How well does AMD Crossfire work

AMD Radeon RX 480 CrossFire in the test

No question about it, the AMD Radeon RX 480 is still an impressive graphics card that can display 1080p resolutions with maximum details for little money. The 8GB version currently costs just under € 240.00, while the 4 GB card is available for a little over € 200.00 (some models can unlock 8GB via Mod).

The Radeon RX 480 as a CrossFire system offers a really interesting alternative to buying a GeForce GTX 1070. What also makes the RX 480 CrossFire system interesting are the low power requirements, which can even be achieved with smaller power supplies. You buy a graphics card first, so to speak, and when there is more money available later, you simply add a second one.

In contrast to NVIDIA's SLI system, setting up an AMD CrossFire is relatively easy to accomplish. In contrast to SLI, you don't need a bridge cable between the cards. In addition, AMD is more relaxed about the motherboard certification requirements, because CrossFire also runs on boards with second PCIe x16 slots, which are only connected with x4.

In this test we will run some graphics benchmarks of current games in single and crossfire mode and compare them with one another.

GPU-Z information

At this point we would like to thank our partner AMD for providing the test sample and the trust they have placed in us.

Test system

* The RX 480 and GTX 1070 graphics cards are each the reference design.

All results are only related to the above-mentioned system with always the same configuration.

  • All games are set to their highest quality level, unless otherwise stated.
  • AA and AF are applied through the game settings, not the driver.

As always, we of course use the latest graphics drivers from AMD and Nvidia.

Every game is tested at these screen resolutions:

- 1600 × 900: resolution for most smaller flat screens and laptops (13 ″ - 19 ″).
- 1920 × 1080: Most common widescreen resolution for larger displays (22 "- 28").

Games tested:

- Sniper Elite 4
- Fallout 4
- GTA V

Benchmark results

The 3DMark is an essential tool that carries out various graphics and physics tests. The 3D game capability of our computer is determined by simulating graphically complex game scenes. The free basic edition of "3DMark" contains four test routines. Each test is specialized on a specific platform. "Fire Strike" is designed for gaming machines and high-end PCs and tests the PC with dark fantasy sequences at an image resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 points.

The Crossfire system leads here with 7341 points, followed by the GTX 1070 with 5937 points. The RX 480 from AMD in single mode does noticeably worse with almost 2000 points behind the GTX 1070.

The performance requirements for VR games are far higher than typical PC games. With the help of VRMark, the user can test his system in advance to see whether it is also VR-compatible. Thanks to its optimization for VR use, the RX 480 promises better results here than in the previous test run.

In this test, the Crossfire system clearly leads with 8332 points, followed by the GTX 1070 with 7280 points. The RX 480 from AMD is only 600 points behind the GTX 1070 in single mode.

Orange Room Benchmark (VRMark)

The free VRMark "Orange Room" shows impressive levels of detail that can be achieved on a PC that meets the recommended hardware requirements for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

After a short test period, we can see whether our PC is VR-ready or not. We get a total score for our PC. A detailed diagram shows us how the PC behaved during the test.

Benchmark games

First, we tested the graphics cards with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. We used the games Sniper Elite 4, GTA V and Fallout 4. All games are patched to the latest version. We performed the benchmarks either with the benchmark tool included in the game or the free Fraps program.

In our entire test, the AMD RX 480 lost out to the GTX 1070 in most applications; the card only prevailed in Cinebench. As far as the Crossfire system is concerned, however, this is usually at the top, except for Fallout 4, where the Crossfire team of the GTX 1070 has to admit defeat.

By and large, however, the performance of the Crossfire team is impressive. Especially in the very current game from Rebellion (Sniper Elite 4) you can see the almost double performance of the RX 480.

Next, we tested the graphics cards with a resolution of 1600 x 900. Hardly any differences can be felt here. In the game Fallout 4 you can see that it does not benefit from Crossfire, because our team is a few points behind the RX 480 in single mode.

Overall impression:

Volume:
In idle, the Crossfire combination in the reference design spreads somewhat calm, but as soon as 3D load arises, the cards are increasingly audible. Both cards get extremely loud, especially under high load.

Power consumption:
In idle, there is hardly any difference in consumption compared to single mode of 110 watts. However, under full load with "VRMark" the power consumption in the Crossfire network climbs by approx. 290 watts. We measured a total consumption of 400 watts (entire PC).

Conclusion:

As shown in our test, we were able to achieve 5% to 10% better results with our RX480 Crossfire combination compared to the similarly expensive GTX 1070 from Nvidia. Thus, the team is almost on the level of the large GTX 1080. However, the prerequisite for this is that the games used also have multi-GPU support. If this is not the case, there is no increase in performance.

Both Sniper Elite 4 and GTA V (DirectX12) benefited noticeably from the Crossfire system. All games ran smoothly and annoying micro stuttering was a thing of the past. It looked different in Fallout 4, however. The card team did not bring any advantages here.

The power consumption in the Crossfire was relatively high. While only 110W were measured in idle, the consumption increased to over 450W under load. The volume of the double reference cooler also reached uncomfortable levels under load.

Ultimately, the buyer has to make the decision himself. If you already use a single Radeon RX 480 graphics card in your system and later want to achieve more performance via multi-GPU, the Crossfire team is definitely an option, especially when you look at the price of two Radeon RX 480s (approx 460.00) compared to a single GeForce GTX 1080 approx. (€ 600.00).

Per:
+ More performance for games with Crossfire support
+ Easy installation
+ Price compared to the GTX 1080

Cons:
- Power consumption under load
- volume under load