one GTX 285 vs. two GTX 260's


Does anyone know which is the better performer of two possible configurations:

one GeForce GTX 285
two GeForce GTX 260's SLI

The prices for the two configurations are about the same.  I'm thinking of getting one 260 now and adding another 260 down the line when I have some heavier compositing work in After Effects to do.  

Right now I do 20% After Effects and 80% Flash and Photoshop in standard def.  In 4 months I'll have the budget and I'll probably be doing some HD After Effects work, so I thought I could upgrade to the SLI feature and add a second 260.

Thanks for the comments!
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OK, here are some questions:

Are you using PC or Mac?

So, 1st, double check to make sure the cards you are looking at are supported by the products you want them to be used by.

Are you sure you need this much power and will the rest of your system keep up?

Here is a test that contained the 2 setups you are interested in:

1 last thing to consider, how fast do you want the upgrade and what are you willing to pay?  You say you have about 4 months until you can buy the second 260, so if you choose the 285 will that be in 4 months too?

I would say if you are gonna wait 4 months to get what you want, wait for the 285.  You never know, it may be cheaper then.  Plus, if you choose 260s in SLI, where do you go when you need to turn it up to 11?  By the time you outgrow the 285, SLI THAT.

Just my thoughts and opinions.

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ugebAuthor Commented:

Thanks for the comment.  The system is a new system and requires a video card now, but as I'm getting everything at once, there's a big upfront out of pocket and I don't know that I really need all that power immediately.  I need to build up the reserves again and then go for the second board when needed, if that makes sense long term.

I don't see any comparison of the two setups on the link you gave:

Where exactly does it compare them?


Well, the article isnt completely focused on that direct comparison.  It tests multiple setups on various games.  But they do have a setup for 260s in SLI and single 285.

On page 7, they show the results for Far Cry game.  Just flip through the pages of the article (at the bottom)

I dont know how these specs directly correlate to Adobe products though.  I am assuming After Effects will need to know the cards' encoding/transcoding abilities vs graphic rendering?  Hopefully someone more experienced with your products will chime in.
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After more thinking (this topic is pretty interesting to me since I have done similar research before) I think we are trying to answer the wrong question.

The fundamental question to your problem would be "where is the hardware bottleneck for the applications I need?"

The real world question is "what hardware upgrade will provide the biggest performance bang for the buck."

Basically, you woulnt drive a Ferrari with 4 donut spare tires because the tires would be the bottleneck and negate pretty much all the expensive engineering of the car.

1) I  think Flash is going to be the least of your hardware requirements.  Any new components should work just fine.

2) For photoshop, the general rule is the more RAM the better.  Faster hard drives help too.  I think the graphics card is the last choice to upgrade for this application.  (note - Photoshop can use some cards processing power, but you might see better performance boosts elsewhere.

3) After Effects, I think it depends on what you will be doing with it.  3D modeling would use the card, where as video editing, etc would probably benefit from CPU, RAM and Hard Drive. (I really dont know what this program is used for)

I hope a hardware guru steps in, but I believe in your situation,  the order of cost/performance benefits will go in this order RAM  > Hard Drive > CPU > Graphics Card
Last minute catch!  The RAM/Hard Drive relationship may change depending on whether you go 32bit or 64bit OS.

So, after that long rant, the GTX260 (or less) will probably work for you and you will be better off upgrading another component before buying another card.

Final solution, its a %#$&* hard choice.
ugebAuthor Commented:
Hi, I see from that link the comparison you mentioned. Thanks for that.

You're right that Flash won't benefit enormously from the card and that more RAM is better for Photoshop.  After Effects is for compositing and uses OpenGL hardware acceleration.

The system is new and contains a core i7 920 on an Asus P6T Deluxe and won't be a bottleneck.  The real question boils down to whether After Effects can utilize 2 cards' hardware acceleration.  

The video editing will benefit in it's effects like fades, titles, etc.  I used Avid and it's very pick about having Nvidia cards and Avid only claims to support Quadro cards.  However, apparently the 260 will work just fine -- more bang for the buck than the "pro" cards.  

Anybody else know about After Effects w/ 260 SLI??
Excellent, sounds like you have already gone through this thought process.

Out of curiosity, what is your hard drive configuration?

ugebAuthor Commented:
I'm following the configuration from VideoGuys here which have DIY systems configured for HD editing:

I've followed them for years, though this is the first of their systems I've built.  Parts ordered, in shipping now.

I have a few differences from their setup.  I'll be using Hitachi Drives instead of WD for the video storage, I'm trying out Windows 7 RC instead of Vista, and I've done a lot more searching on the video cards as their card rec is expensive and doesn't really provide that much power.   For what I'm doing, the 260 seems to be the way to go for now.
It really sounds like you know what you are doing, so I hope I dont offend you by asking simple questions.

The 1 thing that worries me is RAID 0 for video storage...  Again, I dont know your level of knowledge, sounds high, but that seems risky to me.

Yeah, sounds like you are making the right choice.  As for $160 for eventually adding another gtx260, you could get 2 74GB WD Raptors and put those in RAID 0 as a "temp" editing drive and make your old ones "storage."

I would like to hear from someone if that sounds like the better upgrade.
ugebAuthor Commented:
Raid 0 isn't the best choice, agreed, but it's okay for me to start on this new system.  I'll upgrade to Raid 5 soon as I need it.  We'll have to see how Windows 7 RC does ...
Just another note, RAID 5 for what you are doing will probably take a performance hit compared to RAID 0.  If you want redundancy and performance, RAID 10 would be your best bet.  However, that might be costly.  If your case has the room, maybe you can RAID 1 your old 1TB drives and RAID 0 some of the older 74GB Raptors ($74 each).  That might be a good compromise of price/performance and reliability.  Either way will be fine if you have a good backup system.
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