GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

Posted by: Richard Weatherstone on: 24-04-2012 [ 18 comment(s) ]

SLI or Crossfire? GTX680 or HD7970? 1, 2, 3 or 4 cards? Who is number 1? Join us as we pitch the most powerful setups from AMD and NVIDIA against each other. ..

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Tagged as: KFA2, Overclockers UK

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GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

Helios1234
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#24806 Posted on: 24.04.2012 20:03:27
Awesome stuff, that's some serious horsepower there. I remember when using SLI GTX580 that sometimes the cards wouldn't perform at 100% gpu usage. I wonder if this was the case here as it explains why SLI scaling is worse than XFIRE. To get 100% gpu usage from both Nvidia cards needed much higher settings so both cards could be stressed which lead me to think that Nvidia effectively reduce the performance of the cards under less stress and thus making it less comparable to AMD's method through Crossfire. It would be interesting to see a graph comparing scaling at 1920x1080 and 2560x1600.

One note I'd like to make is the last set of graphs. Rather than doing it the way you have, you should have the single gcards at 100% and then multi-card performance relative to the 100% base value. It makes it much easier to visualise and work out the results/performance benefits.

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

PCplod
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Posts: 759
Joined: 2011-10-13

#24811 Posted on: 25.04.2012 00:03:22
Wow, super comparison mate! well done

Something I've been interested to see in a while, nobody else has bothered to take the time and effort to do it.

IMO as it stands the 680 is best for single screen and 1080p, then the 7970 looks better for high resolutions with multiple card set ups.

The price its at nearly £100 cheaper plus a bunch of free games I think the 7970 is very good value indeed atm, hopefully Nvidia drop the prices on the 680's as its very much needed and Im not buying one untill they do

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

Tammyplanet
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Posts: 7
Joined: 2011-11-25

#24816 Posted on: 25.04.2012 02:41:16
wow! that's just insane! Never seen a Quad SLI and Quad Crossfire before. LOL.

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

BurningFeetMan
VTZ Newbie



Posts: 113
Joined: 2012-01-06

#24818 Posted on: 25.04.2012 07:04:07
nice review mate, got to play with a lot of monies worth there

Those 7970 really do scale well! I think with future driver updates the 680 could scale just as well which could alter the results somewhat.

As it stands a 680 seems the best choice for single gpu and 7970 for multi card setups.

I would of been interested to see a small review on 3d on those 680s, doesn't seem many people review 3e.g.

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

w3bbo



Posts: 698
Joined: 2011-04-21

#24819 Posted on: 25.04.2012 07:36:34
Cheers for the feedback guys. I'd like to say it was a pleasure reviewing the two setups but in all honesty it was bloody hard work. I toasted a windows install thanks to the 1200W PSU giving up during overclocking. Couldn't for the life of me figure out why SLIx4 wouldn't work (4th card was set to PhysX!!) and to top it all off both AMD and NVIDIA drivers are very sketchy and unpredicatable when all cards are installed making getting predictable results very difficult indeed.

I wanted to do a line graph to show scaling but whicever way I did it, it just didn't look right. I see what Helios is saying though and will throw some samples up with the other editors too see what they think.

I'm working on getting some more screens including 3D and Eyefinity but these don't come cheap.

I expect criticism by using 'older' NVIDIA drivers but I was in a no win situation here. Use the latest drivers and people will moan that PCIe 3.0 is not enabled for NVIDIA and claim bias. Use older ones (with PCIe 3.0 enabled) and people moan that they are out of date. The only way you can correctly review two product lines is to use the same setups. While the differences between PCIe 2.0 and 3.0 are minute at present, using PCIe 3 one one card and PCIe 2 on another you may as well use two different motherboards which is not the way it should be done.

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

BurningFeetMan



Posts: 113
Joined: 2012-01-06

#24820 Posted on: 25.04.2012 07:59:40
what do you mean you can't afford 3 30" 3d monitors

It's obvious your in a no win situation with drivers mate, don't think anyone could criticise you

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

PCplod



Posts: 759
Joined: 2011-10-13

#24822 Posted on: 25.04.2012 08:09:18
Yeh must have been a good bit of work, but its much appreciated Like I said nobody else has gone to the effort to do this and Ive been waiting for something like this for ages, just out of curiosity mostly.

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

Helios1234
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Posts: 0
Joined: 2013-07-10

#24823 Posted on: 25.04.2012 08:15:58
Quote:
Originally Posted by w3bbo View Post
Cheers for the feedback guys. I'd like to say it was a pleasure reviewing the two setups but in all honesty it was bloody hard work. I toasted a windows install thanks to the 1200W PSU giving up during overclocking. Couldn't for the life of me figure out why SLIx4 wouldn't work (4th card was set to PhysX!!) and to top it all off both AMD and NVIDIA drivers are very sketchy and unpredicatable when all cards are installed making getting predictable results very difficult indeed.

I wanted to do a line graph to show scaling but whicever way I did it, it just didn't look right. I see what Helios is saying though and will throw some samples up with the other editors too see what they think.

I'm working on getting some more screens including 3D and Eyefinity but these don't come cheap.

I expect criticism by using 'older' NVIDIA drivers but I was in a no win situation here. Use the latest drivers and people will moan that PCIe 3.0 is not enabled for NVIDIA and claim bias. Use older ones (with PCIe 3.0 enabled) and people moan that they are out of date. The only way you can correctly review two product lines is to use the same setups. While the differences between PCIe 2.0 and 3.0 are minute at present, using PCIe 3 one one card and PCIe 2 on another you may as well use two different motherboards which is not the way it should be done.
Perhaps a couple of tests to see whether new drivers have more of a beneficial impact on performance to compensate for the loss of PCIe 3 would be a good way to quieten the skeptics.

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

w3bbo



Posts: 698
Joined: 2011-04-21

#24825 Posted on: 25.04.2012 08:35:45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helios1234 View Post
Perhaps a couple of tests to see whether new drivers have more of a beneficial impact on performance to compensate for the loss of PCIe 3 would be a good way to quieten the skeptics.
You still have the problem of driver enhancements though. What PCIe 2.0 has lost may be claimed back by being a better driver so you wouldn't truly know if it were PCIe gen that was responsible or the driver itself. The only way to truly tell the difference would be to pitch PCIe 3 vs 2 from the same driver which would mean testing on a board that has PCIe 2 and PCIe 3. Some boards have this capability though the lanes are different. E.G the Big Bang uses pcie 3 and 2 but PCIe 3 is 16x and pice 2 via PLX is 8x. so that will also have an effect.

Like I say - no win . I'm certainly not about to go testing all the configurations in all the games with different drivers! A few sample graphs might work better though as you say to back up what was said in the review. I ran a few benchies to test and the differences were, as expected small. Some games benifitted slightly, others lost out. In the end I decided to go with the drivers on the CD which had PCIe 3.0 enabled as this matched the AMD setup better.

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

w3bbo



Posts: 698
Joined: 2011-04-21

#24827 Posted on: 25.04.2012 09:27:51
Quote:
Originally Posted by BurningFeetMan View Post
what do you mean you can't afford 3 30" 3d monitors
Yeah sadly my wages won't stretch to that mate. Maybe I could sell a kidney ....hmmm

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

Mishima
Administrator



Posts: 4533
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#24828 Posted on: 25.04.2012 09:59:27
I'd buy one!

Great review mate and no matter which way you go with drivers there will always be comments made 'for' and 'against'. Very well written and comprehensive. Looks like I'm best to go with 680 for my own personal rig, will wait for more custom cards to arrive I think!

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

Helios1234
VTZ Newbie



Posts: 0
Joined: 2013-07-10

#24830 Posted on: 25.04.2012 11:02:30
Quote:
Originally Posted by w3bbo View Post
You still have the problem of driver enhancements though. What PCIe 2.0 has lost may be claimed back by being a better driver so you wouldn't truly know if it were PCIe gen that was responsible or the driver itself. The only way to truly tell the difference would be to pitch PCIe 3 vs 2 from the same driver which would mean testing on a board that has PCIe 2 and PCIe 3. Some boards have this capability though the lanes are different. E.G the Big Bang uses pcie 3 and 2 but PCIe 3 is 16x and pice 2 via PLX is 8x. so that will also have an effect.

Like I say - no win . I'm certainly not about to go testing all the configurations in all the games with different drivers! A few sample graphs might work better though as you say to back up what was said in the review. I ran a few benchies to test and the differences were, as expected small. Some games benifitted slightly, others lost out. In the end I decided to go with the drivers on the CD which had PCIe 3.0 enabled as this matched the AMD setup better.
I think people understand that PCIe 3.0 won't work with Nvidia cards on X79 but obviously some might not realise. What would be interesting to see though is which configuration gives the best result; newer "performance increasing" drivers lacking PCIe 3.0 support or "unoptimised" release drivers with PCIe 3.0 support. If I was in the market for tri or quad SLI, it's the kinda thing I would like to learn more about. If the new drivers are better then for sure, I'd sacrifise PCIe 3.0 for higher performance support but if PCIe 3.0 actually made a difference, then I would know to stick with the release drivers. So it's not necessarily a question of what setup matches AMD's but instead which setup gives you the best result. It would only have to be a couple of tests to verify this and that should be enough to validate your choice of driver and quieten the skeptics. I understand it might be a pretty arduous task after all the work you've put in already but I'm merely playing devil's advocate.

Personally, I think you might be right in your choice, after all I very rarely saw significant performance boosts going from release drivers to the first official release but then I would always check if that was actually the case.

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

Essexraptor
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Posts: 323
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#24852 Posted on: 26.04.2012 08:16:51
A lot of hard work Webbo - thanks

Unfortunately ..... I think your own conclusion summed it up... a waste of time and far to costly for very little gain.

It's the domain of idiots with very deep pockets quite frankly or a stack of freebies sitting around in a review office.

I'm still not convined about setups beyond a single powerful GPU give significant % benefits to the end user. AMD GPU's have the edge in the ability to run more than 2 screens on a single unit. Why the hell Nvidia still have not gone this route is beyond me?

Keep up the good works

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

PCplod
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Posts: 759
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#24853 Posted on: 26.04.2012 08:40:06
Quote:
Originally Posted by Essexraptor View Post
A lot of hard work Webbo - thanks

Unfortunately ..... I think your own conclusion summed it up... a waste of time and far to costly for very little gain.

It's the domain of idiots with very deep pockets quite frankly or a stack of freebies sitting around in a review office.

I'm still not convined about setups beyond a single powerful GPU give significant % benefits to the end user. AMD GPU's have the edge in the ability to run more than 2 screens on a single unit. Why the hell Nvidia still have not gone this route is beyond me?

Keep up the good works
Yup its just not practical, although if you need the performance then 2 cards can work well, although there will always be stutter or other complications but some people dont notice it and have a good experience with dual cards, anything more than that causes more problems than anything.

And about Nvidia cards only outputting to a max of 2 screens, they have with the new 680 made it so it can output multiple screens just like the AMD cards

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

Essexraptor
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#24854 Posted on: 26.04.2012 08:49:05
Yup... Nvidia catching up but only on the most expensive flagship model

You really going to shell out £450 - £600 for the pleasure when a 5, 6 or 7 series AMD can and has been able to power 3 screens easily for many years? at a fraction of the cost?

clear case of "no brainer"

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

PCplod
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#24855 Posted on: 26.04.2012 08:53:02
Im pretty sure Nvidia have this for all their 6** series cards, better late than never hey!

We've always known that Nvidia cards couldn't so that the only option was AMD if you wanted 3+ screens on one card, but now you have more options because Nvidia has finally enabled it on there cards, so from that perspective it is only good, you cant really moan about the past

GTX680 Quad SLI vs HD7970 Quad CrossfireX Review

Essexraptor
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Posts: 323
Joined: 2010-09-27

#24858 Posted on: 26.04.2012 09:19:08
We just should be more responsible and beat it into our computer techie brethern that you have to scale these things realistically.

Fine if you want to run dual, triple or quad GPU's but the bottom line is that if your running a single 24 - 27 " screen... more fool you. Just consider the practical side of things when running say ... a single 30" monitor. How far do you have to sit away from it to make it comfortable for more than 30 mins at a time? Does that exrta 5 - 8%, or whatever the nice data graphs show, actually make you a better gamer... if that's your bag? I suggest NOT !!!

Running 3 (24") screens myself off a single 5970 it's actually more comfortable to play windowed on center screen and run other programs, mail, skype, TS3 etc, on the outside screens.


O... and I'm still c... at gaming



Great review!

Cleeecooo
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#25426 Posted on: 20.05.2012 13:22:05
One thing though, surely it makes no logical sense that when 2 cards are so close to each other that 4 of one of those cards is beaten by 3 of the other? Is the scaling really that bad?!

I'd love to see tri monitor testing though!

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