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:
Memory -- Corsair Dominator 6144 MB (3 x 2048 MB) DDR3 Corsair @ 1600 MHz CAS 7
2x 128 GB SSD (dual boot - one OS for ATI cards / one OS for NVIDIA cards)
BFG 1200 Watt Power Supply
Corsair Obsidian 800D Chassis
Two Radeon HD 6950 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 Radeon HD 6950 cards, one reference and one from Gigabyte. Both cards are configured at reference settings, thus 800 MHz on the core frequency and 5000 MHz (effective datarate) on the graphics memory domain.
So we are looking at reference baseline CrossfireX performance today. We use two cards in CrossfireX mode at reference clock frequencies. We use the AMD's supplied press driver, the 10.11 (126.96.36.199206a) driver.
On NVIDIA's side we advise you to mostly compare to the new 400 and 500 series, as these are fully up-to date with series 260 drivers. The Gigabyte card of course also comes with two DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, one HDMI 1.4a connector and two DVI connectors of which one is single (up-to monitor resolution 1920x1200) and the other dual-link (2560x1600 and even higher). Two cards would supplement an Eyefinity setup really well.
All graphics cards tested today 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 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. For installation, make sure you do not forget to use the CrossfireX bridges.
Also remember that with the R6950 you'll need a total of four 6-pin PCIe PEG power connectors headed from your power supply. Purchase a good one, and with so much power under the hood, don't mess around with the Molex to PCIe 6-pin power converter cables okay? Okay let's head on over to the testing zone.
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