Since the release of the GTX 400 series I haven't had an opinion on the models and how they go in SLI for the simple reason I hadn't tested them yet. While I could've formed an opinion of others results, the simple fact is that I knew it was only a matter of time 'till I played with the cards in SLI form and was able to base an opinion on how the models go when it comes to this technology myself.
While today I'll only be playing with the baby GTX 400 cards, the bottom line is that as the weeks have gone on and companies have taken the time to attack this model with new cooling, we've really been able to see the model for what it is.
In its reference form it's an overpriced model that runs too hot, too loud and gets beaten by the HD 5850 at higher resolutions. In the Palit and Galaxy forms, though, the cards have become quieter and cooler overclocking beasts thanks to companies like Galaxy and MSI with their overclocking software Xtreme Tuner HD and Afterburner, respectively.
Today we'll be seeing how our non-reference cards play with each other in SLI. We're hoping for no bumps in the road and some good performance gains. We'll also be setting a starting point for SLI which really hasn't been tested in months here. From then on out it'll no doubt be time for some mean SLI and CF throw downs. Of course, if everything goes well here today we'll also be attacking the models with more voltage and a bump in speeds to hopefully yield even more performance.
The SetupThe Setup
It might've been a while since I've ran a SLI setup, but it's still as easy as ever. Since we already had the Palit GTX 470 installed, I slotted in the Galaxy one, added the SLI connector, got into Windows, waited a few minutes and rebooted the system which resulted in it saying my hardware was ready.
Once that was done, I uninstalled the driver and reinstalled it just to make sure I didn't run into any problems. Once installed you need to just quickly pop into the NVIDIA control panel and enable SLI.
To make sure everything was working, we did two things. First, we checked GPU-Z to make sure that SLI was shown as being enabled.
We then did a quick run of Vantage to make sure the performance increase was seen. Fortunately both areas checked out A-OK and it was time to get stuck into some benchmarking to see how the tech is going these days.
Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage
We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Western Digital, Noctua and Thermaltake.
We're not making it easy for NVIDIA these days. Recently we compared the Galaxy GTX 470 when overclocked against the highly overclocked GIGABYTE HD 5870 Super Overclock and here we really did see the GTX 470 shine with some fantastic performance.
Today the GTX 470 SLI setup will not only be compared against the single card setup and a single GTX 480, but also the HD 5970 and not just any HD 5970, but the mighty HD 5970 TOXIC from Sapphire which has impressed us to date as the fastest video card on the market.
Let's get started!
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.
3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
Compared to the single model we can see a good gain in performance. In the P preset we see that the GTX 470 SLI setup is able to out perform even the TOXIC HD 5970 from Sapphire. In the X preset, though, its performance is almost identical with the standard model.
Unigine Heaven BenchmarkUnigine Heaven Benchmark
Version and / or Patch Used: 1 and 2
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//
New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.
Note: If a card doesn't support DirectX 11 the benchmark will be left out, if it does it will be included along with the DirectX10 results.
Heaven sees some great performance when moving to SLI and in the V2 benchmark the GTX 470 SLI performance kills everything. V1 paints a bit of a different picture with it not being quite as strong compared to the HD 5970 TOXIC. But it does pull out a nice win against the reference HD 5970, though.
Benchmarks - CINEBENCHCINEBENCH
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10 and Release 11.5
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.
MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).
CINEBENCH doesn't see any surprises at all with the program not making use of the extra video card.
Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5Resident Evil 5
Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: www.residentevil.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com/
Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
RE5 performance is again way up compared to the single card. Compared to the HD 5970s performance the setup is able to pull a win against both cards at all resolutions.
Benchmarks - BattleForgeBattleForge
Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.battleforge.com/
The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.
But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.
Note: Supporting DirectX 11 we have seperated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.
At the higher resolution we see a great performance increase again at 2560 x 1600. As for how it compares to the HD 5970, you can see it's fairly on par with the reference card at all resolutions.
Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx
Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.
The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.
Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.
The great SLI gains are again seen at the highest resolution. Compared to the HD 5970 it also manages to win at all resolutions; only slightly, though. The fact that the gains over it are small means that the HD 5970 TOXIC from Sapphire is able to pull out the top honors.
Benchmarks - Darkest of DaysDarkest of Days
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com/index.php
Product Homepage: http://www.darkestofdays.com/index.php
Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to fighting in Pompeii as ash and fire rain down from an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other locations include the battles of Antietam and Tannenberg, and a German World War II P.O.W. camp. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes about 4 hours to complete.
The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, there are artillery weapons from different time periods to assist in battle.
Note: With the PhysX set to Medium or High Darkest of Days take advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, NVIDIA based cards though will be tested at Low and High.
DOD can be a bit weird when it comes to setups outside of a single stock clocked card, but its clear gains are seen here at all resolutions.
Benchmarks - Far Cry 2Far Cry 2
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here
The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
Compared to the single GTX 470 the SLI setup again sees some fantastic performance numbers across the board. In the average department it's also able to pull out a win against the averages of the HD 5970s. The same luck isn't seen in the minimums, though.
Benchmarks - Batman Arkham AsylumBatman Arkham Asylum
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.
Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.
Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.
Non PhysX performance is up and even against the HD 5970 TOXIC performance is strong. With PhysX on, though, we do still see a performance increase, but unfortunately the same gains aren't seen.
Benchmarks - Dark VoidDark Void
Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.airtightgames.com
Product Homepage: http://www.darkvoidgame.com/
The game's story takes place during World War II and centers around a cargo pilot named William Augustus Grey (voiced by Nolan North) who is teleported to another world while flying through the Bermuda Triangle. In this world, known as the 'Void', Will encounters an alien race as well as other humans, which are known as the Watchers and the Survivors respectively.
Will reluctantly joins the Survivors who are engaged in a feud with the alien race to satisfy his desire to return to Earth. While aiding the Survivors, Will discovers that the Void is a middle ground that connects both the Watchers homeworld and Earth. It also becomes apparent that the Watchers are supplying the Axis powers with various supplies for reasons unknown. With the help of Nikola Tesla, Will utilizes retrofited Watcher technology to combat the Watchers and eventually find a way to escape the Void.
Dark Void like Batman sees some great gains. Unlike Batman, though, under the PhysX test we also see some very good gains.
Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AFHigh Quality AA and AF
Our 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.
Far Cry 2
AA Performance is strong for the GTX 400 series. Throwing a second one into the mix just blows that performance out of the water. You can clearly see the GTX 470 setup is untouchable here.
Resident Evil 5
RE5 again sees a very good performance gain and again it's able to outperform the HD 5970 and HD 5970 TOXIC with the AA cranked up.
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
H.A.W.X. also sees very good gains and compared to the standard HD 5970 it manages to pull out a very good win. Compared to the TOXIC version, however, it does fall a little behind.
Benchmarks - Elcomsoft Wireless Security AuditorElcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.51
Timedemo or Level Used: Sample File
Developer Homepage: http://www.elcomsoft.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.elcomsoft.com/ewsa.html
ElcomSoft has pioneered many software innovations that have made it easier to recover passwords protecting various types of resources. For the first time in the industry, the company's patent-pending GPU acceleration makes its way into Wi-Fi password recovery, reducing the time required to recover Wi-Fi passwords up to a hundred times.
Supporting up to four NVIDIA boards such as GeForce 8, 9, and 200, as well as ATI video cards such as RADEON HD 4000 Series and up, Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor allows building servers with supercomputer performance at a fraction of the price.
In not being able to make use of the SLI tech at the moment, we don't see any gains with the second card.
Benchmarks - BadaboomBadaboom
Version and / or Patch Used: Release 18.104.22.168
Developer Homepage: http://www.nvidia.com//
Product Homepage: http://www.badaboomit.com/
Badaboom eliminates the frustration of video conversion by providing users with speed, efficiency, quality, and a sleek interface. In a practice that used to take several hours, Badaboom converts feature-length movies in a matter of minutes while keeping the videos looking crisp and clear.
By harnessing the power of NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPUs, Badaboom offloads the CPU to allow users to continue browsing the Internet or checking email without decreased system performance, making transcoding high-quality video fast, easy, and painless.
Note: With the requirement for a CUDA enabled graphics card to run Badaboom, this means that we can only use NVIDIA based cards for this test.
Not making use of SLI, there's no surprises here when it comes to encoding time.
Temperature and Sound TestsTemperature Tests
With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).
There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.
The card which has the fan against the back of the second card runs very warm. In this case it was Palit. The Galaxy card which was sitting in the other slot ran significantly cooler.
Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.
After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).
Idle noise is nice; nothing at all to be worried about. As for load, it's a little louder than the reference card which is impressive considering we're dealing with two cards instead of one.
Power Consumption TestsPower Consumption Tests
Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).
There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.
The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.
So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.
It comes as no surprise that power draw is the highest of all the cards we've tested to date. You can see it draws the most in both idle and load.
Total Performance Rating (TPR)Total Performance Rating
The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and ATI are on an even playing field. This includes benchmarks where PhysX can be forced off like Dark Void and Batman: Arkham Asylum, but not Darkest of Days.
The TPR number is a combination of:
3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark V2, CINEBENCH R11.5, Resident Evil 5, BattleForge, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off), Dark Void (PhysX Off) and our three High Quality tests which include Far Cry 2, Resident Evil 5 and Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.
SLI Setup performance is strong; it has no trouble passing many of the setups including the standard HD 5970 and GTX 480. It falls slightly behind the massive card that is the HD 5970 TOXIC from Sapphire. There are only two things now that I think are capable of hitting the HD 5970 TOXIC off its top spot; overclocking this current setup or moving to SLI GTX 480s.
Total Value Rating (TVR)Total Value Rating
The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on Newegg.com. In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.
In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.
In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.
TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.
Value doesn't come as much of a surprise. Like anything, the higher end we go the worse overall value. In saying that, it's better value than the HD 5970. Overclocking will of course increase the value; how much, though? - We're not sure. Time will no doubt tell.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
SLI continues to be a great technology. Crossfire is as well. Both have come a long way since their introductions. It's great to see that the GTX 470 series scales well and we've got our fingers crossed that the same scaling ability is seen on the higher end GTX 480 when we have a look at it.
When you start talking multi GPU setups, though, the decision is going to be tough; do you spend your money on the GTX 470 in an SLI configuration or do you have a look at a HD 5970? - Both offer similar pricing. On a whole, though, the GTX 470 SLI setup is faster and this can be seen in our TPR graph.
Looking at the pros, the big thing is that a GTX 470 SLI setup will outperform a reference HD 5970 while costing similar money. The good news is if you're thinking about going surround gaming as well, you can buy two GTX 470s for a similar price of the HD 5970 and know that performance should be similar. Mind you, we haven't had a chance to look at surround gaming so we're not sure how the software solution that NVIDIA have opted for is going to go.
Now, let's cover the cons. Power draw on the setup is higher than anything else we've tested in both idle and load. Saying that; a good 750 Watt+ power supply isn't going to be an issue and if you're looking at a setup like this you should have a good power supply anyway or be looking at something decent.
The good news is that noise levels aren't really any worse than a single reference GTX 470, but heat on the top card is going to be worse. Our graphs show this and you have to remember that Palit and Galaxy have opted for new coolers. Throw in reference coolers and the cards are going to run even warmer.
While some might say that the heat isn't a big issue, my office is quite a large room. I actually use the house's theater room as my office, so that should give you a bit of an idea. With my testbed up and running the room was clearly warmer. Considering we're heading into winter over here in Australia the comment of these cards being a heater in the winter is very true and this is dealing with non reference coolers. The heat of the cards is something you've really got to put into consideration. Keep your computer in your room or just a small room in general and there's a good chance you're going to feel the warmth of these cards; a situation that would become even worse in the summer.
It's going to be a tough decision if you're in the $700 region and looking at a video card. At the end of the day the GTX 470 SLI setup is not only a little faster than a reference HD 5970, but also a little cheaper. You can't ignore the heat issue which is much more noticeable than both the noise and power ones. Now you just need to decide what you want to do and at the end of the day you could always just get GTX 480 SLI and be done with it.
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