NV GTX 460 1GB SLI vs. ATI HD 5850 CFX Redux

We re-visit GeForce GTX 460 1GB SLI versus Radeon HD 5850 CrossFireX performance using new Catalyst drivers and new CrossFireX Application Profile 10.8a. We also have a new BETA ForceWare driver in play and we will once and for all see how these video card configurations really compete when software is updated.

Introduction

On August 4th, 2010 we tested the awesome performance of GeForce GTX 460 1GB SLI versus Radeon HD 5850 CrossFireX. Our results struck chords around the web for showing the reality of Radeon HD 5850 CrossFireX in particularly two games, Aliens vs. Predator and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. In that evaluation we discovered that GTX 460 1GB SLI blew HD 5850 CFX out of the water in terms of performance.

Looking back at that evaluation, we can see that at 2560x1600 4X AA that Galaxy GeForce GTX 460 Super OC 1GB SLI was almost 30% faster than HD 5850 CFX in Battlefield: Bad Company 2. In Aliens vs. Predator GTX 460 1GB SLI was a whopping 94% faster than HD 5850 CFX. There was a much smaller 12% performance difference in Metro 2033 once again favoring GTX 460 1GB SLI.

These large performance differences prompted inquiry to AMD where AMD went hard and fast at work to figure out why we there was such slow performance in these games with CrossFireX. The answer was a new ATI CrossFireX Application Profile that promised to improve performance in these two games. Our results were very positive when we tested CAP version 10.8a with Catalyst 10.8 drivers. Since performance has changed so much we needed to re-test this comparison to 5850 CrossFireX as well as 5870 CrossFireX.

In this article we will compare GTX 460 1GB SLI versus 5850 CrossFireX using all new drivers and application profiles. In another article will do the same comparison with 5870 CFX.

Test Setup

Today we saw the official introduction of NVIDIA’s Release 260 ForceWare driver. In this driver there are varying degrees of performance improvements, many pertaining to SLI in GTX 400 series video cards. NVIDIA gave HardOCP access to this driver for our redux articles. So we again tested GTX 460 1GB SLI with our new 260 driver to make a thorough and relevant comparison.

Therefore, this evaluation uses Catalyst 10.8 WHQL plus ATI CrossFireX Application Profile 10.8a for the HD 5850 CFX configuration. For the GTX 460 1GB SLI configuration we are using ForceWare 260.52 BETA drivers, which should be released to the public soon.

All other configurations are the same from the original article, meaning we are using two Galaxy GeForce GTX 460 1GB Super OC video cards which are clocked at 810MHz GPU, 1600MHz shader and 4GHz memory. As such, we have overclocked our Radeon HD 5850 cards to 765MHz GPU and 4.5GHz memory as explained in this article.

We will be testing in an apples-to-apples configuration at 2560x1600 and 5760x1200 ATI Eyefinity and NV Surround.

The system specifications are MSI Eclipse, Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.6GHz, 6GB DDR3, Dell 3007WFP, Win7 x64.


2560x1600

Metro 2033

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In Metro 2033 we ran at 2560x1600 with the "Very High" in-game settings. We really did not see any difference in this game using the new driver and profile for the HD 5850 CFX or the new ForceWare driver from NVIDIA. Performance seems to be very close to our original article. The comparison in this game still remains the same, Galaxy GeForce GTX 460 Super OC 1GB SLI is 11% faster than HD 5850 CFX.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

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In Battlefield: Bad Company 2 we tested at a high 2560x1600 with 4X AA and HBAO turned on. Now this is the kind of performance we are looking for with the HD 5850 CFX. In our original article this game averaged 40 FPS and now it is averaging 57.5 FPS with the new drivers and CrossFireX Application Profile 10.8a. There wasn’t much improvement with the GTX 460 1GB SLI with the new ForceWare driver, but there was a very tiny improvement to the average framerate. The new CAP 10.8a turns the tables on this game and now Radeon HD 5850 CrossFireX is faster than GTX 460 1GB SLI by almost 8% in BC2.

Aliens vs. Predator

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In Aliens vs. Predator we also experienced a very large performance improvement with the new CAP 10.8a. In our original article we experienced an average of 39.8 FPS with Radeon HD 5850 CFX. This new CAP 10.8a has taken performance up to now 98 FPS average which is a mindboggling 146% performance increase! Whatever was holding that game back is no longer. We also saw some big gains with the new ForceWare driver in AvP, up to 20% versus ForceWare 258.96 WHQL. The end result is that now Radeon HD 5850 CrossFireX leads in performance over GTX 460 1GB SLI by 15% on average.