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But what about a single card? Even after disabling SLI, a single 7800 GTX is so fast that it’s still CPU limited in Half-Life 2 all the way up to 1, 600 x 1,200. Only once we enable features does the score begin to drop - and only to 89.8fps. Ouch!
Interestingly, at the lower resolutions the single card was actually faster than the SLI setup. This highlights two points, the first being that even a single card is completely CPU limited at the lower resolutions. The second point is that there's obviously a slight CPU overhead when SLI is employed, although as you push the resolution and features higher this will become less of an issue.
To try and really push the set-up we raised the resolution all the way up to 1,920 x 1,440! Far Cry came in a 73.4 with 4x FSAA and 8x AF – just enough to scrape by on. The story was the same for Half-Life 2.
So is there anything that can bring this awesome combination of cards to their knees? Well actually there is. HDR. You’ll find a very nice explanation of what it is at our sister site, Bit-Tech. Having never seen HDR before I was blown away by how cool it looked in Far Cry. It immediately made me want to play the whole game again. However, as I described earlier it’s something of a performance killer and with FRAPS showing over 100fps at 1,920 x 1,440 it dropped to around 35fps with it enabled. Make that ‘massacred the frame rate’. HDR proved difficult to benchmark except by using a specific Far Cry benchmark utility. However this runs with higher settings than the default so the frame rate scores it returns are always around 20fps lower than manual testing. Using this produced an FPS score of 73.9fps at 1,600 x 1,200 and with HDR enabled, this went down to 40.9fps. However, you could expect 50-60fps in normal game play. Undoubtedly then, HDR could well be the ‘killer app’ for 7800GTX SLI, bringing unprecedented image quality at truly playable frame rates.
So there you have it. Evesham should be proud of itself for producing a simply stunning PC. With the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ and a pair of nVidia GeForce 7800 cards the Evesham Axis 64 Decimator 78 is gaming nirvana as it stands in mid 2005. It truly throws down the gauntlet to ATI, who have a single X850XT PE to compete with – which as the scores show gets blown away by a system like this. Of course with the release of CrossFire drivers and ATI’s R520 this might change, but this is still vapourware compared to a system that if your get your credit card out could be sitting on your desk by this weekend. Indeed, nVidia claims that this is the first release ever where cards are in plentiful supply on launch day, with many cards available for next day delivery with online resellers and system builders.
Price wise the machine is expensive but about right, considering that the CPU alone will set you back £750 and the cards around £400 each. Monitor included, it's about double the price of this value Evesham SLI machine, but then the performance is better by almost the same factor. Or even better, buy it without the suggested screen and get a decent widescreen monitor to make the most of the cards. Hey, what’s three grand between friends…
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