Don't count on standalone quad-SLI cards anytime soon

Westlake Village (CA) - Computer systems equipped by Nvidia's four-graphics processor system will be shipping soon - and that will be the only way for enthusiasts to get their hands on "quad-SLI". At least for now, Nvidia has instructed computer makers to only sell the cards as part of a complete system, TG Daily has learned.

Quad-SLI sparks the kind of excitement among enthusiast computer users as does the latest Ferrari among car lovers. And just like the Ferrari, quad-SLI is not only expensive, but it also requires experience with fine tuning and maintaining computers. While single and dual card solutions are easy enough to install, the quad-SLI cards require motherboard tweaks, better power supplies and a host of other changes that may be an unsolvable problem to mainstream users.

That and tight supplies may be the main reasons why quad-SLI will not be available off-the-shelf in the fore seeable future. Two US system builders told TG Daily that existing agreements with Nvidia prohibit the sale of standalone quad-SLI cards, which typically ring in for around $2000 in enthusiast computer systems.

Nvidia spokesman Brian Burke confirmed that the route through system builders and a new PC is currently the only way to get a quad-SLI graphics system. "The high-end system builders we work with have the expertise to put together these types of PCs so we chose to work with them first." He also compared the limited launch of the quad-SLI with the preceding SLI launch. SLI, Nvidia's dual-GPU solution, was initially released only to system builders as well - however, standalone SLI cards could be purchased for a price premium at the time.

Once all issues surrounding quad-SLI have been removed, consumers may be able to buy the cards separately. "This is the first step in bringing quad-SLI technology to the world. We will announce plans to bring quad-SLI technology to consumers through other channels in the near future," Burke told us.

Virtually all performance PC makers have quad-SLI systems in stock but are still holding back consumer shipments, until driver issues have been resolved.