Introduction

Today marks the launch of the first GPU maker sanctioned single card / multi-GPU solution for the consumer market in quite some time. Not since Quantum3D introduced the Obsidian X24 have we seen such a beast (which, interestingly enough, did actual Scan Line Interleaving on a single card). This time around NVIDIA's flavor of SLI and PCIe are being used to connect two boards together for a full featured multi-GPU solution that works like a single card as far as the end user is concerned. No special motherboard is required, the upcoming 90 series driver will support the card, and there is future potential for DIY quad SLI. There is still a ways to go until NVIDIA releases drivers that will support quad SLI without the help of a system vendor, but they are working on it.

For now, we will take a look at the card and its intended use: a card using a single PCIe connection designed to be the fastest NVIDIA graphics board available. While there are some drawbacks of SLI still associated with the 7950 GX2 (certain games scale less than others), the major issues are quite nicely resolved: there is no need for an SLI motherboard, and it's much easier to make sure everything is hooked up correctly (with only one power connector, no SLI bridge needed, and only one card to plug in). The drivers start up and automatically configure support for multi-GPU rendering, and (after our motherboard's BIOS was flashed) we had no problem with the system recognizing the new technology.

While the potential for quad SLI is a reality, the usefulness is still fairly limited - only users with ultrahigh resolution monitors will see the benefits of four GPUs. At lower resolutions, CPU overhead becomes a factor, and some limitations of DX9 come into play. We certainly want to test quad SLI on the 7950 GX2, but we will have to wait until we get the equipment together and track down a driver that will support it. In this article, we will compare the 7950 GX2 with other high end NVIDIA and ATI cards, and we'll also take a look at how well it scales compared to it's close relative: the 7900 GT / 7900 GT SLI. But before we get to the benchmarks, let's take a look at how NVIDIA puts it all together in a way that avoids the necessity of an SLI motherboard or an external power supply.

The Technology
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  • DerekWilson - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    Hello all,

    Just want to inform everyone that the article is now as it was intended to be. As has been mentioned before, we had some server trouble this morning which distracted me from getting everything posted up quite correctly.

    Here's a short list of things added since the article went live --

    1) Idle and Load power and power commentary
    2) Analysis on each benchmark page for each resolution
    3) a corrected typo wrt power draw between the 7950 GX2 and X1900XT

    Sorry for the oversight, but all should be in order now. Please let me know if anything is out of the ordinary.
    Reply
  • wilki24 - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    Any chance to include an Oblivion page in the review?

    I'm thinking of buying one of these beasts, but I'd really like to see that first.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Tuesday, June 06, 2006 - link

    Based on the rest of the results, looks like it should be just ahead of a couple 7900GT's in SLI... so... figure 5-10% better performance than a pair of 7900GT's. Reply
  • Regs - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    I play HL2 EP One at 1600x1200 4x/4x Max and it's perfectly playable with a over clocked 7800GT with a 2.4 GHz AMD. Though other games at that setting it's a slide show...so I really have no point. But hey, I posted! Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    We show 64.1 FPS at that setting, so yes, the game is imminently playable at 16x12 4x/8x with anything 7800GT/X1800 level or higher. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    "eminently playable" as well. ;) Reply
  • DerekWilson - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    lets have a hand for our editor folks :-) Reply
  • Fenixgoon - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    Where's the ATI x1900 XT crossfire? that would definitely make a more complete benchmark (people buying 7900GT SLI will probably also look at x1900 or x1800 crossfire) Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    Considering this is a $600 single PCIe slot (double-wide) solution, its fair to compare it to single GPUs. The 7900 GT SLI is thrown in for reference, and you can see how other multi-GPU solutions stack up in other articles. X1900 XT CF (and 7900 GTX SLI) will certainly be faster, but both will also cost at least 50% more. If nothing else, the PCIe switch is an interesting development. Reply
  • MacGuffin - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    That point is valid. This is available from XFX for $599 at NewEgg as we speak (in stock). X1900XT Crossfire is atleast $400+$450=$850+. But still, I'm sure it would make for a nice shootout (7900GTX SLI, X1900XT CF and this lone warrior).

    Quick question: does the 7950GX2 require games to have SLI-profiles for it to utilize both GPUs?
    Reply

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