Gaming Performance

Given what we've seen on the last page of the pair of GeForce GTX 680's in the iBUYPOWER Erebus GT, it's reasonable to assume we'll see them pretty much at the top of every chart. Thankfully we're starting to accumulate a decent amount of data to draw comparisons from with our new gaming suite.

Batman: Arkham City

Battlefield 3

Civilization V

DiRT 3

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Portal 2

Total War: Shogun 2

Bottom line, two GTX 680s is essentially excessive for 1080p. That's to be expected, but I was so stunned by the performance in Battlefield 3 that I actually had to double-check my results. Battlefield 3 has been fairly punishing on most of the systems I've tested, but the GTX 680s just brush it off. In other titles, we clearly hit CPU limits before the GPUs can reach their stride—Civilization V, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and Total War: Shogun 2 are clearly CPU limited at this point, and Portal 2 is only somewhat less so.

At the same time, everything isn't quite sunny for SLI right now. Since the GTX 680 is fairly new, each driver release from NVIDIA is going to become that much more important. The 301.10 drivers, for example, weren't entirely stable compared to the 301.24 betas, which could run DiRT 3 in surround without issue. I also had trouble actually configuring surround in the first place on the 301.10s, problems that didn't resurface in the 301.24s. The 301.10s also produced substantially lower SLI performance in Portal 2 (still 130+ fps) than the 301.24s.

Batman: Arkham City

Battlefield 3

DiRT 3

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Portal 2

Total War: Shogun 2

I'm sure it surprises no one that the pair of GTX 680s is able to provide playable experiences across every game at our highest resolution and settings. Battlefield 3 does bring the hammer down, though; triple the resolution and the performance is sliced pretty linearly down to about a third of what it was. If you want to run at surround resolutions with anti-aliasing enabled, though, the GTX 680s can do it. Interestingly, Skyrim is still apparently hitting CPU bottlenecks even at 5760x1200.

Application and Futuremark Performance An Update on Build, and Power Consumption
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  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    My "still need to find time to play" list right now includes:

    Mass Effect 3
    Witcher 2
    Fallout: New Vegas
    Finish Skyrim
    Finish Batman: Arkham City

    If we go back to include games I really wanted to play but never got around to (and they're now collecting digital dust), add Bioshock 2, both Knights of the Old Republic games (I'm not even remotely interested in the new Star Wars: the Old Republic MMO, though -- not my type of time sink!), and dozens of others I can't think of right now. Thankfully, at least my work allows me the chance to play more games than most! LOL
  • UltimateKitchenUtensil - Saturday, April 28, 2012 - link

    Koolance does offer low-fpi rads (better for low-speed fans, all else being equal), but not in a 3x140mm format -- so if iBUYPOWER uses only Koolance (because they might have a good relationship), they're stuck with the 30 fins per inch rad Koolance has.

    But for flow, that loop won't have a problem, at all -- there are no very restrictive blocks (like those silly motherboard blocks). Rads aren't restrictive, and the Koolance CPU block is a low-restriction component:
    Parallel might gain you a few degrees, but in the grand scheme of things it just won't matter.
  • shin0bi272 - Saturday, April 28, 2012 - link

    thanks for the info. I figured that it would make some difference just by the logic of the water passing over the cpu then hitting the gpu. But the flow rate and temp of the water would obviously play a huge role in the raising of the temp. One other question. Where's the radiator (and its fan) on that system? Make that two questions... what is the tube at the back connected to and why? It looks like theres an expansion slot at the top with a connector going to it then connecting to the cpu and top gpu like theres supposed to be an external radiator or something coming out the back... but when you look at the back pic theres nothing coming out.
  • UltimateKitchenUtensil - Saturday, April 28, 2012 - link

    Actually, the loop goes:
    - Reservoir (in the bottom 5.25" bay)
    - Pump (at the bottom of the case, next to the hard drive bays)
    - GPU blocks, in series
    - 1 x 140 mm Radiator on the back exhaust (that's what the tubes at the back are connected to -- the rad is the black rectangle between the fan and the back wall of the case)
    - CPU block
    - 3 x 140 mm Radiator in the roof, with the three top fans blowing on it.
    - back to the Reservoir.

    The tube that goes to the side of the roof, about half way from the front of the case, is for the Fill port, which is the round thing you see on the left side of the top of the case.
  • UltimateKitchenUtensil - Saturday, April 28, 2012 - link

    And just for fun, if you wanted to build that loop out of Koolance stuff:

    - Reservoir TNK-501 - $80 -
    (there are much cheaper, but less featureful, reservoirs available elsewhere, though)
    - Pump PMP-450 - $77
    (also known as the Laing D5, you can find this pump rebranded by other companies, but $77 is reasonable)
    - GPU blocks VID-NX680 - $130 x 2 -
    - 1 x 140 mm Radiator HX-CU-1401V - $50 -
    - CPU block CPU-370 rev. 1.1 - $80 -
    - 3 x 140 mm Radiator HX-CU-1403V - $75 -

    So main components = $622
    You could save on the reservoir by going with something simpler (which it seems iBUYPOWER did), like this $35 XSPC:

    However, you still need tubing (fairly cheap) and fittings (they get expensive relatively fast.

    You need 2 fittings/component (unless they have built-in barbs, like the pump, or you use something like the tube that's between the GPUs).

    For that system, you'd need something like 11 fittings, at $6.50 ea. for compression fittings:
    + adapters, the fill port, and video card connectors.

    All told, that setup might cost around $750 if you bought the parts at retail.
  • Wreckage - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    Ivy bridge and 680's vs Bulldozer CPU and Bulldozer 7970's.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    Why? To see Bulldozer get manhandled? Here are the gaming results at lower detail settings (e.g. to put the strain more on the CPU). These results are pertinent because when you move to SLI or CrossFire, the CPU becomes more limiting than the two GPUs in many games.

    Here's another article that did Bulldozer vs. Nehalem vs. Sandy Bridge all with a single 7970:

    Unfortunately, the best the FX 8150 can do against Nehalem i7-920 and Sandy Bridge i5-2500K with a single 7970 is to match it in some titles, while on average even Nehalem tends to match or slightly exceed Bulldozer. That Sandy Bridge 2500K is 9% faster at 2560x1600 with a single GPU is pretty much all you need to know. Ivy Bridge will be even faster still (unless you're into overclocking, in which case it's pretty much a tie), all while consuming less power.

    Here's another article on the subject, only with 3-way HD 6970 on i7-2600K and FX-8150. Warning: it's not pretty, unless you like Intel.
  • vailr - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    The Asus Maximus V Formula Z77 board is due for release within the next 2 weeks or so, and includes a built-in water cooling loop for the power choke heat sinks. Would be interesting to see how water cooling with that board would affect overclockability. Will they (iBUYPOWER) be offering an updated Erebus GT using that Z77 board?
  • UltimateKitchenUtensil - Saturday, April 28, 2012 - link

    It will likely have very little effect -- you can already buy motherboard blocks, but they mostly exist for show -- people just use them because they can.
  • saf227 - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    "...a solid value and worthy of enthusiast attention."
    How can you say it's a solid value when you don't tell us a price? You don't even hint at a price (i.e. "Less than $3K").
    So I'm going to ASSUME (since you give me no information to base a reasonable presumption on) that this system costs $25,000. And is therefore a TERRIBLE value.

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