AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

From the pixels, bits, and shaders to the graphic cards that power them. Discuss the latest from AMD and NVIDIA here.

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AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:18 pm

Hey guys, I am getting ready to build my brother a PC and I wanted to try Crossfire or SLI out on his PC. I have read some articles referring to the frame pacing issue that AMD has with its multi-gpu configurations. I wanted to know what the community thought about the two technologies and what luck you've had with using them. Would it be better to setup an SLI configuration and does SLI have any issues with multi-gpu configurations?
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:25 pm

1 faster GPU >> 2 slower GPUs.

But if you're dead set on a dual GPU config, I would have to recommend SLI over Crossfire. Nvidia seems to have gotten grasp of frame pacing a while ago, generally making SLI perform better than Crossfire, but Crossfire has the added problem of not playing well with multiple outputs.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:39 pm

If you HAVE to go with dual GPUs, SLI. No question.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:36 pm

One advantage of using 2 cheaper cards instead of one expensive one is if one card dies you can use 2nd until the RMA comes back from repair. Also you will get twice the output ports for extra monitors. Also note, that heat can be dissipated across the 2 cards a little easier.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:03 pm

zenlessyank wrote:One advantage of using 2 cheaper cards instead of one expensive one is if one card dies you can use 2nd until the RMA comes back from repair. Also you will get twice the output ports for extra monitors. Also note, that heat can be dissipated across the 2 cards a little easier.

1. You will never get twice the performance with two cards, which means that your redundancy cost you quite a bit of money.
2. Most people cap out at two monitors if they use multiple monitors at all, but many single cards, especially the higher tier ones, can drive more than two monitors.
3. On cooling...what? Even if you have sufficient separation between PCIe ports, you've still put an extra heat source inside your case. Any cooling gains from distributing the load are going to be lost by raising the overall ambient temp, or you're going to have to do a lot more work setting up case airflow.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:57 pm

Although if you would like to use a multimonitor setup for gaming, like 3 monitors, I would think that Eyefinity still trumps Nvidia as long as you stay on a single card.

There really is no reason to go with either CrossFire or SLI unless you are adding a second card to an already built system. Building a new system, go for a single best card you can afford with your budget, then put in another at a later date once the cards are selling out to make room for the next generation or if they run out of juice when the games catch up.

But my take is that trying out crossfire/sli only for the sake of trying it is not worth it. If you want more performance then what the best single gpu card can give you, then two slightly lower tier cards might do it, but considering the hassle, the extra power draw, and the dimishing returns of crossfire/sli, that's an edge case at best.

It also depends on what performance you are planning on getting. Sizing a good graphics card or cards is dependent on the resolution you will be playing on.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:14 pm

Isn't it true that the new Crossfire drivers don't affect games that run on DX9? Only the later games?
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:39 pm

I recently bought two OC'ed 4GB GTX 770 and run them in SLI. I'm a happy camper. Before that I had a GTX 570 SLI setup. SLI has been solid for me.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:43 pm

Aphasia wrote:but considering the hassle

Hassle? SLI is easy to setup, the drivers are solid and the overall experience is excellent.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Sat Sep 28, 2013 4:05 pm

I haven't tried SLI, but SLI seems to be decent enough require no specific game profiles. But it wasn't any software I was leaning to when I said hassle.

The hassle I was talking about was more in the case of noise, power and space type.
Several cards usually have a higher power consumption, and takes enough space so you have to think about which case you want, having a PSU with enough leads, etc. But I'm using cards which require 2x8pin powers so you would need 4 of those, which means a pretty high end PSU. It's much easier having a single high end card using 2x8 pin connectors.

I've been thinking of using crossfire once ATI get the new frame pacing out in a better state, but considering I use Asus CU II Top 7970 card to get the noise levels down, that would be a 6 slot solution and I might not be able to continue using my sound card. With stock dustbuster coverings of either NVidia or ati card that's a 4 slot solution which is less of a problem. Although noise levels are something to think about since not all stock solutions are quiet enough for my taste.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Sat Sep 28, 2013 4:06 pm

Waco wrote:If you HAVE to go with dual GPUs, SLI. No question.


This. Crossfire has been broken forever, AMD still has not issued a permanent (non beta) fix, multi-monitor and 4K is still horribly broken. I would be pissed if I bought 2 7970's or 7950's instead of 670s after FrameGate came to light. At least it seems to be resolved for single-screen gaming, but still. Their track record has not been good this gen IMO.

I ran 2 GTX 670's in SLI on an i7 3820 @ 4.4 GHz and it was phenominal in demanding games like Metro 2033 / Last Night, BF3, etc. However, I found myself having enough performance with just 1 670 in pretty much every game except the ones I just mentioned. Bumped BF3 down to 2xMSAA instead of 4 and it's good enough for now.

I threw a second computer together out of spare parts, i5 750 @ 4ghz and 16gb of ram. Hooked it up to my TV and now have 2 powerful gaming PCs, one in the living room and one on my desk.

I think I will probably replace one of them with Maxwell when it finally comes around. Or maybe the R9 290X once the price comes down, if the frametimes and drivers are better than the 7970 was to this gen.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:52 pm

Aphasia wrote:The hassle I was talking about was more in the case of noise, power and space type.

Modern video cards are silent at idle. 2 cards are no louder than 1 at load. There are tons of SLI rated PSUs out there and there are tons of small cases out there that will accommodated a SLI setup.

If you're building a system from scratch, and do your homework, a SLI build will be a piece of cake.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:22 pm

The point is still, why go SLI instead of a single faster card, unless you actually need performance that surpasses the single fastest single gpu card you can get within budget. There isn't any problem doing a 2 way SLI build, just get quality components. But you still need more expensive components beyond just the card itself. And you will have a higher about power draw.

Silent is a subjective opinion though. And these days, I want something with a much lower noise floor then I used earlier. I also never use headphones when gaming so that is also a factor for me.

I found the reference design of 6970 under load to have significantly noise when gaming with it. So bad as to drown out footsteps, etc, actually hindering my enjoyment when gaming. And yes, the annoying part is either you needed a steady and slightly to high fan rpm that was too noisy, or you needed to listen to the fan go up and down as the profile on the 6970 wasn't geared for a steady rpm but immediate temperature control. So what you actually got when under high load was this cyclic dustbuster that revved every 10 seconds or so. Or you could set it manually to a more steady, but slightly too noisy level.

The 7970 with the Asus CU II Top design is MUCH better in this regards having to slower spinning and much larger fans. They also have a lower frequency in their fan noise, which also makes them less disturbing. I also only use low rpm 8cm and 12cm "silent" fans in my case. All in all, my system right now is idling at some 40dBA and not being significantly louder during load. That is 35C on CPU and 45 on GPU. Anything above 45-46dBA would be quite disturbing to me in some situations during gameplay. And yes, I have SPL measuring equipment that I used to get the 40dBA on my system.

I have no idea what kind of profile the Nvidia cards have these days, but considering the type of fans, they could probably be improved. Although from hearsay, they are supposed to be better then the opposite AMD cards. That said, the article you linked doesn't really say much since they don't specify which case they used for the testing. And different cases are vastly different in how well they handle the noise from the internal components. Sadly, the P193 I'm using aren't the best one in isolating noise by a long shot, it is however, pretty silent and provide a very well ventilated case despite of that. But it do requires you to take a bit of care when selecting things like graphics cards and CPU cooler.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:14 pm

Aphasia wrote:The point is still, why go SLI instead of a single faster card, unless you actually need performance that surpasses the single fastest single gpu card you can get

I went with SLI as I am driving a 2560x1440 display. My dualGTX 770s give me substantially more performance than a Titan (30%) for roughly the same price. I had no desire go with one Titan now and add another Titan later ($2K). For the price of that second Titan I can get another SLI setup in two years. I got burned many years ago by buying two high end 7800 GTX 512MB. Never again.


Aphasia wrote:There isn't any problem doing a 2 way SLI build, just get quality components. But you still need more expensive components beyond just the card itself.

There are good/inexpensive SLI capable PSUs and motherboards out there.


Aphasia wrote:And you will have a higher about power draw.

Cost of electricity? I'm guessing the difference between a single GPU gaming rig and a SLI rig would be minimal on a monthly basis.

More heat from the PSU? Perhaps. Is it noticeable? It would depends on how well the space is ventilated.

More noise? My SLI PSUs are silent.


Aphasia wrote:Silent is a subjective opinion though. And these days, I want something with a much lower noise floor then I used earlier. I also never use headphones when gaming so that is also a factor for me.

I found the reference design of 6970 under load to have significantly noise when gaming with it. So bad as to drown out footsteps, etc, actually hindering my enjoyment when gaming. And yes, the annoying part is either you needed a steady and slightly to high fan rpm that was too noisy, or you needed to listen to the fan go up and down as the profile on the 6970 wasn't geared for a steady rpm but immediate temperature control. So what you actually got when under high load was this cyclic dustbuster that revved every 10 seconds or so. Or you could set it manually to a more steady, but slightly too noisy level.

With the right video card fan noise is not an issue. I've got two SLI rigs under my desk (one with the dual GTX 770s I mentioned earlier and one with dual PNY GTX 570s). This morning I fired up the Valley benchmark on both rigs at the same time. With all four GPUs at max load the steady fan noise was so low that game audio would easily drown it out.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 5:38 pm

The 770s in my rig with the Titan coolers are dead silent essentially all the time. I play with Adaptive Vsync on to avoid wasting cycles and even on games that push the GPUs to high utilization I don't ever hear them.

Even one is enough to be satisfactory though - I'm only using SLI because I have multiple of the cards laying around.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:25 pm

Waco wrote:Even one is enough to be satisfactory though

Resolution?


Waco wrote:I'm only using SLI because I have multiple of the cards laying around.

That is a nice problem to have. :)
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:29 pm

Treat crossfire/SLI as a tweakers dream - like a classic car; If you like fiddling with stuff you can make it work and feel damn good about the result, but after four days of tinkering with the engine, changing fifty parts and polishing the manifold until it's mirror-shiny you are still going to discover that a Toyota Camry is the more comfortable way to cross three state boundaries, and anything more than an occasional day's driving you wish you car just worked without needing all the constant maintenance.

Mutli-gpu solutions are the poor cousin, the kludge, the half-assed solution to not having a fast-enough GPU.
Sure, with enough smoke and mirrors, enough lipstick, you really can make a pig look pretty.

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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:50 pm

SLI just works- Crossfire mostly works most of the time, with a beta driver. Fix has been promised.

And can we stop calling them 'SLI' PSUs? I realize that they have stickers and labels and stuff, but there's really no such thing. Just more or less wattage, on more or less rails, to more or less GPU power cables. Make sure you have a quality PSU that has enough power cables for the GPU(s) you're running, and you're good.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:31 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:Treat crossfire/SLI as a tweakers dream - like a classic car; If you like fiddling with stuff you can make it work and feel damn good about the result, but after four days of tinkering with the engine, changing fifty parts and polishing the manifold until it's mirror-shiny you are still going to discover that a Toyota Camry is the more comfortable way to cross three state boundaries, and anything more than an occasional day's driving you wish you car just worked without needing all the constant maintenance.

Mutli-gpu solutions are the poor cousin, the kludge, the half-assed solution to not having a fast-enough GPU.
Sure, with enough smoke and mirrors, enough lipstick, you really can make a pig look pretty.

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That was beautiful. I cried.

What is your current gaming rig spec?

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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:39 pm

Airmantharp wrote:And can we stop calling them 'SLI' PSUs?

There was no we. It was just me. A thousand apologies.

Would you prefer SLI Ready PSU?
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:41 pm

Never owned an SLI, but used to own 5870 in dual crossfire. Most of the time never had any issues. The only problems I encountered were with Rage and STALKER CoP Complete mod. I would always opt for the most powerful single GPU solution.

P.S.
This thread is highly suspecious due to such a naïve question. No more replies from the author. But there is a very large icon with a link to some website. How many people actually clicked on it?
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:43 pm

End User wrote:
Waco wrote:Even one is enough to be satisfactory though

Resolution?

2560x1440
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:44 pm

michael_d wrote: No more replies from the author.

That is nothing new. Usually by page three we catch on.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:12 pm

End User wrote:
michael_d wrote: No more replies from the author.

That is nothing new. Usually by page three we catch on.


The OP's profile is reasonably detailed- otherwise I think the thread would have died already. But it's fun, nonetheless.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:15 pm

End User wrote:
Airmantharp wrote:And can we stop calling them 'SLI' PSUs?

There was no we. It was just me. A thousand apologies.

Would you prefer SLI Ready PSU?


It's not that I don't understand the 'why', or that I really take offense to it- it's that the idea that a PSU is an 'SLI PSU' is quite misleading and counter-informative. 'SLI Ready' is better, but I'd still prefer to refer to PSUs in a way that exposes what that means- because being 'SLI ready' or 'Crossfire Ready' (if such a thing exists) both mean exactly the same thing, and are not mutually exclusive.

If we're going to talk about PSUs for multi-GPU setups, let's just explain that the cards have X number of Y type of connectors, and that a PSU is needed that can effectively fulfill those requirements.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:21 pm

Airmantharp wrote:If we're going to talk about PSUs for multi-GPU setups, let's just explain that the cards have X number of Y type of connectors, and that a PSU is needed that can effectively fulfill those requirements.

Hang on. I have to find my pen.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:13 pm

End User wrote:
Airmantharp wrote:If we're going to talk about PSUs for multi-GPU setups, let's just explain that the cards have X number of Y type of connectors, and that a PSU is needed that can effectively fulfill those requirements.

Hang on. I have to find my pen.


I'll speak slower :).

Square peg in square hole, round peg in round hole. None of this marketing BS disguised as a 'specification'.
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:57 pm

michael_d wrote:P.S.
This thread is highly suspecious due to such a naïve question. No more replies from the author. But there is a very large icon with a link to some website. How many people actually clicked on it?


Well i apologize for not responding back to the thread. I am a real user and I visit techreport and post relatively often. Unfortunately I have been really busy lately and didn't have access to the internet this weekend.

Regardless I appreciate the support and the different point of views. I just really wanted to try out a crossfire or SLI build to see what all the hype was about behind the technologies. However, if it makes more sense to stick with a single GPU solution instead to save myself the headache I am fine with that, especially considering it is a build for my brother and not I.

As far as single GPU cards go what would you really consider the best bang for your buck considering the new Radeons approaching the market. Would you wait or buy now?
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:00 am

I got tired of the government shutdown coverage so I went and found this from Chrispy_ in another forum:

Chrispy_ wrote:There are plenty of sites that have all the intricate details, of exactly why you should avoid mutli-GPU configs, including TR.

TR has been very level headed when it comes to covering multi-GPU issues:

From 2011


From 2013
The FCAT analysis has shown us that Nvidia's frame metering tech for SLI does seem to work as advertised. Frame metering isn't necessarily a perfect solution, because it does insert some tiny delays into the rendering-and-display pipeline. Those delays may create timing discontinuities between the game simulation time—and thus frame content—and the display time. They also add a minuscule bit to the lag between user input and visual response. But then there's apparently a fair amount of low-stakes timing slop in PC graphics, as the gap between our Fraps and FCAT results (in everything but the Unreal-engine-based Borderlands 2) has demonstrated. The best thing we can say for frame metering is that it makes the Fraps and FCAT times for SLI solutions appear to correlate about like they do for single-GPU solutions. That's a really high-concept way of saying that it appears to work pretty well.


Chrispy_ wrote:Never use multiple graphics cards until you've hit the limit of what you can achieve with one graphics card.

Sounds good to me. My SLI config, for the games I play, performs better than a Titan.


Chrispy_ wrote:I have had both types of SLI (3DFx and Nvidia) as well as a couple of dual and quad Crossfire configs; My experience matches the articles around the web - concluding that even, lag-free frame delivery is far more complex than a FRAPS, DCAT or FPS average, and Mutli-GPU configs suck at it, even with frame-pacing driver wizardry.

What was your most recent SLI setup?


Chrispy_ wrote:SLI being slower than a single card when there's a compatibility problem

I've not seen that.

Chrispy_ wrote:SLI causing image-quality issues (graphical corruption)

I've not seen that.

Chrispy_ wrote:Games being completely incompatible and not running on SLI systems at all

I've not seen that.

Chrispy_ wrote:Higher power draw

I OC everything.

Chrispy_ wrote:Higher noise levels

See my earlier post. Absolutely not an issue.

Chrispy_ wrote:Delayed driver support for new features

I'm sure you can throw some links our way but for my day to day gaming I have not noticed anything over the past 3 years. Nvidias Windows 8.1 drivers have been out since July 18th.

Chrispy_ wrote:vsync issues and input lag that are hard to quantify and measure, but affect your gaming enjoyment

I'm having trouble quantifying and measuring my reply. Fortunately it is not affecting my enjoyment.

Chrispy_ wrote:The need for a PSU with more cables

Heavens to Betsy! This is TR not Macworld.

Chrispy_ wrote:a motherboard with more slots

You can get SLI ready (that was for Airmantharp) motherboards that have less slots.
i7-3770K@4.7 | H100 | P8Z77-V PREMIUM | 16GB | 2 GTX 770 4GB SLI | M500 960GB | EVO 840 250GB | AX850 | Obsidian 550D | R.A.T. 9 | U2713H | U2711
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Re: AMD Crossfire VS NVidia SLI

Postposted on Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:15 am

Techgoudy wrote:As far as single GPU cards go what would you really consider the best bang for your buck considering the new Radeons approaching the market. Would you wait or buy now?

Well that depends on your budget, but a 7950 for $200 is one of the best out there. That is with a deal Newegg was running that I think expires tomorrow, but when the new Radeons hit, a slower card will be at the $200 mark, and the next step up is a $300 card. Btw, this is what I bought this weekend along with the rest of my new computer (personal :D ).

So if you can't get in on that, it might be smart to let the market adjust for the new Radeons and see where the values land for Red and Green cards. You could pick out the rest of the components that you want (SSD size, CPU, case, etc.) and see where your GPU budget falls. The benefit of this is that if deals come along for your other components, you can float that into the GPU budget if you like and get something better.
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