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Is SLI going to be dead in a year?

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  • Graphics Cards
  • SLI
  • Motherboards
  • Graphics
  • Product
Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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October 13, 2006 9:54:03 PM

I just bought a X1900XT and I need a motherboard. Is SLI going to be dead in a year? If there is any chance that a X1900 series card will be on the market for a good price way down the road, would that be a viable option? If I plan to keep my system for at least two years and fight off the whole DX10/Vista movement for a bit, could a 2nd card paired with my new one keep me in the game a while longer, albiet without DX10 coolness. Is spending the extra $20 not worth that option later?

More about : sli dead year

October 13, 2006 10:00:48 PM

With radeons, you can't use SLI.
The Radeon version of dual-card technology is called "Crossfire", and you need a crossfire mobo to use it. You will also need a special "Crossfire edition" card.

If the past is an indicator, "crossfire edition" cards will get more expensive as they get rarer - but then their price will drop when they get to the verge of obsolescence, in say a year or so.

Regardless, it probably won't be a viable upgrade path because by the time you're ready, new and cheaper videocards will be available that work faster than two X1900 XTs.

Crossfire/SLI is rarely a good upgrade path, usually it makes sense only if you can afford the best and have the money for both cards at time of purchase.
October 13, 2006 10:29:50 PM

Thanks for a quick reply. Duh, now the pieces have fallen together a bit more clearly. My X1900XT is a crossfire edition [em... edit, Crossfire Ready], but should I at least check into the crossfire motherboards? I assume NF4 boards are SLI only, i.e., Nvidia isn't helping out ATI with Crossfire. :)  I remember seeing boards with ATI chipsets; are these some of the crossfire boards... I will go take a look.
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October 13, 2006 10:39:40 PM

Can CF cards work alone? Just wondering..

NF4 boards are made by many manufacturers, but I prefer DFI. :D 

~Ibrahim~
October 13, 2006 10:42:24 PM

OK. A nice NF4 board vs. having crossfire ability down the road a year from now.

I am looking at these two options:



DFI LanParty UT RDX200 CF-DR Socket 939 ATI Radeon XPRESS 200 CrossFire

$84.00 + shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

or DFI LANPARTY UT nF4 Ultra-D Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra

$104.99 + shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

I want someone to tell me to stop dreaming about the crossfire potential and stick with a stable and fast known NF4 board. But...
October 13, 2006 11:02:34 PM

Quote:
With radeons, you can't use SLI.
The Radeon version of dual-card technology is called "Crossfire", and you need a crossfire mobo to use it. You will also need a special "Crossfire edition" card.


correct me if i'm wrong, but if you have a motherboard with the ati3200 chipset, not the old xpress200 is a "crossfire" edition card really needed ? I was under the expression it was not.
October 13, 2006 11:13:38 PM

Quote:
Thanks for a quick reply. Duh, now the pieces have fallen together a bit more clearly. My X1900XT is a crossfire edition, but should I at least check into the crossfire motherboards? I assume NF4 boards are DFI only. I remember seeing boards with ATI chipsets; are these some of the crossfire boards... I will go take a look.


NF4 is nForce4, which is a chipset. This is hardwired onto a motherboard... it's a technology developed and sold by nVidia
http://www.nvidia.com/page/nforce4_family.html

They have SLI and non SLI versions. nVidia DOES NOT make a chipset which will support Crossfire. You will need a motherboard which has the chipset developed and sold by ATI for that. Here's an example:
Cross Fire capable Mother Board
BTW: I'm not endorsing this board, it was just the first one that came up in a search.

Notice on the specs (hit the specs tab), it shows the chipset in two pieces, north bridge and south bridge. This is usually the case. Note they are both made by ATI. If this were an SLI board, it would probably say nForce4 or nForce5 (or something similar).
October 13, 2006 11:14:45 PM

It's simple.

Would you buy a MP3 player or a CD player if you were to buy it today? Obviously everyone will go for the MP3 player.

So in a year or two, why get another X1900? You'll just be getting old technology.
October 13, 2006 11:17:52 PM

Quote:
Can CF cards work alone? Just wondering..

NF4 boards are made by many manufacturers, but I prefer DFI. :D 

~Ibrahim~

Yes they can. Also, they are somewhat more forgiving than SLI. To implement SLI, both cards are supposed to be the exact same model (or very closely matched). Crossfire will allow to different ATI cards to work together, but as noted at least one of them must be a Crossfire edition card.
October 13, 2006 11:25:07 PM

And in any case, there is no huge gain in performance, except on high resolution monitors w/ all the bells and whistles on. What most people say is that at 1280x1024 resolution, you don't see much improvement at all. Not enough to justify the cost of an entire extra graphics card (and the extra noisy fan, and the extra drain on your power supply, etc).
October 13, 2006 11:26:54 PM

My use of DFI above was a typo that I have fixed, sorry. I meant SLI in that context.

Sound advice all here. While researching this topic, I found a thread where Sailor wrote the following:

"SLI/Crossfire will help on 3DMark scores, but will do nothing positive at 1280x1024 resolution. The frame rates will be so high you can't tell the difference between them and a single card. To put in perspective, few people can recognize anthing beyond 60 fps, in fact, some can't recognize differences beyond 30 fps. So if you boost a single card's rate from 90 to 130, does it make any difference? Not to your eyes, at least.

As far as looking two years from now, by then Vista and DX10 will be in place and anything you buy now will be at best old, and at worst, useless. Basic theory is if you don't buy both cards within a three month period, you're wasting your money. Part of that is because in three months, a better single card will come out that beats the old one(s) in SLI. Even the quad SLI is falling behind, as shown by tests that Tom's did, to the newest single cards.

The only time SLI/Crossfire is worth it is if you have a big monitor, using a very high resolution, and you buy both cards at once."

It makes sense to me. I will go for the NF4 board. Let us close off this thread before I look even more like an idiot. :) 

But thanks all for the quick education.
October 13, 2006 11:51:41 PM

About the only reason to think "future" purchase of a x1900xt crossfire card (there is no x1900xtx crossfire master card) is if you have 2 computers right now, and want the second one to gain your old card when you build new.

I have one main computer, and a second one that I use for arcade emulation/PC games in an arcade cabinet. I initially considered getting a x1900xt crossfire master for the arcade computer, while putting the x1900xtx crossfire "slave" in my den computer. I changed my mind when I considered that the new 10th revision of the graphics process is just around the corner. A simple gain in speed from 2 X1900 cards is not going to be enough to trump some of the new features a couple years from now - even in a secondary computer.

Oh, btw, I did get a second x1900xtx regular edition for the other computer because the prices were so low in the last couple of months.
October 14, 2006 7:26:29 AM

Quote:
Thanks for a quick reply. Duh, now the pieces have fallen together a bit more clearly. My X1900XT is a crossfire edition [em... edit, Crossfire Ready]...


"Crossfire ready" is mnot the same as "Crossfire edition"

Every X1900 XT is "crossfire ready" but you can only run crossfire if one of the cards is a "Crossfire edition" card (AKA "Crossfire Master Card"

Crossfire Motherboard +
Crossfire ready video card +
Crossfire EDITION card =
Crossfire setup. :) 
!