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  #1  
Old 23-02-15, 10:30 PM
pwal pwal is offline
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Old Gen Crossfire vs New Gen Single card.

Hi all,

Just a quick experiment which I had chance to try that I thought may be worth sharing.

A question that I have pondered and im sure many others have is "Should I sell my current GPU and upgrade to a new one, or buy a second card to Crossfire/SLI instead?"

This question was a little academic for me as my ITX board only supported a single card, which led me to upgrade to a new GTX 970 from my older HD7950.

However, I am currently building another PC for a friend and the opportunity came up to try and answer this question using 2x HD7950s vs the GTX 970.

So with out further ado here are the specs of the hardware I used and results of some bench tests:

Motherboard - Gigabyte Z77X-D3H
CPU - Intel I5 3570K @ stock clocks (with 3.8ghz turbo)
CM Hyper 212 CPU Cooler
8GB Ram (1333ghz)
40GB HDD
Enermax Platimax 500W PSU
Corsair CX500W PSU (had to use 2 x PSUs for crossfire setup)

(All the benchmark programmes I used are the free download versions so are all the basic bench tests)

The first Benchmark I tested with was Unigene Heaven, I also used a single HD7950 for comparison to see what the gain may be when crossfiring.



As you can see adding a second HD7950 almost doubled the result, and gave an improvement over the single GTX 970

Next was 3DMark 11



The crossfire setup stretched ahead again but only marginally compared to the GTX970, though this was for the overall P score.

Looking just at the graphics score, the gap over the 970 increased again, and once more almost doubled that of the single card



Finally I tried the test using the Catzilla Bench test



Here you see the GTX 970 leaps far ahead of the HD7950, with the Crossfire set-up actually scoring less than the single card.

This benchmark was obviously not compatible with my crossfire set-up, which is always the Achillies heel of dual graphics cards, not always being supported in all benchmarks and of course games.


So did I answer my question?

Yes, for me at least.

The GTX 970 came in at around £50 more than it would have cost me to keep my old card and to buy a second HD7950.

I do not play a large variety of games, and although I did not get to try the set-up on the games I play, I do know that crossfire is compatible and likely to give a better performance than the GTX970.

Having said that, to upgrade to a crossfire set-up I would have had to have changed my motherboard, case and upgraded my PSU, in addition my electricity bill would also have taken a not so insignificant hit, so for me the choice I originally made was the right one, the GTX970.

Obviously the answer to this question may be different to someone else who already has a compatible motherboard and PSU, but I would advise to search the web to see if the games you play are compatible, and of course remember future games may not be, or least may take some time until they are Crossfire/SLI ready. Another note worth a mention is future Direct X and Mantle compatability for older gen cards may also eventually become an issue.

It is however tempting to try, and you can get mega gains for not such a massive outlay on the right games/bench tests.

I hope you found this little test of some interest and maybe even of a little help.

But at the end of the day, the choice as "Our Graham" used to say, is yours.

Thanks

Pete

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  #2  
Old 24-02-15, 05:12 AM
NeverBackDown NeverBackDown is offline
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Being a 7950 owner myself, this info was actually quite useful to me. Thanks for taking the time to post this!

Might be worth picking up a new one since they are cheap. But then again i'd rather get a new card. Don't know if dx12 would support this.
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  #3  
Old 24-02-15, 12:30 PM
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Master&Puppet Master&Puppet is offline
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I thought about the same thing a few years back when I bought my pair of 5850s and then again 2 years ago when I bought my pair of 7950s.

The truth is that there's no right answer to this debate:
Buy a single more expensive card and often you may feel like you've lost out on more performance for the same price on SLI / xfire.

Equally when x fire doesn't work well (or at all) then you've got one useless card and you wish you'd spent the money on a single more powerful card.

You can't win!

Having said that, here's a few things I've learnt in my time with multiple GPU setups:
Nvidia cards generally have better support for SLI than AMD do for x fire. This was especially the case with the whole "frame pacing" debacle a while back and won't be reflected in your synthetic scores. When multi GPU setups don't work well it can be infuriating. It causes crashes, visual anomalies and smoothness issues even if the performance, fps wise, increases. Of course depending on driver support you won't necessarily get twice the performance with the second card.

You can try and narrow the options based on games you play. Some developers work hard to get multi GPU support going, others are less useful or worse. I remember Battlefield 3 worked really well with x fire and so does CoD:AW but the total war series is terrible at sorting out support as was far cry 3 on both Amd and Nvidia cards.

Pick your poison!
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Old 24-02-15, 02:55 PM
Pr3d4t0r Pr3d4t0r is offline
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nothing earth shattering and also I must point out that in this comparison you should include the temps, power draw and price on release, that way 7950 wouldn't even be worth considering over 970. But props for effort and im sure someone out there might be wanting to these facts
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Old 24-02-15, 03:08 PM
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Kaapstad Kaapstad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pr3d4t0r View Post
nothing earth shattering and also I must point out that in this comparison you should include the temps, power draw and price on release, that way 7950 wouldn't even be worth considering over 970. But props for effort and im sure someone out there might be wanting to these facts
I would take a pair of HD 7950s over a GTX 970 every time.

Even if the HD 7950s have 0.5gb of VRAM less.
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Old 24-02-15, 03:13 PM
Pr3d4t0r Pr3d4t0r is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaapstad View Post
I would take a pair of HD 7950s over a GTX 970 every time.

Even if the HD 7950s have 0.5gb of VRAM less.
Well you'd save on house heating at least I guess.

im getting 11.7k on firestrike on single 970 and 4770k so im just fine with my 970 :3 before i get 2nd for sli that is
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Old 24-02-15, 03:28 PM
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Kaapstad Kaapstad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pr3d4t0r View Post
Well you'd save on house heating at least I guess.

im getting 11.7k on firestrike on single 970 and 4770k so im just fine with my 970 :3 before i get 2nd for sli that is
We like SLI.

Post some bench scores when you get the second.
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Old 24-02-15, 03:29 PM
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shambles1980 shambles1980 is offline
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Given the choice and the money i would always opt for a single gpu single card option it will work in every situation and if the difference between the single card and 2 older cards in x-fire at the worst was 5fps i would not lose any sleep over it.
having said that the performance of x-fire/sli is getting better and better, it used to be you would pay 100% of the money for an extra card to get 30% extra performance. which really is not that great. and then there was the fact that a lot of games would stutter or simply not use the second card at all, which just leaves me with the oppinion that a single high performance gpu is better more of the time than 2 mid perfomance gpus.
But if you have the best possible card on the market already then sli/x-fire is an option.
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Old 24-02-15, 04:34 PM
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barnsley barnsley is offline
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I dunno, I reckon with a good case those 7950s wouldn't be all that much warmer running compared to a cheap 970.
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Old 01-09-15, 07:32 PM
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sfelock sfelock is offline
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Although the information is good to know. I would agree with the others in saying you left out some key facts such as temperature, power draw, etc. I would also suggest next time comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges. NVIDIA and AMD/ATI have always had their own issues, NVIDIA seems to be better for plug and play, where AMD requires a little tinkering and crossfire can be a bit touchy. That being said, comparing a last gen AMD card to a latest gen NVIDIA card isn't really a fair comparison. NVIDIA has now seen what AMD is offering in their cards and may have upped the ante so to speak in this latest gen.

I would like to add that I do however find the information useful as I am currently a later gen crossfire user myself and was considering switching to a latest gen Nvidia card, but that is beside the point.
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