Nvidia GTX295 Quad SLI

Introduction

Introduction

We were blown away by the improvements Nvidia made with the Quad SLI 9800GX2's we reviewed HERE so we were intrigued to see if quad SLI had been enhanced further with the release of the GTX295. Had the problems of linking four GPU's been ironed out? Was heat still an issue? How do they scale? Is it a worthy purchase. All these questions we wanted to answer and not only that but we wanted to see if the addition of a GTX285 as a PhysX processing unit would add anything to the setup. Call us crazy, call us mad but while we have all this delicious hardware in our test lab it seemed a shame not see how far things would go and report back to you.

The two flagship cards we will be using for this article hail from XFX and Zotac but for all intents and purposes these cards are identical under the skin so we do not expect any difficulties in getting the cards to work in tandem. There have been many discussion and misinformation regarding the use of different manufacturers cards but as long as the family is the same (GTX295 + GTX295) then you are good to go. Even different BIOS's are fine to use together so you could, for example, run an overclocked card with a stock clocked card. In this scenario the stock clocked card is usually best placed in the uppermost slot to prevent any conflict in clock speeds. Both cards will run to whichever card is in the Primary PCIe slot, which for all intents and purposes is where the 'Master Card' (the card which dictates the clock speed) should be positioned. If both cards are capable of the overclocked cards speed then there should be no issue in running the overclocked card in the primary PCIe slot, in effect, automatically overclocking the 'slave card' to the master cards clock speed. Cool eh?

I cannot confirm if this procedure works with the GTX295 as both the cards we have for testing today are stock clocked versions but I have no reason to think it wouldn't work - usual disclaimers apply.

So then, onto Quad SLI which has been around for almost 3 years in one form or another. The OEM 7900GX2 was a behemoth of a card that was shrunk down to the 7950GX2 for retail release. This card, while performing well in some games was ultimately deemed a failure thanks to driver issues and eventually lack of support until, it seemed, Nvidia totally abandoned the whole idea of Quad SLI as well as support for the 7950GX2, much to the dismay of those who had purchased the card(s). Fast forward 18 months and Nvidia tried again with the 9800GX2, which is still a formidable card by todays standards. The 9800GX2 was a massive leap forward in both support and compatibility and proved to the world that Quad GPU gaming was certainly viable. Despite a few minor driver issues, the cards ran flawlessly and even managed to fend off a challenge from ATI's answer to Quad SLI, CrossfireX.

With ATI now in full flow with their own take on Multi GPU gaming, Nvidia appeared to struggle to compete. The 4870x2 was dominating the graphics card scene with no reply from the green camp. Heat and power issues plagued Nvidia's rumoured GX2 successor and it wasn't until recently that the GTX295 was released, five months after the 4870x2, that Nvidia finally had an answer to the ATI dual GPU card.

You have probably read all about the GTX295 in our previous two reviews so I won't bore you with regurgitating the same spiel. It is however safe enough to say the GTX295 was worth the wait. If you game at the highest resolution and you're a big fan of AA, there is simply no faster card on the market today, that is unless you intend to use two of them.

Let's move on to the setup we intend to use for today's article...
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Most Recent Comments

03-03-2009, 04:55:36

JN
"Have the problems of linking four GPU's been ironed out? Was heat still an issue? How do they scale? Is it a worthy purchase. Find out in our Quad SLI GTX295 review..." - by webbo

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...215431918s.jpg

Nvidia GTX295 Quad SLI

03-03-2009, 06:20:16

Brooksie
holy crap at the fps it gives

insane price though, maybe if i win the lottery lol

03-03-2009, 06:24:31

VonBlade
Tis a strange set of results. Part of me, the "more power" part, loves that the Quad SLI scales at insane resolutions and allows for the AA and AF to be cranked up whilst still providing enormous frame-rates in everything on the planet.

The "I'm a pauper" part of me is surprised that as a single 295 still provides fully playable frame-rates (over 60fps) in everything so I wonder why anyone would bother paying for another one to Quad it. Even the 30" brigade have no real need to go Quad-SLI.

So I'm in absolute awe of the results, demonstrating that PC hardware has reached a peak we couldn't have possibly forseen a year ago. But I'm still aghast that anyone would even consider going Quad for anything other than bragging rights.

Phenomenal all around. And 4.2ghz on air! You hero

03-03-2009, 06:33:04

GavX
Lovi'n the "Balls to teh Wall" section, nice touch

Good review, but I agree with VB, 30fps is ample, as nice as 260 or something ludicrus in CoD4 is, my 4870 can make that game playable.

Still, if I also won the lottery...

03-03-2009, 08:00:14

FarFarAway
Great review as usual. This looks to be the peak in performance at the moment and whilst I have never been a fan of multiple card setups, it is insane

03-03-2009, 11:52:06

w3bbo
Need and want are always going to be debatable points when it comes to the pinnacle of hardware.

Do we really 'need' 4ghz CPU's and quad sli - I doubt it. Wanting however is another matter entirely and with that thought Jim is going to have to move hell and earth to get me to return these cards.

Do I need them? No, I'm quite happy with my 280SLI rig thank you very much, do I want them...too bloody right I do.

03-03-2009, 12:35:54

monkey7
600w mains draw? Less than I actually expected, assuming 85% efficiency that's 510w system draw. My 700w real power could even handle that.

Good review with even better hardware, and other ace review to add to OC3D's collection

Btw: you don't happen to have a pic of the rig with 2*gtx295 and a gtx285?

03-03-2009, 13:09:16

w3bbo
Test rig pics never look pretty m8 as I have little time for cable tidying etc when reviews need to be written.

03-03-2009, 13:14:20

Ham
Get some of them scores up on hwbot!:whack: I can see at least 15 points there.

Nice review anyhow. £800 really is just too much though...

03-03-2009, 14:14:28

zak4994
So I'm guessing that it si good but with current limitations of CPU, its not being utilised fully.

Well i7 let us down :P

Hoping Larrabee will come useful.

03-03-2009, 18:51:17

Bungral
Nice review Rich. It looks like the drivers have come on some since the first Quad SLI 295 reviews came about so fair play to Nvidia on that one.

One lil question though. On the normal phase of testing you have CoD4 with results of:

1680x1050 – 295 188fps and quad 295 236fps

1920x1200 – 295 151fps and quad 295 208fps

2560x1600 – 295 114fps and quad 295 170fps

But then when it comes to the ball to the wall the results look a bit odd as the standard clock results change to: :S

1680x1050 – 295 188fps and quad 295 194fps then OC 295 227fps

1920x1200 – 295 151fps and quad 295 165fps then OC 295 221fps

2560x1600 – 295 114fps and quad 295 126fps then OC 295 174fps

See what I mean?? The original standard clocked quad SLI 295 results were much higher than the standard clocked quad SLI 295 results in the BTTW graph.

Even the original standard clocked quad SLI 295 results at 1680x1050 are better than the BTTW OC results at the same resolution.

Please correct me if I’m being dumb anyone as it’s quite possible, and I’m pretty tired but if it’s not just me, what caused it?

03-03-2009, 18:55:24

Sleekit
Must have been amazing to test these out, maybe one day....maybe just

03-03-2009, 19:13:31

FarFarAway
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Bungral'
But then when it comes to the ball to the wall the results look a bit odd as the standard clock results change to: :S

1680x1050 – 295 188fps and quad 295 194fps then OC 295 227fps

Not CPU limited - random FPS difference

1920x1200 – 295 151fps and quad 295 165fps then OC 295 221fps

CPU limited, more FPS

2560x1600 – 295 114fps and quad 295 126fps then OC 295 174fps

CPU limited, more FPS
My explanation for this difference. 1680 x 1050 puts more on the cards than the CPU and I would think it's just a random FPS difference.

04-03-2009, 14:53:02

w3bbo
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Bungral'
Please correct me if I’m being dumb anyone as it’s quite possible, and I’m pretty tired but if it’s not just me, what caused it?
Nah m8 you were bang on, for whatever reason I uploaded the single overclock GTX295 scores instead of the standard GTX SLI. Thx for the heads up. Corrected the review now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Sleekit'
Must have been amazing to test these out, maybe one day....maybe just
I would be lying if I said I didn't get a kick out of it

04-03-2009, 16:35:26

zak4994
Call of Duty 4 on drugs....

lawlz.

05-03-2009, 04:37:23

Saviour
where's the 4870x2 and 4870x2 crossfire comparison results ?

nice review but i agree on this one, completely unnecessary upgrade even for 30"ers

a friend in the states was running this setup but swapped one of the gtx 295's for a phase change system

and hes got it up to 4.5ghz on air

05-03-2009, 07:05:38

w3bbo
The 4870x2 Crossfire results will be coming soon hopefully.

05-03-2009, 11:29:24

BiscuitCookie
I would love to see that tested on this

www .sharp. net.au/ product-catalogue/ products/ LB1085/

(remove spaces)

09-03-2009, 15:49:51

stevej696
Unbelievable frame rates! Nvidia rules!

09-03-2009, 15:54:10

Rastalovich
w3bbo gets all the great kit

(posted here twice already I'm sure)

09-03-2009, 16:08:12

zak4994
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='stevej696'
Unbelievable frame rates! Nvidia rules!
£800.

nVidia sucking money from us.

But awesome performance none-the-less.

13-03-2009, 06:53:45

garethar
Excellent review - very useful and readable

I am in an odd position atm (probably due to being back on the bike today - but I digress). I have just built a new i7 rig and will soon be moving over to WC. However, the 295 I ordered was recalled and it was replaced (with option to swap back) with a 285. After reading up a bit more (I have been out of the OC scene for about 10 years ) I noticed that the 285 can get some insane OC's - especially WC.

As I will be using this rig to power 3*19" monitors in 3840*1024, would I see better results from quad SLI 295's, or triple SLI 285's ?

(I think the P6T deluxe board does triple - not sure about that yet)

Sorry to go on, but has anyone got a guide that shows how to set up WC loops for the CPU, GPU's and RAM? (Totally new to WC in case you hadn't guessed).

13-03-2009, 07:05:07

sprento
I'm sure if you have a look at the cooling section of these forums you will find a guide on water cooling, if not then you should probably head over to watercooling.co.uk

13-03-2009, 07:07:00

garethar
ok thanks.

13-03-2009, 07:27:22

Toxcity
Pure hardware sex.

13-03-2009, 09:52:58

monkey7
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='garethar'
I am in an odd position atm (probably due to being back on the bike today - but I digress).
Having a bit of pain in the back end? I know the feeling, used to do 32km/day. Ouchies after a 2 month holiday

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='garethar'
As I will be using this rig to power 3*19" monitors in 3840*1024, would I see better results from quad SLI 295's, or triple SLI 285's ?
I do not think you will need this kind of overkill for such a monitor setup to be honest. You probably will only be playing a game on one monitor (?), so the real graphics performance is just on a third of the screen surface. I'd say dual 285 would be more than sufficient.

Personally I'm running 22+24" on a HD4850 which copes perfectly. Yes I have to turn AA down in most games, but apart from that I can max nearly everything out at 1920x1200.

EDIT: and make sure to post some pics of that setup when you reach 15 posts

13-03-2009, 11:13:29

garethar
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='monkey7'
Having a bit of pain in the back end? I know the feeling, used to do 32km/day. Ouchies after a 2 month holiday

I do not think you will need this kind of overkill for such a monitor setup to be honest. You probably will only be playing a game on one monitor (?), so the real graphics performance is just on a third of the screen surface. I'd say dual 285 would be more than sufficient.

Personally I'm running 22+24" on a HD4850 which copes perfectly. Yes I have to turn AA down in most games, but apart from that I can max nearly everything out at 1920x1200.

EDIT: and make sure to post some pics of that setup when you reach 15 posts
oops, forgot to mention 1)it's *motor*bike :P (doing 100 miles a day) and 2)I've got TH2GO, so all three screens are in use (hence the resolution of 15:4)

When it's all set up and benchmarked (assuming I don't fry anything) I'll post a full set of pics and reviews for the kit. There isn't much out there when researching the th2go* really, might save someone some time.

*not wrt to 3 nineteen inch monitors with the thinnest bezels possible and the type of mounting kits that are around. The mounting alone cost £210 !!

23-03-2009, 07:13:04

Lynx
You just did this test for the funsies!

23-03-2009, 11:53:57

w3bbo
I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy this review

23-03-2009, 14:24:25

Lynx
Haha i bet u played a couple of games before you sent them back eh?

23-06-2009, 09:08:32

Lynx
Man thats hardcore.. soon to see the 300 series in octo sli

18-05-2010, 16:44:09

hadesan
Looking forward to seeing how the GTX480s compare against the quad setup

19-05-2010, 11:21:45

AMDFTW
lol thread revival or what

19-05-2010, 11:33:53

tinytomlogan
aye, just as bad when the members say that too though

19-05-2010, 15:58:03

Steve-O-
He has revived a ton of old threads though. /end off-topic for me.

20-05-2010, 11:26:03

thewoolard
Your over a year late to the party...

20-05-2010, 11:58:04

AMDFTW
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='tinytomlogan'
aye, just as bad when the members say that too though :d
lol

03-06-2010, 18:00:11

w3bbo
To be fair though it was a great write up
Reply
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