Picture the scene if you will. Your lucky numbers have just come up on the Euro Millions. Your Fortune Cookie had the correct numbers in it. You've just discovered that your recently deceased great Uncle left everything to you, and he was the head of ICI.
Suddenly you're flush with cash and trying to work out what would be best to spend it on. Maybe your eye has been caught by the incredible results we've been getting from the new HD7970. So you splurge out on the very best system money can buy. The creme de la creme.
Thankfully, before you have to make such an outlay, we are here to let you know what you'll be getting for your hard earned.
This is all about gigantic numbers. And a pretty hefty power draw. Plus enough heat to cause premature global warming.
Of course it's worth pointing out straight away that such extreme setups are unlikely to see big results in gaming tests, because games just aren't designed to have this many graphics cards beneath them. Benchmarks are where it's at. However we're going to run the games just to see if any of them happily take advantage of a Quad GPU set up.
Welcome, to the HD7970 Quadfire review.
Of course if you were buying the best, then you're very likely to end up with a i7-3960X based system and plenty of power, which is exactly what we have here today.
4x AMD HD7970
Catalyst HD7970 Drivers 11.12
Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4GHz
ASUS Rampage IV Extreme
2x Corsair AX1200W
Noctua NF-F12 Fans
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Now that is one hell of a lot of cables and power. 4 Grands worth of hardware all ready to be pushed hard.
3D Mark Vantage
Of course the one thing that Quadfire is absolutely built for is benchmarks and boy does it deliver in spades. A new OC3D record with a stunning 65130 P Score is very impressive. Probably even more jaw-dropping is that the Extreme preset still gives us a monster 50441 X Marks. 10000 more than the MARS 2 SLI. Insane performance.
3D Mark 11
Another 3D Mark, another record smashed to smithereens. 4000 higher than the MARS2 SLI results in both P and X scenarios, the HD7970 Quadfire eats benchmarks for breakfast.
Amazingly with Unigine Heaven we see around 90% scaling. Two cards gave us an average of 136 FPS and four cards give us an average of 247 frames per second. Average. Insane.
Such is the monster amount of processing available from the Tahiti XT GPU that we get just over 100% improvement, from 100FPS to 204FPS. Sure it doesn't make mathematical sense, but equally the increase in image quality from zero Anti-Aliasing to 8xAA only loses us 40FPS. And that is mind-blowing enough in its own right.
Alien vs Predator
AvP is a default benchmark so we're only running on a single screen here. The word overkill springs to mind, especially when we once again see over 100% extra performance from doubling the amount of cards when compared to the dual Crossfire test.
Batman Arkham City
Our first actual gameplay test and our fears about the optimisation of Arkham City are confirmed. Our two extra cards do nothing at all in Eyefinity when compared to the dual setup.
Crysis 2, until now a game that perfectly scales with the amount of hardware available, has no improvement at all from the Quadfire. We did say it was just for benchmarks.
Resident Evil 5 - Direct X9
It's always a pleasure to see how well Capcom ported their zombie killer to the PC. Despite shifting to Eyefinity the extra cards take it in their stride and are fully utilised. Single card/Single screen performance is matched by Quad GPU/Eyefinity.
Resident Evil 5 - DirectX 10
Even with the DirectX 10 rendering enabled, things remain just as they were with the DX9 test. A world of gunplay surrounding you and smoother than a babies bum.
The Witcher 2
As we said in the Crossfire review, The Witcher 2 doesn't actually put any display on the two extra screens in Eyefinity. However it definitely takes advantage of our Quadfire set up, with 54 FPS average and even with Ubersampling on.
Obviously when testing a set up this extreme the conclusion is pretty academic.
No-one in their right mind would run Quadfire. It takes too much power, we needed two Corsair AX1200 PSUs for this test. It produces too much heat. It's stupidly expensive, any board that supports Quad-GPU fun is automatically an enthusiast board with a price-tag to match. Even with our Core i7-3960X we were CPU limited in lower resolutions, as indicated by how close the 3D Mark X results are to the P-Score.
Finally, and most damningly, hardly any games take advantage of four cards. Sure some of this is drivers, and some of this is the games themselves. Both are equally guilty. Only two games took advantage of all four cards and one of them, The Witcher 2, doesn't support Eyefinity. Now call us crazy but spending £1600 on graphics cards just for Resident Evil 5 seems a bit pointless.
So for gaming the Quadfire is no use to man nor beast.
For benchmarking though. That's where this really does kick into gear. In both Unigine Heaven and 3D Mark the cards were a chainsaw through butter. Easily demolishing both our P-Score and X-Score records in both 3D Mark Vantage and 3D Mark 11. As well as giving us the highest score we've seen in Unigine, both with and without Anti-Aliasing.
So it's an extremely niche sector of the market that it's aiming for, but only a select few have the funds anyway. To treat it as a potential system is missing the point entirely. It's just a tool for benchmarks and high scores. It's as much a compensation for other areas as a Porsche wink wink.
Unlimited cosmic power, and for that alone it has to win our OC3D performance award. Now if only the developers and driver guys could get together and make the gaming results match the benchmarks...
Thanks to AMD for providing the HD7970s for our Quadfire review. Discuss in our forums.