AMD FX-8150 Multi-GPU Gameplay Performance Review
We are taking the new AMD FX-8150 and giving it the power of Dual and Triple-SLI GeForce GTX 580 video cards. We are going to take the new CPU up to large NV Surround resolutions and see how performance stacks up when it comes to high-end gaming scenarios.
On October 11th, 2011 AMD's Bulldozer CPUs were launched. We looked at Desktop Performance as well as Gameplay Performance on the AMD FX-8150 CPU. Our initial Gameplay Performance Review of the AMD FX-8150 focused on performance with a single-GPU at 1080p. Our results in that configuration indicated that performance was similar between the CPUs compared, except in Civilization V which showed a major advantage toward the Intel CPUs.
The goal of this evaluation today is to expand upon gaming performance with the AMD FX-8150 CPU using multiple-GPUs and higher resolutions. In our initial evaluation, we used a single Radeon HD 6970 GPU. This time, we are going to be using NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580, but we are using more than just one. We will be using two for standard SLI, and we are also including three in a Tri-SLI configuration. On top of that, we are going to be testing in a triple-display NV Surround setup that lets us test up to a resolution of 5760x1200, well beyond the 1080p we tested before. To add to that, we are including more games, this time seven games are included, and we had wanted to include an eighth, but we had difficulty getting it work as we will explain later.
The idea of going with two and three GPUs is that as the GPU count increases, the CPU must be able to keep up and provide enough performance for SLI to remain efficient. We have chosen specifically to use the GeForce GTX 580 for this because we have tested with absolute certainty in the past that CPU performance affects GTX 580 SLI and Tri-SLI more than it does Radeon HD 6970 CFX and Tri-Fire. This evaluation we did a while back shows the improvement that was made by moving from an Intel i7 920 @ 3.6GHz CPU to an Intel i7 2600K @ 4.8GHz. The Intel i7 920 @ 3.6GHz was no slouch to begin with, but upgrading to Sandy Bridge over Bloomfield yielded significant gains when it came to Tri-SLI specifically. Therefore, since we know AMD FX-8150 isn't exactly up to par already with Sandy Bridge from our prior testing, we think we might see some large differences in performance today.
We are only going to be comparing AMD FX-8150 to an Intel i5 2500K today. In our previous testing, we found that there are no gaming performance differences between the 2500K and 2600K when overclocked to 4.8GHz. We've already seen how even the 2500K is not much of a challenge for the AMD FX-8150 in previous testing. Therefore, we started testing with the 2500K for this evaluation, and with the results we received, we saw no need to do any testing with the 2600K. Both CPUs are overclocked as high as stably possible, the AMD FX-8150 is running at 4.6GHz and the Intel i5 2500K is running at 4.8GHz. We have found these to be "easy" overclocks to attain on these processors using moderate water cooler solutions.
We used a clean Windows 7 64-bit installation with the latest versions of all games tested at the time, as well as the latest software drivers on both systems. Our test system for the Intel system consists of an ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution motherboard, Intel Core i5 2500K overclocked to 4.8GHz. The AMD system consisted of an MSI 990FXA-GD80 motherboard and AMD FX-8150 overclocked to 4.6GHz.
We used two and three GeForce GTX 580 video cards, with driver version ForceWare 285.38 Beta, which was the latest driver at the time of testing.