To be able to understand what we are doing today, we need to briefly take you through some of the key components used for el Diablo (the nickname of our PC). A home built DIY (Do It Yourself) X58 based Core i7 system.
So before we start, some custom parts we will be using I want to show to you first:
2x 128GB SSD (dual boot - one OS for ATI cards / one OS for NVIDIA cards)
1200 Watt BFG Power Supply
Corsair Obsidian 800D Chassis
Two GeForce GTX 460 768MB graphics cards
Two Radeon HD 5830 1024MB graphics cards
These are some pretty nifty parts and bare in mind, when you opt multi-GPU gaming, always have your gear right. You'll need that quality power supply, you'll need that beefy motherboard and processor and then, you'll need a chassis with some very decent airflow keeping the graphics cards nicely chilled down.
For today's test we'll use two eVGA GeForce GTX 460 cards.
If you read our GeForce GTX 460 shootout article you will have noticed that we have two eVGA GeForce GTX 460 768MB cards in-house. These cards are now both down-clocked to the reference 675MHz on the core and 3600 MHz on the memory. So we are looking at reference performance today. Later on in the article we'll also cover the two cards overclocked in SLI mode (which is really interesting by the way).
Overall, very exciting cards from eVGA. The GeForce GTX 460 768 MB Superclocked will get 2 years standard plus further 8 years of warranty upon registration (!) The regular GTX 460 768 MB will have 2 years warranty .
So we use two of these in SLI at reference clock frequencies. We use the GeForce Forceware 258.80 beta driver.
On ATI's side we use two Radeon HD 5830 cards, both also setup at reference clocks (800MHz core / 4000 MHz effective memory). The Radeon 5830 cards will be using Catalyst 10.6 drivers and the very latest Crossfire profile patch to be certain that Crossfire profiles are working properly in all games.
Both the R5830 and GTX 460 cards will be tested in the very same PC. The one difference is that we have a multi-boot SSD setup with the OS and applications cloned to each SSD, one for ATI cards and one for NVIDIA card. The OS on both clones is identical and all patched up. So there literally is no difference in-between our test setups other then the graphics cards and their respective drivers.
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