I am in the process of building a new PC and buying pieces for it over the next few months. I want it to be able to do well in performance for the next few years. I keep hearing SLI/Crossfire is the shiz and then some saying it’s not worth it and probably won't be worth the extra money for some time. The last part of my purchase will be the CPU, MOBO, and Ram. I haven’t had issues with Nvidia and with ATI's buy out i'm skittish on their future. I probably will only get 1 graphics card when I put it together for the time being until the DX10 compatible cards hit later on this year. Depending on performance of the cards you guys recommend and the SLI/Crossfire features will depict the mobo I purchase.
The types of gaming I do is mainly HL2, Prey, BF2 and WoW, building for future games (this is why i want my setup to be upgradeable): Vanguard Saga of Heros, Age of Conan, and some other FPS games.
As much detailed information would be greatly appreciated and you might have to dumb it down because I've still got some noobsauce on me when it comes to updated gaming hardware. Thanks again for your time and advice. 8)
A good way to see how SLi affects (or doesn't affect) performance is to play around with the VGA charts on this website. Some games you'll see 40~50% improvement in frame rates, other games you'll see none.
It doesn't make much sense to go SLi on a new build unless you need to play at super high res (higher than 1600x1200) with all the effects on high. You can get good enough performance with a single a card solution right now.
To me, it only makes sense to go SLi if you're upgrading an older card and it makes more sense price/performance-wise than buying a better card.
Besides the latest and greatest cards are coming out with Dx10 relatively soon so it may make sense to get a med-high end card right now and upgrade then.
Here is a good sticky that shows the best bang for the buck currently.
SLI has sort of proven to be an upgrade path that doesn't make much financial sense.
Think of the guys who bought a 6800 Ultra. Would it make sense for them to buy another one for $300? AT best they'd have the performance of Two 7600 GTs, when they could buy a single X1800XT that would eat it for breakfast for $200.
The same thing for a guy who bought a single 7600 GT when they were new. $200. He could buy another 7600 GT for $160 for a total investment of $360, or he could buy a single X1800 XT for $200 and sell his 7600 GT for $100 for a toital investment of $300, with the same performance, less power requirements and heat.
Prices drop too fast on new, better performing cards for SLI to be a viable upgrade path in most cases.
SLI pretty much only makes sense if you need the highest resolutions with AA and can afford both cards at the time of purchase.
I've done SLI in the past and run a single card now. Some games do run faster SLI, others don't seem to make any difference. SLI works best in high resolutions, which probably is why I don't see any appreciable difference with my monitor, which is 19" LCD. Until there are some major changes in the total hardware package, I don't see a good reason to use it.
At the same time, buying a SLI capable mobo might make sense. Both Nvidia and ATI/AMD have talked about making a physics card, which could fit into the second slot. I don't know if that will happen, but for myself, I'd rather have a board that can already use it then to have to buy another board later. But remember, such a purchase only "might make sense". It might also make no sense.