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Testbed and Methods

CrossFire system was tested in the following test system:

  • AMD Athlon 64 4000+ CPU (2.4GHz, 1MB L2);
  • ATI RADEON XPRESS 200 CrossFire Edition mainboard (ATI RD480 + SB450);
  • OCZ PC-3200 Platinum EB DDR SDRAM (2x512MB, CL2.5-3-2-8);
  • Maxtor MaXLine III 7B250S0 HDD (Serial ATA-150, NCQ, 16MB buffer);
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 sound card;
  • Cooler Master Real Power 450 PSU (RS-450-ACLY, 450W nominal power);
  • Dell P1130/Dell P1110 monitors (21”, maximum resolution – 1800x1440x75Hz);
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2, DirectX 9.0c;
  • ATI CATALYST 8.162.1-050811а-026057Е.

For NVIDIA graphics cards we assembled a different test system. Here it is:

  • AMD Athlon 64 4000+ CPU (2.4GHz, 1MB L2);
  • ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe mainboard (NVIDIA nForce4 SLI);
  • OCZ PC-3200 Platinum EL DDR SDRAM (2x1GB, CL2-3-2-5);
  • Samsung SpinPoint SP1213C HDD (Serial ATA-150, 8MB buffer);
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 sound card;
  • Cooler Master Real Power 450 PSU (RS-450-ACLY, 450W nominal power);
  • Dell P1130/Dell P1110 monitors (21”, maximum resolution – 1800x1440x75Hz);
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2, DirectX 9.0c;
  • NVIDIA ForceWare 78.01.

Following the standard testing procedure we adjusted the settings in NVIDIA’s and ATI’s drivers accordingly:

ATI CATALYST:

  • CATALYST A.I.: Standard
  • Mipmap Detail Level: Quality
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always off
  • Other settings: default

NVIDIA ForceWare 78.01:

  • Image Settings: Quality
  • Vertical sync: Off
  • Trilinear optimization: On
  • Anisotropic mip filter optimization: Off
  • Anisotropic sample optimization: On
  • Gamma correct antialiasing: On (only for GeForce 7)
  • Transparency antialiasing: Off (only for GeForce 7)
  • Other settings: default

We enabled full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering from the game menu, if possible. Otherwise, we forced the necessary mode from the driver. We did not edit the games’ configuration files. We set the level of detail to the maximum in each game, so that it could be the same for ATI and NVIDIA solutions, but the rendering mode was selected depending on the capabilities of the given graphics card. If the game supported Shader Model 3.0, we used this mode for NVIDIA solutions. ATI cards worked in Shader Model 1.1/2.0/2.0b mode depending on the game.

We used the integrated benchmarks of those games that had them available. Of the results reported in the end of the benchmark showed not only the average but also the minimum values, we included them into the database, too. If the game had no integrated benchmarks we used FRAPS utility for our tests. In the latter case the minimum fps rates were also included into the database. Besides the RADEON X850 XT CrossFire kit, we have also tested the following graphics accelerators for a more in-depth and illustrative performance analysis:

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to test an SLI configuration with two GeForce 7800 GT graphics cards, because there was only one graphics card like that at our disposal at that time. The tests were run in the following applications:

First Person 3D Shooters:

  • Battlefield 2;
  • Chronicles of Riddick;
  • Doom III;
  • Far Cry;
  • F.E.A.R. Multiplayer Demo;
  • Half-Life 2;
  • Painkiller: Battle Out of Hell;
  • Pariah;
  • Project: Snowblind;
  • Unreal Tournament 2004.

Third Person 3D Shooters:

  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within;
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory;

Simulators:

  • Colin McRae Rally 2005;
  • Lock On: Modern Air Combat;
  • Pacific Fighters.

Strategies:

  • Perimeter;
  • Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War;

Semi-Synthetic Benchmarks:

  • Aquamark3;
  • Final Fantasy XI Official Benchmark 3;

Synthetic Benchmarks:

  • Futuremark 3DMark03, build 360;
  • Futuremark 3DMark05, build 120.
 
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