AMD Radeon 7000 and Radeon R200 Series Mixed CrossFire Testing

The new AMD Radeon R7 and R9 series video cards went on sale this morning and a number of our readers have asked if they can enable AMD CrossFireX technology with their current AMD Radeon HD 7000 series card with them. The new AMD R-200 series is essentially a product re-brand, so the hardware is the same. AMD confirmed to use earlier this week that you would be able to run mixed CrossFire, but we wanted to try it out for ourselves and see how it works in the real world.

amd-crossfire-testingFor this test we gathered up three AMD Radeon HD 7000 series cards and three of the new AMD R7 and R9 200 series cards to see how they would work together when setup in a mixed CrossFire configuration. If you take a look at the image above you’ll see that we have a Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Vapor-X 3GB video card that we will be pairing with an XFX Radeon R9 280X. Next up we have the original AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz edition reference card that we’ll be pairing up with the Sapphire Radeon R9 270X Toxic. Then we’ll conclude with a look at the Gigabyte Radeon HD 7790 OC and the AMD Radeon R7 260X reference card. It should be noted that we purposely picked cards from different manufactures and all had different clock speeds. We really wanted a ‘worst case’ scenario to ensure CrossFire really was working.

7790-crossfire

First up we have the AMD Radeon R7 260X reference card and the Gigabyte Radeon HD 7790 OC. We used AMD Catalyst 13.11 beta drivers and had no issues with enabling CrossFire with a single interconnect. No issues were found whatsoever and the AMD Catalyst software suite worked like a charm. We heard a rumor that you didn’t need to use a CrossFire bridge when running CrossFire on two AMD Radeon R7 260X cards, but we don’t have two cards to try that out with.  Since both the Radeon HD 7790 and Radeon R7 260X use the same ‘Bonaire’ we figured we’d try without an interconnect here.

7790-internal-crossfire

We were unsuccessful in getting AMD CrossFireX to enable without the ribbon bridge being installed.  It was worth a shot right?

270x-crossfireThe AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz edition reference card and the Sapphire Radeon R9 270X Toxic were able to run CrossFire and no issues were found.

280x-crossfire

The Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Vapor-X 3GB and XFX Radeon R9 280X also were able to run CrossFire together just fine. We noticed that GPU-Z was incorrectly showing the GPU clock speeds one of the cards, but it was running fine. It should be noted that you can overclock most of the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series cards up to the clock speeds of the new AMD Radeon R7 and R9 200 series cards and we were able to do that on some of the cards. To get the most out of your AMD CrossFire setup you’d likely want to clock speeds to be close to the same as otherwise you’d be limited by the slower of the two cards. 

The point of this article was to see if you could CrossFire one of the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series cards with the respective card in the new AMD R7 & R9 200 series and we proved that to be true today. We weren’t wanting to do a performance review as there are so many variables in a mixed CrossFire article, but we’ll leave you with the 3DMark Fires Strike results of the new AMD Radeon R7 260X, Radeon R9 270X and Radeon R9 280X and then again paired in mixed CrossFire with their respective partner card.

3dmark-crossfire

The performance scaling looks pretty solid across the cards and you can clearly see how AMD CrossFire can give you a nice boost in performance.

It should be noted that AMD plans to end the AMD Radeon HD 7790, 7800 and 7900 product lines and expects inventory to be dried up before the holiday season. If you wanted to purchase a matching card for your current AMD Radeon HD 7000 series card be sure to do it sooner rather than later. If you are too late, you don’t have too much to worry about as you can easily mix and match it with a new AMD Radeon R7 or R9 product. The fact that you can mix brands, clock speeds and even card generations is pretty slick and makes for a good user experience! Yes, this is just a re-brand, but AMD could have locked out the ability to CrossFire these cards in the BIOS or drivers if they really wanted.

Let us know if you have any questions!

AMD Radeon R7 and R9 Articles of Interest:

 

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  • Momo

    can i crossfire fire HD7770+r7 250x? both codename are cape verde

  • Lich

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAx73othZFw

    Here he will Clarify in the first 5 minutes of the program.

  • Lich

    Seems people still does not understand the purpose of Crossfire or SLI. The point is that the 2nd card boosts the 1st slot or primary cards performance 20%. That is it. Do not pass go . Do not collect 200 dolla. So if the R9 and or R7 is in the Primary PCI slot and i have a old 7900 or 7800 pushing the performance of the main card. Well Um………………………. Yea …………. Good Game? If you want to waste your money that way. *shrug*

    • pays attention

      20% huh? wow thats an awfully arbitrary figure there, not to be trolling or anything but i have to respond just in case someone else reads this and thinks that anywhere near correct. so for the record; the modern scaling in most games with either sli or xfire is actually closer to 80%, well it was around the time the hd7000′s hit stores and since then they have done HUGE ammounts of work to improve that, especially considering the issues with frame pacing that amd had with the 7990 dual gpu card. now, 6 months after you wrote this i have yet to see a negative review about the r9295x2, also a dual gpu. so here is how scaling works: first off yes, you are correct in saying that by adding 2 128 bit cards in full 16x by 2 config you DO NOT get to wave your magic wand and get a 256 bit processor, due to things like overhead and the limitations of the bridge connector bandwidth its closer to a 192 bit processor, life cant be perfect all the time. now the advantage you DO get is a doubling of memory. granted just throwing memory at a gpu isnt going to enhance its performance as a gpu per se, but have you ever paid attention to the ‘x’ after selecting anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering? so with every multiplier there that card actually re-draws the frame THAT MANY TIMES to smooth out the lines and re adjust the textures, and that eats up memory. i run 2 7770′s, more on that later, with only 1 gig of memory and i could, if i wanted to, play at full 1080p at low low settings on one card no problem because the card has the processing power to do it but not the memory, so i use a smaller resolution and can turn up the fancy stuff like that and poof, my 1366×768 LOOKS better than it’s big brother 1080p monitor because things LOOK SMOOTHER. yes thats an objective opinion, but the loss of detail, for me at least, is as less important than the overall image quality. now add another card and i dont quite get double the power but that extra ram allows me to turn up those settings a bit more AND handles it better because it can multi-thread the workload between the 2 gpu’s and poof, i could theoretically be able to get on a 1080p monitor and play at not just ultra low but turn it up a bit, i plan on sticking with the smaller resolution until i get at least one better card, but yes it works. rockstar was nice enough to add a ram usage bar to at least gta4 for pc, if not san andreas as well, and yes it says 2 gb, if i had it installed id post a pic just to show that. now back to my 2 7770′s, got the first one as a starter card for an initial build with the intention of getting somthing better later, got the second cause it was on sale and i can transfer both of these cards to another rig here in the near future, unfortunately i did not notice that the second card was NOT the fancier oc edition that the first was, so it has lower stock speeds on both memory and core clock, sounds like the scenario stated above……
      as was stated in the review, all i had to do was match the slower cards clocks to the faster cards and no problems, games run smooth and even tho im missing out on SOME of the oc potential of the first better card, and i cheat and have 2 full 16x slots for them to sit in, once again i have no complaints overall besides needing a bigger card anyway. MY ONLY gripe with xfire’ing 2 different runs of cards like this article states is possible, is that im ocd enough to want 2 of the same for aesthetics, but thats the only reason. if someone walked up to me on the street and handed me a brand new 7870 and an r9 270x and said merry xmas, one could be puke green and the other hot pink and id still use em without thought, but if im paying for it, id hope to afford 2 of the same thing, why, because ferrari dosent sell lots of high end cars just because they run good and fast, its because they also have style and looks.

  • Lapman

    Can I CF a 280x with a 290?

  • Ty Brown

    Nice! So that means I can just get an R9 270X and crossfire it with my HIS IceQ Radeon HD 7870? That’s pretty awesome! I was gonna pick up 2 R9 280X’s and crossfire them, even though I’ve always been able to max all my games out on my current 7870 as I just wanted to future proof this thing, but then I hear Mantle will work with the 7870, and I also find out that one of the new cards can crossfire with it! I really do wanna get my hands on one of the RX series so that info is very useful! :)

  • Adam Christiansen

    do we know if you can use a R series card with DX11.2 and have a 79XX as a slave? will the R series act as primary and use the older gen as a second GPU or will it downgrade itself to DX 11.1?

  • Richard Diaz

    How would the R7-260X crossifred with the 7790 perform in 5760×1080 gameplay?

    • Lukas

      like shit probably

  • Terrance Earle

    It looks like the mixed performs slightly better than same GPUs in crossfire.

    • Chris

      Most likely due to runt frames due to different clockspeeds, causing a de-sync of each card, driving up the scores.

  • Serpent of Darkness

    Nice job on the Graph, but there are some issues. You don’t really address Frame Time Variance or Latency between a Crossfire Setup between 2 RX9-280s, or lower models of the same generation. It doesn’t answer the biggest question: Is there going to be major performance issues and negative scaling with the new 7970 GHZ v2.0 generation. Though, I think what you have accomplished is that you’ve basically shown your readers that the previous generation, the 7000 Series AMD cards, can Crossfire pretty well with the new generation aka refreshes of themselves. That’s good, because you’re kind of saying that there’s possibly no runt frames and negative scaling in a sense between the two generations in Crossfire.
    1. You’re trying to do a comparison. There’s no previous generation 7970 GHZ edition in Crossfire to set some form of standard as far as performance. Basically, all those numbers you have on that graph, are just scores. There’s really no significant meaning or proof that there’s an improvement other than something that’s ready been restated: Old and New Generation 7970s are extremely well in Crossfire. What are you comparing it too. It leaves the question, is it better than a Crossfire 7970 GHz setup. This is an extremely important question because, there’s really no point in buying multiple Cards in Crossfire if there’s still Runt Frames and Negative Scaling…
    2. You didn’t compare the performance to a dual Graphic Card from the competition. If this is your attempt to reinforce the point that it’s better to buy an AMD card in crossfire, the RX9-280, over the GTX 770 in SLI, you didn’t hit that nail with the hammer, on the head…
    Overall, nice job on the work. The 7970 GHz + the RX9-280 only suffered a diminishing return in performance by 18.41% on it’s overall score, which isn’t half bad. It’s GPU score only suffered a 2.61% loss. Any person could come to the conclusion that the GPUs scale really well, and maybe AMD addressed the Runt Frame issue from a possible hardware perspective…

    • Nathan Kirsch

      The entire point of this article was to show that mixed CrossFire would work. I was hesitant to even include the performance chart, but I had the numbers and figured why not. I’ll have to take a look at the frame pacing on these cards in CrossFire with the final drivers. I hate to test on pre-production drivers, but then again Catalyst 13.11 Beta drivers came out today and they are the public driver for these cards – http://support.amd.com/en-us/kb-articles/Pages/latest-catalyst-windows-beta.aspx

    • Nathan Kirsch

      The entire point of this article was to show that mixed CrossFire would work. I was hesitant to even include the performance chart, but I had the numbers and figured why not. I’ll have to take a look at the frame pacing on these cards in CrossFire with the final drivers. I hate to test on pre-production drivers, but then again Catalyst 13.11 Beta drivers came out today and they are the public driver for these cards – http://support.amd.com/en-us/kb-articles/Pages/latest-catalyst-windows-beta.aspx