nForce4 SLI Roundup: Painful and Rewardingby Wesley Fink on February 28, 2005 7:00 AM EST
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The RoundupThe four motherboards in this roundup represent all of the motherboards currently on the market that support SLI. This includes the three motherboards from the largest tier one manufacturers: Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI. The surprise in this group is the very early DFI nForce4 SLI and Ultra boards from a tier 2 manufacturer. Why is this a surprise? Tier 1 manufacturers generally get favored treatment from chipset manufacturers because of the sheer volume of board sales that they represent. This means that they get chips first, reference designs first, and lots of manufacturer design help. Particularly in this launch, nVidia made it clear that none of the tier 2 manufacturers would get SLI chips or design assistance until after the Tier 1 launch of SLI motherboards.
DFI basically went their own way in the design of their SLI and Ultra motherboards so that they could get to market when tier 1 SLI boards would arrive. This is why the DFI is unique in design and unique in the ability to mod an Ultra to SLI as we discussed in Morphing nForce4 Ultra into nForce4 SLI. You can also find a launch review of the DFI Ultra and SLI chipsets at DFI nForce4: SLI and Ultra for Mad Overclockers.
Other motherboards in this roundup received extensive pre-production coverage. Anand covered the MSI K8N Neo4 SLI in prototype in Taiwan. The Asus pre-production board was used as the Reference board for the nVidia SLI launch, and the Gigabyte SLI received a First Look in late November.
Since those early reviews and announcements, we have been looking for a Forum to compare actual production models of all these motherboards using consistent test procedures and benchmarks. The buzz surrounding these SLI boards, the huge sales that they are generating, and the fact that single video performs the same in nForce4 SLI and nForce4 Ultra made the SLI roundup the perfect vehicle for launching our new motherboard test suite.
All testing for the SLI roundup was performed from scratch for each of the SLI boards. We felt production models deserved a fresh new look to help you decide better which SLI board, if any, to choose for your next system.