NVIDIA's nForce4 SLI Intel Edition chipset


The green team dips its toe in the big pond
— 12:00 AM on April 8, 2005

CORE LOGIC CHIPSETS. I've spent the last six days knee deep in 'em, those unappreciated chips that glue everything together inside of a system. Back in my Amiga days, the core logic chips were stars, a constellation of sexy custom chips that provided what was then considered amazing audio and fluid, colorful graphics. But that was long ago. Nowadays, core logic chips aren't considered very exciting, except by what they enable the more exciting chips, like CPUs and GPUs, to do. Fortunately, the nForce4 SLI Intel Edition's would-be role as an enabler is quite the proposition: this chipset will allow a Pentium 4 processor to team up with a pair of GeForce 6 GPUs in SLI mode and pump out tasty eye candy by the bucketload.

That capability is currently unique in the Pentium 4 chipset world, in part because NVIDIA holds the reins of the SLI bandwagon, and—for perfectly valid technical reasons, mind you—the company hasn't allowed its multi-GPU mode to operate on competing chipsets, even though SLI depends almost entirely on PCI Express in order to work.

Armed with the SLI bludgeon and a quiver bulging with marketing names like ActiveArmor, MediaShield, DASP, and QuickSync, NVIDIA has decided to cross over from the AMD market into the foreign, and much larger, territory of Intel-compatible chipsets. The nForce4 has not been without its growing pains, but it still dominates the enthusiast motherboard scene for the Athlon 64. Is the nForce4 SLI Intel Edition good enough to stand toe to toe with Intel's 925XE? We're about to find out.

   
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