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Old Jul 30, 2006, 06:23 AM   #1
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Ratchet
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Multi-GPU Graphics Technology The Definitive Multi-GPU World Tour - Part 8 Uncommon Benchmarks @ Rage3D

We've just published our part of the Definitive Multi-GPU World Tour. Our responsibility, like nV News and Legit Reviews before us, was to test and benchmark a bunch of games that you normally don't find in hardware reviews.

We also took the opportunity to pick up where Mike of nV News left off with his Anti-Aliasing quality comparison and check out texture filtering differences between ATI and NVIDIA. I'm sure you'll find that part especially interesting.

Here's a quote from the article:
Not only is stability on NVIDIA’s side, so is ease of use and practicality. There is no master/slave stuff and there is no giant pain in the ass dongle with thumb screws that break off and are way too small and cables that are way too stiff to bend nicely like the monstrosity you get with hardware Crossfire. NVIDIA’s SLI bridge-board is elegant, easy to use, and doesn’t get in your way. Granted you can’t defend yourself against hordes of evil undead zombies with it like you can ATI’s dongle, but really, who wants zombie goo all over their computer anyway.

The Definitive Multi-GPU World Tour - Part 8 Uncommon Benchmarks @ Rage3D
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Old Jul 30, 2006, 07:50 AM   #2
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Default Not a good job....

As someone who deals with computer issues daily for my customers, I have to say that not getting to the bottom of the problems with Crossfire shows how little this benchmark means to the reviewer. I've seen defective motherboards and cards, and when you get into systems like this, you don't just say, "It doesn't work", or "It had too many problems to properly benchmark". You call the motherboard manufacturer, you call the video card manufacturer, you call ATI(who knows which Radeon cards were used, maybe the lowest end version of the X1900XTX you could find?!?).

Yes, this may be "typical" of Crossfire cards for these tests, but this may also be a case of a defective motherboard, or you have old Catalyst drivers(again, no information was given to indicate what was used, Catalyst 6.1 or perhaps even earlier?)

I can't say that I'm in a position to do my own benchmarks for these cards right now, since I will be building my own Athlon 64 X2-5000 based system in October with a Radeon X1900XT and will also be setting up Crossfire. But I do know that if there were problems, you write about the problems, then fix them if at all possible.

I also NEVER trust the default video driver settings since they may not work properly in all applications. Application preference should almost always be prefered.
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Old Jul 30, 2006, 08:01 AM   #3
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The test setup information is on the "Test Setup" page. Drivers used and testing methodology are all outlined there.

I wrote about the problems in the benchmark Notes and in the conclusion. The problems can only be fixed with new and better drivers that contain profiles for the games that are broken, the hardware itself is not defective.
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Old Jul 30, 2006, 09:46 AM   #4
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After reading that article I understand why even die hard ATI fans have been bashing CrossFire. I am surprised how CF doesn't seem to work on less popular games, maybe ATI jsut forgot them and made drivers to only support CF with popular games.
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Old Jul 30, 2006, 10:50 AM   #5
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EDIT 3:
Okay done reading the article and I have to say, that for a Multi-GPU benchmark article, it was pretty useless as 80% of the ATI benchmarks, were only using 1 (one) card.

Good article though for entertainment value. It was fun to laugh at Nvidia for their unecessarily inferior IQ, and ATI's crap Crossfire platform.

After seeing this:


Crossfire Does not load with Crossfire enabled. Tested as single card
SLI Does not scale, no errors

And this one:



Crossfire Frequent crashing with Crossfire enabled, render errors. Tested as single card
SLI Scales, no errors

I have to wonder why it was included as the ATI setup was benched using 1 (one) card and the NVidia was benched with 2 (two) cards. This is beyond unfair and unprofessional. I'm a little dissapointed so far with the article already.

I'll pipe back in later to let you know what I feel about the rest, not that anyone cares lol, but I'll voice my opinion anyways.

EDIT:
Okay after reading that page, the ONLY valid benchmark was this one:

And I have to say that NVidia is WAY ahead of ATI in this market segment.


EDIT 2:

I find this pretty impressive though;


Crossfire Does not load with Crossfire enabled. Tested as single card
SLI Does not scale, no errors

Even though ATI was up against 2 (two) cards, it still came out on top, and very competitive even after that.
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Old Jul 30, 2006, 11:08 AM   #6
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Most of the games didn't work with Crossfire enabled, so if you have a Crossfire system you have to disable it to play those games. Those are the performance characteristics you'll see in those cases. It's valid in more ways than one.

SLI does not scale in GTR2 demo, as noted, so the 7950 GX2 is only using one of its two GPUs (it should scale in the full version when the game is released as it's already in NVIDIA's profiles).
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Old Jul 30, 2006, 01:00 PM   #7
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Excellent as always, Mark.

I must say that after the 6.7 Cats came out, I jumped the gun and started bashing Catalyst drivers because of how horrid they were. Well, that turns out not to be the case. Other then a few display anomalies that appeared upon startup after installation, games have been running fantastically.

COD2 @ 1600x1200 w/4x AA & 16x HQ AF with the highest settings @ a near rock-solid 60 fps in a 12-man online match is truly amazing.
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Old Jul 30, 2006, 01:08 PM   #8
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Great review Ratch! I see what your saying...CF just doesn't work right with every game. And if you (the gamer) have paid "X" amount for CF you would want it to simply work....as SLi seems to do.

Good review
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Old Jul 30, 2006, 01:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vengeance
Great review Ratch! I see what your saying...CF just doesn't work right with every game. And if you (the gamer) have paid "X" amount for CF you would want it to simply work....as SLi seems to do.

Good review
I believe I've gone over my reasoning for wanting to switch to SLI (quad at that). Since the 6.7's have come out though, I'm in gaming heaven!
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Old Jul 30, 2006, 01:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShaidarHaran
I believe I've gone over my reasoning for wanting to switch to SLI (quad at that). Since the 6.7's have come out though, I'm in gaming heaven!
I was referring to the people that didn't seem to understand why some of the benchmarks were run as a single card. And from my understanding it's because CF simply would not work right with all of the games that SLi does.
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Old Jul 30, 2006, 01:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vengeance
I was referring to the people that didn't seem to understand why some of the benchmarks were run as a single card. And from my understanding it's because CF simply would not work right with all of the games that SLi does.
I've no gaming issues with the 6.7's so far. The only issue I've run across is due to my Logitech G5 mouse with F.E.A.R.
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Old Jul 31, 2006, 12:09 AM   #12
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GTR2 Demo "DOES NOT SCALE". Huh? Works for me.

GT Legends: Works great here.

Colin Mcrae...works here too, as it does in the review.

I don't have the other games currently. Bu I don't understand why these issues are related in the review, yet not in my own experience.

Nice review tho, i guess.
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Old Jul 31, 2006, 03:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadaveca
GTR2 Demo "DOES NOT SCALE". Huh? Works for me.

GT Legends: Works great here.

Colin Mcrae...works here too, as it does in the review.

I don't have the other games currently. Bu I don't understand why these issues are related in the review, yet not in my own experience.

Nice review tho, i guess.
What drivers are you using?
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Old Jul 31, 2006, 09:46 AM   #14
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The importance of profiles is a very important point to raise and thankfully improved with the 6.7's. nVidia deserves a lot of credit with improving profiles with SLi. ATI deserved this negative, imho!

The only point I want to raise is this: If someone raises the negative point about the dongle and mastercard -- one should offer Super-AA benchmarks. ATI's composite chip isn't added to the GPU's core and the only way you could garner real-time performance with Super-AA was this way, imho.

I am not happy over-all with this Dual GPU tour because Super-AA was not discussed from an objective point-of view. You're not forced to use CPU limited or old titles to use Super-AA!
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Old Jul 31, 2006, 11:04 AM   #15
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Well done Mark! Thanks for this.

I especially liked your texture filtering discussion!

Go ATI IQ!

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Old Jul 31, 2006, 12:57 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratchet
What drivers are you using?
5.13, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 6.6, 6.7....

Colin MCrae and Richard Burns have never been issues with this set-up.

The SIMBIN games use Supertiling, so to expect an increase in framerates is not realistic. Perhaps this should be mentioned. When using increased resolutions and AA, there is no performance drop, so the cards ARE getting used, they simply do not increase framerate.

I'm a driving game nut...I have almost every one...and I have absolutely no issues. The one game that game me problems, TombRaider LEgends, required a game update to solve the issue.


I have major issues with reviews only using framerates to relate performance...it's not accurate. Sure, one card may be faster than another, but if one card draw squares while the other draws circles, you don't have a decent comparison.

I find the same to be found in this review. the SIMBIN games don't need more than one x1900, so using the second to increase framerate is pretty useless...it should be used to increase visual quality, and i beleive this is what is happening with these games.

I'm a gamer...so pretty much any "top" game that has come out in the last few years i own, and upon building this system i installed each and every one of them...all the way back to DeusEx. Not one of these games "shows no increase".

You MUST also mention that the nVidia cards do not play Colin MCrae very well. In daylight driving, with glare from the sun, frames will drop. It's so bad, that my X850XT gives almost better perforamnce in this area than my 7800GTX's dis in SLI!
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Old Jul 31, 2006, 01:58 PM   #17
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Old Jul 31, 2006, 06:12 PM   #18
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Wow, what a lot of reading!

I actually just read thru all 9 sites


My simple summary after reading through all 9 sites:

CF is simply a poor solution in too many cases right now.
There are a select few benefits, but overall, the negatives outweigh the positives it seems.
SLI seems to be a very decent solution right now, with availability, ease of setup/use, & game support being quite good.

On a side note:
IQ, something only R3D touched on, is definitely better on ATi presently. But that's something we already knew.
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Old Jul 31, 2006, 07:17 PM   #19
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Ya I get the same feel from all of them. SLI is more mature and functional than CF.

Thank God I am not a dual card kinda guy. This hobbie, while one of my favorites, does not warrant the cost of a dual card rig for my tastes.

Second thing I get from all this is that ATI has better IQ (which is important to me). So in the single card arena I still prefer ATI. But overall I like one of each so I can do my own comparisons.

I wonder how things will go the next few years with AMD at the ATI helm.

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Old Aug 2, 2006, 07:57 AM   #20
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GRAW works fine in CF, just have to either rename the game's exe, or force AFR thru the drivers. Works fine, in fact, gives more than 100% boost for some reason. At least the demo did. Also, it does has "AA" in the game. Not real AA, just kinda blurs it to it looks smoothers. Looks pretty crappy, but they call it AA.

Clearly SLI works better than CF in older games. I dont play any of those games, so it doesnt matter. ATi does need to get user creatable profiles out the door. Their recent chat said they're working on it, which is good.

No short comings you can think of with SLI? How about its horrid performance in SLI AA, compared to Super AA? Its not even close, Super AA is much faster.
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Old Aug 2, 2006, 08:12 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emilee
GRAW works fine in CF, just have to either rename the game's exe, or force AFR thru the drivers. Works fine, in fact, gives more than 100% boost for some reason. At least the demo did.
I'd hardly call that "works fine", and renaming .exe's is hardly something a user should have to do to get a game working
Quote:
Also, it does has "AA" in the game. Not real AA, just kinda blurs it to it looks smoothers. Looks pretty crappy, but they call it AA.
a post blur filter isn't AA, no matter what they call it.

Quote:
Clearly SLI works better than CF in older games. I dont play any of those games, so it doesnt matter. ATi does need to get user creatable profiles out the door. Their recent chat said they're working on it, which is good.
I wouldn't hold my breath

Quote:
No short comings you can think of with SLI? How about its horrid performance in SLI AA, compared to Super AA? Its not even close, Super AA is much faster.
AA tests were done by Mike at nV News. It would be overstepping boundaries to contradict tests he had already done, though I did say AA was better on ATI cards at one point.
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Old Aug 2, 2006, 11:38 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratchet
I'd hardly call that "works fine", and renaming .exe's is hardly something a user should have to do to get a game working
True, renaming exe's isnt the most elegant. However, SLI is not above it either. When Prey came out, SLI users had to do it as well. Its not hard to do, and takes less than a minute. It does not bother me that much, but profiles would be very nice. However, as I stated, you can force AFR in the drivers now. I did it for the deno of GT2, and it works fine. Started up just fine with CF enabled. I imagine it would for several other games that didnt work for you. I understand that you used 6.6's, and that option was not in the drivers. 6.7's are out, and fixes some problems you had. An update, or notation would help people looking for this article for help on which to choose.

I am a little curious as to why the games were picked? They look to be older (most of them) and not very played. IMO, this makes CF look worse than it really is, because every game I have, and most demos I have tried, have worked just fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratchet
a post blur filter isn't AA, no matter what they call it.
I dont think its AA either, which is why I put it in quotes. Just noting that they call it AA, and its in the newest patch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratchet
I wouldn't hold my breath
I wouldnt hold my breath on NV fixing their subpar IQ either, but Im still hoping for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratchet
AA tests were done by Mike at nV News. It would be overstepping boundaries to contradict tests he had already done, though I did say AA was better on ATI cards at one point.
Im not talking about AA quality, but the performance. One of the key reasons for me to go mult-GPU is for more AA. Other than the more performance, its my 2nd reason to do so. Its a rather large negative, how poorly SLI does with SLI AA, compared to Super AA performance wise. I didnt see any SLI/SuperAA numbers at all. Its obviously a "negative" about SLI. Its horrible performance was far too slow for me to use, in any sort of newer game.
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Old Aug 2, 2006, 11:58 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emilee
True, renaming exe's isnt the most elegant. However, SLI is not above it either. When Prey came out, SLI users had to do it as well. Its not hard to do, and takes less than a minute. It does not bother me that much, but profiles would be very nice. However, as I stated, you can force AFR in the drivers now. I did it for the deno of GT2, and it works fine. Started up just fine with CF enabled. I imagine it would for several other games that didnt work for you. I understand that you used 6.6's, and that option was not in the drivers. 6.7's are out, and fixes some problems you had. An update, or notation would help people looking for this article for help on which to choose.
right, but I didn't go renaming .exe's for SLI either (note the GTR2 demo doesn't have a profile in SLI).

Quote:
I am a little curious as to why the games were picked? They look to be older (most of them) and not very played. IMO, this makes CF look worse than it really is, because every game I have, and most demos I have tried, have worked just fine.
Like I said in the intro, my game library isn't unlimited and the games I do have tend to follow along the "sim" genre, with the exception of those that I use for my normal reviews (which were all pre-chosen by the other websites in the tour). The games that I picked were ones I knew I could benchmark and get reliable results from.

Quote:
I wouldnt hold my breath on NV fixing their subpar IQ either, but Im still hoping for it.
They can't, apparently, not with current hardware (or so the story goes). But I think (and hope) the G80 may turn that around for them.

Quote:
Im not talking about AA quality, but the performance. One of the key reasons for me to go mult-GPU is for more AA. Other than the more performance, its my 2nd reason to do so. Its a rather large negative, how poorly SLI does with SLI AA, compared to Super AA performance wise. I didnt see any SLI/SuperAA numbers at all. Its obviously a "negative" about SLI. Its horrible performance was far too slow for me to use, in any sort of newer game.
Like I said, if I could have gone indepth into SLIAA vs SuperAA then I would certainly have done so.
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Old Aug 2, 2006, 12:30 PM   #24
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Dont think Im picking at you, for what its worth, you're reviews, and the way they are set up, is one of favs.

It just looks worse for CF, than it really is. At least to me. All of my games work with CF, and going by the article, most wouldnt. Anyways, Im done "complaining".
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Old Aug 2, 2006, 12:42 PM   #25
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The joys of being an online writer for a forum...you must face the critics.

nVnews. nVidia-based, perhaps? nVidia choosing review material, for a hardware compare?

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Old Aug 2, 2006, 12:44 PM   #26
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nvidia came up with the idea, they didn't choose the hardware or how and what we tested.
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Old Aug 2, 2006, 12:53 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadaveca
The joys of being an online writer for a forum...you must face the critics.

nVnews. nVidia-based, perhaps? nVidia choosing review material, for a hardware compare?


I wondered the same thing at first. I figured these were all hand picked games from nVidia. But from everything I read thats just not the case. But I'm sure some will never believe it.
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Report a bug with the NVIDIA graphics driver.
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Old Aug 2, 2006, 01:04 PM   #28
cadaveca
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Well, i got the info i wanted. nVidia came up with the idea, which means they sponsored/paid for it. Lol nVidia's idea?


sheesh.
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Old Aug 2, 2006, 02:15 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadaveca
Well, i got the info i wanted. nVidia came up with the idea, which means they sponsored/paid for it. Lol nVidia's idea?


sheesh.
That info is just sinking in for you now? It was mentioned in every article that was in the series (it's in my intro, near the bottom).
Quote:
...NVIDIA for coming up with the idea and helping get much of the hardware
We told ATI about it 4 months ago (only a couple of weeks after we started organizing) and asked them if they wanted to participate and be sponsors.

NVIDIA didn't pay us for anything, and you're looking too hard for a conspiracy that doesn't exist.
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Old Aug 2, 2006, 02:17 PM   #30
cadaveca
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i was ribbin' ya, Ratchet. You know, giving you a hard time?

Feeling like ya gotta defend yourself? You don't.

Sheesh.



Still wondering why i don't have the issues you do tho......And someone paid for the hardware...
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