Clash of the Titans: NVIDIA GTX 680M SLI and AMD Radeon HD 7970M CrossFire

Discussion in 'Alienware 18 and M18x' started by Mr. Fox, Oct 22, 2012.

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  1. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    [​IMG] CLASH OF THE TITANS:
    NVIDIA GTX 680M SLI | AMD Radeon HD 7970M CrossFire[​IMG]
    This thread was created for the benefit of those trying to make a good decision on GPU selection. There are plenty of reasons to choose one over the other. We see opinions posted ad nauseam in multiple threads, most of which are the same talking heads, saying the same thing in every thread. For every person that adds a new post asking the question "which is better" there is a bombardment of passionate opinions from red and green fans alike. This can make the buying decision a very confusing and daunting task for the less informed buyer. A few obvious facts that most of us often agree on are:
    .

    1. AMD graphics cards are generally cheaper
    2. AMD driver support is often not very good
    3. NVIDIA drivers generally have better game support
    4. Both graphics cards are beasts when it comes to performance
    .
    Where the fanboys tend to disagree are the more subjective aspects of ownership. We see comments like:
    .

    1. AMD is a better value of price to performance
    2. NVIDIA is too expensive to justify the higher cost
    3. AMD graphics cards have more problems, or a higher failure rate
    4. NVIDIA graphics are more robust, plays games better and offer better visual qualty
    .
    These are very true statements to those that believe them. However, these statements are frequently based on perceptions, isolated individual experience and, of course, personal preference. Comments like these are often offered "on authority" by folks that have never owned or used the other GPU. So, rather than offer more opinions, let's have an unbiased look at some numbers together, shall we? All test runs are with the following specifications and settings:
    .

    • Alienware M18x R1
    • Intel Core i7 2920XM
    • Dell Level 3 Overclock [42x 38x 36x 35x] - BCLK 100.1
    • Flex VID: 10; Pri Plane: 2200
    • Catalyst Control Center; Catalyst 12.8 (desktop driver); stock core/memory (2D set at 3D clocks; ULPS disabled, EnableCrossFireAutoLink forced) [LINK]
    • NVIDIA Control Panel Defaults; Verde ForceWare 306.02 (desktop driver); stock core/memory (no vBIOS or registry tweaks required) [LINK]
    .












































































    Benchmark Test 7970M CrossFire GTX 680M SLI
    Additional Information
    3DMark11 P9868 P10206 Side-by-Side Comparison [LINK]
    Vantage P30993 P31239 Side-by-Side Comparison [LINK]
    3DMark06 26295 25271 Side-by-Side Comparison [LINK]
    3DMark05 32503 32309 Side-by-Side Comparison [LINK]
    Unigine Heaven 3.0 2617 2617 DX11; 1920X1080; defaults + tessellation normal (see detail in link)
    Metro2033 189.32 Avg FPS 160.88 Avg FPS Benchmark defaults + DOF enabled (see detail in link)
    Nexius 51.09 Avg FPS 121.06 Avg FPS Ultra settings (maximum setting slider bar); vsynch disabled
    Batman Arkham Asylum 224 Avg FPS 273 Avg FPS Maximum settings (see detail in link)
    Batman Arkham City 93 Avg FPS 109 Avg FPS Maximum settings (see detail in link)
    Just Cause 2 164.39 Avg FPS 151.11 Avg FPS Desert Sunrise; Max settings (see detail in link)
    Crysis 2 (Adrenaline) 87.0 / 41.8 FPS 87.1 / 82.0 FPS Ultra; Result 0x AA / Result 2x AA; DX11; High texture pack (see detail in link)
    Crysis Benchmark Tool 1.05 65.34 Avg FPS 75.625 Avg FPS Very High; No AA; 32bit DX 10 (see detail in link)
    Far Cry Benchmark (HOC) 189.65 / 184.89 FPS 258.32 / 243.33 FPS Maximum settings (HDR - Disabled / Level 11 (see detail in link)
    Call of Juarez 159.9 FPS 137.6 FPS Maximum settings; DX10 (see detail in link)
    (Note: underlined text in table are hyperlinks)​
    .
    As you can see from test results, the AMD Radeon HD 7970M CrossFire and NVIDIA GTX 680M SLI setups are both incredibly powerful and the results are remarkably similar. At the end of the day it comes down to the personal preference of the system owner. Neither graphics card comes out the clear winner overall. With few exceptions, the results are well within a margin of error and most are so close the same variance could have easily been seen in back-to-back benchmark runs on the same system. Stock benchmarks results could be a fraction higher for an M18x R2 with Ivy Bridge and increased PCIe 3.0 bandwidth, but this baseline comparison should carry over well for those considering a new system versus an M18x R1 upgrade.
    .
    The best advice for anyone considering a new system with these display adapters, or a GPU upgrade for their existing system, is to read up in the forums and see what actual owners are saying about their experience. Sift through the baseless opinions, set those aside, and focus on facts. What are their problems? How frequent are they? What are the drivers like? Have their GPUs failed? Are they happy, and why? Do they regret having saved a few bucks on the less expensive brand? Once you have answered those questions, decide what is best for you and buy the best your wallet allows. You will find this type of information in the following threads:
    .





















    .
    NOTE: GTX 680M is in very high demand. So high, in fact, that Dell is unable to offer any upgrades. So, please do not contact the reps here in our community or send emails to AlienwareUpgrades@Dell.com because they are not available for purchase at this time. For the time being, you will need to purchase the parts through another channel, such as eBay or a Clevo reseller. Once surplus stock is available this may change, and the reps in our community will let us know if it does. Both are compatible with the M18x R1. The best, and most affordable, option for an M18x R2 owner is to order a new system with the 7970M Crossfire or 680M SLI already installed. Buying a new system with less expensive graphics cards with an intent of upgrading will cost more in the long run than ordering the best up front, not to mention that aftermarket parts are not covered by your warranty.
    ..
    If you are interested in overclocked benchmark results, be sure to check out the leader board in the *OFFICIAL* Alienware M18x Benchmark Thread before making your purchase. My best overclocked benchmark runs are posted in the spoilers below.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2015
  2. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    It was fun. Thanks for letting me participate in the AMD 7970M Xfire vs. 680M SLI Review.
     
  3. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    As many of you know, I had upgraded my M18x R1 to 7970M CrossFire, then GTX 680M SLI. For those considering an upgrade to GTX 680M SLI, congratulation on that decision.

    Here is everything I think you might need to know:

    • GPU - the Dell GTX 680M is almost impossible to find. The 4GB Clevo version is easier to obtain and has twice the memory. It's fully compatible with the M18x R1 and R2.
    • Heat Sinks - the M18x R1 NVIDIA heat sinks for the GTX 580M/675M are the same part numbers. Left side: JW8P7 Right side: Y3WC7 Brackets (2): 3MHHT
    • SLI Bridge Cable - same part numbers as GTX 580M/675M. The item to order is GDMRG
    • Installation - same regardless of GPU. In addition to the Owner's Manual, this video should help. LINK
    • Drivers - the NVDM.INF has to be modded to reflect the hardware ID of the 680M when installed in the M18x R1. See this post for instructions.
    • vBIOS - in order to do any serious GPU overclocking or benching without throttling, you need a new vBIOS. You will need to get the appropriate one from svl7, outside of this forum.
     
  4. pau1ow

    pau1ow Notebook Deity

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    +rep for the good work bro! Oups can't + rep you, you're already too famous to me :(
     
  5. TurbodTalon

    TurbodTalon Notebook Virtuoso

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    Thank you, Mr. Fox. You always post very informational and non-opinionated information.
     
  6. Kyrius

    Kyrius Notebook Consultant

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    Wow nice work Mr. Fox!
     
  7. Keith

    Keith Notebook Deity

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    Well done Mr. Fox!
     
  8. J.Dre

    J.Dre Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    Glad to see a thread about this, especially one with such good comparisons.

    As usual, thanks.
     
  9. LannBot

    LannBot Notebook Consultant

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    Nice comparison Mr. Fox. They really do come close don't they? It's all a matter of preference at this point.
     
  10. TBoneSan

    TBoneSan Laptop Fiend

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    Great work Mr Fox!
    Rep + 1
     
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