NVIDIA Forceware v77.7x: New SLI AA Modes & Mainstream SLI

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AA Performance: Half Life 2

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM: To test NVIDIA's new SLI anti-aliasing modes, we used a pair of GeForce 7800 GTX cards installed in a Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI nForce 4 SLI chipset based motherboard, powered by an AMD Athlon 64 FX55 processor and 1GB of low-latency Corsair XMS RAM. The first thing we did when configuring this test system was enter the BIOS and loaded the "High Performance Defaults."  The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows XP Professional with SP2 was installed. When the installation was complete, we installed the latest nForce 4 chipset drivers, installed all of the other necessary drivers for the rest of our components, and removed Windows Messenger from the system. Auto-Updating and System Restore were then disabled, the hard drive was defragmented, and a 768MB permanent page file was created on the same partition as the Windows installation. Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance," installed all of the benchmarking software, and ran the tests.

The HotHardware Test System
AMD Athlon 64 FX Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -

Video Cards -

Memory -

Audio -

Hard Driv
e -


Hardware Used:
AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 (2.6GHz)

Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI
nForce4 SLI chipset

GeForce 7800 GTX (x2)
GeForce 6800 Ultra (x2)
GeForce 6800 GT
ATI Radeon X850XT PE

1024MB Corsair XMS PC3200 RAM

Integrated on board (ALC850)

Western Digital "Raptor"

36GB - 10,000RPM - SATA

Operating System -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers

DirectX -
DirectX -
OpenGL -
Relevant Software:
Windows XP Professional SP2 (Patched)
nForce Drivers v7.12
DirectX 9.0c

NVIDIA Forceware v77.74

ATI Catalyst v5.6

Benchmarks Used:
FarCry v1.31*
Half Life 2*
Doom 3 v1.3 (Single Player)*

* - Custom Test (HH Exclusive demo)
Performance Comparisons with Half Life 2
Details: http://www.half-life2.com/

Half Life 2
Thanks to the dedication of hardcore PC gamers and a huge mod-community, the original Half-Life became one of the most successful first person shooters of all time.  So, when Valve announced Half-Life 2 was close to completion in mid-2003, gamers the world over sat in eager anticipation. Unfortunately, thanks to a compromised internal network, the theft of a portion of the game's source code, and a tumultuous relationship with the game's distributor, Vivendi Universal, we all had to wait until November 2004 to get our hands on this classic. We benchmarked Half-Life 2 with a long, custom-recorded timedemo in the "Canals" map, that takes us through both outdoor and indoor environments. These tests were run at resolutions of 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200 without any anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering and with 4X, SLI 8X and SLI 16X anti-aliasing and 16X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently.






As we mentioned earlier, when running in SLI Anti-Aliasing mode, the 3D workload is no longer shared between the two cards. Instead, each card renders the same frame and after the filtering is applied they are blended together. As such, you'd expect a pair of GeForce 7800 GTX cards running in SLI anti-aliasing mode to perform below the level of a single 7800 GTX in virtually all circumstances.

In Half Life 2 for example, a game that is largely CPU bound, a pair of GeForce 7800 GTX cards does perform at a lower level than a single 7800 GTX at both resolutions, but the game remains completely playable at over 90 FPS, even with SLI 16X AA enabled. Sure, performance is lower, but in CPU limited game like HL2, the image quality benefits with SLI 16X AA enabled make the trade-off well worth it.  With Half Life 2's resolution set to 1600x1200, and with SLI 16X AA enabled, we've never seen this game look better.

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