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Old Jun 3, 2008, 11:34 AM   #1
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Lupine
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ATI Technologies ATI 3870X2 CrossfireX Review - Part III: Path Less Traveled

Here we are, finally ready to wrap up the 3870X2 investigation, after spending quite a bit of time with the red bicephalous monster. We'll be taking a few liberties in this final part, doing some of the things avoided in Part I and Part II, mainly because the games we'll be going through are not ones you usually see dissected by reviewers.

ATI 3870X2 CrossfireX Review - Part III: Path Less Traveled
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Old Jun 3, 2008, 01:00 PM   #2
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Thanks.

CrossfireX is definitely in good shape for 4800 arrival !

BTW there's an error in page 7:

Code:
Error loading image 3870X2 - No AA
Error loading image 3870X2 - 2X AA


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Old Jun 3, 2008, 01:09 PM   #3
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Thanks jam2k, fixed.
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Old Jun 3, 2008, 01:11 PM   #4
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Lets hope that crossfire wont be borked on nextgen ati cards, since it took ATI nearly year to improve crossfire radically, but still you need to rename some exe files to get big boost
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Old Jun 3, 2008, 01:13 PM   #5
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Nice work!

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Old Jun 3, 2008, 01:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spajdr View Post
Lets hope that crossfire wont be borked on nextgen ati cards, since it took ATI nearly year to improve crossfire radically, but still you need to rename some exe files to get big boost
Yep, I wonder why ATI doesn't apply the 'AFR-Friendly3D.exe' profile by default ...
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Old Jun 3, 2008, 01:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jam2k View Post
Yep, I wonder why ATI doesn't apply the 'AFR-Friendly3D.exe' profile by default ...
Because there are a lot of scenarios where it doesn't work. That profile exists as a developer tool: during development, you rename your exe and check for AFR breaking behavior.
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Old Jun 3, 2008, 02:30 PM   #8
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Nice review, guys! I really hope that amd/ati does in fact use profiles for games..It's unfortunate to players having to dish out coin for a "ghetto" approach. In truth, I rather have a single GPU solution without having to become frustrated in choosing appropriate exe's..unless of course a temporary sticky is made by offering alternate exe's for specific games.
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Old Jun 3, 2008, 03:04 PM   #9
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Its even more frustrating, when some MMORPG checks for name of file and when you rename it, you cant run it, so if game runs poorly without renaming, you are screwed for at least month until ATI fixes it.
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Old Jun 3, 2008, 03:06 PM   #10
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I have hopes that something of this will change with 4870X2.
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Old Jun 3, 2008, 06:18 PM   #11
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what resolution were the tests at?
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Old Jun 3, 2008, 06:19 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icecold1983 View Post
what resolution were the tests at?
1920x1200 as usual.
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Old Jun 3, 2008, 06:45 PM   #13
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Nice review, and that shows that we have 50% chance of not getting any crossfire support without some exe renaming.
ATI need some serious driver improving.
Another conclusion that we can get is quadfire is a waste of money.
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Old Jun 3, 2008, 07:36 PM   #14
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I thought SLI was a PITA. They (both) have a long way to go before this multi gpu thing is gonna work out the way it should. I really hope ATI brings a winner next go around.
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Old Jun 3, 2008, 08:33 PM   #15
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actually for the improvements in 8.4, 8.5 and the beta 8.6, the driver team deserve a hand cf needs more but it's alot better than it was
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Old Jun 4, 2008, 12:54 AM   #16
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very nice article and it clearly shows that CF and CFX badly needs public online profile database ...
ideally combined with application profiles in drivers ...
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Old Jun 4, 2008, 07:00 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greasy View Post
I thought SLI was a PITA. They (both) have a long way to go before this multi gpu thing is gonna work out the way it should. I really hope ATI brings a winner next go around.
Why is SLi a "PITA"?

There's no waiting for profiles as mentioned above, the games all ship with them or NVIDIA launches them the day of. No "month wait".

If there wasn't a profile by some chance, you can:

A. Create your own after testing if AFR1, AFR2, SFR work best with the game. (can't do this with CF)

B. Force a global render method (AFR1, AFR2, SFR) in the CP, instead of just using one mode like CF.

I've used SLi since 6800GT SLi, it's been anything but a PITA.
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Old Jun 4, 2008, 08:44 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JethroBodine View Post
Why is SLi a "PITA"?

There's no waiting for profiles as mentioned above, the games all ship with them or NVIDIA launches them the day of. No "month wait".
SLI is limited to the same extra-API situation as CrossfireX: it's up to the IHV (nVidia or ATi) to code SLI/CrossfireX support into its drivers to support 3d games. It's not a game developer scenario, remember. You are right about there being "no month wait" for official SLI support to come from nVidia--sometimes such support takes several months in line with nVidia's sporadic driver release schedule...

Quote:
If there wasn't a profile by some chance, you can:
Glad to see you really do understand what I said above... There's actually no "chance" about it. The IHV either codes his drivers to support SLI/CFX in a given game or he doesn't, and of course you cannot write code support into your drivers for games that have not yet been released at the time your driver version is released. That's why I find ATi's driver release schedule far better than nVidia's--ATi's is regular and predictable, nVidia's is anything but.

Quote:
A. Create your own after testing if AFR1, AFR2, SFR work best with the game. (can't do this with CF)
I guess you missed the comments above about renaming the executable. The only reason you have to do that is because ATi hasn't yet formally supported the game in CFX. This strikes me as being identical to what you describe having to do when you encounter a game that nVidia has yet to code for SLI support in the current driver set. The methodology might be technically different, but the reason you have to do this at all in either case is the same: it's because the IHV hasn't yet coded SLI/CFX support into his drivers for a particular game.

Quote:
B. Force a global render method (AFR1, AFR2, SFR) in the CP, instead of just using one mode like CF.
I don't suppose it has occurred to you that some games don't work well or at all when forcing them into AFR1, or AFR2 or SFR path. So what good is such a global profile, exactly, when you have to change it around among the different games which are not supported in the current nVidia driver?

Again, nVidia's and ATi's situation in this regard is identical: neither SLI nor CFX is supported in the D3d or OpenGL API's, and proper support for SLI/CFX must come from the IHV since it won't come from any other source.

Quote:
I've used SLi since 6800GT SLi, it's been anything but a PITA.
Well, the fact is, I think, that wholly 50% of a given 3d accelerator's value comes from its drivers, and the fact that ATi has a regular, monthly WHQL driver release schedule is something I consider to be very important for the support of old and new games alike. I'm now running a pair of VT HD3870 512 OC's in CrossfireX--which replaced a BFG 8800 GT OC, btw--and I couldn't be more pleased. To me, ATi's regular driver-release schedule is a compelling draw and I think a solid reason to recommend ATi over nVidia.

Don't misunderstand--I liked the 8800 GT and thought it was an excellent product for the months I that I used it. I found nVidia's control panel support formula, however, to be far less intuitive and far more confusing than ATi's control panel formula, though. nVidia's driver release unpredictability however made me glad to return to the Catalyst format.
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Old Jun 4, 2008, 09:03 AM   #19
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Hi WaltC! Good to see you're still gaming..........but always will remember you as CheckMate!
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Old Jun 4, 2008, 09:42 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JethroBodine View Post
Why is SLi a "PITA"?

There's no waiting for profiles as mentioned above, the games all ship with them or NVIDIA launches them the day of. No "month wait".

If there wasn't a profile by some chance, you can:

A. Create your own after testing if AFR1, AFR2, SFR work best with the game. (can't do this with CF)

B. Force a global render method (AFR1, AFR2, SFR) in the CP, instead of just using one mode like CF.

I've used SLi since 6800GT SLi, it's been anything but a PITA.
The above post is incorrect. Jethro's first SLI configuration was dual 6600GTs. He has just selectively blocked the experience.

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Old Jun 4, 2008, 10:17 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisRay View Post
The above post is incorrect. Jethro's first SLI configuration was dual 6600GTs. He has just selectively blocked the experience.

Chris


For its time, 2 6600GTs were a great combo if you didn't run hi-res too often. It did go quite close to the 68U overall.
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Old Jun 4, 2008, 08:19 PM   #22
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Thanx for this more revealing review.

The review shows one of many reasons why i will likely never ever go Crossfire again.

I used my 3870X2 for all of 30 minutes before i knew there wasn't a chance it'd be staying in my possession.

The one other huge issue that really should be looked at is the horrible fps drops, stuttering/chugging, & input lag that comes along as a bonus.

SLi might have slightly better built in profile support, but it too suffers from basically the same issues as CF, & as an added bonus, you're forced to relive to the horrors of single display use with it enabled.
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Old Jun 8, 2008, 05:02 PM   #23
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Nice read.

I finally have my HD3870 X2 crossfire system up, running and actually working. Cant wait to play around with it for a couple moths before it gets replaced with a new system.
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