We receive many requests for various test results in our articles along with questions as to why this was included but this was not. We love answering questions; it is the primary focus of our job. More often than not, we answer the right ones, sometimes out of sheer luck, but usually we try to cover all the bases within the time allotted. However, at times we are asked a question that causes us to stop and pause for a moment and wonder why that particular subject was not covered or even mentioned.

One such question arrived in droves after our Phenom II X4 launch articles a couple of weeks ago. We had to dig through many of the “You guys always favor Intel and NVIDIA...” comments (for the record we favor performance, quality, and value regardless of supplier) but after some sifting, we found a pattern in the messages. Many people wanted more information concerning gaming performance between a Phenom II X4 and similar Core 2 Quad system with specific setups. We covered these two platforms and more in our Phenom II launch article. A treasure trove of further information is available in our new Bench database, especially for those who do more than gaming on a computer.



However, the one item mentioned numerous times was the lack of CrossFireX or SLI results compared to a similar Intel based system. True enough, we have not shown any multi-GPU results on an AMD platform in a long time, especially if you discount the Hybrid results on the uATX chipsets. One reason has been the lack of compelling CPU performance on the AMD side to drive a dual or triple card setup. The Phenom tried to take on those duties but with low clock speeds, it failed for the most part. We think the Phenom II will correct those problems or go a long way in addressing them. The staff consensus is that the best option for gamers is to purchase the single highest performing graphics card you can afford for your performance requirements and skip the multi-GPU solutions. This is especially true if you update your system frequently to keep up with the latest games.

Running multi-GPU systems for gaming has other potential negatives ranging from additional cooling and power supply requirements to additional GPU costs, and of course game engine support or more importantly, driver support. Multi-GPU systems typically require faster processors and system memory to reduce bottlenecks in the rendering/data pipelines. In addition, running a high-end CrossFire or SLI solution at resolutions below 1920x1200 is pretty much a waste of resources in most cases, so monitor cost also comes into play.

That short summary sounds like a typical economic report right now; it’s all bad and gloomy. Do not get us wrong, there is a market for CrossFire/SLI based gaming systems. Just go to the NVIDIA or AMD websites if you do not believe us. All kidding aside, for those who have the money, benchmark competitively, or want the absolute best gaming experience with all the game details enabled at ultra-high resolutions, then a multi-GPU solution is probably the correct way to go with the right processor choice. One exception is Crysis; we are still waiting for a GPU solution to run that game properly at very high settings with all the eye candy turned on. Who knows, we might even have a solution for that problem in 2010.

In the meantime we will try to answer a few questions today about CrossFire performance with the Phenom II X4 940. Of course, we might raise more questions than we answer. If we do, well, those will have to be answered at some point. Let us discuss the system setup and get to the numbers.

Test Setup
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  • megabuster - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    If it's not too troublesome next time please include a few pictures of your hardware set up. :) Reply
  • none12345 - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    There are errors in the benchmark charts on page 9....and maybe other pages..

    In the first chart you have the overclocked 9550 CF at the top of the chart, yet if you look at the min and max frame rates it is NOT the top performer, the core i7 beats it with 5 more min frames and 12 more max frames. The overclocked phenom ii cf shoudl also beat it with 11 higher min frames tho 13 less max frames.

    In the second chart, the clear winer by the min/max frames is the overclocked phenom ii CF, it had a 9 higher min fps and 6 higher max fps yet its rated lower then the core i7. It had 21 more min fps yet only 2 less max fps then the 9550 but was ranked way lower.

    Your score or min/max numbers are fubar...something is really wrong with those charts.

    Maybe some of the other charts are messed up too, but this page stood out like a sore thumb.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    The charts are sorted by Average Frame Rates, unfortunately our engine does not allow multiple sorts on values. Let me see if I can do something different in the SLI article with an Excel chart, or I might just separate all the values into individual charts.. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    Gary, Let me just throw my opinion in to keep it sorted by average frame rates.

    That is probably the most important data point (next to possibly minimum) and so is a good way of ranking. I will thank you again and ask that all future reviews use your format of showing all 3 data points as it is very important in determining the better card for a specific game at a specific resolution/detail setting.
    Reply
  • balancedthinking - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    The Phenom II massively gains gaming performance with an overclocked Nortbridge because it directly boosts the cache performance.

    Reviews like the one from the german site p3d showed an increase in gaming performance worth 300-500mhz core frequency for an overclock of only 400 mhz NB frequenzy!

    The NB runs stock @ only 1800 mhz. Good overclocks are in the range of 2600 - 2800mhz. Imagine the performance that is missing in the OC results from anand!

    That is why the Q9550 can pull ahead when overclocked, because due to architecture, the cache gets overclocked too wenn you raise the reference clock.

    The Phenom II 940 offers great potential when tweaking the NB clock but you have to do it manually in contrast to Q9550!

    So please Anand, redo the Phenom II 940 OC tests with the Northbridge frequency maxed out. Only that would be a fair comparison.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    The NB frequency is at 2486MHz in these tests. I have it listed on page two now. I could not go higher and maintain this clock speed in Vista 64. Raising the NB speed to 2712 meant lowering CPU speed to 3842MHz. I test both values and our 3955/2486 combo performed the best. Reply
  • Kiijibari - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    Perfect :)
    Thx a lot.
    Reply
  • Kiijibari - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    I agree, an info concerning the NB clock of the Phenom2 is missing.

    @anandtech: Please add it.

    cheers

    Kiiji
    Reply
  • Kiijibari - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    From the article:
    "(17.5x226, DDR2-1205, 5-5-5-18)"

    That means, that the NB was clocked with 2034 MHz, if nobody changed the default multiplier 9
    Reply
  • CPUGuy - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    balancedthinking,
    Thanks for providing this tidbit of information regarding how cache is overclocked on the Intel vs AMD CPUS. If this review is based on what you said then it should be amended for re-testing.
    Reply

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