In the third instalment of our extended review of the MSI 870A Fuzion (and its new dual GPU method), we turn to a more traditional option for dual GPU operation. This is where you combine identical GPUs. These are labelled as A-Mode for dual AMD GPUs and N-Mode for dual NVIDIA GPUs.
These are listed as the more stable and usable modes by both Lucid and MSI. But what we want to know is, will they offer any gains when put into real use? We know that SLI and Crossfire can offer some benefits (most often to synthetic benchmarks rather than real world gaming) and we also know that NVIDIA is very protective of their multi-GPU mode technology.
Will Fuzion be able to meet or exceed these levels of performance? Will we run into any driver issues with NVIDIA? Since this is an AMD 770 chipset, how will the Catalyst drivers feel about something else controlling the multi-GPU mode? I guess we will find this out as we drop in a pair of ASUS EAH5870 V2 Stalker Edition GPUs followed by a pair of GIGABYTE GV-N470SO-13I Super Clocked GPUs into this $140 motherboard from MSI to see what we get.
For this test we reused the same basic components used in the original review and in the X-Mode test. The drivers for both remained the same, and we again ran the single card tests with the Fuzion drivers uninstalled. We did not allow the system to run any updates between the original tests and these. It was important to ensure we had the same platform for these tests as the others.
For out ATI A-Mode test we used a pair of ASUS EAH5870 V2 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Edition video cards. These are factory overclocked to 868MHz with a GDDR5 memory speed of 4800MHz. The V2 designation means that there is an option to push up the voltage for higher clocks on the GPU. These are the same GPUs that we use now in all of our motherboard tests and they have done outstanding so far.
For our NVIDIA tests we ran with the GIGABYTE GV-N470SO-13I Super Clocked GTX470 video cards (again, a pair of them). This is also a factory overclocked video card with a core speed of 700MHz, a memory clock of 3348MHz and a nice 1280MB of GDDR5. It comes with a 12 Phase power setup that should allow for extra headroom on both the GPU and the memory. We picked up four of these on a temporary basis for an upcoming review, but saw no reason not to take them for a spin here.
With each run we found that the Fuzion drivers installed without issue. After installation and with both cards installed the Multi-GPU mode was already enabled with the first boot. We did have a problem with the Hydra logo; despite telling it not to display during the game, it still showed up in the upper left hand corner. We do hope this is resolved in future releases as it was distracting and not needed.
Fuzion, like SLI and Crossfire has to be associated with the game in question. Although there is quite a list by default, you can still add in new games and tests by browsing to where the .exe is in the system (many times you will also need to add the engine .exe as well). Fortunately for us, all of the games and tests we use were listed and we did not have to add anything into the mix and try to see if it would work.