Nvidia graphics chips face 'Crysis'

Nvidia's newest dual-GPU, the GeForce 9800 GX2, faces its ultimate test.

Even the mightiest graphics boards bow to Crysis. And Nvidia's newest dual-graphics board is no exception.

First some background. Crysis is a science fiction computer game developed by Germany-based Crytek and published by Electronic Arts. "Crysis is visually stunning, packed with intelligent, thrilling gameplay, and easily one of the greatest shooters ever made," according to GameSpot (which is owned by CNET Networks). For hardware reviewers, it's the ultimate gaming test of a graphics card.

Nvidia's GeForce 9800 GX2 contains two graphics chips
Nvidia's GeForce 9800 GX2 contains two graphics chips. CNET

Though so far the reviews of Nvidia's GeForce 9800 GX2 are positive ("The GeForce 9800 GX2 is an absolute powerhouse, the fastest graphics card you can buy today"--The Tech Report), it stalled when faced with the gaming equivalent of Everest's north face, running Crysis at its highest settings.

"The 9800GX2 is no magic bullet for Crysis," said Rich Brown, a senior editor at CNET Reviews, responding to questions. The GeForce 9800GX2 "was still unable to achieve 60 frames per second, which is generally considered the goal for acceptably smooth gameplay in first person shooters." he said.

CNET Asus EN9800GX2 review here.

Another review discussed similar issues when antialiasing (a technique for smoothing the jagged edges of curved objects) was turned on. "When antialiasing is activated and the card should be showing all it has to offer, its performance drops to the same level as the other cards," according to Tom's Hardware.

Optimally tweaked drivers are another hurdle in getting games to run well on the latest and greatest hardware. Particularly in the case of multi-GPU configurations using Scalable Link Interface (SLI). Nevertheless, Crysis has yet to meet its match at the highest settings using mass-market graphics cards.

Upcoming four-way configurations using SLI may be up to the challenge. We'll see.