Yesterday, we reviewed the first board for nVidia SLI, a Reference board from Asus called the A8N-SLI Deluxe. Asus believed that they had a 30-day lead on competitors with their SLI board, so it will be a surprise to some to see, just one day later, the Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI. Clearly, other Tier 1 motherboard makers have also been very busy!

In addition, Gigabyte also sent Version 1.0 of the K8NXP-9 motherboard. The K8NXP-9 is the same nForce4 motherboard without SLI. The board reviewed last week in FIRST LOOK - nForce4: Gigabyte K8NXP-9 was Revision 0.3, while the 1.0 version is the first production revision. Both of these developments mean that you will be seeing Gigabyte boards based on nForce4 in the next few weeks. You will likely find that you will actually have a choice in SLI motherboards before Christmas - at least between Asus and Gigabyte, and possibly MSI as well.

We were very impressed with the Gigabyte K8NXP-9, and that has been confirmed by Revision 1.0 of the board. We were also able to test overclocking in this go-around, with both the regular PCIe and SLI versions of the boards. Both boards have the same BIOS options and are identical except for the concessions required to provide dual PCIe video slots and support on the K8NXP-SLI. This is very good news for shoppers because it means that you can choose between two excellent Gigabyte nForce4 boards where the only real feature difference is SLI.

While that will make the choice straightforward, the question is what value does SLI, or Scalable Link Interface, brings to nForce 4 and PCI Express. We took a close look at this question in Tuesday's launch article, which is a great place to get answers to this and other questions about SLI performance. Today's First Look at the Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI will take a closer look at the board itself and how it performs in both single and dual GPU configurations. However, we will concentrate on performance comparisons to the best Athlon 64 motherboards that we have tested in the AnandTech labs.

Features: Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI
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  • coldpower27 - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    With an SLI setup, you may as well test the higher resolutions on the 6600 GT SLI, or 6800 Vanilla SLI it may make sense to limit yourself to 1280x1024, however with the 6800 GT SLI and 6800 Ultra SLI setup's costing 800US/1000US respectively, it won't make sense there.

    I don't think that someone spending that amount of cash is gonna skimp on the displaying device, might as well test on the these:

    NEC/Mitsubishi FP 2141SB
    http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?desc...

    Viewsonic VP201s
    http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?desc...

    or that Dell 2001 thing that can do 16x12 @ 16ms as well:

    a 600US CRT or a 800US LCD to complement the 800US/1000US video card setup seems reasonable to me, and with these kinds of setup, testing at 16x12, 19x14, 20x15 does make sense, though I believe you can't test it with both AA AND AF enabled at those resolutions as 256MB of VRAM is the limiting factor there.

    Also might as well throw in the 850US Athlon FX 55 too :P

    Reply
  • nserra - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    #44 YES you can.
    See it at Toms, 5750 and 6800 or X700 and a X800 or a 6800 and a X800.
    http://graphics.tomshardware.com/graphic/20041123/...

    I think its the best think you can have!! Better than having 2 cards in SLI, at least for me.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    I have received a question for a bit more info on the on the K8NXP boards. We did not receive a complete retail package on the SLI, but the SLI will also include the wireless LAN card.

    Ports are included on two daughter cards which fits in slots on the computer. The first includes standard and mini Firewire plus 2 USB slots (4 total). The 2nd includes 2 USB slots.
    Reply
  • gplracer - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    One other thing too.... Nice review Wesley. I have a 21" NEC FP2141sb. I think many other users like myself have CRT monitors. I really just do see the benefit besides space and weight to go to a lcd. I had a 19" dell but it had lag. I had a 17" Viewsonic that had no lag but had a price that was too much for the size of the screen. Eventually I might get a lcd. I remember when the rage was having a video card that would do any game at 1600x1200. Now it seems the emphasis is off of that because of the lcd monitors. I think most still have crt monitors. Reply
  • gplracer - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    Can you run 2 different varieties of video cards in this board. For example could someone run a 6600 and then later add a 6800 ultra? It is a valid question for many. For example if I were to upgrade to this board I would need a new processor, motherboard, and video card. Some might have to get a cheaper video card than wanted if they had to buy all of this stuff. Reply
  • jcromano - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    ChineseDemocracyGNR and Googer, thank you both for your answers. I guess the 3Gb/s is mostly just preparing for the future.

    Jim
    Reply
  • Googer - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    Gatak, Last I checked Sony's GDM Line could do such Resolutions. But has been replaced by the Artesian Line. Reply
  • Gatak - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    A $400+ 19"+ CRT monitor will do 1600x1200 at minimum 85 Hz and can do 2048x1536 at 60Hz. My nvidia card, however, can't seem to do higher than 60Hz at 2048x1536 so I do not know if the monitor can do better than this.

    In any case, if you benchmark a $800-$1000 SLI setup then you target high-end users and not the standard gray mass... Also, if you benchmark at this resolution then people will see if it works, and if it does, they will want to buy better monitors. therefore the market for better monitors will come and we will get better monitors =)

    Reply
  • Googer - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    I ment to say Ultra ATA 33 and putting them on an Ultra DMA (ATA) 100 or 133 controller still makes them run in ATA/33 mode/speed. There is no Improvement for older drives. Reply
  • Googer - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    EDIT:

    the truth is that the sata 300 ports would change modes to run in the older 150 mode.
    I have some old Ultra ATA drives and putting them on an Ultra DMA (ATA) 100 or 133 still makes them
    run in ATA/33 mode/speed. There is no Improvement for older drives.

    Jim, Your Hard Drive was not designed from the start to take advantage of newer Technolgical Features.
    With all things being the same, no ncq or tcq added and all modes Identical except the added bandwith of sata 3 Gb/s port there would be NO hard drive improvement with your older drive over 1.5 Gb/s. Since the drive you are using was not specified or designed to take advantage of it.

    Reply

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