nVIDIA SLI and to a lesser degree AMD CrossFire
have made buying a new videocard an interesting exercise. With both
standards being supported by game developers, more gamers are starting to ask if
two heads really are better than one?
We decided to focus on two Gigabyte GV-NX85T256H
(GeForce 8500GT) videocards running in SLI in this review to answer that
Looking at prices, the Gigabyte GV-NX85T256H
videocard retails for about between $70-90. That puts two of them in the [rice
range of a GeForce 8600GTS. So the big question is whether two low end
videocards can perform as fast as a single higher end graphics card?
From the benchmark results, we can clearly see that two
GeForce 8500GTs, two Gigabyte GV-NX85T256H running in SLI to be specific, are not
as fast as a single GeForce 8600GTS videocard in most tests.
Synthetic benchmarks like 3DMark05/06 witnessed a decent
performance boost, real world games like Doom 3, FarCry and FEAR saw mixed
results. At best, the dual Gigabyte GV-NX85T256H's running in SLI perform
closer to that of a single GeForce 8600GT, instead of an 8600GTS. There
were a few exceptions like Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, but that didn't
shift the general trend significantly.
What can you take away from this? Don't expect nVIDIA
SLI and AMD CrossFire technology to work miracles.
Perhaps as software support for SLI microcode improves,
the performance benefit will too. Clearly, right now 1+1 does not equal 2.
So instead of picking up two really affordable videocards and hooking them up in
SLI, I think you'll be better served by a single slightly faster videocard. It
doesn't have to be the super expensive flagship model, just go up one class
level, in this case from Geforce 8500GT to Geforce 8600GTS. One moderately fast videocard often works out
to a better value than two slower videocards working in parallel.
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