IntroductionI wrote a fair bit about SLI on its launch, covering the theory, performance of the three GPU pairings (there's now four, look out for a re-evaluation of the whole shooting match in the future) and how you put it all together in a working system. At the time, ASUS's A8N-SLI was my weapon of choice, but only by default. The Taiwanese giant was the only vendor able to provide boards that worked well enough for evaluation, to press. That's not to say they were really suitable; early revisions of the board, and especially its BIOS, were shockingly bad in places.
The time between launch and now has been filled with a myriad of BIOS revisions, driver improvements for the graphics cards and the general retail availability of nForce4-based SLI mainboards at web retailers world-wide.
Now that time has passed, it's time to have a peek at SLI mainboards from various vendors and see how they stack up after having had a chance to mature. The A8N-SLI has had a recent BIOS revision that does a lot to solve its initial problems, tightening up stability especially when actually using SLI, and being ASUS, it's got more built-in and bundled features than I've had hot dinners.
Its nemesis for this article is DFI's LanParty UT nF4 SLI-D. DFI have their SLI board in a trio of configurations from the bundle-heavy nF4 SLI-DR, complete with Front-X ports, carry strap and diagnostic LED system on the mainboard, to the lite LanLartyUT SLI-D, which is the DR without the extra Silicon Image Sil3114 controller.
So stripped down DFI versus Deluxe ASUS, in the first SLI mainboard shootout to come over the next few months at HEXUS. Let's look at the boards in more detail, starting with the ASUS.
Some words of warning before you continue: Some of the pages are very image heavy. I apologise to our readers with slower net connections. You might want to use the drop-down menu at the bottom of the page to skip the BIOS pages (pages 5 and 9) if you have to suffer a slow connection.