NATURAL SELECTION 2
The first game we tested was Natural Selection 2. A quirky indie title, and sequel to the Half-Life 1 mod Natural Selection, this game is surprisingly demanding. It relies heavily on lighting and particle effects for its dank, claustrophobic atmosphere. Natural Selection 2 pits the aliens against marines in a real time strategy slash first person shooter. This game was run at a resolution of 1920×1080, in DirectX 11, with all settings maxed.
With a single card, we measured an average of 72 FPS, with a high of 94, and a low of 53.
With two cards in SLI, we measured an average of 122.1 FPS, with a high of 170, and a low of 71.
It was comfortably playable with a single card, though much smoother in SLI. Definitively shows the advantage of having an SLI setup, though. Much higher frame rates.
SAINTS ROW IV
The next game we tested was the cheeky AAA title Saints Row IV. This game pits you – the head of Saints empire and President of the United States – against an alien invasion. You lose, and are thrown into a Matrix-like world where the insanity is cranked to 11.
Again at a resolution of 1920×1080, and all in-game settings at their maximum, this is the first actual game to experience worrisome FPS drop on a single card setup.
In a single card configuration, we measured an average of 65.3 FPS, with a high of 81, and a low of 38.
In a double card configuration, we measured an average of 98.9 FPS, with a high of 122, and a low of 81.
The FPS drops on a single card were getting in the way of enjoying the game. Still playable, but at times jarring. To play this game on a single MSI GTX 760 2GB Twin Frozr OC Edition, you’d have to turn a couple settings down to ensure adequate performance. Of course the SLI configuration handled this without dipping below 80FPS the whole time.
THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM
So, we tried something new to see if these cards could handle the most graphically demanding game available. A modified version of Skyrim so demanding that the co-author’s personal gaming PC couldn’t possibly play it. We got the ENB mod with the best configuration we could find. The official HD pack, and all DLC. Then we found mods to overhaul most of the textures in the game with 2K and 4K resolution textures. We found mods that changed the weather, the water, the snow, the fire, just about everything we could think of.
You might wonder why you would deliberately set about modifying Skyrim to be as demanding as possible. I hope these screenshots explain why:
In order to test the frame rate achieved, we had to force V-Sync off in the Nvidia driver control panel. During normal play V-Sync should be enabled.
With one card installed, we measured an average frame rate of 44.6 FPS, with a minimum of 19 FPS and a max of 68 FPS. Dipping down to 19 frames per second severely impacts the game experience, but the FPS drops weren’t long lived. With two cards, we measured an average of 105.5 FPS, with a minimum of 72 and a max of 142 FPS. Once again, two cards wins hands down. With no FPS drops below 60, you’re assured of a very smooth Skyrim experience. Using a second card provided more than double the frame rate in this case.