We reviewed a few nForce4 SLI motherboards several months ago and found that while SLI was very promising, it was a technology that still needed to mature. We also found the motherboards to be immature and required a great deal of tweaking in order to extract the best possible performance and stability from the platform. In addition, the cost of the motherboards was at the premium end of the pricing scale along with limited availability from the board suppliers.

Since that time, NVIDIA's SLI technology has not only matured a great deal, but recently evolved with the release of the nForce4 SLI X16 platform. The availability of SLI motherboards is now widespread from most manufacturers and you will find more nForce4 SLI offerings than nForce4 Ultra products. Along with this is the widespread availability of SLI capable video cards that cover everything from the 6600LE to the Quadro FX4500 GPU chipsets making SLI a mainstream choice now.

In fact, with ATI also embracing the multiple GPU solution in their recently released ATI CrossFire platform and Intel with official support for ATI CrossFire in their 975X chipset, we see this type of technology being mainstream for the foreseeable future. Although ATI CrossFire offers an excellent alternative to NVIDIA SLI, until there is widespread availability of the ATI Radeon Xpress 200 CrossFire motherboards, your best opportunity at this time for a multiple GPU solution lies with NVIDIA SLI. Not only is availability widespread, but the cost of entry has reduced significantly over the past few months. Decent nForce4 SLI boards now start in the US $70 range and run up to the US $250 range for the nForce4 SLI X16 boards. In fact, the current price structure almost ensures that your nForce4 purchase should be an SLI-capable motherboard.

Today, we are reviewing the Asus A8N-SLI Premium, Foxconn NF4SK8AA-8KRS, and Albatron K8SLI based on the NVIDIA nForce4 SLI chipset. Asus's offering is an update to the A8N-SLI Deluxe and fits into their product line between the value segment A8N-SLI and flagship A8N32-SLI. Albatron's offering is their only nForce4 SLI product and is designed for the value segment. Foxconn's contribution is their value segment nForce4 SLI product with their upscale NF4SK8AA-8EKRS, offering an additional Gigabit Ethernet port, SI-3132 SATA II Raid, and IEEE-1394a support.

Let's see what these boards are capable of and if a premium price ensures premium performance.

Basic Features
POST A COMMENT

37 Comments

View All Comments

  • DAPUNISHER - Thursday, January 05, 2006 - link

    Off to peruse your Intel articles. Reply
  • DAPUNISHER - Wednesday, January 04, 2006 - link

    I enjoyed your review, your 1st for AT? but for a moment, I though I was reading a retro review from AT. I liked it better when AT eschewed 3D synthetics, and chose to bench the latest, greatest titles. Even D3 and FarCry seem long in the tooth IMHO. Many do still play FarCry, but most use all the new tweaks.

    Perhaps there is logic to the methodolgy that I'm missing? TIA for any illuminating reply, and I look forward to your future reviews here :-)
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, January 04, 2006 - link

    Hi,
    Actually, I have been covering the Intel reviews for the past few months. We are in the process of a transition over to the newer benchmarks. The last Intel article with those benchmarks can be found here-
    http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2631&am...">http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2631&am...

    The ability to go back and test all of the boards shown with the new benchmarks and driver sets was not possible. However, the next roundup should include newer benchmarks along with results from these three boards. Also, while FarCry and SC3 are "getting" long in the tooth they are both based on engines that can still stress a system by increasing the settings. They both offer a fairly good mix of cpu and gpu limited testing. The difference between D3 and Q4 is minimal except for SMP support now. We are also looking at providing repeatable and meaningful benchmarks for the RTS/SIM crowd without resorting to FRAPs. We plan on increasing the audio, power consumption, and disk RAID subject matter within the review process. You should see this process evolve over the next couple of months.
    Reply
  • da2ce7 - Wednesday, January 04, 2006 - link

    I got the original ASUS A8N-SLI Premium with a AMD X2 3800+ and found the stability very less than satisfactory with any bios less than 1007. However over clocking has been mediocre, at the standard multiplier (10X) I can raise the FSB to 254, from 200, providing a reasonable over clock, anything higher than this I seem to be hitting the wall. The voltage options are a real disappointment only letting me raze them to 1.45v. However I get no difference when overlooking when my voltage is 1.4 to 1.45, (except for my core temp), with the old bios I could raze the v-core to 1.5 and run the FSB at 260 very happily (the system did sometimes crash every 32 hours or so), I did not test it any further then before upgrading to 1007.

    When upgrading from the bios 1005 to 1007 I found that it would not post after the update, after much delay and many tests and try's I found that my very low timings T1-2-2-2-5-2 for the ram stopped it from booting. I gained control of it from putting in a stick of very old pc2100 ram and re-set the bios timings to automatic.

    With your review I found it disappointing that you did not test the Silicone Ice raid controller, I have been wondering witch one I should run my hard drive on.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, January 04, 2006 - link

    quote:

    With your review I found it disappointing that you did not test the Silicone Ice raid controller, I have been wondering witch one I should run my hard drive on.


    We will be including RAID results in future articles. There have been some issues with repeatable results utilizing a variety of benchmarks and of course drive configurations.

    I would run the native nF4 RAID setup over the SI3114 in this case (assuming RAID0). However, if it were the SI3132 chipset on the board I would probably call it a toss up at this time.
    Reply
  • LX - Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - link

    Why would you bother to include a bunch of performance charts where the difference between the leading and the trailing boards is less than 5%?

    Don't you have enough important info to put in your articles instead of fillers?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, January 04, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Why would you bother to include a bunch of performance charts where the difference between the leading and the trailing boards is less than 5%?


    Thank you for the comments. I think the purpose of the article was to show that performance between a $100 board and that of boards costing up to $250 (A8N32) is basically the same at stock speeds. The differences in pricing will usually (not all of the time) buy additional features and greater performance via stable overclocking.

    What would you like to see in our articles that we are not providing?
    Reply
  • JustAnAverageGuy - Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - link

    It may be worth noting that in the 1011.001 BIOS, the maximum vcore drops to 1.500V with dual core processors. :) Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, January 04, 2006 - link

    We did not have an opportunity to finalize testing with the dual cores for the articles but this issue has been brought to Asus's attention. Thanks! Reply
  • yacoub - Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - link

    Wtf is up with the BlueGears card?? Is that simply a driver issue or not? It's such an excellent audio solution it's beyond shocking to see it perform even WORSE than onboard sound solutions when it comes to cpu usage. wtf indeed! Generally simply being a peripheral PCI device sound solution means it should be well BELOW the usage of onboard sound. Now I'm worried about purchasing their new card coming out this month (X-Plosion - onboard DTS in addition to onboard DDL like the X-Mystique has).

    Please update us when you receive the new drivers and figure out why the cpu usage of this card during gaming is so atrocious. Thanks.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now