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Benchmark Results: 3DMark

AVADirect’s X7200: The GeForce GTX 485M SLI Mobile Graphics Giant
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We put 3DMark at the end of today’s benchmark set because of its issues with SLI and, more specifically, our unsanctioned solution.

3DMark 11 didn’t support SLI from the outset, its publisher claiming issues with Nvidia’s drivers. Nvidia’s recent 266.66 desktop graphics driver adds SLI support to 3DMark 11, but doesn’t work with notebooks. Furthermore, the firm’s notebook driver development is typically several weeks behind its desktop software.

The easiest workaround we could think of would be to install desktop drivers on a notebook. Potential problems with that solution include possible overheating and crippled power management, but other than fried GPUs what’s the worst that could happen?

Because our “modified drivers” are unsanctioned and not used for the rest of today’s test, we placed the added results at the bottom of our charts. Comparing the single GeForce GTX 485M’s sanctioned (notebook driver version 265.77) and unsanctioned (desktop driver version 266.66) results, we see very little change. Yet, the unsanctioned drivers make a huge difference in SLI, where AVADirect’s configuration is roughly equal to its competitor’s CrossFire configuration.

Thus, we’ll treat the modified driver results as a preview of “fixed” 3DMark performance as we wait for an official release from Nvidia (as of March 24, 2011, there is a new driver posted to Nvidia's site, though there is no mention of SLI support for 3DMark in its release notes). At 3DMark’s Performance preset, the GeForce GTX 485M SLI setup with modified drivers falls only slightly behind the 6970M CrossFire solution.

Positioning remains consistent through 3DMark’s Extreme preset, with the 485M SLI a close match to the 6970M.

Though we haven’t seen any recent games with the SLI issue, ubiquity of 3DMark scores should have prompted Nvidia to shift into high-gear when it came to mobile driver development.

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