MultiGPU Update: Does 3-way Make Sense?by Derek Wilson on February 25, 2009 2:45 PM EST
- Posted in
So ... wow. And this isn't even all the data. We've still got a four GPU update to bring out as soon as we finish aggregating and analyzing everything.
First things first though: let's sort through our 3-way tests and try to make some sense of all this.
The first thing to take away is that 3-way graphics systems are absolutely not something anyone without a 30" display needs or should even want. There are so many instances where 3-way fails to improve on 2-way, and because of the high price barrier to entry and the diminishing returns on adding more hardware, 3-way is just not for everyone and has questionable value for those who choose to go that route as well.
Honestly, NVIDIA and AMD trade blows, but the one clear thing to note is that 3-way GTX 280 and 285 are just way overpriced. You don't get what you pay for and you can still get huge performance from the GTX 260 which offers consistently better value. On the AMD front, 3-way 4870 1GB pairing a 4870 X2 and single 4870 1GB is the way to go if you want 3-way. The 4850 can scale in some games that don't crush it with too much data and it offers better value in some situations.
But even more than single or two card solutions, 3-way is a case by case basis. You've really got to look at the games you like and pick the solution that performs best there. This is in large part because it's just such an investment and these options are just not "worth" the cost unless you are really picking your graphics hardware for a purpose. There isn't an easy way to make a general recommendation.
Other than to stay away from 3-way GTX 280 and 285, we've got to split our recommendation between 3-way GTX 260 and 3-way 4870 1GB. If you've got to have a 3-way solution that is. And much of our data reinforces our recommendations from our look at 2-way multiGPU solutions which tend to offer a better balance of performance and value if more power than a single GPU can offer is required.
But really, 3-way, and especially with 3 cards, is just not for everyone and not something we put a lot of stake into as a good option. Saving the money to upgrade to a new architecture is going to get you a lot more for the money than trying to squeeze longevity out of hardware by stacking more than 2 of the same thing in one system.