Graphics Not for Everyone
Quad SLI implies that users get four premium graphics processors that should allow them to attain very high speeds. It means that users have to buy four graphics chips with memory that could sell for $500 per single graphics card. Obviously, quad SLI solution will be extremely expensive – about $2000 for a graphics sub-system.
But quad SLI is not meant to be inexpensive. It is meant to offer something that nothing else can and make owners of such technologies feel like the owners of Ferrari or Lamborghini, luxurious sports cars. Very few people can afford those automobiles and considerably more can acquire less expensive mass-produced sport cars and tune them to performance that is not significantly below the cost of a new Ferrari. Still, being an owner of black Lamborghini should bring a totally different feeling than being an owner of a blue Nissan. The same applies to quad SLI: perhaps, some graphics cards may perform truly well, but the quad should perform faster.
Historically, there were premium-class graphics sub-systems: two Voodoo2 in scan-line interleaving (SLI) mode, GeForce 2 Ultra, Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition, GeForce 7800 GTX 512 SLI and so on. However, they did not cost $2000 and the price-point is the main feature that distinguishes Nvidia’s quad SLI from all the other solutions.
However, such a high price-point needs several justifications and the main one is the best possible experience of a premium-class product:
- It is outperforming all the rest graphics sub-systems on the market.
- It offers something which the rest simply cannot.
- It does not have any issues with the drivers or the software.
- It is quiet.
- Owners of it must not experience any kind of issues – hardware-related, software-related or anything-else-related.
At the end, quad SLI must be the best of the best.
Nvidia is trying very hard to offer quad SLI in the best possible way: through system integrators, even though it continuously emphasizes that someday quad SLI-featuring computer will be assembled at home. Selling quad SLI now through system makers is conditioned by several factors:
- Quad SLI graphics sub-system should be power hungry and system integrators should definitely ensure that it is supplied with enough of power.
- Quad SLI has four fans and requires proper air flows inside computer cases: system integrators should make sure that the system has appropriate cooling, yet, is not too noisy.
- Finally, tech support of system integrators can address individual problems of their customers, making the overall quad SLI experience more pleasant.
But what system integrators cannot improve is performance in games, the lack of any problems with the drivers, the lack of any issues with the games and so on, something, which has to be addressed by Nvidia.
At the moment Nvidia does allow to sell GeForce 7900 quad SLI systems to end-users, however, they say, it does not allow system integrators to let the press to benchmark the systems for some reason. Nevertheless, it was reported in the media that some members of the press are still permitted to review the quad SLI systems as a ready-to-go personal computers, which means that the articles about quad SLI should contain a lot of information about the systems and some benchmarks of the GeForce 7900 quad SLI, which once again emphasizes that the potential customers will get reviews of “quad SLI experience”, not just pure numbers.
Being a technology-related web-site, X-bit labs decided to skip the system part of the GeForce 7900 quad SLI preview and do a classic technology research (even though, a bit shortened for several reasons), something which FHM or Playboy magazines do not typically do.