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Motherboards x58 vs 790i ultra. Is x58 worth it for Tri-Sli?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Doc101, 11 Jan 2009.

  1. Doc101

    Doc101 What's a Dremel?

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    Hi,
    I am new here and appeal to those smarter than I am. Looking for information and advice. All I want to do is maximize my gaming experiences, but sensably if neccessary. I run (in SLI) an EVGA 790i Ultra MB that says it has "True 3X PCI Express x16 Graphics Support." (Not sure if that means x16 each with all 3 slots filled with video cards at the same time.) My question: Is it worth upgrading to a x58 motherboard in my case for better TRI-SLI graphics support in games? I would have to replace and get rid of my QX9770 Processor, (and that doesn't make finacial sense) and change out my 2x2g sticks of 1600mhz DDR3 Ram.

    WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL ABOUT THE X58 CONCERNING TRI-SLI? Would I see any appreciable benefit if I had that board? My searches for TRI-SLI keep bringing up the x58. But I read in TRI-SLI not all the x16 slots will actually run at x16.

    I am using a "Trade-up" program to trade 2 non-OC 280GTXs in SLI for 2 free GTX 285's. With the new cards lower heat and power requirements I am inclined to try a third GTX 285. I game in a 5040x1050 resolution with 3 widescreens LCDs using a TH2GO. (basically like a extra wide 65inch LCD) I have a 1200 watt Thermltake power supply. I bought a big one in anticipation of trying TRI-SLI if ever I had justification.

    Based on what I currently run if I just add a 3rd GTX 285 to my current system, will I be missing out on any TRI-SLI benefit had I a system based on the x58 motherboard design?

    P.S. If anyone is kind enough to comment please tailor any responses with this criteria in mind: I know the x58 boards did away with the north bridge. I am NOT A OVER-CLOCKER. While I like fiddeling with electronics and have built several gaming computers for myself I really just like to play games. FC2, Crysis, etc... Right now I have a rock stable system that gives me no troubles. I know I'll have to relocate and get a PCI-E sound card. I don't want to waste money, but I want to know if I am limiting myself concerning TRI-SLI in the 790i Ultra Mother Board and by what appreciable amount vs a serious upgrade/migration to a x58 design.

    And Thank You, for any serious replies.

    Doc101
     
  2. mansueto

    mansueto Too broke to mod

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    Wouldn't the rest of the system bottleneck the tri-sli?
     
  3. Ending Credits

    Ending Credits Bunned

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    5000x1000 is pretty much the same as 2600x1900 so I'd find it hard justifying that extra card. (then again you have an intel QX so you obviously have a lot of disposable income)
     
  4. Doc101

    Doc101 What's a Dremel?

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    x58 upgrade worth while for tri-sli?

    I don't know if the rest of my system will bottleneck tri-sli. Thats why I am seeking comments. The 790i and quad qx9770 run on a native 1600 front side bus as does the ddr3 ram.

    I did have disposable income when I built the system but... times are tougher now.

    Know of any 790i ultra vs x58 comparison conserning tri-sli through put with test score results?

    Wish I knew if going to x58 would benefit me in this regard.
     
  5. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    At the moment you'll be fine with your system. Yes I7 and X58 is a powerful setup, but its certainly not worth the cash right now considering what your upgrading from.

    That alone should be enough reason just to buy a single GTX285, rather then a full system upgrade.
     
  6. Diosjenin

    Diosjenin Thinker, Tweaker, Et Cetera

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    Well, first you should understand that you can't get more than two GTX 285s and expect them all to work in tandem. SLI is limited to three single cards or two dual-GPU cards (like the 285). You may be able to use two 285s in Quad-SLI to run one monitor for gaming and use a third to drive the other two for other tasks (movies, whatever), but I haven't tried it, so I'm not sure.

    If you haven't done anything with the trade-up program yet, my personal recommendation would be to keep the two GTX 280s you already have for a while. If you actually need more performance, get a third GTX 280 and trade them all up later for the DX11-compatible GTX 300 series (should be out before the end of the year). nVidia has a bad history with dual-GPU cards. They work great when they can actually get them to work, but they release so few into the market that the demand for driver support hasn't historically been there a year after the initial release. Remember the 9800 GX2? It can barely play games anymore without crashing.

    That being said, here's the deal on motherboard bandwidth and X58/790i performance.

    The x16/x8/etc. moniker denotes the bandwidth available to you in each slot. Any X58 board will run x16/x16 with two cards, but using three means more bandwidth than X58 is natively set up to handle, and the manufacturers get around that in different ways. Most X58 boards will run Tri-SLI in x16/x8/x8 mode. A few of the more expensive ones will run x16/x16/x8. As of right now, only two X58 boards (the ASUS P6T6 WS Revolution and the ASUS Rampage II Extreme) support x16/x16/x16. (The 790i supports full x16/x16/x16, by the way).

    Of course, most of the reviews you read of Core 2 vs. Core i7 gaming performance being neck and neck are somewhat misleading. Most mainstream gaming setups are actually GPU bottlenecked by a moderate Core 2 setup - but when the graphics power is cranked up a few notches and the CPU becomes the bottleneck, the performance difference is extremely clear.

    Tri-SLI performance on X58 differs from that of any Core 2 setup in this basic way: Memory bandwidth. When the CPU becomes the bottleneck, the performance difference is made up not by how fast the CPU runs in and of itself, but in how fast it can feed data to the GPUs from memory. Core 2 doesn't run into that problem without an extremely powerful GPU setup, but Core i7, with a tri-channel on-die memory controller, trounces it.

    Now, that gap is mitigated somewhat by the fact that your Core 2 setup is one of the fastest available (and you'd be truly negligent to have left that QX9770 at stock speeds, so I'll assume that's been overclocked). And it's also worth noting that part of the reason the Core i7 trounced the Core 2 setup so badly in the review linked above is that they were using a (overclocked) E8400, not anything close to the QX9770 of yours.

    Bottom line: Is Tri-SLI on X58 a boost from Tri-SLI on 790i? Yes. Is it a boost worth the $800 minimum cost of the upgrade? No - not even close.

    Hope that helped + that you learned something new. :)


    - Diosjenin -
     
  7. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    The GTX285 is a single GPU, which will allow for tri-sli, the GTX295 is the dual GPU option.
     
  8. Diosjenin

    Diosjenin Thinker, Tweaker, Et Cetera

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    :duh: Curse my lack of sleep and its impact on rational thought!

    - Diosjenin -
     
  9. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    hope all that typing wasn't wasted! lol!
     
  10. Stig

    Stig What's a Dremel?

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    Don't bother with Tri-SLI. You don't see a very appreciable increase in performance over dual SLI, and TBH, I'm not sure your system could effectively use all of it anyway. 2x GTX285's will be plenty for anything you want to do.
     
  11. Diosjenin

    Diosjenin Thinker, Tweaker, Et Cetera

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    Well, all the stuff about bandwidth and the motherboards and what not - the stuff not regarding which card you should get - that all stands, as does the overall advice for potentially upgrading to Core i7. With a system already as powerful as yours, it's truly not worth the cost.

    The GPU upgrade advice becomes more limited to your desire for power in the immediate term. I would not, if I were you, trade in the GTX 280s that you already have when the GTX 300 series will be released by year's end (assuming the trade-in deadline hasn't passed by their release date). Trading in now will gain you far less performance than will trading them in nine months or so from now when there's a genuinely new generation of cards to choose from.

    So if I were you, I would first make sure the trade-up deadline extends over the end of this year. Assuming it does, you can buy a third GTX 280 now or not, your call, but come later this year, trade them in for a GTX 300 SLI/Tri-SLI setup, and simply purchase the remainder of a Core i7 platform (which will then be much cheaper) at the same time.


    - Diosjenin -
     
  12. Doc101

    Doc101 What's a Dremel?

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    Thank you one and all for your comments they are very much appreciated. I learned a lot and the link was a great one which I intend to read thoroughly.

    My 100 day trade-up program ends the day after the GTX 285s go on sale. So I must do it now. After contacting BFG with my intentions they assured me I will be allowed to get the 285s if they do launch on the 15th even if in my particular case it takes them longer than the 100 days to make them available in their Trade-Up program. Keep in mind I can only speak for myself here. I had to call persistantly and negotiate for the "wiggle room." I never considered the 295s because of their expected short driver support life span from Nvidia and the history of Nvidia with their dual GPU cards. I personally believe Nvidia will driver support the 285s longer and more intensly than the 295. That is just my opinion.

    After playing with the 285s for a bit I think adding a third card a while after 212 is introduced might be good for me, once 285 pricing falls and rebates abound. I have several computers (which I am sure a lot of us are guilty of) where parts sort of get trickled down to. When the 300 comes forth later in the year I think I will be in a better position to decide upon a migration path toward x58. Eventually I will go there but as some have stated it might be pre-mature considering the life left in the parts I currently have.

    I am leaning towards a third 285 eventually. Tri-Sli is something I have always been enamoured with. I have basically put my self in a position where I can make the leap with out much difficulty. Everything is in place for it parts wise. It will just cost a little $$ for the card itself. If it turns out not to be wise I have room for it else where. And if it does not turn out to improve my graphics frame-rate-wise very well, will my system dedicate the 3rd card to just plain physics? Or is the physics factor something I manually control through Nvidia software options? I have not messed with physics as of yet.

    I am aware that there really is not much out there that takes advantage of Nvidia Physics and that dedicating a GTX 285 for that purpose borders on ludicrous.

    I am being honest here in admitting Tri-Sli is something of a conceit on my part as I just want to mess around with it and see what it can do for my triple screen setup. If it fails epically for my purposes on my gaming rig the 3rd card won't go wasted with my small arsenal of computers.

    I got 3 free matching wide screen 1680x1050 LCDs on Black Friday by buying 3 Best Buy quad core system packages, upgrading the power supplies and installing video cards in each with parts I had laying around. I then sold the computers but kept the monitors they came with intentionally and admittedly selfishly. That is how I found myself gaming at 5040x1050 resolution with a TH2GO in the first place. And I like it. I like it a lot.

    The TH2GO just connects to one video card DVI output and seperates the 5040x1050 video signal through-put into 3 seperate video signals that span across each of the 1680x1050 LCDs with a little black box that has 3 DVI-D out puts on the other side. My computer has no idea there are 3 monitors, it just recognizes one uber geek large monitor that spans 65 inches across. I mention this because one of the early responses confused me a little.

    Again, thank you all deeply for your generosity in sharing the information you know and your suggestions and comments. Please feel free to continue to do so as I will keep an eye on this thread and respond accordingly.
     
  13. Diosjenin

    Diosjenin Thinker, Tweaker, Et Cetera

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    Oooh... okay. Well, if the trade-up option only gives you 100 days, then yes, absolutely trade up to the 285s. Really, you have nothing to lose there (should be obvious enough).

    PhysX: You can either choose to dedicate the third card to PhysX or to spread the load across the cards. PhysX load is generally next to nothing; the accepted standard is that a Tri-SLI GTX 280 setup is most evenly matched with a separate 9600 GT. So if you're running three GTX 280s, spreading the load across is a better idea. That way, the third card has some extra horsepower left for those last few frames per second and it isn't entirely wasted on physics processing while the other two are churning away at the actual graphics.


    - Diosjenin -
     
  14. EricC

    EricC What's a Dremel?

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    I don't think the Rampage II extreme does any better than X16/X8/X8. I am desperately seeking a mobo to handle tri-SLI at triple X16, plus a soundcard, and the P6T6 does not do it, as there is not slot for the sound card after installing the tri 285's. Is there are any other mobo out there now that does X16/X16/X16?
     
  15. Diosjenin

    Diosjenin Thinker, Tweaker, Et Cetera

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    Don't think so. Not yet, anyway. But you'll get virtually no performance loss from a x16/x16/x8 board, and a lot of boards priced around $300 USD or even less will do the trick. The Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P, for example, supports x16/x16/x8, and it costs $240. So long as you pair it with a case that has eight expansion brackets instead of the standard seven (like the Antec 902), you'll be golden. (You'd have to do that because the air outlet on third card would overhang the standard seventh slot, so the extra eighth expansion bracket available on the case allows the air to vent).


    - Diosjenin -
     

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