When nVidia first introduced SLI, I really wasn't financially able to jump on the bandwagon, and later when I could have, I wasn't interested, as most of my friends that did were fairly disappointed at the results they saw from having dual video cards. I mean, it was great, but just didn't live up to their expectations.
Earlier this year, I was in a position to try Crossfire with a pair of Radeon HD 3850s. My first attempts were much less than satisfactory, due to the limitations of the P35 chipset. Once I finally tried it on a system with two PCI-E x16 slots, I could see some real multi-GPU goodness, but it just didn't blow me away as I had hoped. I think that my expectations were just too high.though to be honest I really didn't know what to expect. A zillion FPS? AA x 128 capability? Clear head shots every time? I know I expected more than 1.25 x current FPS to 1.75 x current FPS depending on the game.
It seems to me that Crossfire is too dependent on how well the game developers worked multiple video cards into the game...along with the fact that though Intel chipsets are Crossfire capable, your best bet for successful Crossfire is on a motherboard with a modern AMD chipset. And the Catalyst drivers, now at 8.4, still just aren't where they should be in the Crossfire department, in my opinion anyway.
So after my own experience with multiple video cards, I still tend to agree with the comment that I've seen over and over...you are better off with one higher-end video card than a pair of smaller ones.
But I still like the thought of multiple GPUs. About the time I was having my less-than-satisfactory Crossfire experience, AMD/ATI released the first HD 3870 X2. It sounded great, but the $550 price tag was more than I could handle. And the real excitement in the forums was more about running a pair of the 3870 X2s in Crossfire.running a full four GPUs. Unfortunately, this excitement overshadowed comments on the performance of a single HD 3870 X2.or on the latest Crossfire for single-GPU video cards for that matter, and straightforward info about either was hard to come by.
Recently, Asus was among the first companies to put a pair of ATI HD 3850s on a single graphics card, for a more affordable dual-GPU experience. I reviewed a Radeon HD 3850 (single GPU) earlier this year, and was very impressed with it.performance just shy of an 8800GT at $100 less. A pair on one card should be an awesome experience. Today I will be looking at the Asus EAH3850 X2 1GB, twin 3850s with 512MB each, one of the few on the market. Will it meet my dual-3850 expectations? How will it compare to the 9800GTX, nVidia's top of the line single-GPU card? Read on and see!
Interface: PCI Express 2.0 x16
GPU: Dual Radeon HD 3850
Core Clock: 668MHz
Stream Processors: 320 Stream Processing Units
Memory Clock: 1650MHz
Memory Size: 1GB
Memory Interface: 512-bit
Memory Type: GDDR3 3D API
DirectX: DirectX 10
OpenGL: OpenGL 2.0
Ports: 2 x DVI, HDTV out (YPbPr)
RAMDAC: 400 MHz
Max Resolution: 2560 x 1600
Certified for Windows Vista
Card Size: 4.376 inches x 10.5 inches
The EAH3800 X2 comes in the current style of sleeved box that Asus is putting their video cards in. There are a few features listed on the box, but not a lot.
Open the box, and we see that the video card is in its own protective foam compartment, and is in a static-free bag.