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nVidia SLI Technology - Introduction and 6800 Ultra Performance - Supported Games and Setting up an SLI system

We finally get our chance to setup an nVidia SLI system with two GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics cards and see just what type of performance we can expect from this expensive yet impressive setup which deserves respect. Since this is our first SLI article we look into what exactly SLI is, what it stands for, how it works and everything else we think is important and then get straight into the benchmarking to see what we can come up with.

| NVIDIA SLI Articles in Video Cards | Posted: Jan 27, 2005 5:00 am

What about game support?

 

While some people may have read articles going around the Internet about SLI not supporting all games, all we can say to that is, "What do you expect?" In nVidia's defense, it's a new and exciting technology which needs time to mature from its current state (which is not too bad at the moment) but as with anything in life, progression is made over time.

 

If we were to write an article every time new tech is released and current generation software is not able to make full use of it, we would see countless articles such as nVidia Shader Model 3.0 Short Changing Gamers? since SM3.0 is still something that a lot of games don't make use of or maybe Intel Hyper Threading Short Changing Gamers? as we have another technology that is great in a lot of programs but not all or AMD 64-bit Processors Short Changing Gamers? because we all know that there are so many games that are able to make use of the 64-bit architecture (that was sarcasm).

 

Shader Model 3.0, Hyper Threading and 64-bit computing are all excellent technology advancements and like anything new we cannot expect the whole world taking advantage of these new features from the beginning. Intel, AMD, ATI and nVidia all release technology that won't make use of current generation software but we know that one day in the not too distant future we will see applications and games make use of these new technologies - things cannot happen over night but they will eventually. With new and fast advancements in technology, some flexibility is required.

 

Here is the current games list that makes use of SLI from the nVidia nZone website:

 

Aquamark3

 

Halo

 

Battlefield 1942 Desert Combat Mod

 

Painkiller

 

Battlefield Vietnam

 

Sims 2

 

City of Heroes

 

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

 

Code Creatures Pro

 

Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness

 

Colin McRae Rally 4 Demo

 

Tron 2.0

 

Command & Conquer Generals

 

Unreal Engine 3

 

Doom3

 

Warhammer Dawn of War

 

Far Cry

 

3DMark 2003 Gold

 

Ground Control 2

 

3DMark 2005 Gold

 

Half Life 2

 

This list of officially supported SLI games from nVidia is only going to get bigger as nVidia continues to work with gaming companies and helps them either implement SLI support into their games or work with them to increase SLI performance in their titles.

 

Editor's Note - While we've largely come to the defense of nVidia in this section, there is something which needs to be said to our readers. Midway through last year in an nVidia press meeting in Sydney, Australia we asked nVidia's Chief Scientist David Kirk if game companies would be required to release new patches for their game titles to take advantage of SLI and the answer was a clear and defined "No, all games will just work in SLI mode".

 

Clearly though isn't entirely true as not all games currently contain profiles in the nVidia drivers to tell the game to run in SLI. We as hardware reviewers around the world expected SLI to just work for all games and in part we let our readers down in our initial preview of SLI technology expecting the aforementioned from nVidia and as some of our (and others) recent testing showed, not all games gain benefit from the extra graphics card.

 

It was an ambitious comment at the time from David but let's just see what nVidia can do over the next few months with new driver releases as they are allowed more time to refine their SLI technology game support. Remember - progression over time!

 

Setting up an SLI system

 

There is more then just simply inserting the two graphics card into their own PCI E slot and having your SLI system up and running. For starters on the particular ASUS board we used there is a little module which looks like a SO-DIMM memory module that you have to insert the correct way so it makes use of both cards. Another thing is that the adapter (bridge) that goes across the top of the cards so that they can communicate together must be installed firmly.

 

 

While that sounds easy enough, when it comes to start installing the cards you can begin to get a headache as us and many have found. While we at first used the drivers that came with another brands retail cards that are SLI Approved, every time we changed the resolution when running SLI the system would crash. We ended up finally jumping across to some beta drivers (71.40) which finally gave us a clean and stable setup.

 

 

It's not that it's hard to setup but frustrating at times when you used official drivers that say they support SLI but far from work as you would expect.

 

 

 

Find the lowest price on SLI supported Graphics Cards!

 

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