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To SLI or not to SLI, that is the question...

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 14, 2005 12:07:15 AM

Ok, so I haven't built a PC in 5 years, focused more on the network side of things... looking at a new system and am considering SLI.

Let me just say, I'm not really a gamer, or at least not on my PC anyway (console gaming), but I would like it capable of running whatever is out there to a decent degree.

I don't want to spend more than about $500 on my video solution, and I don't think I should need to (since I'm not hardcore with gaming or CAD). Mostly I do standard computer stuff, but I also do some video encoding.

Are all these turbo charged, nitro-injected cards really going to benefit from anything other than gaming? What about SLI?

I will say this. I will probably (eventually) use my PC to output HD video to a projector, so would like that capability. Preferably I'd like a card that can also do that output (w/out a separate card).

My current system (5 year old AMD 1100) has an ATI all-in-wonder Radeon, which I enjoyed because of its ability to do everything (albeit not necessarily as good as you could get in a dedicated card). Is there a comparable card now or is it better to buy a separate graphics card AND TV card)?

So, in short, my wants:
- Decent gaming performance
- Video out (for HDTV to projector)
- TV (I actually just need video-IN to display in a window on my PC, not neccessarilly a tuner card).

Main questions:
- What benefit will SLI give me if I'm not a gamin freak?
- Should I get an SLI motherboard just in case I want it? And if so, should I go with the new ASUS that does true 16x SLI, or is 8x SLI enough?

Thanks for any input!

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December 14, 2005 1:02:42 AM

If you are going to go SLI do it now. If you don't game on your machine then SLI just isn't worth it. The best price/performance card on the market would be the 7800GT. The GT should handel any game out there at resolutions at 1280x1024 or lower even with the eye-cady turned on (most of the time except in FEAR).
If you don't game then SLI is not worth it. Just get a single 7800GT for $300 and you will be happy if you game a little. It will play any game on the market unless your running it at rediculous resolutions like 2048x1536!
And if your not getting SLI then why get an SLI mobo. And SLIx16 isn't worth it, if you havnt' seen any benchmarks lately, the full bandwith of x16 gives no noticable performance increases on SLI.
If you do video encoding then a dual core CPU would help you the most. The X2 4400+ is probably the best one out there right now. And you can probably OC it a little to get it to 4800+ speeds. The only reason I say the 4400+ is I like the 1MB of L2 cache that it has. A couple of months ago I would have said the Opteron 165 but those are really hard to come by now.

If you have anymore questions or don't understand anything you can PM me or just respond to this topic.
December 14, 2005 1:45:47 AM

Well, I figure for a new system, it isn't that much more to invest in an SLI board.

I could buy a 7800 (or something else) now, and in a year or so pick up a second one cheap to upgrade(???).

Is there a disadvantage of getting an SLI board if I don't need one (other than slight increase of cost)?

Those benchmarks are interesting how close they are...but it's only one test. I find it hard to believe that the performance can't be made higher with some new drivers. But, I also don't really understand why someone would want to take two 16x cards and have them each run at 8x... seems like your cost/performance ratio is higher with just one running at its full 16x!

I was considering the 7800, but what about my HDTV and TV requirements? Again, I would like to be able to output HDTV video as well as be able to output an external video signal to my monitor. Can the 7800 do either?

If not, are there any other nice cards that have these combined functions?

It seems that the 7800 is the hottest thing out there now (short of the crazy dual GPU chips, etc.) Are there some others that are recommended that might not be as strong in the main arena but have additional functions?

Thanks
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December 16, 2005 4:33:34 AM

If you are a fps addict, and are going to stick 2 killer cards in there right away, then yes SLI is a fun thing to have.

But let me give you some input from someone (me) who bought SLI and probably will never use it.

I have the A8N-SLI deluxe, an Athlon64 3700+, and a 6800GT. Now, here in Japan the price of a second 6800GT has dropped to about $300 or so. But why would I spend that kind of cash on a 6800GT when I can get a 7800 card that will outperform 2 6800GTs for about the same price?

I just don't make no sense at all. I love the stability and features of my board enough that I don't regret the purchase, but SLI? Nah. Not really worth it for most people like me.
December 16, 2005 4:36:25 AM

Quote:
And if so, should I go with the new ASUS that does true 16x SLI, or is 8x SLI enough?

Thanks for any input!


There are more advantages to that board than JUST the x16 SLI feature. It is also a very high performance board, an amazing overclocker, and uses a new technology to keep your system temperatures down much lower than other boards.

But it is still WAY to expensive at this point to be a reasonable option IMO.
December 16, 2005 3:40:51 PM

I would go with the ATI X1800XL. They are attainable below 500, you're familiar with driver upgrades and ATI has always been the company to beat for media. If you want to save a buck or two on a board that offers true 16 bit PCIE (one video card only mind you) and stick with ASUS, then the A8N-SLI Premium will work well. Should an obsession hit and a second video card be desired then the MB will only operate on 8 bits for each video card. Given that you want this system to serve you as a media solution, I can't imagine you would want the noise of a second video card anyway.
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