SLI - is it worth it yet?

Just reading this thread and it struck me that I now own a 7800 GT* and a PCI-X system… It also struck me that the vid card itself really wasn’t that expensive.

So, is it worth it? Did they iron out the crap that the first generation SLI systems had? Does it work with every game now?

The one benchmark I found with a cursory google suggested that FPS went from 70odd to 100odd in one particular test, but that’s just one…

  • (Nice new Oblivion system currently in the shop due to repeating Machine Check Exception bluescreens - the reason I am posting and not playing.)

Let me put it like this…I added a second BFG Geforce 7800 GT OC card, and the difference, especially in games like Oblivion, FEAR and Doom 3 is very, very apparent.

UNFORTUNATELY, I can’t get the damned thing to stop artifacting. After about 10 minutes of play, the screen begins tearing and then locks up. This problem only began after I went SLI. And this is with a 510 watt, high quality PSU.

I’ve been told to make sure the cards use the same BIOS (they are not at the moment) but I can’t find where BFG keeps their damned BIOS updates.

So…if you can get it stable… absolutely.

The local screwdriver shop I bought my PC from kind of grimaced when I told them that my 7800 GT was a BFG model. Apparently they’ve gone through quite a few defective BFG 6600GTs. I’ve since exchanged it with a eVGA 7800 GT, which has the same MCE problem.

But, that said - it’s possible that BFG has a quality control problem. You sure it’s not just one of the cards being bad?

Both cards work fine independently. Something is borked on the SLI side.

I just need to find where I can download the damned BIOS update.

Just copy the bios off one and flash the other with it.

“Just copy the bios off one and flash the other with it.”

Can you explain, in very tiny words, the process? I didn’t know that was possible.

One other point about SLI related to the original question- be sure you won’t be processor limited if you throw down the money for an extra card.

I have 2 x 6800 Ultra Golden Samples… and I would say … NO, its not worth it.
too much hassle, not enough gain, does’nt work in windowed mode, some games dont work with it anyway.

I don’t want to derail the thread, but someone on another forum suggested that for the artifacting I do the following:

  1. Take off the side of my rig
  2. Blow a fan directly onto the cards to see if it is a thermal problem.

It looks like this may be the problem. Usually the rig locks up/artifacts within 5 minutes of play. I’ve been running it for about 20minutes in FEAR without a hitch. Now I’ll just need to figure out how to increase the cooling in my machine. I’m not about to leave the case open with a 24’ fan blowing into the interior.

I knew it wasn’t worth it for a 6600 or 6800 SLI, but I know the equation changes a bit when you’re looking at a 7800 GT or 7900 GT system.

As for CPU limits, I’m hoping I’ll be ok for a while with an X2 4200.

You’ll do fine. My processor is a 4000+.

Again, the increases in games like Call of Duty 2, Oblivion, Doom 3, FEAR, and other games has been dramatic. In each I was able to move up by at least one resolution and enable AA and most of the “high” or “max” details. If the system stabilizes I’ll be very happy.

Also, while it is true that only certain games support SLI, the list is extensive and includes almost every new heavy-hitting title, as well as a solid library of older titles:

http://www.slizone.com/object/slizone2_game.html

Obviously many games have no need for the extra power of SLI.

Looking at some reviews, the 6800 SLI still manages playable framerate in titles at high resolutions, but I’ve stopped trying to get performance out of my equipment and am just happy it works. Maybe I’m turning into a console gamer after all. :-)

However, I did want to buy a 7900 GTX (or GX, whichever is fastest) SLi setup, but I could’nt find the OCZ 620W MODStream ™ psu available here in isolated cartoon Norway.

Have you considered the ATI SLi solution, CrossFire (Somehow I think about CNN when I hear that…)? Its first generation (from what I gather) so I guess it needs some time to mature before its ready for mass consumption.

Edit:
You should also consider if you want to fund the next generation of consumer unfriendly media (BlueRay) by waiting with your purchase until HDCP Licensend and Compatible devices are made available, requiring you to not only buy a new video card but also video cables, new monitor, operating system and new *ROM reader.

Course, you could just decide that, Decrypt-Schmecrypt and stick with your regulard CSS DVD compatible setup and buy the SLi hardware right now.

OOC:
Funny how I have yet to see a single Media Center review mention the fact that they’ll be incompatible with next generation DVDs (which are already starting to appear now). Thought they are currently only for the innovators in the market and those are usually well informed (or fanbois) of the terrain they are venturing into, even though you one day later will find an article about “HD DVD IS HERE NOW!” which also does not mention HDCP at all… :-\

I have a single 7900GT and honestly, I can’t see much reason for SLI. I can run 1600x1200 with AF enabled at smooth frame rates in every game I have. (I don’t see much benefit from AA in games at 1600x1200.) But I do have an SLI motherboard, so when the next-gen games start pushing even the 7900GT, I can drop in a second card.

(Of course, I won’t, since by then I’ll want some spiffy new DX10 card, so I’ll just sell the 7900GT…)

On my MCE PC, I briefly dropped in a second 6600GT to get the frame rates up in more demanding games. But buying a 7600GT buys me the same speed as a pair of 6600GTs, plus better compatibility, and the price is actually less since you can sell the original 6600GT.

Also, if you run a dual-monitor setup, you have to enable/disable SLI every time you switch from productivity stuff to gaming.

In short, unless you need ludicrous performance now (say, 4xAA 16xAF on a Dell 2405), SLI’s more a “bragging rights” thing than anything else.

There’s a workaround for it, but you have to have a free PCI slot. You install a third, non-Nvidia, PCI video card and use that to drive your second monitor.

Crossfire just isn’t close to worth it right now. An extra 50-100 bucks for a “master” card, and ATI is still ironing out driver issues.

My view is SLI is only worth it if you’re trying to put together a truly high-end gaming rig and you don’t mind committing to either ATI or nVidia and you’re willing to endure all the potential issues with compatability, drivers, heat, power consumption, etc. At the low-to-mid-range end, you’re better off sticking with a single PCIe video card, IMHO.

Someday they may iron out all the issues with SLI, but we’re not there yet. And I think it’s too expensive and tempermental for the average gamer.

Just slightly less of a workaround than saying “buy a separate computer and use WinVNC or that nifty Stardock one”.

Since SLI does’nt work in windowed mode (not for me anyway) in an application, why not let you use dual monitors while windowzing, and switch to SLI automagically when launching a 3D FullScreen title.

Seems like a more customer friendly option to me.

I find it anoying to have to manually switch between the two every time I want to use both monitors; Speaking of which; does anyone know if there is a way to have a shortcut on the desktop, or otherwise a shortcut; that I can click on to enable/disable SLI without having to go through the display control panel route…?

I didn’t really do any research before I got my dual 6600 system and I regret it. I should have gotten a single 7800 for about the same price instead. I about flipped out when I saw there was no SLI bridge, but apparently the low end cards like the 6600 do SLI via software, which of course is slower. It’s all good though. I already plan on getting a better single card (upgrading to dual cards down the road) and letting my dad have the dual 6600s when he decides to upgrade.

At least it wasn’t an expensive mistake.