Picking The Right Motherboard
Generally speaking, it should be “enough” to buy an SLI-capable motherboard and expect your dual-card array to work. That’s technically true, but when it comes to the GeForce GTX 480, there’s a right way to go about picking a platform.
You want a board equipped with two second-gen PCI Express x16 slots that are electrically wired to run at x16, and not x8. Moreover, you want them to be at least three slots apart, leaving at least one space between the top and bottom cards. Anything less and you’ll sacrifice frame rate and/or acoustic performance.
Fortunately, there are quite a few boards with ample spacing. Some of these include:
|Motherboards With Ample Spacing For SLI|
|X58 Express||P55 Express|
|Asus||P6T Deluxe||Maximus III Extreme|
|P6T Deluxe V2||Maximus III Formula|
|P6T Deluxe w/ OC Palm||P7P55 WS SuperComputer|
|P6T WS Professional||P7P55D Deluxe|
|P6T6 WS Revolution||P7P55D EVO|
|P6T7 WS SuperComputer||P7P55D Premium|
|P6TD Deluxe||P7P55D Pro|
|EVGA||X58 Classified 4-Way SLI||P55 Classified 200|
|X58 SLI Classified||P55 FTW 200|
|MSI||Eclipse Plus||Big Bang Trinergy|
|X58 Platinum SLI||P55-GD85|
Now, obviously the P55-based boards are going to give up some performance, as integrated PCI Express connectivity on LGA 1156-based CPUs gets divided into a pair of x8 links. But if you're going with an X58 board (and if you're spending more than a grand on graphics, I'm willing to bet you're also running an LGA 1366-based processor), double-check your platform of choice, ensuring the properly-spaced slots are both of the 16-lane sort.
Again, we’re using MSI’s Eclipse Plus, which comes armed with an NF200 bridge chip, capable of multiplexing the chipset’s connectivity into a trio of x16 slots for our three GTX 480s. Special thanks to MSI for also supplying that third card.