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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  • Exsomnis - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    Since when did slapping two PCBs together = single card? *Confused.* Reply
  • z3R0C00L - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    Marketing Gimmick...

    It's two GPU's. It's SLI. The Fastest Single VPU/GPU solution is the x1900XTX (not tested here).

    The most advanced GPU/VPU is the x1900XTX as well.

    I wonder if these crds will also suffer from the 50% failure rate other 7900 series cards suffer from.
    Reply
  • Jojo7 - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    Haha. 50% failure rate. That's comedy.
    Where'd you pull that number from?
    Hardocp said BFG reported 3-5%, Evga reported .04-1.9%, XFX said in the last 2 weeks they reported a .5% (half of one percent) increase in RMA's.
    Yea. That seems like 50% to me.
    Reply
  • Xenoid - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    50% failure rate might be bullshit but the fact that you completely ignored the other half of his message is also bullshit fanboy-ism.

    The X1900 XTX isn't on here. The X1900 XT Crossfire isn't on here either, but the 7900 GT SLI is. This review is missing 2 of the top video cards, and for what reason? It makes this review incomplete and this should be addressed.
    Reply
  • Jojo7 - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    quote:

    50% failure rate might be bullshit but the fact that you completely ignored the other half of his message is also bullshit fanboy-ism.


    Actually, I agree with both of your points. The x1900 XTX should have been included in this review in both crossfire and single card. To the same end, the 7900 GTX in sli should have been included imo.

    Noise comparisons and power draws would have been nice as well.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    this does touch on our motivation --

    the 7950 GX2 is a single board solution (for those uncomortable with the inclusion of 2 PCBs, think of one as a daughterboard or something). We wanted to really focus on the comparison to other single board solutions.

    Right now x1900 crossfire and 7900 gtx sli are over $1000 investments, and don't really compete with the 7950 GX2 -- unless we look at the 7950 GX2 in SLI. As we couldn't get quad SLI on the 7950 GX2 working for this article, we decided we save the comparison to that copetition later. It does seem pretty clear fromt these tests that the 7950 GX2 in SLI will be able to trump any other solution in its market segment.

    Also, the 7950 GX2 doesn't require an SLI board -- which is a great advantage of current multi-GPU solutions. In many cases, putting two other solutions in SLI won't be an option for users who upgrade to a 7950 GX2.

    But

    Please understand that I certainly appreciate the requests for the inclusion of the 1900xt crossfire and the 7900 gtx crossfire as a reference point to what is currently possible on the highest end of the spectrum. In future articles involving the 7950 GX2 we will address this issue. Thanks very much for your feedback.
    Reply
  • poohbear - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    50% failure rate? dude, do u know how this percentage thing works?! that would mean 1 in 2 79XX cards fail. please, bs is a great thing and we have plenty of it on the net, but try to atleast make your bs somewhat believable. Reply
  • nullpointerus - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    quote:

    50% failure rate might be bullshit but the fact that you completely ignored the other half of his message is also bullshit fanboy-ism.


    No, it isn't. They only wanted to reply to a particular point within his post.
    Reply
  • Inkjammer - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    50% failure rate? Where are you getting those numbers from? Reply
  • z3R0C00L - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    I got the number from polling various website forums.. including HardOCP.

    eVGA, XFX and BFG claim low to non-existant issues. My polls show an avg of 48% failure rate. It's on HardOCP... go and check out the forums.
    Reply

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