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AMD Fury X vs. NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti: 2- and 3-Way Multi-GPU Performance

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SLI and CrossFire

Last week I sat down with a set of three AMD Radeon R9 Fury X cards, our sampled review card as well as two retail cards purchased from Newegg, to see how the reports of the pump whine noise from the cards was shaping up. I'm not going to dive into that debate again here in this story as I think we have covered it pretty well thus far in that story as well as on our various podcasts, but rest assured we are continuing to look into the revisions of the Fury X to see if AMD and Cooler Master were actually able to fix the issue.

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What we have to cover today is something very different, and likely much more interesting for a wider range of users. When you have three AMD Fury X cards in your hands, you of course have to do some multi-GPU testing with them. With our set I was able to run both 2-Way and 3-Way CrossFire with the new AMD flagship card and compare them directly to the comparable NVIDIA offering, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

There isn't much else I need to do to build up this story, is there? If you are curious how well the new AMD Fury X scales in CrossFire with two and even three GPUs, this is where you'll find your answers.

Continue reading our results testing the AMD Fury X and GeForce GTX 980 Ti in 3-Way GPU configurations!!

If you are already familiar with our testing setup and how Frame Rating works when comparing GPUs, you can jump start yourself to the Grand Theft Auto V results.

Testing Configuration

The specifications for our testing system haven't changed for this review as we are still basing it on the Sandy Bridge-E system.

Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E
Motherboard ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
Memory Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 16GB
Hard Drive OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD
Sound Card On-board
Graphics Card AMD Radeon R9 Fury X 4GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB
Graphics Drivers AMD: 15.15 beta
NVIDIA: 353.30
Power Supply Corsair AX1200i
Operating System Windows 8.1 Pro x64

What you should be watching for

  1. AMD Fury X vs AMD Fury X CrossFire - How well does the new Fiji GPU with the 15.15 beta driver scale? Does it do better than NVIDIA's GTX 980 Ti cards in SLI?
     
  2. AMD Fury X vs  AMD Fury X 3-Way CrossFire - Adding a third GPU is always kind of a question mark; do you really see enough performance benefit to justify the added cost?
     
  3. AMD Fury X CrossFire vs GTX 980 Ti SLI - Probably the most important comparison to be seen here - can the AMD Fury X in CrossFire out-scale and surpass the performance of the GTX 980 Ti?

 

Frame Rating: Our Testing Process

If you aren't familiar with it, you should probably do a little research into our testing methodology as it is quite different than others you may see online.  Rather than using FRAPS to measure frame rates or frame times, we are using an secondary PC to capture the output from the tested graphics card directly and then use post processing on the resulting video to determine frame rates, frame times, frame variance and much more. 

This amount of data can be pretty confusing if you attempting to read it without proper background, but I strongly believe that the results we present paint a much more thorough picture of performance than other options.  So please, read up on the full discussion about our Frame Rating methods before moving forward!!

While there are literally dozens of file created for each “run” of benchmarks, there are several resulting graphs that FCAT produces, as well as several more that we are generating with additional code of our own. 

If you don't need the example graphs and explanations below, you can jump straight to the benchmark results now!!

 

The PCPER FRAPS File

While the graphs above are produced by the default version of the scripts from NVIDIA, I have modified and added to them in a few ways to produce additional data for our readers.  The first file shows a sub-set of the data from the RUN file above, the average frame rate over time as defined by FRAPS, though we are combining all of the GPUs we are comparing into a single graph.  This will basically emulate the data we have been showing you for the past several years.

 

The PCPER Observed FPS File

This graph takes a different subset of data points and plots them similarly to the FRAPS file above, but this time we are look at the “observed” average frame rates, shown previously as the blue bars in the RUN file above.  This takes out the dropped and runts frames, giving you the performance metrics that actually matter – how many frames are being shown to the gamer to improve the animation sequences. 

As you’ll see in our full results on the coming pages, seeing a big difference between the FRAPS FPS graphic and the Observed FPS will indicate cases where it is likely the gamer is not getting the full benefit of the hardware investment in their PC.

 

The PLOT File

The primary file that is generated from the extracted data is a plot of calculated frame times including runts.  The numbers here represent the amount of time that frames appear on the screen for the user, a “thinner” line across the time span represents frame times that are consistent and thus should produce the smoothest animation to the gamer.  A “wider” line or one with a lot of peaks and valleys indicates a lot more variance and is likely caused by a lot of runts being displayed.

 

The RUN File

While the two graphs above show combined results for a set of cards being compared, the RUN file will show you the results from a single card on that particular result.  It is in this graph that you can see interesting data about runts, drops, average frame rate and the actual frame rate of your gaming experience. 

For tests that show no runts or drops, the data is pretty clean.  This is the standard frame rate per second over a span of time graph that has become the standard for performance evaluation on graphics cards.

A test that does have runts and drops will look much different.  The black bar labeled FRAPS indicates the average frame rate over time that traditional testing would show if you counted the drops and runts in the equation – as FRAPS FPS measurement does.  Any area in red is a dropped frame – the wider the amount of red you see, the more colored bars from our overlay were missing in the captured video file, indicating the gamer never saw those frames in any form.

The wide yellow area is the representation of runts, the thin bands of color in our captured video, that we have determined do not add to the animation of the image on the screen.  The larger the area of yellow the more often those runts are appearing.

Finally, the blue line is the measured FPS over each second after removing the runts and drops.  We are going to be calling this metric the “observed frame rate” as it measures the actual speed of the animation that the gamer experiences.

 

The PERcentile File

Scott introduced the idea of frame time percentiles months ago but now that we have some different data using direct capture as opposed to FRAPS, the results might be even more telling.  In this case, FCAT is showing percentiles not by frame time but instead by instantaneous FPS.  This will tell you the minimum frame rate that will appear on the screen at any given percent of time during our benchmark run.  The 50th percentile should be very close to the average total frame rate of the benchmark but as we creep closer to the 100% we see how the frame rate will be affected. 

The closer this line is to being perfectly flat the better as that would mean we are running at a constant frame rate the entire time.  A steep decline on the right hand side tells us that frame times are varying more and more frequently and might indicate potential stutter in the animation.

 

The PCPER Frame Time Variance File

Of all the data we are presenting, this is probably the one that needs the most discussion.  In an attempt to create a new metric for gaming and graphics performance, I wanted to try to find a way to define stutter based on the data sets we had collected.  As I mentioned earlier, we can define a single stutter as a variance level between t_game and t_display. This variance can be introduced in t_game, t_display, or on both levels.  Since we can currently only reliably test the t_display rate, how can we create a definition of stutter that makes sense and that can be applied across multiple games and platforms?

We define a single frame variance as the difference between the current frame time and the previous frame time – how consistent the two frames presented to the gamer.  However, as I found in my testing plotting the value of this frame variance is nearly a perfect match to the data presented by the minimum FPS (PER) file created by FCAT.  To be more specific, stutter is only perceived when there is a break from the previous animation frame rates. 

Our current running theory for a stutter evaluation is this: find the current frame time variance by comparing the current frame time to the running average of the frame times of the previous 20 frames.  Then, by sorting these frame times and plotting them in a percentile form we can get an interesting look at potential stutter.  Comparing the frame times to a running average rather than just to the previous frame should prevent potential problems from legitimate performance peaks or valleys found when moving from a highly compute intensive scene to a lower one.

While we are still trying to figure out if this is the best way to visualize stutter in a game, we have seen enough evidence in our game play testing and by comparing the above graphic to other data generated through our Frame rating system to be reasonably confident in our assertions.  So much in fact that I am going to going this data the PCPER ISU, which beer fans will appreciate the acronym of International Stutter Units.

To compare these results you want to see a line that is as close the 0ms mark as possible indicating very little frame rate variance when compared to a running average of previous frames.  There will be some inevitable incline as we reach the 90+ percentile but that is expected with any game play sequence that varies from scene to scene.  What we do not want to see is a sharper line up that would indicate higher frame variance (ISU) and could be an indication that the game sees microstuttering and hitching problems.

Video News


July 9, 2015 | 10:53 PM - Posted by fkr

just in time for new amd drivers to come out, and important ones at that.

great article

July 9, 2015 | 11:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

As a Crossfire 7970 user the first page is so informative and frustrating :)

Are those results using the most recently updated drivers, or do they reflect past results with old drivers?

Thanks :)

July 9, 2015 | 11:40 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

That's just old, example data.
 

July 9, 2015 | 11:55 PM - Posted by Klyde (not verified)

Hey Ryan, can you feel that big frametime variance on 3-way sli in BF4. Is it easily noticable even tho the average frame time is pretty ok?

July 10, 2015 | 05:12 AM - Posted by Relayer (not verified)

I've mentioned before that you should no longer use the old examples. It just confuses people and gives a false impression of current crossfire performance to less informed readers. What is the purpose of showing these outdated graphs?

July 10, 2015 | 09:01 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Because it shouldn't matter, and that's what the word "EXAMPLE" indicates. But thanks for the advice.

July 21, 2015 | 02:31 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I hear you, but it would be nice to get a follow up on this and see what the current state of it is.

I know you guys did some follow up last summer, but there have been a few driver releases subsequently and it would be interesting to see the detail.

I think that rather than saying 'example' up at the top of the section in text, it would be better to put a date on the graphs such as:

Spring 2014 - Catalyst Drivers X.YY

That way we could easily see when they were done.

Thanks for all the good articles.

July 10, 2015 | 11:47 AM - Posted by YTech

I agree about the confusion. When I realized it was referring to an older article, I skipped those graphs.

July 9, 2015 | 11:04 PM - Posted by kunglao

wow man. Thanks Ryan. Nice review as always

July 9, 2015 | 11:11 PM - Posted by Orthello (not verified)

It just goes to show that in 4k where 2 cards are a necessity at present the Fury Xs are performing extremely well in CFX. Kudos to AMD.

Sure we would all love to have 60 FPS solid with one card with high detail settings but when you have scaling this good .. 95 % !! it doesn't get much better.

Thanks for the review, very informative.

July 10, 2015 | 05:04 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Problem is both Fury X and 980ti are overkill for 4K, you need 2 of them for 60fps and 2 980's or Fury Pro's will likely get over 60fps anyway.

July 9, 2015 | 11:33 PM - Posted by Dark_wizzie

Where is the Skyrim chart? I thought Ryan in the Youtube video said there is testing for Skyrim.

July 9, 2015 | 11:42 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Crap, I left that page out...how did I do that? It honestly didn't show nearly any scaling past two cards at all, and the AMD results were poor thanks to it being a DX9 title.

July 9, 2015 | 11:52 PM - Posted by Dark_wizzie

That's too bad, because Skyrim is like the best game ever. :)

Somebody told me there were some workarounds to get Crossfire/SLI working on Skyrim. But I think even then we have the frame consistency issue with Crossfire + Skyrim. (And by Crossfire/SLI I am talking just about 2 way, let alone 3 way.)

BTW, how many ms of frame variance is it until our eyes begin to see that something's wrong?

And finally as usual, great work on the GPU reviews. :)

July 10, 2015 | 11:49 AM - Posted by YTech

Good to know for when I play DX9 only titles :)

July 9, 2015 | 11:33 PM - Posted by Kennai (not verified)

Dear PCper,

Can you please only put one card/solution on each frametime graph. My eyes would greatly appreciate that.

Sincerely,

Kennai

July 9, 2015 | 11:43 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Well, good exercise for your eyes is crucial.

July 9, 2015 | 11:50 PM - Posted by Dark_wizzie

That's the excuse I'll use the next time I play too much video games.

July 10, 2015 | 04:48 AM - Posted by drayzen (not verified)

Agreed, there is too much information on the graph to decipher it.
I'd suggest you use some sort of dynamic graph where each item can be displayed or hidden.

July 10, 2015 | 06:40 AM - Posted by Rustknuckle (not verified)

Yeah, the mess they are in now makes it hard to read right at times.

July 9, 2015 | 11:43 PM - Posted by StephanS

Fury X vs 980 ti idle diff is 8.4w
Fury X vs 980 to load diff is 18w

Your numbers.

Yet, an extra 100w is 'Normal' in cross fire mode ?

To date all review show the Fury X to be using a meager 20w more then a 980t ti, not 50w

PCPer : Something doesn't add up.

unless you only use Metro as your metric?

because in this game the extra 980 ti card is barely adding anything, hence why you only get an 18% speedup.
In this game the two 980 ti in SLI are running at not even half load. The less the GPU do, the less power it uses.

In contrast, the Fury X provide a 70% boost, showing that both GPU are loaded at a much higher level.

And the FPS reflect the higher GPU load. The 980 ti in SLI mode is almost 50% slower.

All that to say... your power numbers are almost almost meaningless as presented.

Crysis3 might be a good game to use for the power usage, as both system seem to scale equally well.

July 10, 2015 | 04:55 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I think you answered your own question. The Fury X is scaling slightly better in SLI and thus using proportionately more power. Also, with the HBM memory being more efficient, the GPU power used by the AMD is higher than you might think by just looking at total power of the card. So when you go to Crossfire and use more of the GPU that's why you get the big difference.

July 10, 2015 | 04:55 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

(I meant "Crossfire" not SLI)

July 10, 2015 | 12:05 AM - Posted by Joe (not verified)

I have a question for you Ryan, why weren't the 15.7 drivers used? Did you make this video prior them coming out and just got around to uploading it or what? Just curios because I figured with all the new updates in it I would like to have seen those results especially in a two way configuration. Thanks for all the hard work you put into doing these because I know they are time consuming.

July 10, 2015 | 09:03 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Yeah, all of this testing was done before 15.7 was out, sorry.

But, based on my Fury CF testing, there aren't any changes and I confirmed that with AMD. There should be no significant differences between the 15.7 driver and the 15.15 beta driver I used.

July 10, 2015 | 12:41 AM - Posted by wiak (not verified)

1. TriFury/TriSLI = CPU/DX11 bottleneck perhaps?
2. whats temperature results? how did 3 fury cards do?

July 10, 2015 | 07:06 AM - Posted by AndrewJacksonZA (not verified)

Speaking of DX11:
@Ryan: Are you planning to test this again after Windows 10 comes out and some DX12 and Vulkan games are released or existing games are patched to support?

Thank you
Andrew

July 10, 2015 | 02:09 AM - Posted by Terje_P (not verified)

Are you sure it is a driver/game problem and not just a CPU bottleneck?

July 10, 2015 | 03:20 AM - Posted by Martin Trautvetter

So Quadfire FTW, right?! :P

July 10, 2015 | 03:24 AM - Posted by jonduma (not verified)

Amazing presentation, Thank you for the information!

July 10, 2015 | 03:50 AM - Posted by drayzen (not verified)

I'd be interested to see the power consumption with FRTC/Nvidia FRL, possible?

July 10, 2015 | 09:05 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Frame rate limiting will definitely lower power consumption...but is this something users really want? I don't know many that are willingly running at lower frame rates just to save power.

July 10, 2015 | 09:49 AM - Posted by drayzen (not verified)

I'm thinnking that it might be something that I'll use when I get a FreeSync monitor in order to keep the FPS within the functional range, with the added benefit of using less power and keeping everything cooler. Does that not make sense for some reason I'm not aware of?

July 10, 2015 | 11:05 AM - Posted by kenjo

well a fixed 60 HZ update makes for better animation when the game engine knows how much to move objects every update.

So for a freesync/gsync setup it would make sens to set the max HZ to something like 60HZ or any other value that can be guaranteed most of the time, to get the best animation.

If you always go for max fps the game engine is always going to be wrong about how much to move objects as the rendering time is not known in advance.

July 10, 2015 | 11:26 AM - Posted by drayzen (not verified)

I'm currently looking at an Asus MG279Q which has a FreeSync range of 35-90Hz, so I figured I'd set FRTC to around 85-90Hz to ensure I've always got FreeSync working.

July 11, 2015 | 10:13 PM - Posted by drayzen (not verified)

... Thinking about it further, I'd like to know if there's any performance implications such as an impact on frame times / any strange behaviour etc. when hitting the limit while using FRTC.

July 10, 2015 | 03:51 AM - Posted by Ryno (not verified)

Hi Ryan.

Thanks for the thorough review. One thing not mentioned (although I might have missed it) was that the 980ti keeps dropping frames once multiple cards are being used. This seems to be prevalent on the new Kepler cards (specifically from the 970 upwards), but no review sites mention this anymore - to the point where almost nobody is doing framerate analysis on multi-gpu Kepler setups. It would be great to see if this holds for all new Kepler cards and how it compares vs the 7 series cards and AMD.

July 10, 2015 | 05:15 AM - Posted by Relayer (not verified)

I think you mean Maxwell. ;)

July 10, 2015 | 09:44 AM - Posted by Ryno (not verified)

My bad... You're absolutely correct. Not enough sleep this side ;-)

July 10, 2015 | 04:28 AM - Posted by Pobear (not verified)

And i was jelous of triple and quad graphics users in youtube.Looks like two is good for me. haha.

July 10, 2015 | 05:31 AM - Posted by JohnGR

Interesting numbers, thanks for the review.

July 10, 2015 | 05:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Would it be possible to rerun some of these with the new 15.7 driver for comparison? It claims to add a lot of updates to crossfire profiles.

July 10, 2015 | 06:43 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hello, why not use the 15.7 drivers for AMD?

July 10, 2015 | 07:36 AM - Posted by Johnnydex1 (not verified)

Thanks for the article Ryan, nicely done.

July 10, 2015 | 07:57 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Is there any way you can get some benchmarks done inside a gaming case? I really want to see how well the GTX 980 TI SLI would do in a real world gaming setup (inside a case). Sure, throttling is to be expected with those cards that close together.

July 10, 2015 | 09:06 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Our cards were actually separated out more than usually thanks to the large size of the Zotac ArcticStorm card so I don't think chassis installation would affect performance.

July 10, 2015 | 08:22 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm a noob, what exactly is scaling?

July 10, 2015 | 09:07 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Measuing scaling tells us how much of an improvement adding a second (or third) GPU to your system can improve the gaming experience with SLI or CrossFire.

If you get 40 FPS with a single card, but 70 FPS with two cards, then you have a (70/40 = 75%) scaling rate, which is quite good. 

July 10, 2015 | 09:36 AM - Posted by Engell (not verified)

Unfortunately the system you are using is not powerful enough to show this. This is why the fury is showing "better scaling", becasue you are hitting the limit of your CPU/MOBO combo.

July 10, 2015 | 09:45 AM - Posted by j nev (not verified)

That's both wrong and funnu

July 10, 2015 | 09:49 AM - Posted by Engell (not verified)

Well yes the the test show that the cards scale.. but the final result is not correct

July 10, 2015 | 10:20 AM - Posted by Engell (not verified)

also this http://imagescdn.tweaktown.com/content/6/7/6726_27_4k_showdown_intel_x79...

July 11, 2015 | 03:15 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Your site is the worst among the worst. Here is how you present scaling data correctly if we pick the Crysis 3 results you got:

Crossfire 20 -> 39 = 95% WTH PCPer!
Trifire 39 -> 57 = 47% WTH PCPer!

20*2 = 40 (100% 2 cards scaling)
39 / 40 = 0.97 * 100 = 97% scaling
20*3 = 60 (100% 3 cards scaling)
57 / 60 = 0.95 * 100 = 95% scaling

2 Way SLI 19 -> 35 = 84% WTH PCPer!
3 Way SLI 35 -> 51 = 45% WTH PCPer!

19*2 = 38 (100% 2 cards scaling)
35 / 38 = 0.92 * 100 = 92% scaling
19*3 = 57 (100% 3 cards scaling)
51 / 57 = 0.89 * 100 = 89% scaling

July 13, 2015 | 04:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Then why do you come here?

July 17, 2015 | 02:21 PM - Posted by Xukanik

I am sorry but you are calculating the wrong numbers, you are calculating total percentage of the graphics cards being scaled down too and not the scaling of each individual additional card.

Scaling = percentage of additional performance with 1 extra card.

2 way crossfire
(2 way - 1 way)/1 way = scaling

3 way crossfire (Trifire as you call it)

(3 way - 2 way)/2 way = scaling

According to your math if you have 20 FPS with 1 card and the same with 2 cards that would be 50% scaling when it should be 0%.
Yes the graphics are being scaled down 50% of the possible 100%. but that is not the same as how the 2nd card scales with the first card.

Crossfire 20 -> 39 = 95% WTH PCPer!
Trifire 39 -> 57 = 47% WTH PCPer!

20*2 = 40 (100% 2 cards scaling)
39 / 40 = 0.97 * 100 = 97% scaling
20*3 = 60 (100% 3 cards scaling)
57 / 60 = 0.95 * 100 = 95% scaling

Same equations you did but correct.

2 way crossfire

(2 way - 1 way)/1 way = scaling

(40-20)/20=100% Perfect Scaling

(39-20)/39=95%
(35-19)/19=84%

3 way crossfire theoretically maxes out at 50% since you can only add 50% more performance. 2*50%=3

(3 way - 2 way)/2 way = scaling

(60-40)/40=50% Perfect Scaling

(57 - 39)/39 = 46.15%*
(51 - 35)/35 = 45.71%*

This makes perfect sense to me.

I hope this answers anyone's questions about how scaling is calculated.

*PCPer has 47% & 45%. This is most likely due to them giving us rounded base numbers and rounding the final number.

PS. I know this is almost a week old but my OCD had me correct the math. Also I hope that people read it to understand better how the math in scaling works.

July 10, 2015 | 09:38 AM - Posted by j nev (not verified)

Welp, disappointing games list as usual. We can hardly glean worthwhile conclusions from such s tiny and old games list. No witcher 3? Come on. Also still no 390X review? What's up with THAT?

July 10, 2015 | 09:41 AM - Posted by j nev (not verified)

Welp again PC Per didn't get the memo about the new AMD driver so yet another back to the future article not worth reading.

July 10, 2015 | 10:17 AM - Posted by Engell (not verified)

take time to test and write an article.

July 10, 2015 | 10:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I wonder if these cards are constrained by the PCI-E bandwidth of the 3930k + X79 setup. That CPU only supports PCI-E 2.0, pretty sure those cards are PCI-E 3.0.
Happy to be corrected on this.

July 10, 2015 | 10:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

3960x rather.

July 10, 2015 | 10:50 AM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

X79 does support PCI-E 3.0, but it's up to the driver if it's implemented. These were not bandwidth constrained, and there should be no bottlenecking issue using a CPU with this much headroom.

July 10, 2015 | 11:30 AM - Posted by Engell (not verified)

the CPU only support 2.0

July 10, 2015 | 11:39 PM - Posted by murakume (not verified)

http://imgur.com/fwTANOp Screenshot of my desktop with CPUZ and GPU-Z open. 3930k and a 780 classified running PCI-E 3.0

July 11, 2015 | 02:51 PM - Posted by Engell (not verified)

Look like you are right it's just Intel who are to lazy to update their spec sheets and still list these CPUs as 2.0 only :-(

http://ark.intel.com/products/63696/Intel-Core-i7-3960X-Processor-Extrem...
Expansion Options: PCI Express Revision 2.0

July 13, 2015 | 11:27 PM - Posted by murakume (not verified)

To be fair, in the first batches (in my case the C1 revision), PCI-E 3.0 transfer rates were there; but nVidia decided to only officially support 2.0 speeds due to signal timing variance between different CPU and motherboard combinations.

This is a post on nvidia forums by a customer care rep explaining the details and how to enable on x79:
https://forums.geforce.com/default/topic/521828/geforce-drivers/geforce-...

My running at PCI-E 3.0 speeds is legitimate, but also forced. I have also noticed no real world difference with one 780 at 4k.

July 10, 2015 | 12:20 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Which 980ti was used in which role? Single = x, SLI = x,y? Seems like scaling results could be significantly affected by which card was first and which was second. E.g. Reference -> Ref + Zotac would have better scaling than Zotac -> Zotac + Ref

July 10, 2015 | 12:35 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Rough example

Reference = 100% performance
Zotac = 110% performance

Situation 1: Reference solo compared to Ref + zotac, assuming 75% scaling

(110*.75 + 100)/100 = 83% effective scaling

Situation 2: Zotac solo compared to Zotac + Ref, 75% scaling

(100*.75 + 110)/110 = 68% effective scaling

July 10, 2015 | 12:46 PM - Posted by Engell (not verified)

The nividia driver will always clock the SLI setup to the lowest card specs (so in this case reference settings)

July 10, 2015 | 01:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have heard the opposite, do you have a source for that? I know someone with 980ti in SLI and they are able to OC them independently.

Even if the base clocks are the same, the non reference cards would presumably boost higher because of superior cooling.

Nvidia GPUs in SLI are able to scale independently based on what is needed of them:
http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1685772

July 10, 2015 | 01:16 PM - Posted by Engell (not verified)

sure looks like it, guess its only the base clock that will be the same, and boost is dependent on cooling.(but that also makes sense since they will have different temperatures in the stack)But actually the nvidia reference cooler is usually the most effective in a stack since it is not circulating hot air.

But again, don't think any of this matters much since i think its pretty obvious from the results that the Motherboard + CPU is a bottleneck.

July 10, 2015 | 01:25 PM - Posted by pj530i

This site's anti-spam thing sucks so I had to create an account..

Anyway, if the driver does in fact downclock to the lowest common denominator, that could make the scaling results even worse if a non-reference card is used first.

If zotac was used first:
(100 + 100*.75) / 110 = 59% effective scaling

If ref was used first:
(100 + 100*.75) / 100 = 75% effective scaling

Edit: This would not affect the actual FPS of the game, but it would affect the "% increase" values. It's not a huge deal but I thought it was worth pointing out.

July 13, 2015 | 04:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

2 is the most ill ever do as I have done it for years now and never really have any problems like I guess most people do. Right now I am sporting to 780's for my 1440 monitor and its great! but I cant wait to see that single card that just crushes what I have cause then I can upgrade.

July 17, 2015 | 10:48 PM - Posted by CrazyElf

Thanks Ryan for taking the time to do a review.

I think that the conclusions we can draw are:

1. Adding a third card is a waste.
2. In most cases, adding a second card is actually a decent investment.
3. SLI currently does not scale as well as Crossfire. Reportedly the Fury X CF at 4k can on average, outperform a Titan-X at 4k, where the Fury X has enough VRAM.

Although it pains me deeply to say this (and I want AMD to succeed here because a monopoly for us consumers is bad), I'm inclined still to recommend the Nvidia 980Ti solution.

1. The overclocking headroom is much larger on the 980Ti, which negates some of the superior scaling. Power consumption is lower, allowing for more OC headroom.
2. The 6GB of VRAM could be much more "future proof".
3. Custom PCBs could improve the OC headroom even more (an MSI 980Ti Lightning is expected and EVGA, Galax, along with Asus have OC variants).

The only things working in favor of AMD are:

1. Crossfire does scale better, resulting in a better FPS and more importantly, frame times in many games.
2. AMD Drivers have historically improved performance more. Compare say, the 7970 to the 680. Both were pretty close on launch, but now the 7970 has pulled ahead.

The Fury kind of negates the issue of no custom PCBs, but the OC headroom still isn't as good as on the 980Ti, where overclocks of 1500 MHz+ are not uncommon.

You could make a case that a Fury CF would be a viable alternative as clock for clock, it's not much slower (I think the 64 ROPs/8 ACEs are bottlenecking the whole GPU here), but it still suffers from most of the Fury X flaws.

Anyways, let me know what you think. Thanks again for taking the time to review.

July 18, 2015 | 10:14 AM - Posted by Ceciro (not verified)

Here's a nice benchmark pitting the Fury card against the 980 TI 980, and FuryX:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jBjDIakZxc

November 29, 2015 | 08:46 AM - Posted by YOUDIEMOFO (not verified)

Multi card support not worth it......HA! Yeah okay....

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