What to do when you have a chunk of change burning a hole in your pocket and, as it just so happens, you want truly premium graphics performance for the PC? Nice problem to have. We’d steer most enthusiasts towards the £600-plus GeForce GTX 1080, a GPU that offers close to the gold standard of a 4K resolution, 60Hz refresh rate, and image quality all the way up to 11. Yet you can, potentially, do better by adding a couple of hundred pounds to your budget. How? Trust in SLI multi-GPU and lasso a couple of GeForce GTX 1070 cards together. The extra outlay will increase graphics spend to around £850, but should crash through that 4K60 barrier with ease. That’s the theory, anyway.
MSI has upped its graphics game of late enough for it to be amongst the very best at producing partner GeForce 10-series cards. The Gaming X line, in particular, strikes an enviable balance between speed, features and price.
Appreciating that we hadn’t given Pascal the SLI makeover, MSI sent in a second card for some multi-GPU fun. Ensconced in our test system with ease and connected to its graphics partner in crime through a new high-bandwidth SLI bridge, we set about finding how SLI shapes up in 2016. The results are interesting, to say the least, especially if you have a mind to play games with the DX12 API, so read on to find out what we discovered in some head-scratching testing.
|MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X||2,560||1,683||1,823||8,192||10,008||256||8+6||368.39|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition||2,560||1,607||1,734||8,192||10,008||256||8||368.39|
|Palit GeForce GTX 1070 GameRock PE||1,920||1,671||1,873||8,192||8,508||256||8||368.39|
|2x MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming X||1,920||1,582||1,772||8,192||8,008||256||8+6||368.39|
|MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming X||1,920||1,582||1,772||8,192||8,008||256||8+6||368.39|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition||1,920||1,506||1,683||8,192||8,008||256||8||368.39|
|Palit GeForce GTX 980 Ti Super JetStream||2,816||1,152||1,241||6,144||7,012||384||8+6||368.39|
|MSI GeForce GTX 980 Gaming 4G||2,048||1,216||1,317||4,096||7,012||256||8+8||368.39|
|Gainward GeForce GTX 970 Phoenix||1,664||1,152||1,304||4,096||7,012||256||6+6||368.39|
|Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury X||4,096||–||1,050||4,096||1,000||4,096||8+8||16.6.1|
|Sapphire Radeon R9 390 Nitro||2,560||–||1,010||8,192||6,000||512||8+8||16.6.1|
|AMD Radeon RX 480||2,304||1,120||1,266||8,192||8,000||256||6||16.6.2|
HEXUS Graphics Test Bench
|Hardware Components||Product Page|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-6700K (overclocked to 4.4GHz)||intel.com|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-D15S||noctua.at|
|Motherboard||Asus Z170 Pro||asus.com|
|Memory||Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4-2400||crucial.com|
|Power Supply||be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 850W||bequiet.com|
|Primary Storage||256GB Samsung 950 Pro||samsung.com|
|Secondary Storage||512GB SK hynix Canvas SC300||skhynix.com|
|Chassis||Fractal Design Define R5 Windowed||fractal-design.com|
|Monitor||Philips Brilliance 4K Ultra HD LED (288P6LJEB/00)||philips.co.uk|
|Operating system||Windows 10 (64-bit)||microsoft.com|
|3DMark||Fire Strike, Fire Strike Extreme and Fire Strike Ultra|
|Gaming Benchmarks and Settings|
|Dirt Rally||4xMSAA, Ultra Quality|
|Doom||TSSAA (8TX), Ultra Quality|
|Fallout 4||TAA, Ultra Quality|
|Hitman||DX12, SMAA, Maximum Quality|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider||DX12, FXAA, Very High Quality|
|Tom Clancy’s The Division||FXAA, Ultra Quality|
|Power Consumption||To emulate real-world usage scenarios, we record system-wide mains power draw both when idle and while playing Dirt Rally.|
|Temperature||To emulate real-world usage scenarios, we record GPU core temperature both when idle and while playing Dirt Rally.|
|Noise||A PCE-318 meter is used to record noise levels when idle and while playing Dirt Rally.|
To minimise the impact of any CPU bottlenecks, our test platform is configured with a quad-core Intel Core i7-6700K processor overclocked to 4.4GHz across all cores and 32GB of Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 memory set to run at 2,400MHz using the built-in XMP profile.
For our high-end benchmark suite, we have an array of games tested at FHD (1,920×1,080), QHD (2,560×1,440) and 4K UHD (3,840×2,160) resolutions. Where applicable, any vendor-specific enhancements such as PhysX and TressFX are disabled to help even the playing field. In-game benchmark results are recorded as minimum and average frames per second.