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Question: To SLI/Crossfire or not?

Discussion in 'Graphics Cards' started by winhack, Jun 27, 2006.

  1. winhack New Member

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    Hey all,

    I'm getting ready to spec a new gaming rig for myself and I've come upon a question I cannot find a clear answer for and wanted to get some additional feedback on. The short and simple question is: if I am not a twitch gamer and don't play a lot of or any FPS type games (no Quake, Unreal, Half Life, Doom, etc.), does it still make sense to bother with SLI/Crossfire?

    While I've never set one up myself, I've seen demonstrations of the difference SLI (and presumably CrossFire) can make to a system. The issue is that the games these demo stations are always being running are usually the same set of FPS-type games like the ones I mentioned above. I never see a demo of SLI running Sims 2 or Age of Mythology or Lord of the Rings II: Battle for Middle Earth. My issue is that I don't really play FPS games much or at all and that's not likely to change at this point. I play games like Heroes of Might and Magic V, Titan Quest, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and World of Warcraft. I might run a demo of Farcry or Prey once or twice just to see what all the noise is about, but I'd likely not play them on any kind of regular basis.

    Before getting a ton of emails stating the obvious, let me say that I realize that based on what SLI/CrossFire is/does, of course that technology will improve ANY game. Yes, I am sure that none of the games I play today, tomorrow, or next year will NOT work because SLI or CrossFire is installed, and they will clearly run better than they would with just a single card. That much goes without saying. What I am trying to get at is this: The investment in SLI-ready or CrossFire-ready cards is an additional $50 to $100 per card premium over the non-SLI/CrossFire version of the same card. Then you need a motherboard with the right chipset on it. And last but certainly not least, you need a second card to take advantage of the SLI/CrossFire technology in the first place. And yes: I have read that nVidia SLI requires two of the identical make/model of the card whereas ATI does not. Be that as it may, we're talking about a good chunk of extra change to do EITHER dual-card technology right (and by right, I mean getting high-end cards). Do the kinds of games I play warrant that extra expense (around an extra $600 +/-)? Does the value/performance curve really make sense for non-twitch games (and non-twitch gamers) the way it does for twitch games (and twitch gamers)?

    On top of all this, I'm probably not going to bother overclocking this system either (I'm tired of doing all that). I am willing to put as much money as I can into this system to get the best performance I can get out of the box(es) without spending hours, days, or even weeks tweaking every little setting until I can get a stable platform. Just not worth my time any more. (The only reason I am building it myself is because I know the same system from Alienware or Voodoo or one of their ilk will cost an additional $2k +/- for the same level of stuff. For the $2k, I'd rather do it myself as I have done in the past.)

    So back to the original question: Does SLI or CrossFire really make sense based on the kind of games I'm playing and considering that I am not going to bother overclocking anything? Will World of Warcraft really be THAT much better with a full SLI/CrossFire setup than it would with a single 7900 or X1900? Or TitanQuest? Or Dark Messiah of Might and Magic? If anyone has some thoughtful or insightful information that will help me decide, I'd appreciate reading it.
     
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  2. markkleb Guest

    Unless its bragging rights , no. Since DX-10 is coming out soon there is no point to spending extra money on high end video cards (let alone 2).

    I have been using a X800GTO for over a year and it plays all the games just fine. Now they are down to $89 at Newegg.

    A X1800/1900 is a nice card but uses LOTS of power so you will need to get a very good PS also (more expense)

    My latest build is a SLI, but I used 2 of the least expensive cards available. About $200 for both. Its mostly to say "LOOK I HAVE SLI".

    Honestly I think its a "mine is bigger than yours thing" perpetuated by marketers to make us buy more.
     
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  3. winhack New Member

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    Thank you for your input. Bragging rights are definitely not the issue here. And thank you for the reminder about DX10; I had forgotten about that. Will be interesting to see which parts wind up being HW-compliant and which others are only SW-compliant for DX10. This will also play into my decision.

    I am currently using an X850 AGP myself and it's fine too, but as I am starting to run these newer games (like HoMMV and TitanQuest), I am starting to see a little bit of lag that a people running a newer 7900 nVidia-based card do not see. On other (older) games, the difference is minimal if even noticable. That is really the real trick: it's not so much that current games run WAYYYYYY better with newer hardware (of course they do), it's about how long (in months or years) before the then-current games start lagging the video card/solution you have. I mean who can really tell the difference between HoMMV running at 210fps versus 170fps? Anything above 120fps really seems silly to me--for the types of games I play, that is. (Though when I think about it, what difference does 210fps vs. 170fps make to the twitch gamers? It's not as if they can see people coming around the corner before they actually DO come around the corner).
     
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  4. markkleb Guest

    I thought as long as it was 30fps it was fine.

    But DX-10 is supposed to be a BIG diff over DX-9.

    Honestly though I dont know how many people will be able to switch over (cost wise). And DX-10 only comes with Vista (another expence).

    And now they are making noise about 939 being discontinued (another expence yet)

    I think we should round up all marketers and send them away...lol
     
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  5. winhack New Member

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    Well since I never run a MS OS until it has SP-1 available, it will be a while before I go to Vista (at least Q1 2008, if not later). And it now seems that the motherboards I have narrowed my choices down to are both CrossFire ready to begin with (the Intel D975BX and the Asus A8R32-MVP) so it looks like the question may be moot--whether I go CrossFire or not, the motherboard can support it which is a good thing. The feedback, however, is very valuable all the same, so thank you for the input.
     
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  6. Azn Tr14dZ New Member

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    Are you going AMD or Intel winhack?
     
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  7. winhack New Member

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    I am still working that part out. I am still researching performance differences between the two top-end contenders. While this isn't the proper forum for that discussion, I am still trying to determine if the AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 Dual Core (Socket 939) or the Intel Pentium 965EE (Socket 775) is the way I will wind up going. I've seen so many cross benchmarks it's making me cross-eyed. I know the AM2 procs will drive the 939 procs down (as it already has with the FX-60), and the Intel Conroe procs will drive down (to a lesser degree) the price of the Presler procs.

    I also realize that there is not a simple answer to "which one is better" beyond the typical religious arguments, so I'm trying to determine this independently based on the kinds of games and apps I run (which are almost NEVER benchmarked). It's not easy, but time and research will tell...hopefully.
     
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  8. Azn Tr14dZ New Member

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    So you're either going Socket 939 AMD or LGA 775 (975X) Intel?
     
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  9. winhack New Member

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    Yes, which is why I've selected those two boards. And (as stated earlier) since I won't be overclocking I just want something entirely stable, reliable, and dependable out of the box. I've had lots of good luck with Intel motherboards a long time ago (though the past few years they've been really sucky on features for the enthusiast) and ASUS and I go WAY back. I've also had some moderately good luck with MSI, but they don't seem to be holding up the pace the way they used to with their 865PE Neo2 (the board I'm using currently).
     
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  10. drade

    drade

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    As I have worked with intel for years, I find everything stable right there and now.... For god sakes I still have this system (478 prescott) and I can play BF2 and other apps.... very fast.. onyl issue is heat, but I do not OC the cpu, only the 6600gt
     
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  11. Azn Tr14dZ New Member

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    I would go with the one you listed, the ASUS A8R32-MVP. I was going to get that with an Athlon 64 3200+, but with my budget, it was a little bit more than I was expecting for an upgrade. I would go with that motherboard though over the Intel for sure...and there's really good overclocking, when you need it down the road. The Intel dual-core I don't like very much. I also have a Pentium D 820, and I thought it was good and better than AMD at first (never had AMD till now), then when I got my 3200+, at the stock 2.0GHz, it beat my Pentium D 820 @ 3.3GHz in all of the 3DMarks.

    What are you planning on using the rig for? Gaming I suppose with an FX-60?
     
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  12. atomicpineapple New Member

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    Or do the sensible thing and wait for Core 2 Duo to be released! If you need a PC i nthe meantime buy everything except the Core 2 Duo CPU and run a Pentiu mD 805 untill the C2D's are released.
     
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  13. winhack New Member

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    The problem with 3DMarks is that, like other synthetic benchmarks, I don't run that app in my daily life. Ever. I run PhotoShop, Illustrator, Visual Studio .NET 2003, World of WarCraft, WinZip, WinImage, HoMMV, Nero 7 Ultimate, and a bunch of others. I rarely if ever see these apps come up as part of a benchmark suite or even compared at all. Instead, I see Farcry, Doom, Quake, Lame MP3, (yeah, I do see WinZip once in a while on the list), and several others which have nothing to do with what I do on any kind of regular basis.

    So while I recognize the value of 3DMarks and SiSoft Sandra and other similar apps (it is always good to have something to perform an apples to apples comparison), they rarely reflect the real world I find myself working and gaming in on any kind of real basis.

    What that leaves me with is going to stores like BestBuy and CompUSA and Fry's and seeing demo systems that are set up that have one or two of these apps or ask the reps if they'll let me load an app for testing (if you get the right person, they usually will) and just try to make some empirical studies on what works best on what platform. That's about the best I can hope for. :)
     
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  14. drade

    drade

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    If your not into all that 3dmark stuff, OCING, Id so get an intel thats just me, I run so many apps Like you, And I game BF2,CSS,DODS,HL2,DDS...Getting WoW today or tomorow... And Im running a prescott.
     
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  15. atomicpineapple New Member

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  16. winhack New Member

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    Yes, I've read about the Conroe procs and the AM2 procs...at least as much as there is to read at this point. Another tenent I follow quite closely is that I don't buy 1.0 hardware. While Conroe is still a socket 775 proc and while it is using the same 65nm process the Presler is using, the reality is that it still is a NEW proc.

    Call me superstitious, call me a luddite, call me whatever you will, but as a rule I try desperately to avoid 1.0 hardware and operating systems (I won't be installing Vista until SP-1 comes out. Same went for XP, Win2K, and 98 for that matter. Didn't even bother with ME). This means no AM2 and no Conroe, good as all the data looks.

    In 2-4 years, I will have NO problem upgrading to the current version of either of those fine procs and cycling down my current system to my wife. Even in 3-4 years, the system I build today will be WELL beyond what she needs. Just like my current system, which she will inherit when I build this next one.
     
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  17. drade

    drade

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    Smart man
     
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  18. Azn Tr14dZ New Member

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    ^He is pretty smart.
     
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  19. winhack New Member

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    Yes it is. However this world is nothing other than a big-arse see saw. With only two people involved, one of them will always be on top of the other, and over time they are likely to switch positions multiple times. Such is the way of things, and I accept that. In 2-4 years, who knows who will be on top?

    I would also like to point out (as I have posted in this and the other thread) that the list of apps they use in that article to benchmark have nothing to do with me. I don't run ANY of them; not a single one. So while I am sure it is an unbiased and honest representation, it doesn't mean anything to me. As soon as someone develops a benchmark test suite that uses real apps and games as used by me (not scripts running apps through exercises I don't normally do themselves) then that benchmark will have a lot more impact on my decision. As it is, I respect them and I certainly consider them, but they dont make my decisions for me. All that being said, if I were running all those apps, then that would certainly make a much larger difference.
     
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  20. drade

    drade

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    Winahck you seem like a pretty big intel guy just from the looks of it (not a bad thing), I find intel as one of the best makers for a multi tasking PC, and gaming. I have an amd turion (and an xp 3000+) Id pick this rig Im on right now over them both, just because this one has never gave me an issue
     
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  21. Azn Tr14dZ New Member

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    winhack, I coulda never put that see-saw phrase in better words.
     
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  22. DRDNA

    DRDNA

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    winhack, You can go either way.So that means price will be your deciding factor.Me I am a AMD person all the way,but I know Intel's are great too!! Also let comfort of knowledge be part factor as well(price + knowledge of ship set = Happy end user ):toast:
     
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  23. winhack New Member

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    I will admit that this is the first time I am considering an AMD-based solution as all my prior systems (as well as my current one) have been Intel-based. I have never been "against" AMD, just that for my specific needs (I am part gamer, part software developer, part content creator), the Intel-based platforms always made more sense. With the current generation of what is available, I can see the value in both platforms and it will truly be a challenging thing to come to a final decision. Price, performance of my actual apps, availability, future expandability, and other factors will all play a role in my decision. I don't make these decisions lightly.

    While I make a lot of noise about all the research I do to come up with an answer, I'm just one guy building one system. The reason I started posting here is to get some answers to some questions that I've had on the new technologies; since I don't build systems for a living, I'm not always up on what's out there or how it works. This site has been very useful in getting me into good, solid, valuable discussions on aspects of technology, which I am very appreciative of. Too many sites are "AMD is better, Intel is better, ATI, nVidia, neener neener :p", which is entirely useless. I thank you all for adding to the discussion.
     
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  24. Azn Tr14dZ New Member

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    I had a really hard decision too between AMD and Intel. I had a choice between an Intel Pentium D 805 (that reaches 4.0GHz) or an AMD Athlon 64 3200+. I was stuck between that decision and I couldn't choose. Intel was good, I've always had them, AMD on the other hand, I've never had, but many people said it's better for gaming (which is what I do besides video editing). Since I already had an Intel rig (Pentium D 820), I decided to get the AMD (below), and I was really happy with it. But I think I would've been happy either way. Winhack, whatever you choose, Intel or AMD, I'm sure you'll be happy with it.
     
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  25. drade

    drade

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    Amd built systems are great, everything is great. If you have so much faith in intel, and oyuve used everything for intel, and you find it good. Why not stick with it?
     
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