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Testbed and Methods

We are going to investigate the performance of asymmetric CrossFireX tandem using the following universal testbed:

  • Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition processor (3.33 GHz, 6.4 GT/s QPI);  
  • Scythe SCKTN-3000 Katana 3 CPU cooler;
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme mainboard (Intel X58 Express chipset);
  • Corsair XMS3-12800C9 (3 x 2 GB, 1333 MHz, 9-9-9-24, 2T);
  • Samsung Spinpoint F1 HDD (1 TB, 32 MB buffer, SATA II);
  • Ultra X4 850 W Modular power supply;
  • Dell 3007WFP monitor (30", 2560x1600 @ 60 Hz max display resolution);
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit;
  • Nvidia GeForce 195.62 WHQL for Nvidia GeForce;
  • ATI Catalyst 9.12 for ATI Radeon HD.

The graphics card drivers were configured in the following way:

ATI Catalyst:

  • Smoothvision HD: Anti-Aliasing: Use application settings/Box Filter
  • Catalyst A.I.: Standard
  • Mipmap Detail Level: High Quality
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always Off
  • Enable Adaptive Anti-Aliasing: On/Quality
  • Other settings: default

Nvidia GeForce:

  • Texture filtering – Quality: High quality
  • Texture filtering – Trilinear optimization: Off
  • Texture filtering – Anisotropic sample optimization: Off
  • Threaded optimization: Auto
  • Vertical sync: Force off
  • Antialiasing - Gamma correction: On
  • Antialiasing - Transparency: Multisampling
  • Multi-GPU performance mode: NVIDIA recommended
  • Multi-display mixed-GPU acceleration: Multiple display performance mode
  • Set PhysX GPU acceleration: Enabled
  • Ambient Occlusion: Off
  • Other settings: default

Since GeForce GT 240 graphics cards can be quite fit for contemporary games we used the complete set of gaming benchmarks including the following titles:

First-Person 3D Shooters

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • Crysis Warhead
  • Far Cry 2
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
  • Wolfenstein

Third-Person 3D Shooters

  • Street Fighter IV
  • Resident Evil 5

RPG

  • Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta

Simulators

  • Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Strategies

  • BattleForge
  • World in Conflict: Soviet Assault

Semi-synthetic Benchmarks

  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
  • SiSoftware Sandra 2010 Engineer

We selected the highest possible level of detail in each game using standard tools provided by the game itself from the gaming menu. The games configuration files weren’t modified in any way, because the ordinary user doesn’t have to know how to do it. We made a few exceptions for selected games if that was necessary. We are going to specifically dwell on each exception like that later on in our article. Unfortunately, this time we had to give up Colin McRae: Dirt 2 auto simulator because the current game version was unstable on multi-GPU systems, which resulted into system hanging when we tried to change the screen resolution.

We ran our tests in the following resolutions: 1280x1024, 1680x1050, 1920x1200 and 2560x1600. Everywhere, where it was possible we added MSAA 4x antialiasing to the standard anisotropic filtering 16x. We enabled antialiasing from the game’s menu. If this was not possible, we forced them using the appropriate driver settings of ATI Catalyst and Nvidia GeForce drivers.

Performance was measured with the games’ own tools and the original demos were recorded if possible. We measured not only the average speed, but also the minimum speed of the cards where possible. Otherwise, the performance was measured manually with Fraps utility version 3.0.2. In the latter case we ran the test three times and took the average of the three for the performance charts.

 
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