Deal of the week: Intel SLI on the cheap

— 3:40 PM on January 5, 2007

Although building a cheap multi-GPU system around an AMD processor is a piece of cake, things are a little trickier on the Intel front. CrossFire support is now available on some Intel P965 boards, but there's historically been a dearth of good, cheap Intel boards with SLI support. Excluding a few offerings based on Nvidia's nForce 570 SLI Intel Edition chipset, which we found to be woefully inadequate, those looking to build an Intel SLI system generally have to pay quite a bit more than their Athlon-equipped counterparts.

Luckily, Nvidia recently added a cheaper model to its nForce 600i chipset lineup dubbed the nForce 650i SLI. The 650i SLI is based on the same C55 chip as the very capable nForce 680i SLI, although it only supports dual graphics cards in an x8/x8 PCI Express lane configuration. Still, Asus has introduced a motherboard known as the P5N-E SLI based on this new chipset, and we've noticed that the board is now available around the $140 mark at stores like ZipZoomFly and Mwave. If you're comfortable with less popular online retailers, you can even find the board for as little as $131.

Chipset and SLI support aside, the Asus P5N-E SLI features five Serial ATA ports (including one eSATA port,) two IDE channels, FireWire, and passive cooling. Early reviews of the board seem quite favorable, although some do complain of memory support hiccups that still need to be ironed out. Nevertheless, the board definitely looks like an attractive solution for Intel users looking to build an SLI rig on the cheap.

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