Just as we had anticipated from the start of our tests, the GeForce GTX 480 SLI left no change to the Radeon HD 5870 CrossFire. The latter behaved rather oddly. Despite a serious advantage over the Radeon HD 5970 in GPU and memory clock rates, it was often no faster in our tests. We don’t know the exact reason for that. Perhaps this is due to driver optimizations targeted at the Radeon HD 5970 or to the dedicated PCI Express switch installed on the latter card that helps the GPUs communicate more effectively. Whatever the reason, the discrete tandem from AMD cannot do anything the much cheaper Radeon HD 5970 would not be capable of.
As for the performance of the GeForce GTX 480, you may want to take a look at the summary diagrams:
The resolution of 1600x900 pixels is not meant for top-end graphics solutions such as Radeon HD 5870 CrossFire or GeForce GTX 480 SLI. However, we can see that the 480 SLI configuration is 9 to 34% ahead of the 470 SLI tandem, depending on the particular game, and enjoys an average 16% advantage over the Radeon HD 5870 CrossFire. It is only in Resident Evil 5 that the SLI technology fails with the current version of the GeForce driver.
The resolution of 1920x1080 is popular today because the Full HD format has become widespread. The GeForce GTX 480 SLI can shows its strength here, beating the Radeon HD 5870 CrossFire by an average 20%, which equals the difference in price between the two solutions. Nvidia’s tandem also shows varying scalability, from 15% to near 100% over the performance of the single card.
The resolution of 2560x1600 is the battlefield that the GeForce GTX 480 SLI is really meant for. It now has an average 30% advantage over the Radeon HD 5870 CrossFire and often boasts a hefty advantage in terms of bottom speed. However, even this solution cannot deliver a really comfortable frame rate in Crysis Warhead. Instead, it is fast at running S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat.
Summing all up, the GeForce GTX 480 SLI is indeed the fastest dual-processor multi-GPU subsystem available today. However, its advantage over the more affordable GeForce GTX 470 SLI is not high enough to justify the difference in price. Users who can afford such expensive graphics solutions are but a small category of the total user audience. Besides, they may prefer even more luxurious setups with 3 and 4 GPUs.