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Buckaroo

To SLI or Not to SLI...

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Work bonus is coming soon, and with some of that money I am finally setting a large amount aside for upgrading my old system.  I've been running an Intel Core i7 950 for a long time, and although it hasn't let me down I'm excited to move onto the new technology that's out there now!

 

I'm pretty sure what CPU I'm going to run as well as memory (looking at the 2011-v3 and DDR4), but now am deciding what kind of monitor and video card setup I want to go with.  I've always wanted a surround, 3-monitor configuration that could also do 3D gaming.  I'm also definitely going with monitors using a 144Hz refresh rate.

 

Questions:  

  • Is an SLI configuration really worth it performance wise?
  • To run 3 monitors do I need 2 video cards, or would one be enough to run a full 3D surround configuration?
  • Is 3D gaming worth it (any experienced 3D gamers out there)?
  • Any good recommendations on 144Hz Refresh Rate monitors 24" and above size?

 

(Note: I'm looking for something that will carry me performance wise for the next 3 years likely for not only Star Citizen but other games)

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For an awesome setup?  Good amount of money.  Not sure I'll do GTX 980's in SLI, but I might do 970's in SLI.  The performance gain of a 980 over a 970 isn't worth it, in my opinion--at least from what I've read.  I've never been about buying the best just because it's the best.  I won't buy "the best" just because it's the best.  It has to be worth the price, which I believe most high-priced hardware parts aren't  So I usually go the middle road hardware.

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Get the highest end SINGLE GPU card.  If it's not enough, get another.  You will not enjoy microstutter and all the driver problems sli/crossfire brings.  You can always get more cards and monitors later and cheaper.  Start small.

 

Here's a must watch video explaining SLI/Crossfire:

 

 

\\\WARING///

When you go 144hz, you will never go back.

 

The latest and greatest 144hz is http://www.asus.com/Monitors/ROG_SWIFT_PG278Q/

-$800USD

-27"

-1440p Resolution

-Lightboost (CRT smoothness option)

-GSYNC

-1ms grey to grey response time

-Eight bits per color channel (Yes this matters ALOT)

 

 

A more affordable 144hz monitor is:  http://www.asus.com/ca-en/Monitors_Projectors/VG248QE/

-$250~

-24"

-1080p Resolution

-Lightboost hack

-GSYNC (Sold separately)

-1ms Grey to Grey

-Six bits per color channel

 

I'm not adding BenQ 144hz as they're not GSYNC friendly.  And I just don't have experience with them first hand.

 

 

 

 

I can't comment on 3d gaming as I've not done it.  But I will say this, don't buy an oculus yet whatever you do.  It's not worth it YET and SC doesn't officially support it, it's sorta hacked in.

 

 

Do we have a budget?

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That's very extreme of you.  But for what you want to do in SC, you're going to need that kind of power.  Maybe not that exact card though.  Keep in mind that card is dual GPU, so anything bad with crossfire applies here and the GDDR5 RAM doesn't stack.  You get 4GB total.

 

 

Why you should go team red(AMD):

-Mantle & low level audio access (SC will be fully supporting it)

-Raptr to broadcast or record with minimal performance loss

-IMO cheaper price to performance

-FREESYNC is VSYNC without the bad stuff like latency and stuttering (free, but not public yet)

 

 

Why you should go team green(Nvidia):

-Shadowplay for broadcast & recording (far more mature than anything AMD has, from what I hear)

-GSYNC is VSYNC without latency and stuttering(proprietary & expensive but here & now)

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Going from my very recent personal experience, the screen stutter and random blackouts get very annoying running two cards in CrossFire X setup. I'd much rather have one really good card than two alright cards. Better performance and none of the issues. The only reason I'm using two cards was because I already had the first one, but still wanted to upgrade my pc slightly. The performance in almost every game is so much better though.

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as a user of sli it has been great i have two 780tis and run a tripple monitor setup there is issues with star citizen but nothing that the nvida control panel can override. I have 2 benq 120hz gaming monitors and a asus 28 120hz gaming in the center.

 

In short

 

Good:

Its worth up too 3 cards and play high resolutions and high demanding games.

Looks bad ass

 

Bad

Some games freakout, my oculous rift goes crazy 

More psu power neeeded maybe 

ugly bridge even though evga have made a sexy looking one!

 

hope this helped.

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The new Nvidia SLI bridges actually look pretty good. http://www.geforce.com/hardware/technology/sli/bridges

The new AMD crossfire bridges look good too...  Oh wait.

 

1fbIjNH.jpg

 

They don't need any.

 

 

TBH I'm getting dissapoint in nvidia innovation as of late.  I supported them because of Shadowplay.  But now AMD has Raptr DVR so that's not even a selling point for Nvidia anymore.  Meanwhile AMD is leading the charge in low level API (Mantle & TrueAudio), forcing Microsoft to make DX12,  and creating a VESA standard for all new monitors to support FREESYNC for everyone, for free, AND isn't proprietary and expensive like GSYNC.

 

 

All this while they secured a contract from both Sony and Microsoft to make their "nextgen" consoles.

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Questions:  

  • Is an SLI configuration really worth it performance wise?
  • To run 3 monitors do I need 2 video cards, or would one be enough to run a full 3D surround configuration?
  • Is 3D gaming worth it (any experienced 3D gamers out there)?
  • Any good recommendations on 144Hz Refresh Rate monitors 24" and above size?

 

(Note: I'm looking for something that will carry me performance wise for the next 3 years likely for not only Star Citizen but other games)

 

I got a 295x2 since a few months and I am happy with it.

That said SC still has small issues but other games are awesome.

 

I play 5760x1080 triple screen. With the framerates you get in high triple screen resolution I don't think it is worth it investing in 3x 144Hz screens. That said if you only go for one screen get a big 144Hz 1440p or a 4k (lacking refresh ofc).

 

@Genesis

Gsync is out there and working since some time now while Freesync is not. And I have the feeling of Nvidia while being the much smaller company constantly forcing AMD to improve so Freesync, Mantle and better cards are potentially only being delivered because of the innovation and solid products by NVIDIA.

I say that as a curent AMD User :)

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The new AMD crossfire bridges look good too...  Oh wait.

 

1fbIjNH.jpg

 

They don't need any.

 

 

TBH I'm getting dissapoint in nvidia innovation as of late.  I supported them because of Shadowplay.  But now AMD has Raptr DVR so that's not even a selling point for Nvidia anymore.  Meanwhile AMD is leading the charge in low level API (Mantle & TrueAudio), forcing Microsoft to make DX12,  and creating a VESA standard for all new monitors to support FREESYNC for everyone, for free, AND isn't proprietary and expensive like GSYNC.

 

 

All this while they secured a contract from both Sony and Microsoft to make their "nextgen" consoles.

 

Oh Mantle ... you mean the thing which is enabled in Civ 6 (Beyond Earth).

 

http://www.anandtech.com/show/8640/benchmarked-civilization-beyond-earth/2

 

290X with Mantle still losing to Geforce GTX 980 in 4K ... while needing 50-100W more power.

 

Tbh. AMD is always pretty big in promising and not so big in delivering. I remember the hype about the bulldozer CPU's ... and they were shit.

 

Edit: what i wanted to say, right now, you have to buy Nvidia, maybe that will change with AMDs new GPU lineup. But you have to wait for that.

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most of the time new games doesn't run well with SLI (it will be patches like 2-6 weeks later)

especially now that most AAA are released in a buggy state (and bad console ports to pc)

also you need a good amount of ram for higher resolutions 

and the heat does go up with sli

​I usually go with the highest single core card .. unless theres a amazing discount on 2x cards

 

 

atm i think the 970 is the best card pr $ but now and then there are some really nice discounts 

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Hey @Buckaroo - I'd like to chime in on one aspect that not many have covered - 3D gaming.

 

My experience:

 

I started running a 120hz ASUS monitor @1920x1080 with an Nvidia GTX 690 using the NVidia 3D vision specs. My current setup is 3x 27" monitors @2560x1440.

 

TLDR; 3D vision wasn't worth it - I moved to ultra-high resolution instead but I miss the high refresh rate

 

In long form - I started off using 3D vision. In games where it was fully supported the result was breathtaking and the depth of scene really helped to make games pop. However I quickly noticed a number of concerns:

  • Game support is patchy at best - you're at the whims of whether the game was coded to support 3D "properly". (Ironically one of the best examples was World of Warcraft). Other games have 3D emulated by the Nvidia drivers interpreting the depth buffer
  • Running in 3D put a huge strain on the GPU - it's needing to render the same scene twice at 30fps each (once for each eye). 
  • The GPU strain meant the picture was often choppy - high detail scenes meant lag as the system caught up so to counter that required dropping detail. This defeated the purpose of going for a top spec system
  • Sitting with the glasses on for any length of time was uncomfortable - YMMV but after 90 mins or so I started to get eye strain and headaches. No chance for a real long-term session here, my physiology just couldn't cope. Gaming is twitchier than movies and I know I sometimes suffer after watching a feature length film in "glorious" 3D
  • I have the fear that doing the same on an even larger screen (2560x1440 or 4k) will have the same issues but need even more raw power

 

The hardware just isn't there yet in my opinion so I looked elsewhere for my jolly's and instead moved to an ultra high resolution. To do this I can enable "Surround Mode" on the GTX 690 which treats all 3 displays as a single 7680x1440 display. The wrap-around view is amazing! Again, support varies game to game. WoW (again) makes excellent use of it with the centre screen looking crisp and detailed and a realistic fisheye effect applying to the side screens mimicking peripheral vision. Far Cry was another that looks good but other titles like CoD just stick the UI out in the corners making things a bit hard to keep track of. I can push along at this res on high details on many modern games. Arena Commander runs like an absolute dog though - we're talking 4-5 FPS in the hangar on this setup but then my backing gear is 2 years old. 

 

Anyway, just my 2c. If you've got any questions about the setup or experiences feel free to shout.

 

EDIT: For reference, the machine specs - 

 

Core i7-3770K @4.2GHz on an Asus Sabertooth Z77 / 32GB DDR3-1866 / GTX690 @ 915MHz/1020MHz Boost. The whole lot is water-cooled to keep temps down for an overlock and to reduce noise.

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Thanks again everyone for their thoughts!  If possible, please don't worry about debating AMD vs NVIDIA just yet.  I've used both cards (although not recent products), and although I have been using nVidia for awhile now I have been watching AMD with much interest to see what they can provide and improve on my gaming experience.  I'm not tied to one or the other, but I am leaning more towards nVidia just because of current history with them.

 

I was doing some reading and listening to Linus Tech Tips till late last night on SLI, graphics cards and monitors, and I came across this monitor, the ASUS ROG PG278Q.  What a beast of a monitor!  It just about completely blows through the budget I had in mind for a set of three monitors, but it has some impressive specs!  I may go that route and get a second smaller monitor to the side.  If that's the case, perhaps a single graphics card is a better way to go?

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2x 970's will be very good. Better than any single card I'm sure.

 

However, the question is will it be enough to run SC on top settings across 3 monitors?

 

http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/geforce_gtx_970_sli_review,18.html

 

This review suggests maybe just.

 

Crysis 3

Very High quality

3840x2160

 

31fps

 

 

Id say that's minimum but not ideal.

 

 

2x 980's

 

41fps

 

 

What gfx card do you have just now? Can you make do with it? I'd be tempted to go for a 980 now and maybe another 980 down the line when its cheaper or just wait for a better card to come out.

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My current gaming setup:

  • ASUS ROG Intel motherboard
  • Intel Core i7 Quad 950 (3.0Ghz)
  • 6Gb DDR3 RAM
  • GeForce GTX 570 (Primary)
  • GeForce GTX 260 (Physx)
  • 120Gb SSD + 3Tb HDDs

(I'm not at this machine currently so I can't pull all the specifics)

 

Actually, I was thinking seriously about going with a single card now and upgrading to dual cards down the road if I felt I needed the extra performance.  I just didn't know if one video card would be sufficient to power three 1080p monitors...

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Why the hell do people still go EEEEUUUUUUUU 3 monitards for Star citizen.

 

Get the bloody Oculous rift, the consumer version is hit to come out this year. I mean the bloody game is being built to use it, why limit yourself to monitors?

 

Also, im just running two sli'd 760's, performance is on par with a single TITAN. You dont need to go ass wild, save your money and invest it in getting the oculous rift and a warthog from thrustmaster and a desk setup to fit everything comfortably.

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Why the hell do people still go EEEEUUUUUUUU 3 monitards for Star citizen.

 

Get the bloody Oculous rift, the consumer version is hit to come out this year. I mean the bloody game is being built to use it, why limit yourself to monitors?

if try to you read between the lines with what CR is saying about OR it is imho:

they still got a long way to go to deliver a satisfying experience at the needed resolution, frame rate and latency with a graphical challenging title like SC

 

so be careful to expect too much with OR and SC

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Honestly, the Oculus Rift doesn't appeal to me at all.  I'd rather have the monitor setup than some clunky thing on my head removing my ability to see anything else around me (such as my wife coming up about to hit me over the head cause I've been playing Star Citizen too much  :D ).

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My current gaming setup:

  • ASUS ROG Intel motherboard
  • Intel Core i7 Quad 950 (3.0Ghz)
  • 6Gb DDR3 RAM
  • GeForce GTX 570 (Primary)
  • GeForce GTX 260 (Physx)
  • 120Gb SSD + 3Tb HDDs

(I'm not at this machine currently so I can't pull all the specifics)

 

Actually, I was thinking seriously about going with a single card now and upgrading to dual cards down the road if I felt I needed the extra performance.  I just didn't know if one video card would be sufficient to power three 1080p monitors...

 

 

I have a 770GTX and run 2560x1440 on almost all games at highest settings.

 

For SC I run 1920x1080 on high which gives me the best compromise.

 

I'd say for a lot of games a 980GTX would run 3 monitors. However, for the really gfx heavy games and next gen games like SC it probably wont be enough. SLI then comes in.

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