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Graphics Software Hardware

Are nVidia's SLI Cards Worth the Investment? 98

aendeuryu asks: "So there's a lot of buzz right now about nVidia's SLI architecture, which allows for two video cards to be placed in tandem PCI-express sockets on the same motherboard to share processing. Based on the relatively low price of a PCIx 6600GT, and the promise of it dipping further, it would seem like a good idea to invest in one and an appropriate motherboard, so that one can upgrade later, right? So, for anybody who's actually got the setup at home, have SLI cards shown themselves to be worth the investment?"
"There are two problems with the current state of SLI:
  • It's hard to tell what software companies plan to take advantage of the SLI architecture when coding their games -- Doom3 and Several Benchmark software tests show a significant improvement over non-SLI setups, whereas some games like Far Cry actually show a performance hit over single video-card setups.

  • At the moment, the upgrade path actually requires two identical cards, so you'd have to choose your initial purchase extra carefully to make sure your model is still around when it's time to upgrade.
What does the future hold for SLI, or, for that matter, the ATI counterpart, AMR?"
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Are nVidia's SLI Cards Worth the Investment?

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  • No (Score:4, Funny)

    by reynaert ( 264437 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:33AM (#11688360)
    says /me who is still using a Matrox G400 with 4MB RAM in his desktop.
    • Matrox Rules. We need no stinkin' sli 'cause the Matrox cards don't have any 3D performance to speak either :)
      (still using my trusty G400MAX/32Mb)
      • by dago ( 25724 )
        Well, I'm still using a G400 as well, but you should remember that your card was one of the fastest card available in ... 1999 ?
    • Re:No (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I have a Matrox Millenium II in my server. And it's awesome. God how old is that card?

      But the only computer games I play are Master of Magic and Bandit Kings of Ancient China (Wu Song).
      • Master of Magic kicks ass! MOM is one of my all-time favorite games! Wish there was a version for Linux.

      • that's all? geez, I still run a #9 Imagine series II w/ 4MB RAM. solid card, no problems.
        • My Number9 card got moved into a server machine when I got a fancy new Diamond FireGL 1000. Hooray for kick-butt 3D performance, boo for Dimaond not writing drivers for any platform (even Windows) that actually utilized the thing. :(

          cloud233:~ # cat /proc/pci | grep VGA
          VGA compatible controller: Number Nine Imagine 128v2 (rev 2).
          cloud233:~ # uptime
          11:25am up 34 days, 16:22, 1 user, load average: 0.12, 0.03, 0.01

          Anyway, you can't fit 1600x1200 @ 32 bits into 4MB - you're limited to 16-bit color. Got

    • I still have a S3 Virge GX with the nitro 3d/gx 1.0 chip installed on the card.

      I remember when the Matrox G400 came out ... and I still want one.
  • by Dr.Opveter ( 806649 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:39AM (#11688419)
    I just recently replaced my (3-year) old Geforce 2 MX for a Geforce 6800LE. I got to unlock the pipelines and an extra vertex shader and i run it at stock speeds. Most recent games work pretty well on high detail setting and resolution up to 1280x1024.

    I'm sure a SLI setup would give me even more frames per second, but i doubt i would have use for it. If you like to show off your 3DMark scores though, go ahead, you're gonna score better. In a couple of years my card will be 'old' of course, and i will have to put detail on 'low' again for the latest and greatest FPS, but i will probably upgrade the whole machine by that time anyway, over time you get more performance for your money usually so i'll be getting a better thing than SLI by then.

    • it won't do well with Everquest2 at 1280x1024, the gfx on eq2 will not be seen on the max settings for some time to come

    • My GeForce2 MX 400 is looking long in the tooth too.
      It's perfectly adequate for pumping mythtv to my widescreen ( with a line doubler ), so I'd like to dedicate it to that.

      That said, the 6800LE is $250?! What's the best sub $75 3d card for x.org? Still the GeForce2?

      I did pledge $100 to the Open Graphics Project [duskglow.com]
      slashdot [slashdot.org] articles [slashdot.org]

      I think I'll just sit on my wallet till it comes out.
      • That said, the 6800LE is $250?! What's the best sub $75 3d card for x.org? Still the GeForce2?

        You can get much better than a GF2 for $75. A quick search on NewEgg shows that you can get a GeForce FX 5200 (AGP) or GeForce PCX 5300 (PCI-e) for less than $75. There was even one GeForce FX 5500 for $67.

        Granted, almost all of their sub-$75 cards are out of stock, but it still gives a good idea of the going price--I doubt other stores would be much more expensive.
      • My GeForce2 MX 400 is looking long in the tooth too. It's perfectly adequate for pumping mythtv to my widescreen ( with a line doubler ), so I'd like to dedicate it to that.

        That said, the 6800LE is $250?! What's the best sub $75 3d card for x.org? Still the GeForce2?

        Get a ATI 8500 or a 9200. Both are full supported with 3d acceleration using the x.org drivers since the specs are available. I think you'll get better performance than with your gf2 mx400. If you want something faster then you'll need t

      • What's the best sub $75 3d card for x.org?

        If you don't want to be bothered with nVidia's closed drivers, the ATI Radeon 9200/9250 should work out-of-the-box with a recent version of x.org and provide 3D acceleration.

        Support companies who provide (some) code and docs for Free software!

        • Thank you both. I didn't know ATI opened some of their specs. I've bene so burned by their terrible WINDOWS drivers, I could only imagine how horrid it was on other platforms.
          • I wouldn't want to give the impression that the Free ATI drivers included in the standard X.org and kernel trees are flawless, but I've also had crashes from the nVidia closed driver, and I've got more faith in the open drivers becoming flawless - eventually - than closed drivers in general.

            That, and wasting several hours recently trying to get nVidia's most recent drivers working with the latest FC3 errata kernels on a Toshiba notebook really puts me off using ANY closed drivers in the future (hint: reve

  • Far Cry Performance (Score:5, Informative)

    by he1icine ( 512651 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:43AM (#11688455)
    Far Cry performance *IS* improved with SLI as long as you are running above 1024x768 so says Anandtech:

    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2284 &p=14 [anandtech.com]

    and if you are going to drop $800-1200 on video cards, you are not likely to still be gaming at 1024x768, but your credit card might be weeping.
    • I don't understand why everyone totes FarCry. Sure, the game LOOKS great, but a game that looks great and doesn't have a storyline to speak if is worthless.
      • Guess you didn't like Myst eh? Me neither.
        • Myst had a storyline embodied in several books. IIRC the game was based on the books.
          • Actually you are wrong. The books are based on the games. So while the games didn't really have much of a plot the books were written to fill in all the details you don't get from the games. Surprisingly a boring game made for an ok book (not great but ok).
      • It has a story, go here, now go there, no go back there. Don't you get it? Its shakespearean!

        Really though, Story or no, I actually enjoyed playing the game from start to end. Other games like Doom 3 became boring after 30min story or not.

        If you want story 'driven' games, you are probably deep in bed with Final fantasies & other dialog heavy games. Not that they're bad, but playability is the key for many ppl.
      • I don't understand why everyone totes FarCry. Sure, the game LOOKS great, but a game that looks great and doesn't have a storyline to speak if is worthless.

        What was the storyline behind Tetris??? And how about Bejeweled?

        And in chess, nobody ever actually explaines why the black and white kings hated each other in the first place! And don't even get my started on backgammon!

        I guess my point is that if the game play is particularly engaging, then you do not need no stinkin' storyline.

        But then again,

  • by generalleoff ( 760847 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:43AM (#11688459)
    I havent yet bought in yet but I very much like the idea of being able to have 2 high end graphics cards working together sharing the load.

    I'm planing on building a high end HTPC setup using two 4:3 projectors capable of 1920x1440 each in parralel for a spaned screen size of 2.667:1 or 3840x1440.

    This setup will allow me to show a movie on one projector while playing a game or looking at a website on the other projector or using the combined size of both for watching movies/playing games.

    I think PCIe and SLI will allow this to be done without taking a heavy hit on the system or being a pain in the ass to deal with like it is right now with using AGP and PCI in combo.

    • by psergiu ( 67614 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:50AM (#11688527)
      There are A LOT of cards with 2 (or even 3) outputs on the market now. You don't need 2 cards. And /even/ if you decide to put 2 cards (that support SLI) in your PC, you will have to REMOVE the SLI cable to get 2 outputs :)
      • Yea that is a good point. You would have to remove it woudlent you? :)

        Duel output wont realy help me though cuz I want each projector to be able to work totaly seporate from each other as well as together. Meaning I want to be able to have full controll over there reselutions depending on what I'm doing. One showing a HDTV program at 1920x1440 while the others maybie playing an SNES rom in ZSNES at 640x480.

        My current AGP card has twin DVI outs but it does not grant me the ability to controll each one as

        • Does it not? My GeForce 4Ti runs one monitor at 640x480 and the other at 1024x768 without any complaints, so I didn't realise that wouldn't be the case elsewhere.
          • Yea my card makes me set both to the same screen size. If I want to send a movie to my HDTV at 1280x720 I must also run my PC at 1280x720. It's an early GF4 and I forgot what model it is but I know it was not the most high end avalible at the time.

            I'll look into it more. If I can do it and do it reliable on a single card and without taking a hard hit on framerates if I end up doing something like playing a grahpics heavy game while watching a high res HDTV program or something then 1 card is alot cheaper

            • I can do everything you mentioned on my cheap ass GF4 except high frame rates, but I don't play 3d games. Everyting I've read says that multiple cards only tends to decrease reliability and seamlessness. All video players in full screen only take one screen. I sometimes watch full screen ripped dvds on screen while surfing on the other. Save your money!
        • Have you considered running a PCI card as your secondary screen? You don't seem to be planning to run two 3d apps simultaneously and at least with nVidia's shit dual card works slick under linux (haven't had a winbox I felt like trying it on in quite a while), multi-resolution, although if you set it up using Xinerama 3d only works on the primary screen, secondary I believe handles Xv extensions just fine however. Funnier part is I get better framerates on the nvidia GeForceFX 5200 than I do on my AGP Rade
          • Yes I have thought about the option of just going with PCI and yer right i'm not realy going to be playing Two heavy games at the same time or anything.

            If it turns out not to be required then I will drop the two high end cards idea and just go with PCI but on the other hand i kinda would want to have it anyway incase my needs change. I can always upgrade it though :)

            Before I do anything though I just need to see if what I cant can even be done like I want it to work. None of the computer shops around he

        • I buried this below a minute ago, figured i'd bring it to the top.

          Umm...just FYI, i don't know what that other guy is talking about, but there is no pass through cable or anything. These aren't Voodoo2s, the SLI is done completely through the PCIe slots and a daughter card that bridges the two cards together inside the case. With two PCIe cards in you can run a quad monitor set up, so says the latest issues of MaxPC. Anandtech says different, though they used beta boards. Your mileage may vary. Regardless,
      • I thought the newer nVidia SLI cards have a cable running between the two boards inside the case? Its the older SLI cards from like 10 years ago that stole a video-out port...

        Anyway the whole point of this isn't to have more video-out ports, its to increase your FPS rate when playing games :).
    • I'm planing on building a high end HTPC setup using two 4:3 projectors

      Nice idea, only SLI won't help you. Think about it: scanline interleave. You two projector setup doesn't interleave scanlines at all. What you are planning works with any two cards.

      SLI can double the pixel throughput compared to a single card. It will not increase the polygon throughput, but the bus bandwidth needed will still double, along with the setup overhead.

      Obviously Doom 3 taxes the pixel shaders heavily, Far Cry load the
    • I think the real question here is where are you going to find a projector that can output 1920x1440. The closest thing I found was an Eiki LC-HDT10 (1980x1080) for the bargain price of $51k...and you want two? I think a suitable graphics card would be the last of my worries if I'm already spending 102k on displays.

      Have you found a cheaper alternative projector for that resolution? I might be interested in one if it was sub 20k.
      • LOL. No I havent found cheap projectors :)

        Thats why this idea is only in my head and here on slashdot cuz the projectors are not released yet and there VERY expensive. SONY is making some projectors capable of this reselution that are expected out sometime this year for about $65k each :)

        It's a dream is all but I am trying to see how/if this dream could even work if i could afford it. I'm planning on building it but I dont think that plane will ever be completed. I sure would be cool though wouldent it?

  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:51AM (#11688542) Homepage Journal
    ok. they might be worth your investment if you're into playing hardcore simulators, using dual(or more) hires screens..

    otherwise, no, not really.

    you might think that dual 6600's are a bargain vs. 6800 ultra or whatever.. well, look at the benchies and decide then.

    if you just want to be playing buying a 6600 now and another 200$ card 2 years later is a much better investment into longevity than two 6600's now too.

    • I think you may be missing the point, the purpose of SLI is not to drive multiple heads, but rather to harness the power of two graphics cards to produce output on a single monitor by having each card perform shader operations on different regions of the screen.
      • no. my point is that a single graphics card can drive one screen area well enough.

        single cards support multiple screens already, but might not have enough kick.

        and to the anon coward who replied to you.. i don't know know what's his point since i never said to use different cards in sli. my point was that planning for sli is pointless as in 2 years you'll get at least 3x faster card with the saved 200$
  • Investment? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lezerno ( 775940 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:55AM (#11688571) Homepage
    How do you define investment? Get the system you need to use today. Buying computer equipment for future use is a bad "investment". By the time you want to upgrade the card the rest of the system will be outdated.
    • Not quite in this case....

      Lets assume that you spend $500 on a card today, and you will need double the performance in two years.

      -- WITH SLI --
      $500 today.
      $150 in two years (card depreciated)
      Total $650

      -- WITHOUT SLI --
      $500 today.
      -$150 in two years, sell card on eBay.
      $500 in two years
      Total $850

      Of course, this assumes that two cards = double performance, and that the capability of a $500 will double in two years. If these assumptions are not correct, then YMMV. But you get the idea.
  • by JFitzsimmons ( 764599 ) <justin@fitzsimmons.ca> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:59AM (#11688604)
    NVIDIA's SLI Shortchanges Gamers? [hardocp.com]

    A nice article.
  • In my opinion? No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dragoon412 ( 648209 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:09AM (#11688695)
    SLI is apparently aimed at the same market as the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, and the Athlon 64 FX - namely, the crowd who views their synthetic benchmark scores as a sort of virtual penis. ...and the exceedingly small market of people that can build PCs without any budget limitations.

    The current crop of video cards is hideously expensive. Where the last generation's flagship models weighed in around $500 at retail (the 9800 XT and 5950 Ultra), this new batch has seen the X850 XT Plantinum Edition retailing for $700 and the 6800 Ultra going for not much less. The "average" performers for this generation are in the high $200-$300 range.

    Furthermore, SLI is a lot like SMP. First off, the game needs to actually be able to take advantage of it. Next, even if the game does, you're not seeing a linear performance boost; that is to say, if you've got a pair of 6800 Ultras, you're not going to see double performance. The rule of thumb is it'll boost performance by about 65% - sure, it's very substantial, but with the premium price on cards already, it's an even less worthwhile purpose. To top it off, you're going to be looking at an extra $50 or so on a motherboard with SLI, and who knows how much extra in cooling.

    So, from a performance standpoint, SLI is obviously the king, but from a cost effectiveness standpoint, it's about as bad as it gets.

    As for using SLI to level the performance field with mid-range and low-range cards, buying an SLI board with a pair of 6600GTs is going to run you, say, $600 ($200 for a mainboard, $200 for each card). That may actually be worth it, as you're going to drop the same amount of money on a 6800 GT & similar non-SLI board which will perform slightly worse.

    But then, here's the problem with that: not only do games need to support SLI, but nVidia needs to write their drivers to support a specific game. Play a game that flies under nVidia's radar? Too bad, no SLI for you. Additionally, while a pair of 6600GTs perform marginally better than a single 6800GT right now [tomshardware.com], what's to say there'll be a great price point on this type of card for the next generation when you go to upgrade?

    SLI's close to being worthwhile, but at the moment, I'd not bother with it. Maybe once the technology's more mature.
  • imo: absolutely not (Score:2, Informative)

    by p373 ( 689997 )
    just a few better things you could do with all that money:

    -make a donation to a worthy charity/non-profit
    -save/invest if for the future
    -treat your s.o. to something nice
    -go on a trip
    -put it in your kid's college fund
    -build a robot
    • Why is this rated insightful? Should we all give up our computers and stop posting on /. so we can spend our money on these interests instead? The SLI setup is not the new, most expensive thing out there. What the author was talking about was getting a board that supports SLI and a cheap (at least 1/2 price of the top-of-the-line) video card. Then, when it's time to upgrade, get another cheap video card to add on instead of getting a new one and throwing away or selling the old. So instead of paying $4
  • Back then it was the same as it is now. You could SLI Rig two voodoo cards and get a F'd up frame rate. Graphics were severely washed out, but your Frames were higher than anyone else. Same deal here. There really isnt immediate industry application , other than video editing ( My Parahelia card works nicely for that ). So its a Gamers card. Go into a gamers IRC channel and ask which video card do you have?

    Itll be a be F'ing pissing match about who has the most expensive card, typically by individuals that
  • One use for SLI is to power FOUR DVI LCD Displays!

    SLI does offer a viable upgrade path. Buy one SLI capable card now and buy another one later when it drops in price to increase your performance without having to vastly change your system.

    I think NVIDIA did a good job of providing video cards that support a range of new features such as SLI, SM 3.0, etc. Now the software makers have something to play with and incorporate over the next year or two.
    • no.

      Scalable Link Interface, NVIDIA's method for connecting 2 video cards together to produce a single output. This was previously called Scan-Line Interleave in 3dfx's cards.

      You combine the power of both cards into one display.
    • With an "SLI" motherboard, you get 2 PCIe graphics ports. This allows you to install 2 graphics cards that each have 2 DVI ports, allowing for 4 displays. While the 4 ports are not a direct use of "SLI" they are a side benefit.

      Think outside the box
  • by dago ( 25724 )
    Next question.

  • Correction (Score:4, Informative)

    by NRP128 ( 710672 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @02:15PM (#11690737) Homepage Journal
    At the moment, the upgrade path actually requires two identical cards, so you'd have to choose your initial purchase extra carefully to make sure your model is still around when it's time to upgrade.

    Actually you don't need identical boards, they have to be identical chipsets. You can mix and match vendors, so long as the chips and configs are the same. You can't run a 6600 and a 6600GT in SLI mode, but you COULD (in theory) run them to power 4 DVI displays. I say in theory because everyone is still so hung up on SLI i haven't seen anybody try this yet. The main outline of the spec is that you can run cards from different vendors, they just have to be the same configs. Many of you know that already, but i felt obligated to clarify for those who haven't been keeping up ;)

    Personally i'm looking at SLI capable boards for my next mobo upgrade for that reason above, not for the SLI portion, but the fact that i may be able to run dual vid cards and not have one on the slow ass PCI bus. With most integrated mobo periphials moving to PCIe anyway, this isn't so much an issue, but if you have firewire, any kind of hdd access, audio, etc moving on the 133MB/s PCI bus you're going to be hearing pops and skips in your audio, looking for lost packets, and pulling your hair out with IRQ conflicts. I don't want to add video to the mess that already exists. dual PCIe x16 slots seem a VERY nice solution :)
    • While there are two PCIe16 channels, when using them both in an SLI configuration, they both are dropped to half, becomming PCIe8x channels. There have been a couple of benchmarks (unable to provide link at the moment, but check Tom's Hardware) that show a performance hit when running SLI vs. Single card of the same design. Running at 16x versus 8x apparently is the issue.

      Now when Nvidia and later manufactures are able to offer two isolated 16x channels, thats where you should see some siginificant perfo
      • Performance gains from going 16x on both slots? In WHAT?! Very few benchmarks can saturate the AGP bus, let alone the PCIe bus. an 8x slot gives you 2GB/s bandwidth, almost matching AGP 8x, except that PCIe is bi-directional. Meaning 4GB/s total bandwidth. At least that's how i read the stuff i've seen. But back to my point, games today barely utilize the slots from last generation, how in the hell are we going to saturate double the bandwidth?

        Also two more things, if you buy an AMD64 board, with AGP
  • by bmac ( 51623 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @03:07PM (#11691350) Journal
    I know this is mostly off-topic, but does anyone
    here run one of the nvidia dual-head cards to
    increase their desktop space? I'm running
    1600x900 and there just isn't enough space,
    so I've been considering getting one of the
    Nvidia Quadro4 XGL cards, which are pretty
    pricey (>= $450), and an extra monitor.

    I'm wondering if anyone actually uses this
    setup and has any comments on the usability
    of Windows XP for it (someday my FreeBSD
    will be ready for primetime, but not yet,
    IMO). Specifically, is there a separate
    taskbar for each screen and are they
    completely independent in terms of resolution
    and settings?

    Also, is it just more trouble than it's
    worth? Maybe just blowing a chunk on a
    huge (1920x1200) monitor and a better
    AGP card to drive it would be better from
    a usability (and simplicity) standpoint.

    Further sidebar: I saw one of those Mac
    30" monitors - talk about drooool! Trouble
    is, I'd hate to turn into a Mac fanboy :-)
    That, and I don't have an extra three grand.

    Peace & Blessings,
    • Dual monitors is absolutely wonderful. I'd say it doubles my work efficiency. I have two video cards, an AGP card and a PCI card, which was the way to do things before these newfangled video cards that support two monitors. (There were ways before that, but this isn't a history lesson.) Anyway, I'd suggest plugging a spare PCI video card in your box, and connecting a spare monitor to see how it feels. Once you're in love with it, spring for the fancy dual head card. Of course this assumes that you hav
      • Thanks for the valuable input. It seems that
        my intuition about increasing my efficiency
        was correct.

        Other than cost, the other apparent drawback
        to the dual-head nvidia card is that the
        relatively cheap ones (~$150) only have 64M
        of RAM, which can barely drive one 1600x1200
        monitor at 32bpp. And the 128M versions are
        around $500. (Of course, in my dreams I
        have two 1600x1200 lcds side-by-side, as
        they're only around $600 now, and hopefully
        falling fast).

        I did try to plug a second monitor into an
        extra pci video
        • 1600x1200 at 32bpp requires 12,800kB of RAM.
          My 4 year old 16MB Rage Pro has no problems driving my display at 1600x1200x32bpp
        • Other than cost, the other apparent drawback to the dual-head nvidia card is that the relatively cheap ones (~$150) only have 64M of RAM, which can barely drive one 1600x1200 monitor at 32bpp. And the 128M versions are around $500.

          I bought a 128MB PCI-Express Nvidia 6600 with DVI and VGA recently for a little over a hundred quid (including VAT) - it's now very happy driving two elderly 17in monitors at 1280x960 each. Came with a DVI-to-VGA converter, too! :-)

          Quite a lot of fairly cheap cards seem to have
        • ...got one of those for around £140 a month ago, it's the AGP model and has dual DVI outputs.

          This could be useful as having dual DVI would be good if you're going for two LCD displays. It also contains two high quality DVI-VGA converters that I'm using at the moment (waiting for my 2 19" lcd's to be delivered :o).

          I actually don't let NView (NVidia app) control it, I let windows XP span the display for me, one start menu (with NView you can have it on both screens, I prefer it on my primary displa
          • So what's worse, your gloating or my jealousy :-)

            Yeah, well, well, my *two* 23' (not inch, mind
            you) are gonna put your monitors to shame! :-)

            BTW, if you like having some serious whitenoise
            going while "working", I rather like listening
            to William Gibson's audio tape of Neuromancer,
            where he reads the book himself and the Edge
            from U2 did the music (mostly techno-type
            stuff). It's cool because it's about 6 hrs
            long and very technology-oriented. And, I
            think it is actually freely distributable
            because they don't
    • "Further sidebar: I saw one of those Mac
      30" monitors - talk about drooool! Trouble
      is, I'd hate to turn into a Mac fanboy :-)
      That, and I don't have an extra three grand."

      The 30" module is PC compatible so it would work on your system but it requires a NVIDIA GeForce
      6800 GT or Ultra DDL Card to work. The upside is you could use two of these bad boys with the ultra
      card for 60"'s of monitor and two 2560x1600 windows.

      The downside is it would cost $6,600.00 (US).

      - Brad
  • Soon enough you'll have two obsolete cards to replace instead of one, in order to play the latest games. (unless these cards have a lot of room to overclock)
  • from my understanding, one of the main advantages of dual head technology is that you can play a video and have it span multiple monitors.

    the $64k question:
    if you're running sli and have quad display mode, do you have the capability to span video between the two different cards?

    i've had less than stellar luck achieving the same results with my computer bank-full-oh-pci cards, although it could purely be a PCI/bandwidth issue. with windows there's overlay issues that the new VMR-9 was supposed to address
  • pci express allows anyone to run multiple high speed video cards in a single system. this is the "quad mode" of which people speak, using four monitors. the cards dont even have to be from the same vendor for this to work. this is nothing new: it could be done with PCI too, its just that PCI had very poor performance. this has nothing to do with SLI except for nvidia branding their multi-slot motherboards SLI.

    SLI is a mode where one card has no outputs and is slaved to the other card to provide a perfo
    • The DFI LANPARTY UT nF4 Ultra-D is an example of a board that is not SLI capable, but has dual x16 PCI-E video slots.

      So that would be a good canidate for a quad head system, without the extra expense of a SLI capable board. Street price is around 150ish. You would get the improved PCI-E bus, plus the ability to use two x16 cards.
  • SLI is not a cost saving technology. It's not about upgrades. It's about putting two of the fastest card available into a PC so you have something faster than any single card in the market.
    • SLI's market is for 'extreeme' gamer$.
      for ther avergage gamer it's not worth it to 'upgrade' later b/c by that time not only will the current high end be mid-range but also the you won't be able to get the new features of a new video card such as certain lighting effects or what have you.
  • by SpinningAround ( 449335 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @08:52PM (#11695192)
    1- Your shiny new hardware from the top end of the manufacturer's range will depreciate at a rate that makes your car appear to be a excellent investment.

    2- 'Future proofing' never happens. Manufacturers and software companies invent new buses, interfaces, pin counts, slot types, power requirements, driver levels and all manner of interesting 'features' specifically so that your two year old hardware is obselete.

    3- Even if you have a 130 fps, the fastest processor on the market, a TB of disk, a massive 5.1 surround sound setup and the biggest, fastest CRT monitor out there, you will still get your ass handed to you in Counter-Strike by a spotty 12 year old who's voice hasn't broken.

    • You may get your ass handed to you in Counter-Strike - but you are going to have a hell of a fun time anyways :-) Seriously, with full 5.1 surround and that great of graphics - why the hell would you be playing a graphical disaster of a game like CStrike anyways?! ;-)
  • DFI (Score:3, Interesting)

    by E_elven ( 600520 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @12:52AM (#11696833) Journal
    You could get DFI's LanParty Ultra (A64-939); it doesn't support SLI--unless you own a pencil and feel like enabling that support yourself :) Anandtech has details on the mod. The board sells in the $150-$160 range.
    • In a newer article, Anandtech stated that Nvidia is taking steps to prevent this mod, and is disabling driver support for modded nforce chipsets. You need to have version 66.7x forceware drivers IIRC.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser