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


View All Comments

  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, February 3, 2009 - link

    You might want to read the article a bit more carefully. From the test setup page: "Our decision to go with a 790FX/SB750 combination on the AMD side is strictly based upon performance. The 790FX is about 3%~5% faster on average than comparable 790GX products. AMD continues to recommend the 790GX/SB750 as the platform of choice for the AM2+ and upcoming AM3 products. We disagree from a performance viewpoint; the 790FX/SB750 combination is simply the best choice in our opinion. Of course you will typically pay about $35~$40 or greater for the 790FX boards, but if you intend on running CrossFireX, we think it is worth the additional cost."

    You *can* find less expensive motherboards, but what will the *overall* experience with those board be? I for one would take a better motherboard with a less expensive processor every time over a faster default CPU clock and a cheaper motherboard. The motherboard is just too critical a component to ever warrant skimping in my book. YMMV, naturally.
  • side09 - Monday, February 2, 2009 - link

    Should the fusion program that runs faster maybe be put into the calculations for AMD? Reply
  • CPUGuy - Monday, February 2, 2009 - link

    Wow, I nearly forgot about that. I didn't see that mentioned as well. Fusion 1.0 is out and should be used in any and all AMD based benchmark reviews IMO.

  • kuyaglen - Sunday, February 1, 2009 - link

    2XAA ? Reply
  • Finally - Monday, February 2, 2009 - link

    Seriously, who cares for Crossfire (or SLI)?
    Please. Stop making those useless enthusiast's enthusiast reviews and come back to the ground, AnandTech.

    Please, go ahead, check the Steam survey hardware list.
    Then tell me: How many people out of 100 do have SLI/Crossfire.
    Then laugh.
    Then stop testing this shit like it was important.

    And here my suggestions for constructive improvement:
    Test the new generation of HDDs with 500GB platters (e.g. Seagate 7200.12 series)
    THAT would be interesting, because EVERYONE needs a good HDD, but no one needs Crossfire.
  • Finally - Monday, February 2, 2009 - link

    lies buried in the single-GPU results included in these benchmarks.
    No difference. No difference at all! (and I count 1-2 fps as no difference).

    But those aren't usually shown, because CPUs get tested under highly artificial conditions... to show their advantage... IN THEORY.

    In real life gaming performance it makes no difference, if you just intend to play with your quad-core... this is the real interesting result that could justify this article, nothing else.
  • Finally - Monday, February 2, 2009 - link

    ...that CF/SLI sucks. Anytime. Big time.

    It never made sense, it will never make sense.
    The time, you come back and drop in another card of the same class, there is a new generation available that easily tops your grandmother-CF/SLI and furthermore adds even DirectX 11 support and a plethora of other features into the deal...

    2 GPUs+ is a failed strategy - unless you are some scientist... working on a super computer... actually trying to achieve something... other than that it's highly efficient money-burning 2.0
  • darkvader75 - Monday, February 2, 2009 - link

    It seems you are abit confused. The "Steam" hardware survey runs when Steam launches. SLI and Crossfire are not active on the desktop so Steam says "no crossfire or SLI detected." More people have SLI or Crossfire by a longshot then what you are seeing by a detection program that is failing miserably. Go pull Futuremarks independant ID results list if you would like to see SLI and Crossfire #'s. Also tons of people playing counterstrike source years later don't exactly count as the bulk of the comunity. This is a high tech cutting edge website for new data and information about computer electronics. If you want babyville information about basic garbage then you need to visit Znet. Reply
  • SirKronan - Monday, February 2, 2009 - link

    "Seriosly, who cares for Crossfire (or SLI)?

    Holy smokes, man. Get out of here. You can get a P45 board for $100, overclock the crap out of a Core 2 duo/quad, a couple of 4850's for $300 and you've got a SERIOUS amount of gaming power. I was an early adopter of the Asus P5Q Pro with a 4850 to go with it. I've since switched, but while I had it, a second 4850 would've been a fantastic upgrade path. You can take two 4850's and an economical P45 motherboard and give the more expensive GTX 280/285 a run for the money, even winning in many games. 2x4850 is the "common man's" multi-GPU setup, and many many have been very successful with such a platform, without paying through the nose. When the 8800GT came out, and nVidia substantially improved SLI, the consumer was in a similar situation.

    And look at all the moderately-priced, AMD boards that will take AMD's new cost effective X2's and X3's?? I think this review applies to A LOT OF customers. How many people out there have a P45 board? How many people out there have a crossfire capable AMD board?? And out of those, how many have a 4850?

    Well, now you know what you'll get for an upgrade path. Now you have a realistic preview of performance gains if you add a second 4850 some day. In some games, the benefits are great, and it will be worth your while. Now you know how the new Phenoms compare if you have a compatible AMD motherboard, or were considering one.

    Thanks, Anand for giving such consumers the heads up. Very useful article.
  • Gazz - Wednesday, February 4, 2009 - link

    I agree that was a great review
    I am running a 3.2ghz x2 duel core on a MSI K9A2 platinum with 4gb of ocz 1055 and I have just installed my second His 4850 1gb of mem
    graphics card
    eventualy I hope to up my ram to 8 gb install vista or the win 7
    and go to a 4 core cpu and a new pcu
    my motherboard can hold 4 graphics cards
    I still have not seen any tests with all AMD/ATI products on a vista win with that OC tool and with 4x 4850 1 gbmem
    oh well all fun and games great article thankyou


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