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New Quad SLI 7950 GX2 driver dissected

First INQpressions And it's even worse
Mon Aug 28 2006, 11:44
WE TESTED QUAD SLI using Nvidia's old 91.37 driver and have been roundly criticised for using doing so. But this was the first driver that worked with two 7950 GX2 cards in a Quad SLI configuration. Nvidia has since released its new Quad SLI driver.

We thought that this is the long promised-performance driver and we decided to re-test. Imagine our surprise when we figured out that the driver is actually not significantly faster than the previous one. In fact, it usually ends up slower than the old one.

After causing a big fuss, we were told there will be a real performance driver but it will be a few weeks till we see it. This is what you get with the new one.

Benchmarketing
We used :
Foxconn C51XE M2aa Nforce 590 SLI motherboard
Athlon FX 62 2800 MHz 90 nanometre Windsor core
2x1024 MB DDR2 Corsair CM2X1024-6400C3 memory
Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 400GB SATA NCQ hard drive
Thermaltake Mini Typhoon Athlon 64/X2/FX cooler and Intel CPU's
Silverstone Strider ST60F, 600W ATX 2.0 SATA
alt='g19'

Doom 3 High Quality FSAA 4X + Aniso 8X
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
2048x1536
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.37
124.2
124.8
122.7
114.5
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.45
123.7
123.3
121.6
112.9
? ? ? ? ?
Far Cry High Quality FSAA 4X + Aniso 8X
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
2048x1536
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.37
92.16
92.26
92.79
91.35
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.45
91.05
90.91
90.88
89.61
? ? ? ? ?
F E A R
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
2048x1536
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.37
131
122
105
74
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.45
129
121
104
74
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 03
3DMark 03
Game2
Game3
Nature
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.37
36499
351.3
267.5
204.3
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.45
36393
351.1
266.6
203.9
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 03
Single Texturinng
Multi Textur.
Vertex Shader
Pixel Shader 2.0
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.37
15500.1
40372.0
90.4
588.6
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.45
15425.1
40094.2
90.3
587.1
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 05
3DMark 05
Game1
Game2
Game3
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.37
13576
52.1
42.3
72.8
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.45
13537
51.8
41.9
73.2
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 05
Single Texturinng
Multi Textur.
Pixel Shader
VS /VS complex
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.37
17999.4
41268.1
1024.6
126.6//95.9
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.45
17844.0
41122.8
1024.1
130.0/95.7
? ? ? ? ?
Composite Figures 3Dmark 06
3DMark 06
? ?
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.37
8539
? ?
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.45
8504
? ?
? ? ? ? ?
SM2.0 Test
Score
GT1
GT2


Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.37
3974
32.005
34.234
30.8
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.45
3976
32.037
34.238
64.8
? ? ? ? ?
HDR/SM3.0 Test
Score
HDR1
HDR2


Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.37
3657
33.751
39.382
30.8
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.45
3661
33.961
39.254
64.8
? ? ? ? ?
CPU Test
Score
CPU1
CPU2


Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.37
2143
0.681
1.079
30.8
Leadtek PX7950GX2 TDH Quad SLI Force Ware 91.45
2101
0.677
1.042
64.8
So we ran the test and discovered that the new driver is slower than the previous one. We instantly thought we must have done something wrong. We did a reinstallation and a restart but the score stayed the same. After we confirmed the scores with some of our colleges we continued to test. It is not drastic, we're usually talking about a few frames but we still expected to gain some frames not to lose it.

Doom 3 7950 GX2 loses one to two frames and in Far Cry with 4X FSAA and 8X it loses one to two frame at all resolutions. In FEAR we even have a tie at 20x15 but usually the new driver will cost you one or two frames at 10x7.

In 3Dmark03 you lose a little bit more than 100 points, some forty points at 3Dmark05 or insignificant 35 points at the latest 3Dmark06. The bottom line is that you lose frames with this new performance driver, not gain them.

In Short
Well, the new performance driver sucks. It will take a frame or two out of your current scores but it will probably be more stable and compatible than the 91.37. I advise you to wait for the new driver it might take a while but it has to be faster than this.

It if doesn't, expect the Quad SLI become the biggest joke of the year 2006. An industry source close to ATI claims that Nvidia cannot gain much as it doesn't support Alternate frame rendering but this is still to be seen.

Maybe these tyhings just take time. SLI sucked at the beginning and so did Crossfire but both marchitectures are solid now. We expected much more from the new driver but we advise you to really hold your breath before buying another 7950 GX2 as it is simply a waste of money.

This might change with the new driver, but there may also be intelligent life in outer space but we don't have any proof for that yet either. ?

Reviewed and tested by Sanjin Rados and Fuad Abazovic

 

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