Performance Analysis & Conclusion
NVIDIA's new SLI technology offered by the nForce 4 chipset and its PCI Express GeForce 6 series graphics cards is certainly an innovation that deserves high praise for the upside performance potential it brings to market. We watched as our dual GeForce 6800GTs literally ripped through the most challenging benchmark scenarios we could throw at it, with full 4X AA and 8X Aniso turned on. With performance gains that ranged from 25% to 80%, it's hard to argue with the raw power a pair of NVIDIA GPUs can offer.
We should also note the impressive performance and stability put forth by the ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard. This board stood up to grueling benchmark run after benchmark run, on overclocked GeForce 6800GTs in many cases, and didn't so much as burp in the hours of testing we put it through. While the board was a bit on the pokey side with a single ATi Radeon X800 card installed, we're sure users, initially at least, won't have much of a concern here because clearly you'll be considering this motherboard for NVIDIA graphics solutions exclusively.
We should note, however, that SLI didn't work "out of the box" for every game we threw at it. Titles like Need For Speed Underground 2, Call of Duty United Offensive, and even Unreal Tournament 2004 either didn't have SLI enabled at all or, in the case of UT2004, were just too buggy to consider viable for an SLI setup at the moment. NVIDIA's driver team is obviously still working hard on their end, as we were assured better support and SLI support for more titles is on the way in future driver releases.
SLI and the nForce 4:
What's perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the nForce4 is a single chip solution that provides all this technology and scalability in a single IC packaged solution. In addition, with an increasing number of configurable PCI Express links on the roadmap for many chipset vendors, it makes sense that SLI or parallel graphics processing with multiple GPUs is here to stay. In fact, while NVIDIA would not comment to us on specific future product releases, the company assured us that SLI would be capable of all of its future graphics architectures moving forward. That was something we were more than happy to confirm and gives credence to the fact that the launch of NVIDIA's SLI technology is much more than just a noisemaker targeted at filling the void of a fall/winter product refresh.
ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe:
As for the ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe, we can't help but be impressed with its traditional ASUS all-decked-out design and build quality. This board just screams to be the foundation of a "Killer Gaming Rig," and you can take steps toward that goal, starting with one GeForce 6 series card and adding another down the road as your budget permits. On that note, we're hearing target MSRP for this motherboard is in the $200 price range, which we think is more than fair considering all the technology and feature set it packs under the hood. Because we received the full retail package, we'll offer up our standard HotHardware Heat Meter rating for the A8N-SLI Deluxe at a solid 9.
ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe Motherboard
The A8N-SLI Deluxe was also itching to take down the Editor's Choice award here, but since we've yet to see offerings from others that are on the way, such as MSI and Gigabyte, we'll have to reserve judgment on that end for now.
And so once again, we'll tip our collective hats to the folks out in Santa Clara as they've truly stepped up big with the introduction of SLI, or the "Scalable Link Interface" for PCI Express graphics, if you will. We're hopeful that nearly doubling frame rate in Doom 3 is only the beginning and further adoption in the game developer community will provide more and more SLI ready and capable titles in the months ahead. Adoption is key for NVIDIA and the end user in this game called 3D graphics, early and frequent adoption of new innovative and enabling technologies such as SLI.