P67: NF200 or not

Posted: April 12, 2011 in PC
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It has been a while since Intel made a HUGE mistake on their H/P67 boards with the SATA II port, but it’s now fixed and they’re back on market.

Since then, some companies, like ASUS and MSI have developed “upgraded” versions of the P67 board, aimed for the “enthusiast” user.  As we know, P67 allows multi-GPU scaling to a bandwith of 8x on each card, similar to the P55 boards, and different from the X58 board, which allows the use of 16x on each card for a 2-way multi-GPU config.

This upgraded board has not just one PCI-E 16x, but up to 4 (ASUS Maximus IV Extreme) or even 8 (MSI Big Bang Marshall)! You’ll be asking, “why would I need more than 2 PCI-E 16x if you can only run 2 cards?” The answer is simple. nForce 200 chip .

This chip allows the PCI-E interface to extend the lanes up to 32, allowing full 2-way CrossFire or SLI @16x/16x, or 3-way at 16x/8x/8x, sometimes 4-way at 8x on each slot (depending on the motherboard and the PCI-E chip installed).

Multi-GPU scaling varies depending on the title and the driver version. For example, you won’t get the same performance with 2 GTX 560 Ti on SLI using the latest driver than using the version before the card release. Not all the titles out there supports multi-GPU scaling, though you can see a slight performance boost.

As another fact, certain titles tend to run more efficiently on their sponsored brand. i.e.: DiRT 2 tends to go a bit faster on AMD, while Crysis 2 goes faster and bugless on NVIDIA in terms of multiple GPU).

Now, the real question is: Is there a major difference between lower and higher bandwith while running multi-GPU? In this case, dual 16x vs dual 8x.

As I said before, the NF200 allows you to take control of those electrical 16x slots to their full potential on 2-way mode, but is there a major performance boost between 8x and 16x? Seems like not.

I’ve been bugged with that question since SB motherboards were released. And today, it was answered.

One of my favorite YouTube channels for PC stuff, Linus Tech Tips, added a video comparing 2 GTX 580 on SLI running at 16x/16x and 8x/8x on 3DMark 11.

Here’s the video. Then again. Credits goes to Linus for making the video

Taking aside any possible difference between X58 and P67, that benchmark made me go safe and I’ll be getting a P67 board without the NF200 chip.

Also, seems like I’ll be getting the i5 2500k instead of the i7 version. Prolly not gonna use HT like mad and well, CAD benchmarks for both CPUs aren’t that different.

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