The Test

Our test configuration was as follows:

AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 (2.6GHz)

MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI

2 x 512MB Corsair DDR400

NVIDIA Graphics Cards:

NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT x 2
NVIDIA GeForce 6800GT x 2

NVIDIA 66.75 Drivers

Windows XP with DirectX 9.0c

Because of our limited time and the fact that we were thousands of miles away from our labs we could only test the cards that MSI had on hand at the time, which were NVIDIA-only.

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Setting up SLI Doom 3 Performance


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  • darkrequiem - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    What I'd really like to see is how Doom3 performs with this SLI setup running in Ultra quality mode. They recommend a 512MB card for this mode, and here we have a total of 512MB between the two cards. It'd be interresting to see how many FPS can be achieved at this quality setting. Reply
  • MightyB - Wednesday, November 10, 2004 - link

    Hmm Im gonna wait out for the ATI solution and hope they will make it possible to use two diffferent types of cards. Would love to have the new x800 All in Wonder matched with another X-series card :-) This way I can get great performance along with the much better ATI picture quality and even TV.. :-)

    And before you flame me being a ATI fanboy.. I own a Nvidia card.. Im talking about 2D (windows desktop) and Movies when i refer to picture quality. I see now real difference in games!

    Best regards
  • MiLaMber - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Perhaps slightly annoying this article to those ppl who have a Geforce 6800GT, like myself, just like the fact that the NF 4 is a no go.
    Looks like a possible upgrade to PCI Express will be on teh cards in..18 months, but I see this as a good thing, better motherboards, a maturer PCI Express solution.

    Guess could always sell the 6800gt agp when the pcie version comes out though huh lol, and then start considerin SLI again and indeed NF4.
  • Reflex - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Thats his point, because each card does 50% no matter how much work a section of the screen has, it won't necessarily utilize both cards fully. If your wandering through UT2k4 and there are no vehicles in the sky, but there is a massive ground battle going on, you will see hardly any benefit from the Alienware setup, but you'd see a huge benefit from the nVidia SLI solution since it will give the card rendering the top half of the screen more to do rather than sitting idle.

    Believe what you want, but I have a bad feeling that the Alienware tech will never actually appear on the market. It was announced months ago, and now if it arrived it would more or less be an Ati only solution, since if you had nVidia cards you can do SLI natively without Alienware's technology(and nVidia's solution should be faster most of the time). It was a good attempt by them, but at this point its not worth pursuing.
  • GhandiInstinct - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Swaid: Your ratios are a bit off, did you see the E3 demonstration? Maybe you should have another look at it. The ratio is always 50/50 even if the lower or upper half has a bit more work to be done, the thing is its only half the screen, resolution. Making the cards work a lot less than if they were single. Never the less, it's always seamless no matter how high your graphics settings.

    Ever heard of frame locking? Frame locking synchronizes display refresh and buffer swaps across multiple cards, preventing visual artifacts and ensuring image continuity in multi-monitor (or multiple video card) applications like simulations.
  • Reflex - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Hell, I'm an anti-nVidia guy and I still recognize this as a nice deal for those of us who'd love a cheap way to upgrade in the future when a secondary card will be cheap.

    I still won't be buying it however, the 2D performance of nVidia solutions is still crap at high res, and I spend a lot more time in front of a web browser than I do in front of games. But since Civ3 is the most recent game I have purchased, I don't imagine its really much of an issue for me. A Parhelia would meet my gaming needs just fine. ;)
  • Swaid - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    His logic is correct, while your's on the other hand needs to be double checked. In your case (X2/Video Array), we can take the an example of a situation where the upper half of the screen has a more complex scene (or more activity) going on, thus making Card 1 (video card rendering the upper half) work at 100% while Card 2 (video card rendering the bottom half) only needs to work at 80% to keep up with Card 1. Thats not an efficient solution. This is where SLI's technology can really shine. If you take that same scene thats being played through and use SLI, Card 1 will now render the upper 40% while Card 2 will render the bottom 60% and this would keep the 2 GPU's at 100% load. Now that is an efficient solution. That senario can pretty much go for all FPS games. Dynamic load balancing appears to be a better 'logical' solution. But I am willing to bet that you are an ATI fan or maybe it has to do with some sort of loyalty towards Alienware, so SLI is feeling you left behind, thus your unwillingness for reason. There are many articles that try and explain the whole situation with SLI.
  • Zebo - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Oh and thanks Anand for this exclusive. I'm with the camp which says "single card" and "frequent upgrades" only because of noise, heat, power and very low resale when I'm finally done with the two cards. Reply
  • Zebo - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    More options are always a good thing. How can anyone be down on this tech is beyond me. Reply
  • GhandiInstinct - Saturday, October 30, 2004 - link

    SLI requires special circuitry to be incorporated into GPUs and, for extra speed gain, into core-logic. Alienware’s Video Array technology does not require any special logic to be incorporated into graphics or system chips.

    This makes it less of a driver prone problem than SLI.


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