Quad SLI reviewed

Ronald already caught this in the 'bread, but the story deserves a little extra attention. The folks at X-bit labs and techPowerUp! have both published early reviews of NVIDIA's Quad SLI graphics cards. The cards tested are the same extra-long GeForce 7900 GX2 models expected to appear in systems from manufacturers like Alienware and Voodoo PC later this month, so the reviews should give us a pretty good idea of what can be expected from those machines. Both sites tested in resolutions up to 2560x1600 with an NVIDIA Quad SLI machine running against an ATI CrossFire setup with a pair of ATI Radeon X1900 XTX graphics cards. Unsurprisingly, the CrossFire and Quad SLI setups are roughly even when running in lower resolutions, and Quad SLI generally doesn't distance itself from the pack until it's run at resolutions above 1600x1200 with 8X antialiasing. However, the CrossFire setup isn't all that far behind at the highest resolution and AA settings, and it even posts higher frame rates in a few instances. Some games, including Half-Life 2 and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, are also slower with Quad SLI regardless of the settings used.

Along with the inconsistent performance, Quad SLI also seems to be plagued with stability and compatibility problems. techPowerUp! suffered continuous blue screens while trying to install ForceWare drivers for the cards, and X-bit labs details rendering issues with Quad SLI's 32xS AA mode in Doom 3, Quake 4, Serious Sam 2, and Chronicles of Riddick. Other games misbehaved at normal settings, too, with Call of Duty 2 often freezing after resolution changes, Far Cry bugging out at 2560x1600, and Battlefield 2 refusing to start altogether. Both sites also suffered from random miscellaneous system crashes and freezes throughout testing. At first, X-bit labs attributed this to their test system's 660W Enermax power supply, but the problems persisted even after putting in a 1,000W unit. Both sites do praise Quad SLI's technical merits, but there appear to be issues with the current implementation. Let's hope some updated drivers and the rumored GeForce 7950 GX2 retail Quad SLI cards fare better.

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