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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  • balancedthinking - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    If these Settings were used for the Phenom II 940, at least it is not as bad as I first thought:

    http://www.anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=55...">http://www.anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=55...

    That would mean an NB frequency around 2450. That is quite okay though it can be tweaked a bit further.

    Still, it would be nice to know which settings were actually used for the Phenom II.
    Reply
  • hooflung - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    That is a very, very well done article. Keep it up guys. Can't wait til' income tax and I am going to get a e8500 and a pII 940 to upgrade my P35 and 790GX, respectively. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    Thank you for finally including this information in the charts!

    This has been a HUGE peev of mine for a while now and it really helps to see which card (or in this case system) is actually better than the other at a particular game where the average frame rate may not tell the whole story.

    Please make sure the rest of the Anandtech crew starts using this format for future testing.
    Reply
  • CPUGuy - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    Although I understand the intent of using the highest OC possible I do believe the results can lead to another conclusion. A few of us discussing the CPU OC, CF results. It appears (so far) that the reason why the Q9550 came out ahead in CF results was a direct result of it's overclock. Some believe that if the PII 940 was OC'd that high (yes we read the other article about this) or the Q9550 was OC'd down, results would be different.

    The reason for this point of view is that most are not able to get Q9550 at 4.25GHz on air.

    Reply
  • jusme - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    I found this article very informative. It now puts into perspective where the PII 940 stands in the gaming arena. Thanks Anandtech for taking the time to do it. I myself have 3 computers, 2 capable of of either the quad 9550(P45) or PII 940 Deneb(780g). It is very good to know that which ever solution I choose, xfire on P45 or single on 780g, I know the performance capabilities of both, and I like both. Hell, you got that Q9550 up to 4.05 oc for these tests? Wow! I knew they were capable, but to run these games that well under the load is alone impressive. You sure it was'nt the Q9650? I alone was going to shoot for a modest 3.8 for gaming, stability and temp management. In closing, it is also good to know that those who jumped on the I7 bandwagon real fast are sitting pretty, I know it was'nt cheap, but alot of those builders skimped on graphics. Reply
  • zenguy - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    In your review, it you stated that your testing did not reveal any difference between the P45 and P48 for CrossFire Limits so a P45 board was chosen.

    However, based on a few other reviews I have read, the 4850 can be noticably limited by the P45 board and ergo I presume the limits on a 4870 1GB card would be much much higher.

    An example of one such review is below...........
    http://www.tweaktown.com/articles/1472/10/intel_p4...">http://www.tweaktown.com/articles/1472/...s_x48_cr...

    Could this explain the "Unusual Drop" in performance or unexpected low framerates for the Intel Platform that you noted?
    Reply
  • AtenRa - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    I am 100% sure that the results of the Core 2 Quad 9550 wild be much higher with an Intel X48 chipset than with the P45 in Cross Fire.
    Never the les, the article DOES show that Phenom II 940 is competitive in real life gaming at High resolutions.
    Reply
  • zenguy - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    Yes the PII is a valid solution.
    AMD Finally re-entered the game in my Mind with the release.
    Reply
  • SLI - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    Hammonds famous line in Jurrasic Park.

    Indeed, for 95% of folks, these ultra high benchmarks are useless. But for those of us in the 5%, thesy serve as a reminder on the ridiculous amounts of money we spend to squeeze just tha extra few FPS out. But then again the other 95% just dont get it...why?

    Here is a paragraph I have kept near and dear for some years and it explains it eloquently.

    "To upgrade or not to upgrade, that is the question that crosses many enthusiasts' lips on a daily basis. The upgrade bug is a high infectious, wallet-stripping disease that spreads fast once it gets a hold of you. Hardware manufacturers propagate this infection by offering you, the consumer, faster, more desirable hardware each month. Almost every facet of the hardware world begs you to get the next model up, or to break open the piggy bank and buy an 'upgraded version' of what you already have. Speak to a number of enthusiasts and they'll tell you that upgrading is more addictive than gambling (Biz387, 2003)."

    So, you see, it's not our fault. Were simply sick. I type this as I play crysis at DX10 Very High spec everything at maximum @ 1900x1200@ 40fps average. Pulling about 830watts at the outlet, lol.
    Reply
  • CPUGuy - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    If I were to use your number, the inclusion of more mainstream benchmark results pulls in nearly 95% more hits to this website then it would be beneficial for both anandtech and it's viewer base. Puts things into prospective doesn't it? LOL Reply

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