Our Crossfire experience was a mixed bag of results. When we tested the 7970 in 2-way Crossfire, we barely had any issues. With the 7950 that changed somewhat. You probably missed it in our test session, but Crysis 2 would not scale whatsoever, we had a weird freeze in Far Cry 2, Lost Planet 2 was rather unstable, Dirt 2 showed massive corruption (hence we left it out). So yeah, that's quite a bit to deal with.
Another title that ran into problems was Battlefield 3, 2-way Crossfire worked spotless, but with 3-way crossfire we could not even get into the main menu.
It's for reasons mentioned above that we always suggest you guys that IF you opt a multi-GPU solution, to go with 2 cards maximum. Here again we we like to say that very same thing.
AMD will need to place a strong focus on drivers as last year, if you have read up in our forums, AMD's Radeon team has been a step too slow with driver support. While there are monthly updates and hotfixes titles like Rage and Skyrim have been plagued by driver bugs, especially in Crossfire modes. It took AMD too long fix. When you drop 60 EUR on game you want to be able to play it on release day, period.
When we relate that to our test suite with CrossfireX in mind, AMD simply did not return with a homerun in this round. The flipside of the coin however is that most titles behaved well with 2-way Crossfire and performed beautifully really.
Once scaling does kick in (and you have a GPU dependant game title) that's where you'll get a smile on your face alright.
Crossfire Scaling Obviously this topic is closely related towards the previous paragraph, but once Crossfire is properly supported, well it just doesn't disappoint. The games scale well with the new Tahiti GPU architecture. And depending on your monitor resolutions you'll see relative performance scaling go upwards with your monitor resolution. The modern GPU stringent titles scale anywhere from 1.6x towards a staggering 2x performance, and that's just impressive.
Going past 2 GPUs remains a bit of a dilemma. If your goal is to breach 3DMark records, then by all means go for it. But for the enthusiast gamer, two GPUs tops remains our recommendation.
Power and Heat Much like the reference 7950 review has shown, the cooling is certainly sufficient enough for two cards inside a chassis and during gaming temperatures will stay at roughly 70~75 Degrees C. The IDLE noise levels are close to NIL really, and when stressed massively two cards will be audible, you will hear quite a bit of airflow. It however remains at acceptable levels.
With three cards you need to make sure you have a lot of cool air flowing into your chassis. Expect the warmest GPU to reach 80 Degrees C as you are bound to place the cards close together. Once you pass 75 degrees C the noise levels once again will increase as well. Keep that in mind if considering the multi-GPU road, at all times
We very much so remain impressed by the board the power consumption of the R7950 cards. At roughly 140~150 Watt per GPU you just can not complain.
With this Crossfire overview we also have been able to get glimpse into the future, the pending Radeon HD 7990 surely is looking tempting. Driver troubles aside, we did have a lot of fun testing in Crossfire mode.
Again we recommend two cards over three anytime. Unless you are into achieving the highest 3Dmark scores of course, and that's a hole lot of fun as well.
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