I’ve been using X850 Crossfire system from almost four weeks now, and so far I am extremely happy to see how it performs in games, so I decided to share my experience with all of you. Synthetic benchmarks & gaming benchmarks are included in this thread.
ATI X850XT [R480]:
R480 Architecture is one of the most overclockable and successful Architecture for ATI, it’s been around from quite time now, and still it’s a nice video card, especially now, since it has dropped to around US$ 163 as per listed at Newegg.
R480 Architecture has 6 Vertex Units and group of four quads, totaling 16 Pixel Pipelines and having 1-1 ratio down to render back-ends, with 16 decoupled Texture units, which work in parallel with Shader Processors. Advantage of having decoupled Texture Units is that, Shader Processors will not have to deal with Texture calculations as they are not coupled, for example, if a Texture instruction has been issued, it will perform directly on the independent Texture units, by this way it can do more Texture calculations in parallel with all Shader calculations.
ALU alignment inside the Pixel Pipeline stays the same with total of four ALUs (Vector1&2, Scalar1&2) and can able to push upto 5 Instructions per cycle.
Following are the R480 details you must be aware of:
- 130nm Process with Low-K Dielectrics - TSMC
- 16 Pixel Pipelines (Four Quads)
- 6 Geometry Processors
- 16 Decoupled Texture Address Units
- 16 Render Back-ends (Single Z/Stencil Operation)
- 160 Millions Transistors
- 520 MHz Core Speed
- 540 MHz Memory Speed
- 256-bit Memory Controller (64-bit x 4)
- 256MB GDDR-3 Memory
- 3Dc (4:1 NMC)
- Pixel Shader Version 2.0b
- PCI-Express Bus Interface
- Temporal Anti Aliasing
- 2x/4x/6x Anti Aliasing
- 2x/4x//8x/16x Anisotropy Filtering
Later, ATI also released X850 CrossFire Edition card. In order to run two X850’s together, you’ll need X850 CrossFire Edition Card. Specifications for X850 CrossFire Edition is similar to X850XT, as per listed above.
XPRESS 200 CrossFire Motherboard:
To enable CrossFire, you’d need a Motherboard that is CrossFire ready; RD480 is the first chipset to support CrossFire, giving away 8x bandwidth to each card in CrossFire, and having two physical PCI-Express 16x slots.
Motherboard specifications are as follows:
- Socket 939 – Supports upto FX-60
- RD480 CrossFire Northbridge Chipset – 130nm Process
- SB450 Southbridge Chipset
- Supported Memories DDR 200/266/333/400 Upto 4GB
- Four Memory Slots
- Expansion Slots: 2 PCI-Express & 2 PCI
- Supports upto 4 SATA Drives (Raid 0, 1, 0+1)
- Supports upto 2 SATA II Drives
- Supports upto 4 IDE Drives
- Marvel Yukon Gigabit LAN
- ALC 880 High Definition Audio onboard - supports upto 7.1Ch
- 8 USB Ports
This Motherboard has some nice features, BIOS is very rich with overclocking features present, one could actually increase the HyperTransport to well over 2000Mhz on this Motherboard, and you can also increase the Voltage for almost everything, including the HyperTransport voltage to 1.39V. The only problem I have with this Motherboard is that it never detected my Memory at correct speeds of 200 MHz. I’ve already tried two different types of Memory on it, Kingston & Kingmax PC-3200s both work at 166 MHz instead of 200 MHz. But I’ve already overclocked my Memory and Processor, so, it’s a moot point here, however, I believe, there’s must be the bug in the BIOS, which can be rectified by upgrading BIOS.
This Motherboard overclocks wonderfully well also, unfortunately, the Memory (Kingston Value RAM) I am using is not meant for overclocking, so I had to leave the CPU to around 2.40 GHz, with HyperTransport reaching at more than 2100 MHz, and Base Clock touching around 266 MHz, while Multiplier is at 9x, and Memory speed crossing just over 215 MHz mark with 2.65 volts. Although I guess there’s still plenty of headroom for overclocking left in this Motherboard, roughly guessing, around 300 MHz of Base Clock can be attained.
Installation, Enabling CrossFire and Rendering Modes:
CrossFire Edition card had to be installed on the lower PCI-Express slot (on this Motherboard), which is Slot0, and the Slave Card in the upper slot which is Slot1, however, in most motherboard its opposite, the Slot0 is upper one and Slot1 is lower one. Installation was quite easy; it took me less than an hour for me to get it working. CrossFire, can be enabled in Catalyst Control Center, you just have to tick on a box under CrossFire section, and it will get enabled, also, you don’t have reboot your system after enabling it.
CrossFire offers Super Tiling, Alternate Frame Rendering & Scissor Modes for Rendering. Once the CrossFire is enabled, you can also set the Anti-Aliasing to 14x, which is called Super AA Mode, but keep in mind after enabling Super AA Mode, any other mode will stop working. Games do look marvelous, but it also reduces FPS in the games, which is quite obvious.
Catalyst Control Center:
I am also equally happy with the Catalyst Control Center, it works great, however, I would agree with few people who complain that Catalyst Control Center takes little more time to get initialized, but that’s only happen for the first time you get into Windows, if any of you are facing very slow boot-up, then I would suggest little more faster Hard Drive like Western Digital Raptor or SATA II. Although, it works fine on my Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM Hard Drive
• AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Venice overclocked to 2.40 GHz (3800+) VCore: 1.45v
• ATI XPRESS 200 CrossFire Motherboard
• ATI X850XT CrossFire Edition
• ATI X850XT
• 17" Samsung SyncMaster 793Magic Bright Monitor
• 2048 MBs Kingston Value RAM PC-3200 1T (Timings: 3-3-3-8) at 2.60V
• 40GB Seagate Barracuda Hard Disk
• 5.1 Sound Blaster Live! w/ 4.1 Creative Inspire 4400 Speakers
• Cooler Master 550W (RS-550-ACLY) Power Supply
• Logitech Keyboard & Mouse
• Cooler Master Susurro
CPU Cooler with 92mm Ultra Silent Fan
• Cooler Master Copper RAM Heat Spreaders
• Cooler Master Premium Thermal Paste
• Cooler Master Blue Ice Northbridge Cooler
Note: There are no specific reason why I choosed all Cooler Master products, its just because we have a local dealer here, hence easy availibility. Although, I am not disappointed with their products either
I’ve used three games for now, as I don’t have any more games, I do have Far Cry, but I’ve not included in this thread, I’ll post few screenshots of BFII & Far Cry later. Besides this, Synthetic Benchmarks like 3D Mark 05’ & Sis Sandra 2005b were also run.
Let’s see how powerful Venice 3000+ is while it’s overclocked to 2.40 GHz.
Sis Sandra CPU Arithmetic Benchmark:
Sis Sandra CPU Multimedia Benchmark:
Sis Sandra Memory Bandwidth Benchmark:
3D Mark 05’: (CPU: 2.45 GHz)
Note: All games were run at 1280x1024 Resolution at 60 Hz due to my Monitor’s Refresh Rate limitation.
Game1 - Age of Empires III [6xAA, 16xAF]
Video Resolution – 1280x1024
Refresh Rate – 60 Hz
Vertical Synchronization – Off
Shader Quality: High
Shadow Quality: Very High
Water Reflections: On
Bloom Effect: On
High-Poly Models: On
Terrain Detail Objects: On
Particle Quality: Normal
Tracer Effects: On
Foot Prints: On
Terrain Texture Quality: High
Model Texture Quality: High
Texture Filter Quality: High
16x AF set in Catalyst Control Center
Low: 38 FPS
Average: 55 FPS
High: 100+ FPS
The game was extremely playable at those settings, I had already completed this game on my old 9800Pro, those screenshots are of Level1 and other levels have even more detail. I will add more screenshots of it, later.
Game2 – The Chronicles of Riddick [6xAA, 16xAF]
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Full Screen: On
Vertical Synchronization: Off
Pixel Aspect: Normal
Shader Mode: 2.0++
Texture Quality: Maximum
Model Shadows: On
Low: 30 FPS
Average: 65 FPS
The Chronicles of Riddick has some very nice graphics and a well written script as well, I really enjoyed playing this game, and at high detail this game looks very appealing.
Game-3 F.E.A.R. [4xAA, 8xAF]
Light Detail: Maximum
Enable Shadows: On
Shadow Detail: Maximum
Soft Shadows: Off
Texturing Filtering: Anisotropy 8x
Texture Resolution: Max
Pixel Doubling: On
DX8 Shaders: Off
Screen Resolution: 1280x960
Effects Detail: Maximum
Model Declas: Maximum
Water Resolution: Maximum
Reflections and Displays: Maximum
Volumetric Lights: Off
Volumetric Light Density: Minimum
Particle Bouncing: Maximum
Shell Casings: On
World Detail: Maximum
Corpse Detail: Maximum
Single Player Physics: Minimum
Effects setting Screenshot:
Graphics setting Screenshot:
Performance Test Screenshot:
Physics setting Screenshot:
Low: 7 FPS
Average: 52 FPS
High: 100+ FPS
FEAR is one of the most graphic intense game out there, it really stressed down X850 CrossFire at those settings, in few areas FPS would drop to around 7 FPS, but generally I get about 55-60 FPS on average. FEAR performance test do tell all the story upto an extent though, but visually as you can see it looks quite appealing.
As you can see above, X850 CrossFire can play almost any latest game out there on decent resolution & detail with decent FPS, including FEAR which is the most Shader Intense game.
At the moment, I am guessing I need even powerful CPU, Venice 3000+ at stock frequency of 1.80 GHz is quite slow now, that's why I didn't even bother runing the benchmarks at 1.80 GHz clock speed (not necessarily a bottleneck) but at 2.40 GHz it almost competes FX-53, but still a FX-55 or greater would’ve had helped a lot, also Venice CPUs has 512KB of L2 Cache, San Diego core (especially 4000+) with 1MB of L2 Cache would’ve certainly increased the performance in the games, you could roughly add another 4-5 FPS on average in all games.
Video Cards were run at stock speeds; I haven’t overclocked even a single MHz on Core or Memory, although now I am interested to see how it will perform at Platinum Edition Speeds (Core: 540 MHz / Memory: 590), although if I do so, I’ll definitely post screenshots again soon.
The Memory I am using at the moment is quite slow at stock, as the latencies are quite relaxed, CAS Latency of 3.0 at 200 MHz is obviously very slow, and a faster TCC5/TCCD/BH-5 Module would’ve had increased the performance by good difference in games. Also, as I mentioned above, there’s still headroom for overclocking, but I guess its about maximum overclock I could get with a Value RAM, using 166 MHz divider. But all in all X850XT CrossFire is still quite fast.
I'll also post few screenshots of how games look in 14xAA & 16xAF in coming days.
Catalyst Control Center Screenshot: