Tomb Raider performance
I followed up the synthetic benchmarks with an actual game benchmark: Tomb Raider, run at 4K on the Ultimate setting. This game is a couple years old and, frankly, not the graphics test it once was. Still, gaming at 3840x2160 resolution is tough, no matter the game’s vintage. The tri- and quad-SLI Titan X systems again hold a healthy advantage over the two GeForce GTX 1080 cards.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor 4K performance
The benchmark overview ends with Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, which I ran at 4K resolution using the Ultra preset and the 4K texture pack. The outcome is all roses for the GeForce GTX 1080 cards.
The chart below shows you just why Nvidia is having second thoughts about three- and four-way setups. While driver creep could account for some performance deficits—the Falcon was reviewed early last year, the Maingear in the middle of last year—the scaling from the Titan X cards shows diminishing returns.
In other words, only certain games make it worth plunking down upwards of $1,200 for extra video cards. The Aventum 3’s GTX 1080 cards simply smoke the Titan X cards in this game’s benchmark. That’s four GeForce Titan X cards getting pounded on by two GeForce GTX 1080 cards.
I haven’t mentioned price until now, because for rigs like this, that’s not usually the focus. But let’s get that issue out of the way, because anytime a system features a custom design, made-in-America manufacturing, cutting-edge components, and custom liquid-cooling, it’s assumed the price will be stratospheric.
Well, you might be surprised. At $8,573, the Aventum 3’s price is high, to be sure, but not as high as you might’ve figured. The Maingear Epic Force X99 was about $11,000 with its four Titan X cards. And let’s face it, at this level, you’re also paying to make a statement with the machine.
Which brings me to my main sticking point with the Aventum 3. The presentation is impressive: The paint is smooth and the performance is everything you’d expect. But the reason to have an over-the-top gaming rig is to have over-the-top GPUs. Peering through the case window of the Aventum 3 and spotting just two lonely GeForce GTX 1080 cards is disappointing. It’s like lifting up the hood of a muscle car and finding a four-cylinder engine instead of a big-block engine.
This situation isn’t Digital Storm’s fault, of course. It’s Nvidia’s. That said, it’s pretty hard to justify a big, bad motherboard when half of its slots are empty.
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