Can you believe that nearly a year has passed since NVIDIA first announced its intention to revive SLI technology, albeit in its own Scalable Link sort of way? When Brandon first explored
the potential of SLI, he posed several interesting questions. How would NVIDIA disseminate the components needed to make two graphics cards work together? Which motherboard manufacturers planned to step up and develop what would undoubtedly be a niche offering? Would the do-it-yourself gaming enthusiast be able to build an SLI system or be required to purchase one from an approved vendor?
Even NVIDIA was unsure how events would transpire, at least at first. Questions arose as to whether the integral SLI connector would come with motherboards or graphics cards. Power requirements also came into question, especially in light of the non-standard methods used by many manufacturers to rate output levels. Even now, with SLI hardware--motherboards, graphics cards, and power supplies--widely available, questions continue surfacing. Despite a standardized certification process, you still run into the odd incompatibility and performance anomaly.
But for the most part, NVIDIA is to be applauded for rolling out a brand new technology, developing the corresponding core logic and graphics infrastructure, and laying the foundation for interoperability between completely separate components. Idiosyncrasies, inconvenient as they may be, are almost to be expected. And that’s why we’ve spent the past few weeks testing the current crop of SLI motherboards, graphics cards, and the only power supply currently on NVIDIA’s SLI-certified list, so that you won’t have to stumble through the few pitfalls of SLI.
In arranging this roundup we wanted to assemble every available SLI motherboard for testing. No doubt there will be additions in the days to come, and indeed, Albatron and EPoX are expected to release their own offerings soon. However, today’s marketplace is populated by ASUS’ A8N-SLI Deluxe, DFI’s nF4 SLI-DR, Gigabyte’s K8NXP-SLI, MSI’s K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI, and Tyan’s K8WE.
If the Tyan board is a bit of a surprise to you, rest assured that we were equally shocked to hear that Tyan was ready with a dual-processor, dual-graphics solution based on the nForce Professional chipset. And, given the impending release of dual-core processors later this year, we thought it’d be interesting to see how multi-threaded applications reacted to the more advanced platform. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised once again when you see how well it encodes video.
The other four boards are widely available and reasonably priced. All of them share an nForce4 SLI chipset in common, but vary from there.