Legit Video Card Reviews
ATI X1800 CrossFire Video Card Review
|Date:||Wed, Jan 18, 2006 - 12:00 AM|
|Written By:||Scott Heflin -|
We?ve seen that with CrossFire you gain some great performance but the application is not without some annoyances. CrossFire is still more difficult to get up and running than SLI, and the Catalyst Control Panel has a slower response time when CrossFire is enabled. Having the extra cabling behind the PC is only frustrating if you spend a lot of time changing things around, and of course needing a special master card can add some confusion when it comes time to make your purchase. Looking back though, NVIDIA?s SLI had its fair share of problems when it launched over a year ago but now is an extremely mature platform. Overall we?ve encountered no issues that we?ve seen in other reviews, CrossFire simply worked. Considering that 6 months ago CrossFire was something that only existed behind closed doors, this second generation has a lot going for it, and you can be assured CrossFire will continue to improve. A dual card solution is not for everyone. Spending $600-$1000 on video cards alone is not enough because you also need to keep in mind that it requires a robust power supply to run these cards. A 500w power supply is a requirement for running this kind of system but I think very soon we'll see that even these power supplies might not be enough.
Sound is another factor in a dual card system. I found a pair of 7800GT's in SLI on the DFI NF4 board to be annoyingly loud. The three fans (chipset and video cards) working against each other was simply too much for me to deal with while not gaming. CrossFire at times was found to be even worse. When first installing Crossfire, before the driver detects the second card, the card fan runs at 100%. When you have a pair of X1800XT's this is extremely loud. Thankfully after the drivers are installed everything is quieter, much more so than the SLI'd 7800GT's. ATI's chipsets are passively cooled which makes for a quiet running system.
Heat is another thing to consider. A single graphics card does a fine job of dumping heat into your system as it is. When you put two in the system air flow in the case becomes very important. The X1800XT has an advantage here as it moves most of the heat to the outside of the case. It also draws the air to cool the card from the side rather than sucking hot air off of the other card when in CrossFire.
As we mentioned at the start of this article, you need a CrossFire capable motherboard which includes Intel motherboards. Nvidia is still not allowing Nforce4 support for CrossFire so you will need to buy a motherboard. There are many Intel users that will not own a board without an Intel chipset so CrossFire is the only choice.
The best bang for the buck as far as dual video cards go is the 7800GT. A single X1800XL is nearly the same price but having to spend more for the master card is the deal breaker. The X1800XT CrossFire is easily the fastest system in our tests and of course that performance comes at a price. The $599 CrossFire Master Card and $550 MSRP for the standard XT put this pair of cards at a price higher than most complete systems you will see at a LAN party.
Legit Bottom line: A single mid to high-end video card will give you extremely playable performance in all of today's games. SLI and CrossFire have their own place as borderline excessive for most people. Being able to play at high resolutions with in game settings turned all the way up is something that is, for some, worth paying extra for and ATI now has a competitive solution.
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Page 1 - What is Crossfire?
Page 2 - Under The Heat Spreader
Page 3 - How does it work?
Page 4 - Test setup
Page 5 - Doom 3
Page 6 - Far Cry
Page 7 - Serious Sam 2
Page 8 - Call of Duty 2
Page 9 - 3D Mark 2005
Page 10 - Conclusion