AMD Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity Performance Testing
After my review of the AMD Radeon HD 5870 graphics card last month that featured a heavy dose of information and videos about AMD's new Eyefinity technology, the one single request I have received the most is for performance results using these games and a multi-monitor configuration. I purposefully avoided any types of benchmarks in our first go-around with the technology and instead focused on trying to showcase the user experience that using 3 monitors for gaming can create.
Well enough email barged through my inbox that I decided I would graph-up the results that I already had from our initial testing and share it with you here.
First, if you haven't read the background on Eyefinity technology, what it does or how it works, you should definitely read over my primer on the subject on this page of the original HD 5870 review. Once you have done so, you are ready to proceed on to my explanation of testing methods and results. Just in case you missed it, I have embedded my video review of the HD 5870 directly below that goes over the card itself as well as the software side of configuring an Eyefinity display.
Expand to full screen for best experience
Our testing methods for Eyefinity were pretty straight forward: we used the same hardware and system configuration from the Radeon HD 5870 review but we are only going to be comparing performance results from our baseline, single 30-in display at 2560x1600 resolution and the Eyefinity setup. My first round of testing on the Eyefinity technology used a trio of 30-in panels - by far the most impressive gaming experience you can get today with traditional hardware though it's much more likely that gamers will be using 22-in or 24-in panels for this setup in the real world. I will be updating our results here with performance on a triple 24-in configuration very shortly.
- Testing Configuration
- ASUS P6T6 WS Revolution X58 + nForce 200
- Intel Core i7-965 @ 3.33 GHz
- 3 x 2GB Corsair DDR3-1333 MHz
- Intel X25-M G2 160GB SSD
With three 30-in monitors, each running at 2560x1600, our total resolution for our Eyefinity display is 7680x1600 - simply massive! That puts us at 3x the number of pixels of a single 30-in monitor that the Radeon HD 5870 has to render and push to the screen. Obviously this is going to put a significant strain on the GPU itself - while we have been talking for what seems like ages about the sheer power you can get in a graphics card for such a low cost, that was before the idea of pushing 12 megapixels of gaming on a single card! You will see in our tests that even the mighty HD 5870 wasn't really enough to power this configuration with top-level IQ settings; but more on that as we go.
One question that I am sure will come up is "why didn't you use multiple GPUs in CrossFire mode?" A great question with a sad answer: it doesn't work yet. As of this writing, and probably through all of 2009, Eyefinity displays will NOT support CrossFire acceleration. Even if you cram a quartet of these cards into your PC you will only be able to see the processing power of a single card when utilizing a multiple panel gaming configuration. It is a very disappointing fact we are forced to deal with for now until AMD's driver team catches on.
An interesting idea though remains about in regards to the supposed power of the MSI Big Bang Fuzion motherboard and the Lucid HYDRA vendor-agnostic GPU scaling solution with Eyefinity... We are actively working on getting this configuration in for testing as not only could it allow multiple HD 5870s to work together on an Eyefinity display but it could also allow the HD 5870 to get some help from any NVIDIA friends you might have lying around...
As for our individual tests, you will see we included results from Batman, Far Cry 2, H.A.W.X and Resident Evil 5. I basically attempted to run the games at the exact same image quality settings with three monitors as I did with a single monitor; that included 4xAA, etc. While obviously users will have the ability to decrease IQ settings in order to increase performance, this was the best way for me to get a quick apples-to-apples comparison to share with everyone. I also included the Eyefinity videos I created for each of these titles as well as some new screenshots in the 4.8:1 aspect ratio.
There were some oddities with a couple of the games that we'll explain on each individual page so let's just jump ahead to some results!