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To Crossfire or not to Crossfire

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
First post - Be Kind

I've always had a passion for computers but have been out of the "scene" for about 10 years. I've slowly gotten back into it over the past three years and have been doing research for about a year now in anticipation for building my first computer. I'm waiting for the 990fx mobo and Bulldozer chip. I feel that i have most of it figured out but am completely confused when it comes to crossfire.

I've seen the question posted in a variety of ways but it usually goes something like this.

I have $250 and should I buy two 1 generation old GPU's in Crossfire or should i buy 1 new generation GPU. Most answer this question by saying, buy 1 of the new generation GPU's and slap on a second one down the road.

I find this answer to be kind of a cop out to the question. Because that logic just does not hold true. If (Today) 1 "new" GPU is better then 2 "old" GPU's in crossfire. Then why would that not be true "down the road"? Why in 6-12 months would I want to spend another $150 on a second GPU and put it crossfire when it would be better to have 1 new GPU. Essentially I'm throwing good money at a bad setup.

The question is further complicated when you break it down to a dollar perspective. Because for mostly everyone out there, there is always going to be a better 1 GPU then the two your looking to put into crossfire. As I see some of the top end cards going for $1k each which is definitely something I will not be doing.

If that is true then why oh why are there so many people running Crossfire?
************************************************** ******

I took some liberties with the above questions as that is all knowledge gathered from forums and articles from sites just like this one and is by no means fact.

There is a ton of conflicting information out there on Crossfire and I'm just not sure on what I should consume. I'm really looking for some expert advice on whether or not crossfire is worth it. Both from a performance perspective and reliability perspective. I will admit that the computer enthusiast in me does think that it is a really cool setup. But is that reason enough to justify the cost?

When setting up Crossfire, you'll need a larger PSU, you'll incur higher temps, higher energy bill, less room on mobo, blah,blah,blah...

So again I ask the question: To Crossfire or not To Crossfire?

Keep in mind I will be using this machine for both gaming and heavy multitasking. I'm often running a game, streaming music/hulu working Excel and Access with many open browsers over three different monitors (1 touch) attached to a DVI KVM switch with my laptop.

Please no trolls or flaming, I'm really just looking for some sound advice that could help me make a better decision on my 1st build.

Cheers...
post #2 of 15
I'd pick up a 6950 for that price point. Thats probably the best you could do. If you had $300 to spend maybe you could find 2 5850's.
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post #3 of 15
But definitely just get one 6950. It also depends on your setup. If you want max fram rate and eyecandy as a gamer then yes get two old ones for 1920x 1080. Buy you would already outdated before you even got in the game
     
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post #4 of 15
Pound for pound if your given the option and don't already have a commitment to a specific card (i.e. you have it, like me with my use to be 525$ 5870) then Go for big as possible Single GPU as possible.

While crossfiring provides in some circumstances decent FPS (benchmark senarios), only 6000 series has shown worthwhile scaling getting closer to the 100% scaling versus the 5000 series only having a roughly 50% scaling.

Meaning that a second 5870 would only give me 50% more fps then if it were 100% scaling (2X the fps).

If you buy a top end single GPU configuration you can always add a second GPU and "crossfire" when prices drop and your graphical demand needs it.

I agree with the above poster, if possible look at a 6950(300$), or a 5870 (200$ Less if used)

560 and 570 are also decent options.
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post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the replies. Just to Clarify. The $250 was an arbitrary number. If there is a dollar amount that justifies the use of Crossfire then I would entertain that threshhold.
post #6 of 15
In a post earlier by compudaze he showed:

(Price comparison of various cards, $/Fps.

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post #7 of 15
I think the best option, by far, is to get a single 6950 for ~$275 or cheaper and unlock it to a 6970. Just make sure you get a reference-design card (black and red stripes on the side). You get AMD's flagship single-GPU performance at a mid-range price. You won't need more performance until you go Eyefinity with 3 monitors. This is the route I'm taking right now.
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post #8 of 15
It's best to not go with an older generation if you're planning on crossfire, but mid-range cards of the new generation. Instead of XFire 5850s, you would want XFire 6850s. They're about the same price (I recall 6850 being cheaper than 5850) and about the same performance, but the newer architecture has better tessellation, more support in upcoming drivers, and much better scaling. Reviews of XFire 6850s shows >90% scaling.
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post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neokolzia View Post
only 6000 series has shown worthwhile scaling getting closer to the 100% scaling versus the 5000 series only having a roughly 50% scaling.

Meaning that a second 5870 would only give me 50% more fps then if it were 100% scaling (2X the fps).
I think you're getting the 50% from bad ATI drivers in the 10.6-11 series. 10.4 had good scaling and 11.1/11.2 has good scaling as well. Two 5870s with 11.2 drivers do a lot better than 50% scaling...
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan182 View Post
I find this answer to be kind of a cop out to the question. Because that logic just does not hold true. If (Today) 1 "new" GPU is better then 2 "old" GPU's in crossfire. Then why would that not be true "down the road"? Why in 6-12 months would I want to spend another $150 on a second GPU and put it crossfire when it would be better to have 1 new GPU. Essentially I'm throwing good money at a bad setup.

The question is further complicated when you break it down to a dollar perspective.
Depending on what older gpu you would go with, most have the amount of video-ram you'll need to run highend games, but even in crossfire don't have the muscle to push that game to the max, let alone a game that will launch 2 years from now. Keep in mind that it takes more than just GPU-speed to run a game. Compare memory speeds, shaders and memory bandwidth. You'll often see that the newer cards will blow past the older ones.. even in crossfire.
Did I mention DirectX support from the cards yet? Alot of people run Win7, and if you play games in Win7 you can have DirectX 11 instead of 10 (Vista) or 9 (XP) with newer cards. Just a little eye candy for the gamer

Dollar perspective? Good one... purchase 1 HD6950 now for 233euro's and play most games at max. In one years time, you buy another one for a totall of 466euro's and a near garauntee that you'll play all games the next 5 years on max, and also won't be needing any upgrades untill then. Compare that to 2 HD4870's in crossfire for 270euro's: you'll play most newer games on high settings (not max) but in 2 years time you'll be playing new games on good settings, maybe less, thus pushing you to upgrade your system for another xxxeuro's.
If you're not an eye candy hugger, don't play newer games or don't give 2 cents about AA etc, save your money now. But do please keep in mind that alot of games (especially MMO's) often update their graphics to better quality over time thus putting more strain on that video card setup that you chose to save money on...
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