CrossFire worth it?

Discussion in '3D Hardware, Software & Output Devices' started by Quitch, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. Quitch

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    Looking at replacing my system after five faithful years (with the odd upgrade). I've been looking for a while but was waiting on the good new cards to come out, since it seemed a little late to hop on the nVidia 8xxx bandwagon.

    Now the ATI offerings are looking mighty tempting, but I'm torn. Is CrossFire worth it? I see plenty of negative side-swipes, but miss the topics where the details are hammered out. Micro-stutter? Latency? Not only that, but with each new generation one of the new batch of cards always out performs two in CrossFire/SLI from the previous generation, which makes me wonder if I'd be better saving the money for the second card and simply using it to buy another card later down the road.

    I just wish the 4870X2 (I'm correct in this, right?) was out, but I saw mention of August. Damned unsure I can wait AGAIN :)
     
  2. neliz

    neliz GIGABYTE Man
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    two or three weeks? By the time this topic comes to fruitition .. a whole semester will have passed.

    on the other hand.. depends on what you play.. how long you can stand to "wait" or are comfortable with workarounds for non-accelerated situations.

    if it works nothing beats it in price performance.
     
  3. Quitch

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    Alas, I love me my FPS and RTS gaming. That's why I'm thinking of waiting. 4870 should be good enough for me now in my 1920x1200 world, but how long would that last? I want something as future proof as possible, but at a reasonable price point. 4870 is tempting, but still...

    Plus I don't know when in August. Could be end of August. Didn't catch the date.
     
  4. digitalwanderer

    digitalwanderer Dangerously Mirthful
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    I'll easily recommend crossfire, I've had great experiences with it. :)
     
  5. neliz

    neliz GIGABYTE Man
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    You can always upgrade the rest of your system now and wait with the video card.. or just get a 4870 now.
    Remember, you can always run CrossfireX on them! or sell your 4870 by that time.
    and well.. as soon as you've bought your 1GB 4870x2, the 2GB version is around the corner.



    (digi was last seen in a jungle warfare situation screaming "I LOVE CROSSFIRE")
     
  6. Albuquerque

    Albuquerque Red-headed step child
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    +1 :)
     
  7. ToTTenTranz

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    :arrow: +1
     
  8. Sobek

    Sobek Locally Operating
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    Even with all the crap it's given me, my 2900xt Crossfire setup was/is more than worth it. I'm going to a 4870x2 + 4870 Crossfire setup as soon as I can. When Crossfire works, it works great :)
     
  9. khelben1979

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    To answer the topic: NO, in my opinion.
     
  10. ShaidarHaran

    ShaidarHaran hardware monkey
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    Some rather useless bits of fluff in this thread...

    If you have experience with CF - share it. Otherwise you're just blowing hot air.

    My experience with X1900 CF in 2006 was rather disappointing. Most games simply refused to run in CF mode until Catalyst 6.7 was out. From 6.3 to 6.6 was an absolute nightmare. When games did run in CF mode, they would often run noticeably slower than in single card mode, and/or with rendering artifacts. Cat 6.7-6.10 was a much better experience, although still far from perfect.

    ATi really needs to figure out how to make CF scaling seamless, as well as give users the option to create game profiles. I have high hopes for 48xx generation CF, particularly the 4870x2.
     
  11. digitalwanderer

    digitalwanderer Dangerously Mirthful
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    I had crossfired X1800 GTOs which I liked, but were a bit of a pain at times. My next experience was with 3870s in crossfire and it was like a new and MUCH more pleasant experience. The jump between the two generations in terms of Crossfire ease of use and support was staggering.

    I'm expecting Crossfire support to keep improving, and I look forward to trying out the 4870s in crossfire just as soon as I get another one.

    Crossfire is gonna be the lynch pin to ATi's whole "smaller but more GPUs" strategy, I don't expect them to be backsliding on it...I expect them to be embracing and improving it a lot more.

    Is that better Shaidar? :|
     
  12. ShaidarHaran

    ShaidarHaran hardware monkey
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    LOL, yes digi - thank you. I was referring primarily to the post above mine though.
     
  13. digitalwanderer

    digitalwanderer Dangerously Mirthful
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    Ah, sorry....but it was worth clarifying anyways.

    I went from hating Crossfire to loving it, but because it's improved so much my perceptions of it improved. ;)
     
  14. WaltC

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    I think you really need to discard your opinions of Crossfire that are based on the much older hardware incarnations of it that you used at one time. I just went from an HD3870 CrossfireX system to an HD4850 CrossfireX system and I've had little to no difficulty with either, I'm glad to say, and am completely pleased with the newer system. It works so well that I really can't tell when CFX is active and when it's isn't, yet. And I'm a guy who swore that he'd never try a Crossfire/SLI rig, so it's definitely possible for old dogs to learn new tricks...;)

    Latest CFX Cats are 8.6/hotfix, and I can tell you there have been not only significant changes in the hardware since 6.10 was released, but also significant changes in the CF drivers, as well. I'm sure you'll agree with me that the span of a year or two in this business can make all the difference in the world.
     
  15. ShaidarHaran

    ShaidarHaran hardware monkey
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    I'm not going to do that until ATi proves to me that they have addressed the issues I mentioned. User reports around the web (particularly @ AMD's Game site) indicate these issues have not yet been rectified.

    That being said, I am optimistic! CFX on 48x0 generation will no doubt bring efficiency/scaling improvements over the last generation because of the architectural enhancements it features.

    The software is the problem though.

    That's good to know, but until ATi either makes CFX work transparently with every new game out-of-the-box, and/or allows users to create profiles which force CFX that actually accelerate games rather than decelerate them (compared to a single card).
     
  16. Foodman

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    IMO that's a rather unfair standard to hold ATi to unless you also hold NV to the same standard. NV at least has a profiler, though.

    The only solution that had truly transparent (from a user standpoint) multi-card/chip rendering was 3dfx's.
     
  17. WaltC

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    I will admit that to a certain minimal extent I pay attention to the data on certain products which I see written up on the Internet. For instance, my decision to go with two 4850's instead of two 4870's was based on the apparent data I saw which indicated that although 2x 4850 could be expected to run ~5%-15% lower in raw fps performance compared to 2x4870, the pricing differential was ~33%. For me, then, I found that 2x 4850 would therefore be sufficient.

    But otoh it has been my experience through the years that reading up on the problems *some people* have as they post about them on various websites is not a reliable indicator of much of anything. In the first place, you are only hearing from people who are having problems, and those people generally post at a ratio of at least 10-1 over people using the same products who are having no problems. That's logical and to be expected, because if you aren't having problems you have nothing post about, and saying over and over again "Everything is working great for me!" can quickly become very tedious and so, while the number of people having few/no problems might actually outnumber the people having problems by 10-1, the ratio of website posts is the reverse because usually people only post when they are having difficulties as opposed to when they aren't. Many times in the past I have purchased products that gave me no trouble whatever, but which were nonetheless negatively described by other people inside various website forums.

    A couple of examples stand out in memory for me. Years ago inside a forum I tried to help someone troubleshoot problems he kept swearing up and down he was having with a particular product because I owned the same product he did and wasn't having *any* of his reported problems.

    Although I mentioned several times that he needed to set all of his system clocks back to default in case he was running anything overclocked, he studiously ignored all of my comments to that end and engaged me in a bitch-fest thread about the product that spanned 15 pages and several days. When I was about to give up and quit the thread because I'd done all I could do to help him, he finally, after 15 pages, decided to tell me about *how much* he was overclocking all kinds of clocks in his system--and finally he saw the light when he set them back to their defaults and his problems with that product suddenly went into absolute remission...;) For 15 pages he'd kept the true nature of his problems a secret, blaming it on the product itself. I've never forgotten it.

    Next, when 3dfx launched the V3, most websites went hog wild with multi-page pictorials on how bad the V3's image quality was, as illustrated by the screen shots they posted. It wasn't until much later that they realized that the screen-grab software they had been using wasn't grabbing all of the V3's data when it saved screens, and that the V3's on-screen IQ was accordingly far better than what their screen grabs had shown. These weren't "amateur" web sites--I mean, at least that's not the way they ever characterized themselves--and you would have thought they'd have noticed the disparity long before they did.

    To my recollection, none of the sites that erred so grievously ever bothered with official retractions and redress even after their sloppy reporting was exposed. I actually noticed the disparity long before they did because, not really believing the IQ could possibly be as bad as they stated and portrayed, I went out and bought a V3--and lo and behold the IQ was superb for the time, if not markedly better than anything else out there. The problem was with the screen-grabbing software the web sites used that was unable to access the V3's post-processing data which was visible on screen--not with the V3 itself. I've never forgotten that, either.


    The fact is, I think, that when we listen to problem reports we often cheat ourselves by the assumption that because John Doe reports a problem it is inevitable that everybody else will have that problem, too. That is just not the case. Even today I routinely read problem reports about the very products I'm also using that simply don't apply at all to me. Most of the time in these problem reports it's not what the people admit or say that is important: it's what they *don't say* that actually is of critical importance toward the resolution of their problems. Unless we can read minds, then, it doesn't strike me that making product decisions based on trouble reports we read in forums is especially wise...;)

    How's that going to happen until the 3d APIs available to developers support CFX/SLI? Until then, the custom support we currently have for either CFX or SLI from the IHVs will have to suffice. As I said, that support has gotten *a lot* better in the last year or two, and I'm pleased to note that I haven't encountered a single instance in my HD38xx/48xx CFX experience where CFX "decelerates" performance to that lower than a single card. Again, that is probably because the CF I'm using isn't the same CF you used a couple of years ago...;) Really, it doesn't seem probable at all to me that a CFX driver would be, on its own, likely to do that these days, because it would be easier and better for the IHV driver simply not to support CFX in a game which cannot be CFX accelerated, and in which case a single card would offer better performance, anyway. Right? I can, however, even today imagine this happening in a case wherein a game isn't directly supported by the IHV in the driver for CFX or SLI, but where the user creates a custom profile for the game even though the game is unsupported by the IHV in the driver set being used.
     
  18. Randell

    Randell Senior Daddy
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    I had 1950pro's crossfired and I got nothing out of it for the games I was playing at the time so gave up.

    I next tried 3870X2 and 3870 and that worked well enough in Bioshock and Conan, but as I play at 1680x1050, I didn't think I needed it to be honest and took out the 3870 as the system was too hot as well.

    Last night I replaced the thermal gunk on the 3870x2 and 3870 and they run much cooler now (one 3870X2 chip was idling at 77Deg, now its idling at 56-58deg) and reinstalling the 3870 was easy and didn't require a driver reisntall and gave a 20% increase in my 3dMark Vantage High GPU score which is reasonable enough. I haven't tested anything else yet.

    Once question on CrossfireX, can I use ATT profiles to set AA etc with a CF set-up? I don't intend to use ATT for OC'ing or anything, just need a decent game profiler!
     
  19. WaltC

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    You mean CCC profiles? I set a specific CCC profile for every game I run wherein I can control all the parameters for each different game. Some game profiles I set for Application Controlled in terms of AA, etc., some I set for Box, edge, etc., and the precise number of samples I want. I also use the CCC profiler to set color saturation, brightness and etc for each as well, although I usually find the defaults to be sufficient. When you save the profile for a specific game, be sure to set the "all Catalyst control center settings" or "the following settings" radio button according to your preferences. If you like, for instance, you can use the "the following settings" button to save only your profile for AA for that game, etc. Hope this answers your question...;)
     
    #19 WaltC, Jul 9, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2008
  20. Randell

    Randell Senior Daddy
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    I meant ATT (ATI Tray Tools). I want a profile that loads with the game exe, not that has to be separatley turned on and off for each app.
     
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