common than you might imagine, on all 3 of my multi-GPU setups I have to disable my second card for a good ~30% of games for it to be enjoyable. ~20% of games don't offer any noticable benefits, and the other ~50% offer decent gains, however a good half of them will have slight graphical glitches or microstuttering issues. Setups include 2x 8800GTXs, a 4870X2, and a 5970.

- The majority of the time CF/SLI setups will have choppiness (or microstuttering) that a single GPU setup won't. Some people notice this more than others, and if you notice it you will likely not enjoy your setup. While you might be playing at 50FPS on your CF/SLI setup, the guy next to you playing the same game at 30FPS is having a much more smooth and enjoyable experience on his single GPU solution. This almost completely renders the 2nd card useless in a large amount of games. I have tested this on many, many setups with friends.

- While in theory, and on paper, CF/SLI looks far superior - in the real world it usually isn't that great. You will have issues, you won't feel like your actually playing at the FPS that FRAPS is telling you, and you will constantly run into games that do not play well with it. Some games will even BSOD, or freeze your computer completely until you disable SLI/CF or wait for a driver update (and many of the times the driver update never comes).

Don't do what many people, including myself, have done time and time again and be fooled by higher max/avg FPS. Just because they look amazing on the benchmarks does not mean they are a more enjoyable playing experience. 40FPS on a multi-GPU setup feels worse than 25FPS on a single GPU setup in most games. Don't take my word for it, google "microsuttering" and you will see thousands of people claiming the same thing.

If all you want is high benchmarking numbers, than by all means go with the 6870s. Hopefully this will help at least one person decide what solution is right for him.
OMG !! I was about to order 2 6850s !!! I opened a thread and everyone suggested 2 6850s ! Now i really dont know what to get .:confused :
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post #6 of 34
And any game has to be run in fullscreen mode for SLI which in some situations isn't preferred. If you want to multi-box you obviously can't SLI either.

Although it sucks shelling out $500 every year just for a video card, it's better than dealing with SLI/Xfire problems usually.
post #7 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by SIR-IP View Post
OMG !! I was about to order 2 6850s !!! I opened a thread and everyone suggested 2 6850s ! Now i really dont know what to get .:confused :
if a single more powerful card exist with similar TDP, GO FOR THAT
its because of sability as stated earlier, and futureproof, if u get a good deal for another same card

but then again, the scaling of 6850 is very good
so if u are not planning to upgrade soon in near future, cf 6850

if u can afford to do that -- single card, 480 or 580
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post #8 of 34
I've been running SLI'd 260s for over a year and absolutely love them. I've never noticed any micro-stuttering and I can play almost ever game I've got on high settings with no problem. The only downside I've noticed is the extra heat and power but I don't pay utilities (thx landlord) so it's not a big issue.
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post #9 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by SIR-IP View Post
OMG !! I was about to order 2 6850s !!! I opened a thread and everyone suggested 2 6850s ! Now i really dont know what to get .:confused :
I think single 6580 would be more than enough for you.
Your processor and 19" monitor would be definitely enough for a single 6850.
Save your cash and go with single 6850.
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post #10 of 34
Much as I love multi-gpu setups, I tend to agree with Murlocke in certain scenarios.

I've owned (to date):

6600GT's in SLI
7800 GT's in SLI
7800GTX in SLI
8800GTX in SLI
GTX260's in SLI and tri-sli (still have these)
GTX285's in SLI
GTX470's in SLI (tried tri-sli never got it working smoothly)
GTX480's in SLI
GTX295's in SLI (hated these the worst of all...)

4850's in crossfire
4870's in crossfire
4890's in crossfire
4870X2's in crossfire
5850's in crossfire
5870's in crossfire and tri-fire
5970's in crossfire (nothing but headaches)

I find that in some games, a single gpu does provide a smoother experience despite having lower FPS. I attribute this to mico-stutter which is prevalent in all multi-gpu setups to a lesser or greater degree.

With that said, I have always found crossfire to be smoother than SLI (even when the SLI setup provided higher frames per second).
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