I’m tired of the hassles with my 8800 GTS 320 meg SLI setup and its inability to get SLI in games like Fallout 3 and Oblivion. Pah on SLI.
So I’m thinking of swapping in a single card, and the dual GPU 4870x2 card is about the same price as the nvidia 280 cards in Canada because of the exchange rate, so it seems like the better option. Jason Cross’s review at extremetech was pretty favorable.
Before I make a rash purchase, however, I wanted to ask a couple of tech questions:
I have an EVGA 680i motherboard, which I gather is PCIE-16 and not 2.0. Although I’ll won’t be able to take advantage of the 2.0 speed (which I’ve heard isn’t that meaningful anyway) the card will work still, no?
I’m a bit worried about the power requirements. I think it needs a 6pin power source AND an 8pin power source – since my power supply is a couple of years old (it has enough power for a dual GPU card though, since it was for an SLI system), does that mean it won’t have an 8pin output? If that’s the case, can I use an adapter like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812198016 or is that not really a good idea?
If your PS is beefy enough to handle two 8800 GTSs, it ought to be able to handle a single 4870 X2 (or GTX 280). Just try to spread the power load as best you can.
Any other recommendations?
As others have said, switching to the 4870 X2 simply trades the problems of SLI for the problems of Crossfire. I have a Crossfire 4870 setup: when it works, it’s great…but it doesn’t always work. Fortunately, disabling Crossfire is easy; but then my second 4870 is just a 100W space heater. If your goal is to avoid the hassles of SLI / Crossfire, you’re better off going with the GTX 280 or the 1GB 4870.
The only hassle you save is physically installing the second card. Once it’s in place there’s no difference between the x2 and a conventional Crossfire setup.
As unbongwah wrote, the 4870x2 is the absolute fastest card for some games, and others, it’s slower than single GPU solutions. If your reason for switching was to avoid the inconsistency of SLI, this isn’t the answer.
I’ve mentioned this on the board a few times before, but I’ll always go for a single GPU solution, simply because I value the use of my secondary display while gaming. Either for IM/web/email/social stuff, or playing an RTS game that supports the use of the dual display for a second map view.
The main reason I was considering an 4870x2 was because it seems to be the best possible card for the price – the pricing is different in Canada, because of the recent changes in the exchange rate, so the 280 is about the same price (or only slightly cheaper) than the double GPU 4870x2 from Canadian ATI. Also something to be said for more room in the case and one less PCI slot used. The single 4870 1 MB is almost definitely the best bang for the buck at the high-end, but I have a perhaps irrational bias towards Nvidia since most developers seems to primarily use their cards so there’s less possibility of glitches.
SLI /Crossfire is definitely not worth it on a bang/buck level. That said, most of the problems I’ve experienced seem to be due to the specific video cards I’m using – 8800 GTS 320 MB – I think if I’d gone with the 8800 GTX 512 MB cards, or even the later released 8800 GTS 512 MB or 8800 GTs, I wouldn’t have encountered the same problems since I think the 320 MB has been the problem, at least with Oblivion and Fallout 3 – SLI setups otherwise work with those games.
I have encountered a couple of games which actually ran faster on my 8800 GTX than on my HD 4870 (e.g., NWN 2): whether that’s a driver, HW, game, and/or VRAM issue (512MB 4870 vs 768MB GTX), I don’t know.
That said, most of the problems I’ve experienced seem to be due to the specific video cards I’m using – 8800 GTS 320 MB – I think if I’d gone with the 8800 GTX 512 MB cards, or even the later released 8800 GTS 512 MB or 8800 GTs, I wouldn’t have encountered the same problems since I think the 320 MB has been the problem, at least with Oblivion and Fallout 3 – SLI setups otherwise work with those games.
What sort of problems have you had? Are you just talking slow performance, or what?
No (although as you and others have stated, the benefits in some games of SLI aren’t as good as you might expect) - the problems relate to the manner in which SLI is implemented, and at least for Bethesda’s 2 games, SLI is broken with that card – it won’t enable. Maybe there’ll be a fix someday.
Well, I ask because the 320MB 8800 GTS SLI setup is on Tom’s HW’s Oblivion benchmarks - and fairly high up, though that chart’s a bit old - which presumably means you’re having problems they didn’t. Just wondering if it’s a MB thing, or what.
Nvidia’s driver releases broke the SLI for the card in certain games a little over a year ago – the drivers that were out at the time of Oblivion’s release were fine (hence the benchmarks). But it’s impractical to roll-back to those drivers, since more recent games (including Fallout 3) require recent drivers to work. There’s no drivers that will enable SLI for Fallout 3 with that card and not crash every few minutes.
It’s a known problem - Bethesda and Nvidia confirmed it.
nVidia’s consistently shown that they will never properly support SLI beyond the first few months of a card’s release. They don’t bother supporting the ultra-high end stuff like the 7950GX2, either. SLI architecture is pretty bad compared to Crossfire, which allows asymmetrical configurations and isn’t dependent on special driver support.
Yeah, I’ve been using a single 320 GTS since they were fairly new to drive a 24" Dell, and it plays the games you’re talking about rather well. It’s more the Cryses and so on that will push me to upgrade at some point. FO3 looks good, FC2 likewise, Crysis Warhead was great…
I’m thinking I might be able to hold off upgrading long enough to get a passive card that’s actually a step up from this one…
Yeah, even though FO3 was only using a single video card, I still played it at 1920x1200 with all the settings maxed and the frame rate was great - it’s not as demanding a game as Oblivion. Oblivion also plays o.k. at that resolution, but the frame rate is probably only around 20-25 outdoors, so it could benefit from a few more. I’ll pass on Crysis until I get my next system, but everything else is more than fine for now.