Informit's 2006 Guide to Building the Ultimate Gaming PC on a Budget: Revenge of the Dual-Core, SLI Machine, Part 3
Aquamark Scores (1024x768x32, AA Off, Aniso: 4, Details: Very High)
One card, default core speed of 450Mhz: 45.7 FPS
Two cards, SLI default: 68.3
These scores are pretty good! Remember that we are using absolutely no fans on these cards. Our goals are fanless and quiet first, and then fast. In fact, just our simple overclocking caused some instability, requiring re-booting into safe mode and re-installing drivers. So be warned: Overclocking (with the exception of the built-in ASUS software AI) is only for experts. Now on to the Quake benchmarks.
Quake 4 Scores (1024×768×32, Very High Quality)
One card, default settings: 62.6 FPS
Two cards, SLI configuration, default settings: 68.3 FPS
That is a very high frame rate for Quake 4! Who will believe that you passed 60 fps on Quake 4 at 1024×768×32, Very High Quality—using a single $100 graphics card and no GPU fan? This surprising speed is thanks in part to the Quake 4 version 1.05 patch, which optimizes rendering on dual-core processors. So the good news is that at default values, even one of these cards seems fast enough for gamers of all levels. And it was done without overclocking. This is good, because you shouldn’t routinely overclock GPUs that are passively cooled. They get too hot.
Quake 4 Scores (1024×768×32, Ultra Quality)
One card, default settings: 51.0 fps
Two cards, SLI configuration, 62.9 fps
Figure 6 shows our SLI setup: dual, identical graphics cards in parallel. The benchmarks show that at Ultra Quality and 1024×768×32, one card is not enough. But happily, the dual SLI configuration pushes us over the 60 fps mark. That’s actually a lot more than we need, because for competitive online gaming we often use lower quality and resolution (800×600×32, Medium Quality).
Overall, the benchmarks show that this system is very fast for a budget setup! But if you really want to break records, you’re going to have to upgrade to high-end cards and watercooled, heavily overclocked GPUs. That’s outside of the scope of this article. What is important is that you now have a machine equal to any game out there. And you have the quality SLI mainboard, RAM, and CPU to keep upgrading and tweaking faster cards in the future—to as fast as you want to go.