The world of graphics have always been always been a troubled sea to navigate, especially if you sail under one particular flag. No matter which flag you sail under however not many have said nVidia’s Phsyx acquisition hasn’t been without its troubles with performance, nVidia specific hardware to run it and then developers reluctant to jump on board because they believed it would limit the reach of their games to the PC market. These obstacles have not slowed the Phsyx monster from pushing forward, even getting a few hacker’s to force nVidia GPU and drivers to work alongside ATI GPU’s so they could run Phsyx, this was short lived but still proved it could be done if nVidia would loosen their reigns. Whether you agree with them keeping this proprietary or not, it is now thus I decided to take a stab at running some benchmarks with my machine and with a 9600 GT I have laying around. This way I can try to give a contrast to see whether or not it would be best to pair a newer card with an older for Phsyx or just let the new one handle it. The games I chose for this are Mafia II and Batman AA, the stand alone benchmark I used is new it’s called Mars GPU Phsyx Benchmark it came out only last week. To quickly go over my spec they are Intel i7 950 (OC to 4 GHZ), Corsair Dominator 6 GB (OC to 1754), 2x EVGA 580 Water Cooled GTX580 FTW in SLI configuration (OC to 850 Mhz Core & 4196 Mhz Mem) and EVGA 9600 GT. To start were going with Mafia II. An odd note everyone should be aware of when using Mafia II as a benchmark, when you do your first benchmark it will give your results and then do another benchmark right after it the difference will be about 10 to 15fps higher, this was consistent for several benchmarks so it is not a fluke. The only explanation I can give to this is caching, something is being precached after it has been ran the first time and it’s cleared when you exit the game, I have only included number from first run to prevent bias on the games part. All setting were Maxed at 1920x1080, AA was turned on but Vsync was not enabled to get the best possible amount of FPS. Here are the numbers 580 SLI Mode & 9600 GT Dedicated to Phsyx - High Phsyx: 42.3 FPS Rank C 580 SLI Mode & 9600 GT Dedicated to Phsyx - Med Phsyx: 77.0 FPS Rank B 580 Single GPU & 9600 GT Dedicated to Phsyx - High Phsyx: 40.0 FPS Rank C 580 Single GPU & 9600 GT Dedicated to Phsyx - Med Phsyx: 64.7 FPS Rank B 580 SLI Mode & 580 (2) set to Phsyx Not Dedicated - High Phsyx: 52.4 Rank C 580 SLI Mode & 580 (2) set to Phsyx Not Dedicated - Med Phsyx: 67.6 Rank B 580 Single GPU - High Phsyx: 41.3 Rank C 580 Single GPU - Med Phsyx: 58.4 Rank C 580 Single GPU - No Phsyx: 78.3 Rank B 580 SLI Mode - No Phsyx: 124.8 rank A That game defiantly takes Phsyx seriously but it isn’t the only we have to test, here comes Batman AA 16xQ AA, detail level Very HIGH, Vsync NO and everything else Enabled. It should be noted when going to Medium Phsyx the game drops the Cloth Flags, about 40 to 60% of the smoke disappears, about 50% of the cob webs disappear as well and I was unable to judge the amount paper but it didn't seem like much, if any. 580 SLI Mode & 9600 GT Dedicated to Phsyx - High Phsyx: Min 43, Max 126, Avg 102 580 SLI Mode & 9600 GT Dedicated to Phsyx - Med Phsyx: Min 50, Max 182, Avg 115 580 Single GPU & 9600 GT Dedicated to Phsyx - High Phsyx: Min 46, Max 128, Avg 89 580 Single GPU & 9600 GT Dedicated to Phsyx - Med Phsyx: Min 49, Max 131, Avg 98 580 SLI Mode & 580 (2) set to Phsyx Not Dedicated - High Phsyx: Min 79, Max 214, Avg 137 580 SLI Mode & 580 (2) set to Phsyx Not Dedicated - Med Phsyx: Min 88, Max 231, Avg 152 580 Single GPU - High Phsyx: Min 64, Max 179, Avg 115 580 Single GPU - Med Phsyx: Min 65, Max 192, Avg 120 580 Single GPU - No Phsyx: Min 97, Max 227, Avg 156 580 SLI Mode - No Phsyx: Min 137, Max 379, Avg 262 The benchmarks are defiantly proving interesting aren’t they? Let’s move on to Mars really quick before we start to draw any conclusions or speculation. Since the Mars benchmark is so new and based on the Unreal tech there is no SLI support for it yet, thus all my testing was done with a single GPU running the GFX and either the other 580 is running the Phsyx or the 9600. There was also no way to change the amount of Phsyx being used in this benchmark 580 Single GPU & 9600 9600 GT Dedicated to Phsyx: Min 21, Avg 34 580 Single GPU & 580 (2) set to Phsyx Not Dedicated: Min 23, Avg 43 580 Single GPU - Phsyx: Min 22, Avg 52 580 Single GPU - No Phsyx: Min 48, Avg 75 That benchmark wasn’t as in-depth as I would have liked it to have been but it served its purpose for looking at a situation for people who only have 1 GPU and want to run another one for Phsyx. The benchmarks show us a few confusing things, but let me explain a few things first. The term Phsyx doesn’t correlate to anything really specific to something happening in the game, like Mafia II’s benchmark doesn’t have smoke or cobwebs, just like Batman AA doesn’t have exploding cars and windows. This is just something specifically interacting with other objects nothing more, so it could be paper being kicked around or rocks from a stone wall being kicked around, this is why the numbers looks so different. The benchmark for Mafia II shows that having an older midrange video card for a Phsyx card is a benefit because it mainly uses particles. The 9600 GT is dominant in the Med benchmarks but not High most likely because of it being an older card. If I had more confidence in the card, I would over clock it and see what I could get out of it but I have other uses for it so I am not going to push it. The benchmark for Batman AA is where the 9600 GT gets steam rolled in all areas, I even noticed when I went to the 580 for Phsyx (single GPU or in SLI) that the FPS was much smoother. The launcher tells me that for the game to have High Phsyx it is recommended for you to have a 260 video card and a 9600 GT dedicated to Phsyx, I met the requirements for the Phsyx but it just wasn’t holding its own against the 580. This is because Batman AA uses much more complex Phsyx in the game then Mafia II. I had a 260 GTX from PNY and I still had a 8800 GTX WC, while waiting to find out if I would get my other 8800 back from BFG because of a seal leak, I played Batman AA with my 260 running Phsyx and the 8800 ran the GFX because I would get 50+ FPS with the 8800 as the GFX card but if it was the Phsyx the 260 could barely put out 30 FPS. The game benefits from having a very power GPU running Phsyx and it still shows here today. The Mars benchmark did many of the same things that Mafia II, it did have some complex water but it was very brief. The FPS numbers also reflected just having a Phsyx GPU of any kind helped but the overall performance gain was not as significant going to the 580, I suspect this maybe a driver issue rather than a hardware one. To sum this up, is it better to have a dedicated GPU if you’re running a mid-range card and have older model laying around? Yes, the performance gain may not be whole lot maybe only 20% but anything is better than nothing, just remember you may not be able to run Phsyx at high, just like you might not be able to run BF3 on High with a 560. Those running a single top end 580 GTX or 570 it’s probably in your best interest to just let your card do the Phsyx work and forgo a dedicated Phsyx GPU, the Batman AA showed the greatest improvement but Mafia II did have a slight gain without using one. For all the SLI users out there just let the 2nd or 3rd card be auto detected to run as a Phsyx slave do not dedicate it, you would just lose out on the benefit of having the SLI so it would be a lose/win situation.