Noise and ThoughtsNoise The Gigabyte 3D1 may have two fans to cool it, but you won't really notice it - Cooling performance is quiet at all times, and certainly seemed to be no louder th...
Noise and Thoughts
Noise The Gigabyte 3D1 may have two fans to cool it, but you won't really notice it - Cooling performance is quiet at all times, and certainly seemed to be no louder than a single NVIDIA reference 6600GT.
Thoughts Before I even touch on the real-world feasibility of the 3D1, I have to say this - The technology is cool. No matter how logically you try to look at it, the fact that you have a single video card with the power of two cores is simply drool-worthy, even more so when you imagine the potential of doing this with higher-end GPUs like the 6800GT or (heaven forbid, considering the cooling solution and power you'd require) Ultra. I remember the disappointments of the Rage Fury Maxx and XGI Volari Duo well, two boards which made it seem that a modern day dual core GPU was almost in the realms of impossibility. But Gigabyte have taken a chance, thrown caution to the wind and produced an outstanding piece of technology - And even better, it actually works! Sure, this is just a different flavour of SLI, but it has opened the door to a new plain of possibilities, and that is a very good thing indeed.
Of course, before I spend too long waxing lyrical, it should be pointed out that it isn't all fantastic news for the 3D1. The biggest issue which will irk many is, of course, that of motherboard compatibility. If it is indeed the case that only Gigabyte motherboards with the requisite BIOS can support this card, then the market for the board is cut drastically, and leaves options for those who buy the 3D1 very limited indeed when it comes to that next motherboard upgrade. Perhaps as time goes by we will see a board that will happily sit on any nForce4 (or, indeed any PCI Express capable) motherboard and work without issue. I certainly hope so, I would say it is almost a requirement for this kind of technology to gain the foothold it requires alongside the more conventional method of SLI.
Aside from that, the question as to whether the Gigabyte 3D1 is a worthy purchase leaves us with the same question as purchasing two 6600GTs in SLI - Is it better to get two 6600GTs for your money, or a single 6800GT. From our benchmark results here, that seems to vary on what settings you intend to game at - The 3D1 often seems to have the upper hand in scenarios where raw power is required, but throw anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering into the mix, especially at high resolutions, and suddenly the 6800GT and particularly the 256MB of dedicated memory for the GPU it offers seems a much more sensible proposition. The answer to this question will also depend upon the price at which the 3D1 makes it to UK retail - We've been informed that this card, when bundled with the GA-K8NXP-SLI motherboard, will weigh in at ?21 + VAT, which may be enough to tempt many users into going down this route. And they most likely won't be disappointed if they do so.
In the end, the 3D1 is an exciting alternative route into the SLI dimension - The technology has often been touted as giving users an opportunity to buy a single board and then throw in a second when they need the extra power, but if you don't intend on doing that and would rather jump straight into an SLI configuration, this could be the ideal way to do it.
Pros Two 6600GTs - On a single card!
Around 6800GT performance
Small but good games bundle
ConsVery limited motherboard compatibility
A single 6800GT may still be a better buy
Thanks Gigabyte for the sample