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Will I ever use SLI?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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January 23, 2007 6:09:19 PM

I'm about to build a machine and it seems I can save a lot of money if I just decide I will never use SLI. I know I don't need it now. I need to drive a 24" widescreen. I will play games, but I'm not a fanatic. If it runs Madden and AoE, I'm happy.

Over time, I'd like to do more with my machine. It will eventually be the entertainment hub, playing games, music and video.

I figured I would buy a cheap card now and upgrade to SLI later as the better cards come down in price. Now, I'm wondering if I would always be behind the curve anyway. IOW, the 8800s finally come down in price in a couple of years and I buy a couple, but games have advanced to the point that it's no longer a great setup. Or maybe they've now condensed it all onto one card, so SLI is moot.

If I don't need SLI, I figure I can save on the motherboard and the power supply. However, I'm trying not to put myself in a situation where I have to upgrade those components if I want a new CPU or graphics card. The whole reason I'm building my own is so that I can get a couple of generations out of the same base, e.g., overclock a 6300 now and upgrade to a quad-core when the prices come down.

Any advice is appreciated. Be gentle, I'm new. :) 

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January 23, 2007 6:12:32 PM

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I figured I would buy a cheap card now and upgrade to SLI later as the better cards come down in price. Now, I'm wondering if I would always be behind the curve anyway. IOW, the 8800s finally come down in price in a couple of years and I buy a couple, but games have advanced to the point that it's no longer a great setup. Or maybe they've now condensed it all onto one card, so SLI is moot.

Never buy a cheap card, and SLI later. Never buy any card, and SLI later, unless you buy the absolute best, and buy another in a couple of months, for example.

In couple of years, you won't find any 8 series card, so prices won't come down. So that's not an option.

Always buy the best card you can afford, that way, you're sure to get the best.
January 23, 2007 6:34:28 PM

Quote:
Never buy a cheap card, and SLI later. Never buy any card, and SLI later, unless you buy the absolute best, and buy another in a couple of months, for example.


To clarify, the cheap card is to get me through basic usage now with some gaming. If I go to SLI, I would buy two completely new cards, not match the original. I don't know if that will be 6 months or two years. Depends on funding.

Quote:
In couple of years, you won't find any 8 series card, so prices won't come down. So that's not an option.


Are you saying that they will be obsolete? If so, are you assuming that there will be a single card with equivalent or better power? Are we assuming that PCI-E continues to be the standard? If not then an upgrade path is pointless and I might as well buy a Dell.

My thinking is to buy a sub-$100 card now and in a year or two the things that cost $600 now will cost $100. Or maybe I spend $300-400 at that point. I just want to make sure my mobo and PS are okay for that, but I don't want to overspend if I don't have to.

Quote:
Always buy the best card you can afford, that way, you're sure to get the best.


Money's a little tight now. I can't afford much, but I have to get a new machine. I'd like to later upgrade the processor and video for $400-500. I'd rather do that every 18 months or so than buy a $3000 machine every 2 years.

I'm new to building a machine, so please tell me if I'm way off somewhere.
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January 23, 2007 6:51:59 PM

Get a decent CPU and a mid-range card (7600GT for instance) now, then when you have the money get a good single card (8800GTS/X in 6 months or so). SLI is only for people who have old cards and not enough money to get a good card or people who have way too much money.
January 23, 2007 6:59:29 PM

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Get a decent CPU and a mid-range card (7600GT for instance) now, then when you have the money get a good single card (8800GTS/X in 6 months or so). SLI is only for people who have old cards and not enough money to get a good card or people who have way too much money.


So you're either pairing two crappy cards for mediocre performance or pairing too crazy-expensive cards for performance that few people need?
January 23, 2007 7:11:30 PM

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SLI is only for people who have old cards and not enough money to get a good card or people who have way too much money.

No it's not! SLI is only for people without budget, who can buy two top-line cards along with a huge screen

Quote:
Are you saying that they will be obsolete? If so, are you assuming that there will be a single card with equivalent or better power? Are we assuming that PCI-E continues to be the standard? If not then an upgrade path is pointless and I might as well buy a Dell.

8800s will be obsolete this year, with R600 and 8900s coming later on.

Quote:
My thinking is to buy a sub-$100 card now and in a year or two the things that cost $600 now will cost $100.

Won't happen. Last year, a 7800GTX was like $400, now you can't find any, and it still costs over $400 if you happen to find one. Not to mention in a year or two, a mid-range, $200 card, will wipe the floor with current high-ends.

What to do?
Buy the best card that you can fit into your budget. Right now a 7600GT is very popular, and can be found at about $100. Then in a year, you might want to go for something like a 8600, or X2600, assuming that'll be their names.
January 23, 2007 7:12:21 PM

Followup question: If I don't need SLI, is there any reason I need multiple PCI-Ex16 slots? Does anything use PCI-Ex16 other than graphics cards? Is there is a reason to run two cards not doing SLI, such as a video capture card or TV Tuner?

I could save $100-150 on the mobo if I only need one slot.
January 23, 2007 7:17:31 PM

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Won't happen. Last year, a 7800GTX was like $400, now you can't find any, and it still costs over $400 if you happen to find one. Not to mention in a year or two, a mid-range, $200 card, will wipe the floor with current high-ends.


So I'm overestimating the rate of price drops?

Bear in mind that my upgrade will probably be aimed at more than just performance. I might want more interfaces, such as TV-in/TV-out or dual monitors. Seems like all the cheap cards just have what you need to drive a single monitor and I expect that to continue. So I'll probably spend more on the upgrade.

Also, will that $200 card drive games that will come out at the time? Is that the sweet spot for price/performance?
January 23, 2007 7:18:58 PM

Quote:
Followup question: If I don't need SLI, is there any reason I need multiple PCI-Ex16 slots? Does anything use PCI-Ex16 other than graphics cards? Is there is a reason to run two cards not doing SLI, such as a video capture card or TV Tuner?

I could save $100-150 on the mobo if I only need one slot.

No, you don't need two PCI-E slot. You might need extra video card (besides SLI/CF) for a multiple monitor setup.

TV Tuners use the traditional PCI slot.

All you basically need is one PCI-E slot on the motherboard.
January 23, 2007 7:20:18 PM

i bought an SLI board, and i will acknowledge now that it probably wasnt the wisest decision i made when i bought the pieces. however, i had the money, so why not eh? thats pretty much how i see an SLI configuration now: if you have the money, why not, it doesnt hurt to have the option.

as for tv tuners and other devices, ive got the ati tv wonder or whatever its called and its just a standard old PCI card. so i dont think you'll need a PCIe for those.
January 23, 2007 7:23:02 PM

Quote:


8800s will be obsolete this year, with R600 and 8900s coming later on.

Then in a year, you might want to go for something like a 8600, or X2600, assuming that'll be their names.


So an 8800 will be obsolete this year, but an 8600 will be a good buy in a year?

Maybe tone down your rather extreme language a bit. In a year an 8800 will still be a good card; it just won't be the best, and it won't be worth anywhere near 600 dollars anymore.
January 23, 2007 7:31:47 PM

Quote:


8800s will be obsolete this year, with R600 and 8900s coming later on.

Then in a year, you might want to go for something like a 8600, or X2600, assuming that'll be their names.


So an 8800 will be obsolete this year, but an 8600 will be a good buy in a year?

Maybe tone down your rather extreme language a bit. In a year an 8800 will still be a good card; it just won't be the best, and it won't be worth anywhere near 600 dollars anymore.
Just like a 7800. They are still good card, but they are way overpriced and you can't find them.

Same will happen with a 8800. Next year a 8600 should be a $150 card, which will fit most budgets, and it'll be on every street corner. A 8800 will continue to be expensive, and its production will be stopped to make room for 8900s. That's what I mean by obsolete. No one will want it. It'll still be a very good performer, but there will be better choices.

Quote:
Also, will that $200 card drive games that will come out at the time? Is that the sweet spot for price/performance?

Yea. It won't max out every game, will max out quite a bit of games, and it will run games fine, as long as the settings are slightly turned down.

Also, you can run dual monitors on a single card, as it has two DVI outputs, so you won't need another card for a second monitor.

Quote:
So I'm overestimating the rate of price drops?

Big time. :wink:
January 23, 2007 8:12:50 PM

I think it really comes down to one question: If you like to be on top of the heap, spend $400+ now and you'll be happy for ~2 years. If you don't mind being behind the curve, get an approx $200 card and upgrade in a year. Either way, seems like you'll end up spending about $400 over 2 years. Obviously, your upgrade path depends on what performance level you are willing to accept.
January 23, 2007 8:45:11 PM

Well, since the topic is "will I ever need an SLI set up?", what about people with huge monitors?

I'm been looking at 30" monitors and the prices are getting affordable. The dell 30" is 1274 (see thier site) as well has HP having one for about 1550. Samsung and APPLE's are 2000.

With a screen this size, is SLI worth running since the resolution is insanely high: 2,560 x 1,600. I would probably be stupid enough to run a game with resolution this high.

Would an 8800gtx handle a game @ that resolution with most (not all) setting turned up max?
January 23, 2007 10:13:59 PM

Quote:
I think it really comes down to one question: If you like to be on top of the heap, spend $400+ now and you'll be happy for ~2 years. If you don't mind being behind the curve, get an approx $200 card and upgrade in a year. Either way, seems like you'll end up spending about $400 over 2 years. Obviously, your upgrade path depends on what performance level you are willing to accept.


While I would love to have the greatest new games with all the graphics on max, the reality is I don't have enough time to play to make it worth it. The last games I bought were Quake III, Madden 2003 and Tony Hawk 2. The game I still play the most is AoE2. OTOH, I see the new games and I'm very impressed and jonesing to try them. My laptop is my only computer now with it's 16MB graphics card and 25GB hard drive, so I haven't played anything in quite a while. I'm not sure I would know what I was missing for games.
January 24, 2007 12:47:25 AM

Quote:
SLI is only for people who have old cards and not enough money to get a good card or people who have way too much money.

No it's not! SLI is only for people without budget, who can buy two top-line cards along with a huge screen

Quote:
Are you saying that they will be obsolete? If so, are you assuming that there will be a single card with equivalent or better power? Are we assuming that PCI-E continues to be the standard? If not then an upgrade path is pointless and I might as well buy a Dell.

8800s will be obsolete this year, with R600 and 8900s coming later on.

Quote:
My thinking is to buy a sub-$100 card now and in a year or two the things that cost $600 now will cost $100.

Won't happen. Last year, a 7800GTX was like $400, now you can't find any, and it still costs over $400 if you happen to find one. Not to mention in a year or two, a mid-range, $200 card, will wipe the floor with current high-ends.

What to do?
Buy the best card that you can fit into your budget. Right now a 7600GT is very popular, and can be found at about $100. Then in a year, you might want to go for something like a 8600, or X2600, assuming that'll be their names.

You can find a 7800GTX on newegg for 250 bucks in the Recertifed section. They haven't left us for good yet Prozac :wink:
January 24, 2007 1:20:39 AM

Quote:
You can find a 7800GTX on newegg for 250 bucks in the Recertifed section. They haven't left us for good yet Prozac :wink:

pfft.... :roll:

7800GTX is long dead. :wink:
!