Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark05Test System SetupProcessor(s): Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 3.33GHz (366MHz x 9 and FSB 1:1)Motherboard(s): ABIT IN9 32X-MAX Wi-Fi (Supplied by Universal ABIT)Memory: 2 X 1GB Crucial PC8000 5-5-5-15 in Dual Channel(Supplied by Crucial)Hard Disk(s): Hitachi 80GB 7200RPM SATA 2 Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2Drivers: nVidia ForceWare 97.92 and DX9cAs we mentioned, as this is a performance analysis, we will be getting straight into the benchmarking, bypassing all the usual pleasantries.We will be using our normal line up of games and as the graphics cards are clearly at the higher end of the table we are testing at the maximum PC resolution of 2560 x 1600 to really see what the different configurations are capable of producing.All of the graphics cards on hand today are from our friends at MSI - two utilize 320MB of memory while the other two utilize 640MB. We saw that the 640MB consistently took the lead of the 320MB counterpart in our single non-SLI testing. We are here today to find out what happens when we put the same cards into an SLI mode configuration. All the graphics cards are exactly the same (same clock speeds and so on) just the amount of memory is different.Is a combined 640MB of memory fine or do we want to get crazy and have in excess of 1.2GB of video memory? There is only one way to find out! Keep in mind that in Australia and at time of publishing a couple MSI GeForce 8800GTS 320MB cards will cost you about $980 AUD (or roughly $786 USD) and a couple MSI GeForce 8800GTS 640MB cards will cost you about $1300 AUD (or roughly $1042 USD) - so about a 33% price increase for the 1280MB SLI option.Let's get started!3DMark05Version and / or Patch Used: Build 130Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/Buy It Here
Benchmarks - 3DMark063DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/Buy It Here
Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Lost Coast)Half Life 2 (Lost Coast)Version and / or Patch Used: Latest from SteamTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.comBuy It Here
Benchmarks - PREYPREYVersion and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: HardwareOC Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.humanhead.com Product Homepage: http://www.prey.comBuy It Here
Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.F.E.A.R.Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.vugames.com Product Homepage: http://www.whatisfear.com/us/Buy It Here
Benchmarks - Company of HeroesCompany of HeroesVersion and / or Patch Used: DemoTimedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.relic.comProduct Homepage: http://www.companyofheroesgame.comBuy It Here
Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AFHigh Quality AA and AFOur high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.
Final ThoughtsFinal ThoughtsTo be completely honest, we didn't really know what to expect performance wise going into this article. While the 640MB graphics card did perform better in a single card showdown, when you move to SLI mode and give the 320MB an extra 320MB via the second card, are we going to be maxing out the amount of memory we really need? Surely hitting in excess of 1200MB of onboard memory would just be useless?Actually, it doesn't seem that way. We can pretty much see across the board that the 640MB cards in SLI continue to give us a performance increase when compared to the 320MB versions. Money permitting we would always suggest that you make the move to the 640MB card if you're running resolutions in excess of 1600 x 1200, closer to 1920 x 1200 and above. If you're serious about gaming, the chances are the 640MB cards are what you want, but if you're hardcore to the extreme, the chances are you're going to be looking down the barrel of a pair of uber high-end 8800GTX cards. The 640MB cards in SLI mode are perfect for users of 1920 x 1200 and want to crank up the AA and AF and other high quality image settings. On the other hand, the 320MB cards in SLI mode are better for 1600 x 1200 users who want to crank up the AA and AF. In a single card situation the cards work similar except without AA and AF, for example - the 640MB is better suited for a 1920 x 1200 gamer who doesn't want AA or AF enabled with other fancy settings and the 320MB for 1600 x 1200 and below users with normal image quality.It is all very interesting though considering you have graphics cards with the same chip, exactly the same core and memory speeds with the only difference being the amount of onboard memory but of course about a 33% price difference. It's clear a difference can be seen at these higher levels even when SLI comes into the picture.Consumers listen up...the problem though is that people may well read this and then go out and buy the 512MB Radeon X1300 instead of the 256MB Radeon X1600 (for example) because the first model has more onboard memory. Yes, more memory does make a difference BUT... and this is a big BUT, you'll only see a difference when the right amount of power (clock speeds) is behind it. As most low-end graphics cards don't have any real advantage with the extra memory, think about this and listen to us and not the sales person who thinks they know everything.
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