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 that I want to show you first:
2x 128GB SSD (dual boot - one OS for ATI cards / one OS for NVIDIA cards)
1200 Watt Power Supply
Three GeForce GTX 580 graphics cards
These are some pretty nifty parts and bear in mind, when you opt for 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 good airflow keeping the graphics cards nicely chilled down.
For today's test we'll use two reference GeForce GTX 580 cards.
One of the cards used is an Inno3D OC edition (820 MHz) graphics card subject to review soon. Make no mistake, we test at reference baseline. These cards are all manually clocked at the reference 772 MHz on the core and 4000 MHz (effective) on the memory. So we are looking at reference performance today. Later on in the article we'll also cover the three cards overclocked in SLI mode (which is interesting by the way).
We use the GeForce Forceware 262.99 beta driver. On ATI's side we ask you to mostly compare them to the new 6800 series, as these are fully up-to date with Catalyst 10.10 drivers and the very latest Crossfire profile patch to be certain that Crossfire profiles are working properly in all games.
All graphics cards have been 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 cards. The OS on both clones is identical and all patched up. So there literally is no difference in-between our test setups other than the graphics cards and their respective drivers.
You'd better get used to it, lots of wires leading to the graphics cards. You'll need three sets of 6-pin and three sets of 8-pin PEG PCIe power connectors from your heavy duty power supply.
Also required is a 3-way SLI bridge, you should have received it with your 3/4-way SLI motherboard. If it was not provided, chances are significant that you only have a 2-way SLI compatible motherboard. Okay let's head on over to the testing zone...
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