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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  • jrch2k8 - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    first of all, nice article. i mention it cuz im upgrading my pc this month and this article make my choice clear XD

    i will go for a AMD plataform, my god nice move from these guyz, i think p2 is the best price/performance cpu around (maybe ill wait for p2 925 for ddr3).cuz i7 is a really expensive upgrade.

    i went to new egg and add to my cart 1 cpu, ram, and 2 radeon hd 4850 using mid range components nothing top notch

    intel i920 6gb ddr3 tc roughly 1108$ :(
    intel 1940 "" "" roughly 1350$ :( :(
    amd p2 920 4 gb ddr2 dc nice 673$
    amd p2 940 "" " " nice nice 713$
    amd p2 940 "" "" 4870 CF 800$ XD

    that is a hugeeeee money diff for a 30% perf diff at most and with that extra bucks put a nice air cooling and OC so ... and you dont need to worry too much in near future like with intel and their insane socket change every 2 weeks (i know 775 have been for a while but even if is the same physical socket every mobo/chpset need a specific cpu number so is like changing the socket anyway)

    and with linux and not winbloat vista perf is going to be hell better and winxp in my other hd ofc for some game that doesnt work with wine XD
    Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    Most mobos support Core 2 Duo, Quad, and Pentium dual core processors (i.e., all core-based processors). So I don't think it is a valid argument. Reply
  • raystormer - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    first of all to me the fx chipset is old compared to the new 790gx /w 750southbridge chipset plus it supports crossfire which u mention the 790fx is suppose to be better,don;t know how u came to that conclusion furthermore something about those scores do'nt seem right...cause i have seen beachmarks with the phenon 2 smoking the i7 920 @3.6...so u trying to tell me that @3.9 it performs slower bull$%#@ Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    the i7 was also overclocked. read the article. Reply
  • BLaber - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    What was the Phenom II's North Bridge Uncore part) speed set to when oc to 3.9Ghz in above article. Reply
  • TDMFHK - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=802&...">http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=802&... how the PII is on top in their test (i know other video card etc etc... but how ??????????).Something is fishy with this FarCry2. Reply
  • Goty - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    You really can't compare the two sets of results since the system specs aren't the same. Reply
  • m4dd0g - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    Any chance of seeing how the phenom acts with 6gb RAM like the top intel box? Not sure why you had different memory configs there, I understand its DDR3 v DDR2 but why more of it? Reply
  • Goty - Monday, February 02, 2009 - link

    The i7 supports triple-channel DDR3 while the other processors support dual-channel DDR2, so the normal memory configurations are 3GB or 6GB for the i7 and 2GB or 4GB for the C2Q and PHII.

    Getting 6GB on the PHII system would be a little dumb because you'd have to go with 3x2GB DIMMs (just like the i7 box) and then you wouldn't be able to operate in dual-channel mode.

    I highly doubt the performance difference between 6GB and 4GB of RAM is noticeable anyway.
    Reply
  • niva - Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - link

    I've been wondering the same...

    Even more bothersome is that they chose 4gb for the DDR2 system which makes no sense, for an equivalently priced system you can afford 8Gb of RAM on the AMD system easily and gain a significant boost out of the extra RAM. So if any one of these systems should have a disadvantage in RAM it should be the intel system but whatever.

    I'm running an original phenom with 8 gigs, the chip with the errata which I've never seen manifest. I'll buy one of these phenom 2 chips after I get back from my trip to Russia in March though and actually do a slight OC on it as it seems to take it so well.

    Cheers!
    Reply

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