In a recent review we discussed the fastest dual-processor graphics solutions available for today’s games: ATI Radeon HD 4890 CrossFireX and Nvidia GeForce GTX 285 SLI. Besides making sure of their good performance in modern games, we also found out that ATI’s product was quite competitive to Nvidia’s one notwithstanding the difference in price. But for all their huge resources, these solutions are not the peak of the evolution of gaming 3D graphics hardware. Both GPU developers allow using more than two graphics processors in one subsystem. This opportunity has been available for a long time already. Nvidia’s products have offered it since GeForce 8800 GTX (G80) and ATI’s solutions have theoretically been capable of that since they acquired the CrossFire logic, i.e. since Radeon X1950 Pro (RV570). PC gamers are always interested in the latest developments in this field, so we are going to dedicate this review to today’s topmost multi-GPU configurations.
At this moment, AMD’s and Nvidia’s products can work in graphics subsystems with up to 4 graphics cores, but the maximum configuration in either case can only be assembled out of a pair of dual-processor cards: ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 or GeForce GTX 295. There is one important note, however. The former card is inferior to a tandem of two Radeon HD 4890 cards that have higher GPU and memory clock rates whereas the latter has a cut-down configuration in comparison with Nvidia’s single-chip flagship GeForce GTX 285. Therefore 3-way configurations seem to be more optimal at the moment and we will focus on them in this test session (moreover, we don’t have two samples of GeForce GTX 295).
We will benchmark 4-way configurations as soon as Nvidia has released an updated GeForce GTX 295 with a single-PCB design and AMD’s partners have introduced Radeon HD 4890 X2, but in this review we will compare AMD’s 3-way CrossFireX and Nvidia’s 3-way SLI platforms. We will check out their performance in modern games, noisiness, power consumption and stability. We will also discuss the long-debated problem of the quality of transparent textures antialiasing. Let’s get started.