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Multi-GPU World Tour 2006 - Page 6 of 9

HIGH-END SYSTEM COMPONENTS

ATI CrossFire

ECS provided CrossFire AM2 motherboards for some of the participating web sites, although they were unable to send us one. We began shopping at our favorite on-line retailers and could not find a CrossFire motherboard for the AM2 anywhere.

A CrossFire setup with the high-end Radeon X1900 XT requires a CrossFire Edition graphics card.

Radeon X1900 CrossFire Edition
Click Image to Enlarge - 784x624 (269KB)

Radeon X1900 XT
Click Image to Enlarge - 752x751 (290KB)

NVIDIA SLI

The high-end SLI system is based on the nForce 590 SLI platform and represented by Foxconn's C51XEM2AA motherboard. Designed with the assistance of NVIDIA's engineers, the C51XEM2AA is an enthusiast-class motherboard for the AM2 processor. The C51XEM2AA motherboard has received many favorable reviews and the number of tweakable BIOS settings is simply overwhelming.

Foxconn C51XEM2AA Motherboard
Click Image to Enlarge - 862x608 (280KB)

The graphics sub-system was configured with a couple of BFG GeForce 7900 GT OC graphics cards. The GeForce 7900 GTX supports LinkBoost, which dynamically increases the PCI-Express and MCP HyperTransport bus speeds by 25 percent. With LinkBoost, more data can be transferred per second as available bandwidth increases from 8GB to 10GB.

With SLI-Ready DDR2 memory and LinkBoost, NVIDIA's nForce 590 SLI maximizes the performance of AM2-based systems.

BFG GeForce 7900 GTX OC
Click Image to Enlarge - 958x542 (221KB)

The hardware setup for SLI is straightforward. After each graphics card is inserted into its respective PCI-Express x16 slot and secured, an SLI bridge is then used to connect them together.

GeForce 7900 GTX SLI and Audigy 2 Sound Card
Click Image to Enlarge - 991x642 (269KB)

Even with two dual-slot graphics cards, the layout of the Foxconn motherboard was able to accommodate a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 sound card, which was inserted in the PCI slot right under the bottom graphics card. On some motherboards, the graphics cards would block all of the PCI slots making them unusable.

It is also possible that the only usable PCI slot will is between the graphics cards. In this case, air flow is restricted, which will cause an increase in the temperature of the top graphics card.

Next Page: Low-End System Performance

Last Updated on July 26, 2006


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