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jmke 4th January 2006 10:52

nForce4 SLI Motherboards: Premium Performance at a Bargain Price
We reviewed a few nForce4 SLI motherboards several months ago and found that while SLI was very promising, it was a technology that still needed to mature. We also found the motherboards to be immature and required a great deal of tweaking in order to extract the best possible performance and stability from the platform. In addition, the cost of the motherboards was at the premium end of the pricing scale along with limited availability from the board suppliers.

Since that time, NVIDIA's SLI technology has not only matured a great deal, but recently evolved with the release of the nForce4 SLI X16 platform. The availability of SLI motherboards is now widespread from most manufacturers and you will find more nForce4 SLI offerings than nForce4 Ultra products. Along with this is the widespread availability of SLI capable video cards that cover everything from the 6600LE to the Quadro FX4500 GPU chipsets making SLI a mainstream choice now.

In fact, with ATI also embracing the multiple GPU solution in their recently released ATI CrossFire platform and Intel with official support for ATI CrossFire in their 975X chipset, we see this type of technology being mainstream for the foreseeable future. Although ATI CrossFire offers an excellent alternative to NVIDIA SLI, until there is widespread availability of the ATI Radeon Xpress 200 CrossFire motherboards, your best opportunity at this time for a multiple GPU solution lies with NVIDIA SLI. Not only is availability widespread, but the cost of entry has reduced significantly over the past few months. Decent nForce4 SLI boards now start in the US $70 range and run up to the US $250 range for the nForce4 SLI X16 boards. In fact, the current price structure almost ensures that your nForce4 purchase should be an SLI-capable motherboard.

Today, we are reviewing the Asus A8N-SLI Premium, Foxconn NF4SK8AA-8KRS, and Albatron K8SLI based on the NVIDIA nForce4 SLI chipset. Asus's offering is an update to the A8N-SLI Deluxe and fits into their product line between the value segment A8N-SLI and flagship A8N32-SLI. Albatron's offering is their only nForce4 SLI product and is designed for the value segment. Foxconn's contribution is their value segment nForce4 SLI product with their upscale NF4SK8AA-8EKRS, offering an additional Gigabit Ethernet port, SI-3132 SATA II Raid, and IEEE-1394a support.

Let's see what these boards are capable of and if a premium price ensures premium performance.

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