This marks the final planned installment of our multiGPU exploration. We may (or may not) publish a follow up that looks into CPU scaling across all these parts. What we believe we'll find is that the single GPU solutions will not be anywhere near as significantly impacted as multiGPU solutions which more often hit CPU and other system limitations. We aren't guaranteeing that we'll be publishing the CPU scaling article because we still have some testing to run and this editor is soon to be the father of a second child. We will be working on completing our testing, and whether or not we are able to round this series out with a CPU scaling follow up, we will definitely be exploring CPU scaling further in future articles.

It is important that we remember, for now, that much of the diminishing return on what 3 and 4 GPU systems can deliver comes in the form of system limited performance. With single GPU systems, we expect that there is a wide range of CPUs we can select that will deliver nearly the same performance. Putting less money into the CPU than the GPU makes a lot of sense for gamers who don't need the CPU power for other tasks. But does the same hold for multiGPU systems? Maybe and maybe not. We do know that with the highest powered CPU we can buy we certainly have a good number of system limited situations.

One of the things that people who invest in the highest end multiGPU systems get is more longevity. Gamers with 3-way GTX 285 hardware will be able to go quite a while without upgrading. Of course, this has to be balanced with advancements in technology. Will 3x GTX 285 still be worth it after we have DX11 hardware and games and there are better graphics options for newer models? Additionally, gamers who want and employ this type of solution are highly likely to upgrade as often as possible to the highest end hardware possible, so the longevity issue might not be as relevant as it is with more affordable multiGPU solutions.

On the plus side, if gamers who must have the bleeding edge buy the highest end equipment they only need to make a significant investment the first time. Imagine a gamer bought 3x GTX 285 parts when they came out in January. Within a year we expect new models to come out that will be able to best the GTX 285 in performance, but the GTX 285 hardware will still be worth a significant amount. These used cards can be sold and the profits can be reinvested in new graphics hardware. This isn't as easy or useful with lower end graphics cards as you don't get the same return on your investment.

I'm not saying you'll make money or break even this way, but if you aggregate the cost over the long term, you'll be spending less on average per purchase than if you just make one high end purchase and then run it until it's worthless before you buy again. Whether or not you'll spend more or less on the whole would require further analysis though.

Now, we advocate value quite a bit on our site. People who want the absolute highest end can easily look at the graphs and simply know what they want. We don't really see much "value" in these high end parts beyond being as fast as possible. It's cheaper to buy efficient lower end hardware that gets hugely playable performance in all the games we tested. A good high end 2-way solution can go a long way while the diminishing returns of 3 and especially 4-way systems make the cost of the slightly higher performance is more than we can recommend in good conscience. But there's a market for it, so we'll take a look at it.

For the majority of our readers, though, this article will reinforce the fact that, while the highest possible end might be nice to dream about, it's really tough to justify the cost, especially when most people are on some sort of budget. So let's get a glimpse of that dream.

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  • JonnyDough - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    Could you please take the time to ask NV why the heck nTune crashes systems so easily? I can't even boot into Windows right now because I set up my profile to start my 8800GTS 640's fan on 100%. I can't hear it and I prefer my card to run cool, especially with NV's known heat issues. It might not be their fault though...FoxConn hasn't updated my bios in about 3 years, even though NewEgg sold me my motherboard about a year and a half ago. Reply
  • JonnyDough - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    I should point out that was coming from the standpoint of you mentioning NV driver issues. I've had more trouble running older games and stuff. They sacrifice stability and game compatibility for high frame rates in newer games. It's pathetic. I don't want to buy a card to play all the latest games. I buy it to play my slightly older games at what is now good frame rates with all the goodies. Most people DO NOT STAY ON THE BLEEDING EDGE NVIDIA. GET A CLUE! Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    Your first mistake was thinking you know better than the top gpu maker and their manufacturing partners, and had your hissy fit to crank your fan out on lame years old games - because you're a worry wart and think nvidia would send out overheating cards - even on your far less than cutting edge slow and cool games.
    Then we have the obious - the very high temp red cards, that COOK HUMAN SKIN when you touch the HS and run at 70C plus often - and you found it in your whine to claim NV has "known heat issues".
    LOL
    It is just amazing.
    Reply
  • Razorbladehaze - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Hey thanks for the extra input on the image quality and addressing this post. Furthermore I hear you in regards to adoption of the tech being most important part GPGPU computing. I just hope that both ATI and nVidia can come together on this one for the consumer.

    I enjoy reading your articles and think Anand puts out some quality stuff. I also appreciate you addressing some of the comments posted. Keep up the excellent work.
    Reply

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