Page 7 of 7 - Conclusions
It isn't very often we can conclude an article by simply saying that the numbers speak for themselves, but in this particular instance it's actually largely true. The big positive to take out of our results is that, out of the eight big-name titles tested here today, each and every one saw some level of performance increase from using two boards in an SLI configuration, which bodes well for future SLI support from NVIDIA's driver team. On top of that, the level of performance scaling seen when using two GeForce 8800 GT 512MB boards in tandem was often quite impressive, with performance frequently boosted quite substantially.
Of course, we've also seen some downsides to splashing the cash on an SLI configuration. For starters, when you're CPU limited you're CPU limited, and no amount of GPU rendering will improve performance in this kind of situation - it was actually quite surprising to see us running into CPU limitations on occasion at 1920x1080 without anti-aliasing enabled, which is quite a high resolution in itself, but that's exactly what we saw. If you aren't planning on gaming at high resolutions with the AA cranked up, then SLI often won't net you much in the way of performance gains.
Perhaps more importantly, our testing has seen further proof (if any were needed) that two 512MB boards in SLI don't give you a 1GB frame buffer - in particular, Crysis at high settings and high resolution is a poster boy for heavy frame buffer usage, a state of affairs which struck down both our single and SLI GeForce 8800 GT configurations without prejudice. In other words, if your chosen gaming settings are exhausting the amount of video memory available to you, then adding another board in SLI simply won't help you at all. Maybe someday soon we'll get our hands on two 1GB GeForce 8800 GT parts in SLI to see how that shapes up at high resolution.
Overall then, we were really quite impressed as to what the GeForce 8800 GT had to offer in SLI - Good compatibility, matched with some excellent performance gains. Certainly, given the choice between two of these parts in SLI and one single GPU solution that was twice as powerful, I'd pick the latter every time, but as discussed in our introduction we're fast approaching a situation where such large performance boosts from a single GPU core is a thing of a past. When we finally reach that barrier, and provided NVIDIA's driver development team (and indeed developer relations) can keep pace with new game releases, SLI is not only here to stay, but it's also maturing quite nicely.
Many thanks to ASUS for providing samples for this article
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