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Yesterday Dell announced its quad 7800GTX SLI motherboard, but is such a monstrosity something to really value, or is it the ultimate White Elephant?

When Michael Dell and Jen-Hsun Huang stood up in front of CES together and announced the Dell XPS 600 Renegade, a product manager for a major motherboard manufacturer began to laugh hysterically.  Dual 7800GTX video cards are nothing new -- I was shown several prototypes back in October.  Putting two of those cards in an SLI configuration is something that has been feasible for several months, but only on beta or severely hacked drivers.  NVIDIA's partnership with Dell means they will now need to provide quad SLI support inside the core Detonator drivers, or release specific drivers for these systems.  The first option leaves the possibility for some interesting driver hacks, the second option might not be practical depending on the actual volume of these systems.

But pragmatically looking at the performance of such a system, what can we really expect?  Many modern games only receive a 40% performance boost by putting 7800GT cards into dual SLI mode at modest resolutions, like 2048x1536.  Dual 7800GTX cards receive only about a 33% performance boost in the same benchmarks, but out of the gate a single 7800GTX out performs two 7800GT cards in SLI.

Diminishing returns is already apparent with only two high performance 7800GTX cards, and there are similar results elsewhere for 7800GTX 512MB cards.  Although there is no claim anywhere that this new XPS Renegade will be a mainstream system, hopefully we see more innovative and efficient (maybe even quiet) systems from the world's largest PC manufacturer, rather than another dirty hack to grab headlines... Fortunately Dell just released their 3007FPW to calm our tensions.





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