his most recent incarnation of NVIDIA's Quad-SLI technology is vastly superior to 2006's version. A single GeForce 9800 GX2 is fast, but a pair of them running in Quad-SLI mode is extreme, albiet not for everyone. Although we're certain Quad-SLI won't scale in every game, it did scale with every application we threw at it here today and its performance was top notch. And in the near term, we expect NVIDIA to further improve Quad-SLI's performance scaling as well with upcoming driver releases. What the long term future holds remains to be seen, however, because it is getting increasingly hard to leverage multi-GPU configurations with more advanced rendering techniques.
Quad-SLI with a pair of GeForce 9800 GX2 cards also consumes less power than the competition's quadruple GPU configuration. While idling AMD's implementation used less power, but once put under load, NVIDIA's Quad-SLI was clearly more efficient - not only was it faster, but it used less power.
Of course, this kind of power comes at a price. A pair of GeForce 9800 GX2 cards will currently set you back a cool $1200, provided you've already got the necessary nForce chipset-based platform to install them in. Cutting edge PC hardware has always been an expensive proposition, however, so we're sure none of you are surprised by this.
In the end, we're impressed with GeForce 9800 GX2 Quad-SLI and hope NVIDIA continues to improve the technology. Scaling is good, power consumption is high, but in line with expectations, and it actually costs less than a pair of GeForce 8800 Ultras did at launch.
The bottom line right now is that this is not a solution for most people. Unless we see great scaling in Crysis, there are only a few other compelling features that can currently be enabled through the use of Quad SLI. Sure, it might handle future games with ease, but we always advise against trying to future proof when it comes to graphics. That%u2019s always a path that leads to heartache and the hemorrhaging of money. If you aren%u2019t obsessed with Crysis, skip it. If you are obsessed with Crysis, we%u2019ll get back to you with some numbers on what performance is like once we find a system we can get some headroom on: I%u2019ll have 790i this week and I%u2019ll be hard at work testing it out.