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Testbed and Methods

We compared the Nvidia GeForce 7950 GX2 quad-SLI and the ATI Radeon X1950 XTX CrossFire subsystems on platforms configured like follows:

  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 CPU (2x2.60GHz, 2x1MB L2 cache)
  • Abit AN8 32X mainboard (nForce4 SLI x16) for Nvidia GeForce cards
  • ASUS A8R32-MVP Deluxe mainboard (ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200) for ATI’s Radeons
  • OCZ PC-3200 Platinum EL DDR SDRAM (2x1GB, CL2-3-2-5)
  • Maxtor MaXLine III 7B250S0 hard disk drive (Serial ATA-150, 16MB buffer)
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 sound card
  • Enermax Liberty 620W power supply (ELT620AWT)
  • Samsung SyncMaster 244T monitor (24”, 1920x1200@75Hz max display mode)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2, DirectX 9.0c
  • ATI Catalyst 6.8
  • Nvidia ForceWare 91.47

The drivers were set up in such a way as to provide a comparable, yet highest possible texture filtering quality.

ATI Catalyst:

  • Catalyst A.I.: Standard
  • Mipmap Detail Level: High Quality
  • Wait for vertical refresh: Always off
  • Adaptive antialiasing: Off
  • Temporal antialiasing: Off
  • High Quality AF: On
  • Other settings: by default

Nvidia ForceWare:

  • Texture Filtering: High Quality
  • Vertical sync: Off
  • Trilinear optimization: Off
  • Anisotropic mip filter optimization: Off
  • Anisotropic sample optimization: Off
  • Gamma correct antialiasing: On
  • Transparency antialiasing: Off
  • Other settings: by default

We selected the highest possible graphics quality level in each game. We didn’t edit the games’ configuration files. The speed was measured using the game’s integrated tools or, if not available, by means of the Fraps program. We also measured the min speed of the cards where possible.

Besides the two standard resolutions of 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 pixels, we also used a resolution of 1920x1200 pixels with an aspect ratio of 16:10. We enabled FSAA and anisotropic filtering from the game’s menu. If this was not possible, we forced them using the appropriate driver settings. Besides the standard full-screen antialiasing modes, we used 8x/14x Super AA and 8x/16x SLI AA, enabling them from the drivers. This provides a most comprehensive picture of the performance and capabilities of today’s fastest multi-GPU graphics subsystem from ATI and Nvidia available for ordinary users.

We did not enable FSAA for those games that do not support FSAA due to the specifics of their engine or make use of HDR (FP16) because the GeForce 7 family cannot perform FSAA along with floating-point HDR. The following games and applications were used in this test session:

First-person 3D shooters:

  • Battlefield 2
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Far Cry
  • F.E.A.R.
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
  • Half-Life 2: Episode One
  • Prey
  • Quake 4
  • Serious Sam 2

Third-person 3D shooters:

  • Hitman: Blood Money
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
  • Tomb Raider: Legend

RPG

  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Titan Quest

Simulators:

  • Pacific Fighters
  • X3: Reunion

Strategies:

  • Age of Empires 3
  • Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends

Synthetic benchmarks:

  • Futuremark 3DMark05 build 1.2.0
  • Futuremark 3DMark06 build 1.0.2
 
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