SLI vs. CrossFire, Part 1 – mid-range multi-GPU scaling & value

F1 2010

F1 2010 is a racing game based on the 2010 season of the Formula One world championship and the sequel to the 2009 video game in the same series. It was released in September 2010 by Codemasters. The EGO 1.5 engine powers it. The weather system is one of the best seen in a racing game and requires the player to adjust to changing track conditions. Watch out for bad AI drivers!

First we test at 2560×1600 using ultra settings with the built-in benchmark.

Here we have our first excellent example of “negative scaling” – where CrossFired cards are actually much slower in the minimums than their single card counterparts.  In this case, you would disable CrossFire (or SLI) in the respective control panels or you will have unacceptable dips in the minimums.

Now we test at 1920×1200.

Here the Radeons have the advantage. The GTX 580 trades blows with the HD 6970 while the rest of the Radeons dominate in their price range and take the checkered flag. Unfortunately, CrossFire has real issues with this set of drivers.  We also see SLI’d GTX 460s only matching the performance of a single HD 6870. GTS 450 is a non-starter at our resolutions and SLI makes it playable at the lower resolution.


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Founder and Senior Editor of ABT.

8 Responses

  1. Bo_Fox says:

    I’m not 100% certain, but to analyze microstuttering, place a check in the box next to “Frametimes” in Fraps. Then when you press the hotkey, it will create a log file with a timestamp when each single frame was outputted. Only a few seconds is enough to make the log file really, really long. Then take a portion out of the log file and make a chart out of it, that measures the time between each timestamp, to see if the frames are consistent with each other in similar intervals, or if every other frame is too close to the other one.

    If a game runs at say, 45fps with your SLI or CF setup, but feels more like 23-30fps, then definitely analyze this with FRAPS.

  2. EP says:

    Great review so far.

    How do the numbers change, if at all, if Split Frame Rendering is used instead of Alternate Frame Rendering?

    The last time I used SLI was with my Voodoo2 3000s. It was a gigantic waste of $200, in 1996 dollars.

    If SFR eliminates micro-stutter without too much of a performance penalty I might have to try SLI again.

  3. Tejas says:

    why don’t they add BF:BC2?
    and also 6950 n 6970 crossfire?

  4. DoktorSleepless says:

    Concerning the microstutter, frames time (using that fraps option) is supposed to fluctuate more erratically on crossfire/sli than what it would be on a single card. I think instead of testing a moving scene, it would make more sense to test it on a completely still scene for a few seconds and see how they compare in the excel output file. You don’t want a moving scene because then you won’t be able to differentiate between the erracticness you would get from a moving scene and the erraticness you would get from microstutter.

    Another interest option would be to downclock a sli/crossfire setup to a point where it matches the average framerate of the single card. This way you could could see if the multi-gpu setup looks choppier than a single card despite having the same average frame rate.

  5. Justin says:

    Excellent work! At the end, simple recommendations would have been nice. =)

  6. bbb_forever says:

    Please include Civilization 5 if possible the next time you benchmark.
    It is an important game which will test the tesselation feature and its scaling ability in multi-gpu configurations.

  7. apoppin says:

    Civilization 5 has been added to my benching suite along with DiRT 3 and Total War, Shogun 2.

  8. ltwally says:

    You’ve done a great job of benchmarking gaming performance, but including charts with FPS vs $$, and $$ vs wattage would be much more useful.

    The wattage (both idle and load) figures can be especially important, as some of these cards can easily draw more juice than all but the most powerful (and expensive) power supplies can provide — and that definitely factors into the cost analysis.

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