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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  • bob661 - Thursday, November 25, 2004 - link

    Actually, there were quite a few people that asked for resolutions higher than 16x12. I think for SLI benches, high res testing is probably the best. People that didn't read the initial article would get the wrong impression of SLI. Reply
  • Omega215D - Thursday, November 25, 2004 - link

    what i'd like to know is when are they going to start phasing out those useless serial ports and maybe the LPT printer ports? I figure if your going to spend money on performance parts might as well get USB printers and game controllers.

    Also, any idea on when USB will be fully bootable that way PS2 ports can be phased out? Just wanna save on IRQs and make room for more USB's or Firewires so I don't have to rely on slot taking expansions.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, November 25, 2004 - link

    #2 - Read on in the review. I did test at 1280 x1024 also because 1024x768 was limiting in some benches - but not as much as you might expect. The 1024x768 was provided mostly to allow comparison to past motherboard reviews.

    I believe most will run 1280x1024 which is doable with most 19" flat panels. The cheapest flat panel I know of that runs 1600x1200 resolution is the 20.1" Dell at about $750. That's 16x12 entry level.

    Most any decent 19" CRT can support 1600x1200 as you stated, but have you ever tried to play a game at 1600x1200 on a 19" CRT. I tried it just to see for this review and it was pretty ugly. However 16x12 was OK on the 22" Diamondtron, though I prefer 1280x1024 on the 19" flat panels for most gaming.

    Anand got criticized for gearing everything in his SLI launch review to 1600x1200, so it figures I would get criticized for 1280x1024 which was suggested in the comments on his review. Guess we will never please everybody.
    Reply
  • AnnoyedGrunt - Thursday, November 25, 2004 - link

    Well, this was a Mobo review, so that's one reason why it would make sense to run in resolutions that were CPU limited instead of video card limited. I doubt there would be much of a difference in SLI performance between the ASUS and Gigabyte solutions (although it certainly wouldn't hurt to have more data).

    -D'oh!
    Reply
  • Decoder - Thursday, November 25, 2004 - link

    #2 . I agree with you 100%. I run my Dell 2001FP at 1600x1200 and i will going SLI so that i can play games at 1600x1200 only. Reply
  • Decoder - Thursday, November 25, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • cnq - Thursday, November 25, 2004 - link

    "Since 1600x1200 normally requires a 20" or larger flat panel monitor, we did not report 1600x1200 results, since most readers will not run at that resolution."

    Wesley, with all due respect, there is not a single reader who is waiting to buy SLI who says to himself, "Boy I'd really like to see how fast SLI does at middling resolutions. Yeah, that's why I'm splurging thousands for an SLI rig. 1024x768 all the way baby!"

    *ALL* SLI buyers will be running EVERYTHING at 16x12 or even 20x15, since current single card solutions can keep up at 10x7 and 12x10. No one would be dumb enough to pair up a couple of 68GT's or 68U's and then limit themselves to resolutions that a single 66GT could handle.

    People who buy SLI are going to have money to spend, so don't worry, their monitors WILL be able to handle 16x12. An ordinary $250 19" CRT can do that, much less the kind of monitors that SLI fanatics will have.

    Any SLI prospective purchasers out there planning to run their games at 1024x768? Didn't think so.

    C'mon Wesley, really. You're doing quite a disservice benchmarking SLI at resolutions that aren't even graphics card limited in the first place.
    Reply
  • HiroProt - Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - link

    Great review, Wesley!

    Looks like Gigabyte has done it this time around. The question is: when can we buy these boards? I assume that the non-SLI version will be available first, since it already hit 1.0.

    Do you have any more availability info, Wesley?
    Reply

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