Just the other day I came across onto Asus latest RoG gaming monitor, the PG258Q, which has a refresh rate of staggering 240 Hz at 1080p resolution, and that got me thinking for a moment in terms of what kind of PC configuration would you have to have, or to be more precise GPU, to run it without a problem at those frame-rate so you can fully take advantage of that refresh rate and match it to it so you can get that silky smooth motion, especially when talking about triple AAA game titles.
For your classic 1080p resolution reaching high frame-rate is a bit easier, especially in terms of older but still more popular FPS games, like the Counter Strike, but what about newer games and higher resolutions like 2560×1440 and 2560×1080 which are widely found in gaming monitor with refresh rates anywhere 120 to 200 Hz. That is something I will try to find out today, together with not just one, but two MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X graphics cards, for a GTX 1070 SLI setup, since at the time beside mine I had a second one on disposal. General speaking, the GTX 1070 series has a pretty sensible price tag considering with kind of performance it brings in, so making a multi-GPU setup out of two of them has a lot of sense.
Is high refresh rate gaming possible with only one higher end card?
I’ll start of by looking at the single GPU setup or to be more exact looking at the performance of only one GTX 1070 in few popular FPS titles as those are most likely to be played on high-refresh monitors, together with some others like Dirt Rally, Witcher 3 and Tom’s Clancy The Division. In Battlefield 1 I was far off from what you would need, even for those lower refresh rate gaming monitors and at 1080p resolution. Without a surprise in Counter Strike I was closing in and even over 240 FPS, so the 240 Hz refresh rate monitors could be fully utilized in some scenarios, and that’s without any performance tweak, so still a lot of headroom. In Doom 2016 I was getting pretty decent numbers, but still not quite there yet in terms of really high frame-rates. Coming down to the Overwatch you’ll be looking at anywhere from 120 FPS to 170 FPS at ultra settings or over 200 FPS at lower settings.
Speaking of that, as you probably noticed I also did my benchmarking runs using low settings in each game, just to see how it scales and would you maybe get any benefits in terms getting some extra frames by lowering the graphics quality, especially if you’re willing to sacrifice that for even smoother motion when having a high refresh rate monitor. In most of the games you’ll get a pretty substantial performance increase, while some were acting really weird and leveling off at a certain threshold across all three resolution, probably due to the CPU bottleneck since the GPU isn’t getting any demanding load or just the particular game being badly optimized for this kind of scenario.
Trying to catch higher framerates with GTX 1070 SLI
Taking a look at the performance of such setup, there’s a lot to comment here. Before all right of the bat low graphical settings and those benchmarking results are even weirder, but again it’s no surprise since for two GTX 1070 SLI this doesn’t represent any kind serious load at all, so it slings everything back to the CPU making it the bad guy. I would ignore this of results completely, they are here only as a fun factor. Besides the games which don’t like Nvidia SLI setup to begin with, like Counter Strike, Doom, and BF1 which are known for having multi-GPU problems, you can also notice that this effect was not only seen at low, but also at high and ultra graphical settings, as SLI configuration with this kind of horsepower is chewing threw 1920×1080 and even 2560×1080 resolution effectively GPU’s again being underutilized. At 2560×1440 resolution and highest graphical settings in some more demanding and for SLI better optimized games you can see a decent performance jump thanks to the dual GPU setup, but other than that to fully take advantage of their power in a proper way where they can scale above 60% on average , you’ll need to put it under higher stress, in particular higher resolution. The ideal example of that is the Dirt Rally and The Witcher 3 where you can see a performance boost when jumping from 1080p resolution to other two higher ones.
Although this was an interesting experiment, it’s obvious that I wouldn’t recommend building a configuration like this one in particular and especially for this kind of exact scenario. Its performance will not be fully utilized at those kinds of resolution in terms of chasing high-frame rates. Bottom line, with taking everything into consideration, this is a very odd situation and sorta of double-edged sword problem. For you to get more FPS at those common resolutions for a high-refresh monitor, you’ll probably need to aim at a stronger single GPU solution rather than just throwing in a second GPU at the problem. Strong dual GPU setups will probably make more sense once we get high-refresh monitor with 4k resolutions, although in that scenario at least with the current generation of high-end GPU’s, we would be far from 200 FPS as they won’t have enough horsepower to reach it at that resolution, putting us back to square one. starts to seem like a neverending loop. For now, from what I saw here, except in one or two ongoing games, I would say that there’s no way to fully utilize 200 or 240 Hz monitor in terms of gaming at their native resolutions.
All in all, with no surprise it takes some serious power to get to those very high frame-rates, even when we talk about 120 or 144 Hz monitors, but as seen in my example, at least in some games with single GPU setup, you can get to those figures by lowering down the graphical settings.
1070 SLI setup was close to its goal, but we’re still not quite there yet
With high-refresh monitors like these ones being a pretty price, to begin with, especially ones with the G-Sync technology, that kind of setup will cost you on average more once you also count in the fact that is desirable to have a graphics card coming from higher mainstream segment so you can output high frame-rates. For 120 Hz or 144 Hz monitors, I would say it somewhat justifiable to buy them as most of the games can be run in such high-frame rate even with a stronger single GPU solution together with some tweaks, like a GTX 1070 Ti or a GTX 1080 Ti, while for to 200 and above we are still not quite there yet. After all, this is still a niche market, for now mostly aimed at professional gamers and enthusiast who are willing to go that extra mile for a better experience or just love trying out new technologies.
As for this 1070 SLI pair, it’s a beastly combination which would performance wise basically secure you for the next 2-3 year at least, especially now with the their price being cut just recently, which makes them even more attractive and a decent value purchase when we talk about buying from that higher tier segment of graphics cards while still being justifiable with a decent proportional jump in performance together with the price of the product.
If you have any questions about this article or topic, feel free to hit me up in the comments section of my YouTube video listed up above, at the begging of the text, or you can also contact me via one of my social media channels!