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Q: I'm interested In nVidia's new SLI
technology, but I'm confused about a few points... First of all, can you use any
matched pair of nVidia videocard with one of the SLI-capable motherboards?
Do they even need to be matched? Is it going to be compatible with all
games? Is buying two videocards going to be worth it versus one good
one? and most of all, is this going to be an nVidia-exclusive thing?
Sorry about all the questions. Any input would be great.
A: There's a lot to cover with SLI, so a
little confusion is understandable. Here's the facts as they currently
stand. Currently, the only SLI compatible GPUs are the GeForce
6600GT, and the various 6800-based chips. The cards do need to be matched,
apparently because the video BIOS of both needs to be the same
An SLI 'profile' needs to exist in order
for a specific game to support the technology. Without this profile, SLI
will not function and your system will default to using only one of
the videocards to render the game. On the bright side, nVidia's
drivers already include profiles for all of today's most popular games, and
they will be adding more with each update. Also, future driver
revisions will allow users to create their own SLI profiles
From what we've seen so far, two 6600GT cards
running in SLI-mode are about equal to a single Radeon X800XT card, so given the
relative prices of the two, it looks like SLI is going to be a cheaper way
to go. Of course, you will need an SLI-compatible board, and these
are currently not cheap at all. As for exclusivity, VIA has already
announced a twin 16x/4x PCI Express slot chipset which they say
will work with two PCIe cards, but this will apparently not be SLI
compatible (though it will support 4 monitors). ATi no doubt has some
future plans in the same direction too, but nothing concrete
We've been reviewing a lot of SLI hardware in the
test lab over the past couple of weeks, so watch for some new reviews soon,
along with some juicy benchmarks.