3-Way SLI Is Here In A Big Way

Article Index
3-Way SLI Is Here In A Big Way
TRi-SLi and 8800GTX Action
TRi-SLI System Build and Testing
Real Gameplay Tri-SLI Testing

Products: 3x 8800GTX, 780i SLI Motherboard
Provided by: MemoryExpress, Astrofox
Price: Motherboard & Graphics ~ $2000+


nVidia has been the top dog when it comes to graphics cards for a long time.  How does a company like nVidia improve upon their dominance?  They market a working triple card SLI (Scalable Link Interface) solution.  Previously the SLI platform only had the ability to link together two cards, but the technology behind it supported more; although it was never available.  With the recent launch of the AMD CrossfireX solution that enables up to four video cards to work in unison, nVidia upped the ante by providing there three-card solution - in a working package.  We showed you a sneak peak of the board, the bridge and the BIOS earlier this month, and now we bring you 3-Way SLI in action.


What You Need to Make It Happen:

We could have started this section off with a short little title like - "Platform Requirements", but in reality you need more than a platform.  You need lots and lots of money.  This platform doesn't come cheap as to really take advantage of it you will need a 780i SLI board that supports 3 - PCIe 16x slots and three 8800GTX or 8800Ultra graphics cards to populate them.  All of this graphics hardware would be pointless with an E4300 powering it, so could on dropping a bunch of money on a high-end Quad-Core CPU, or at least plan on overclocking your CPU to take advantage of this graphics setup.  You should also be prepared to have 4GB of DDR2 on hand and of course Windows Vista x64.

Let's take a look at what it could cost you to setup a nice 3-Way SLI system.  You may not agree with our hardware choices, but we believe that these represent what the hardcore user (only a handful will likely invest in TRi-SLi) would spend on hardware.

  • 780i SLI Motherboard - Pre-orders available from $259USD.
  • 3x 8800GTX Graphics Cards - $539USD.
  • (or) 3x 8800 Ultra Graphics Cards - $639USD.
  • Intel Q6600 Processor - $289USD.
  • Thermalright Ultra-120 HSF w/Fan $80USD.
  • 2x 500GB HDDs (RAID 0) - $200USD.
  • 4GB DDR2-1066 (4x 1GB) - $300USD.
  • Windows Vista x64 Ultimate OEM - $199USD.
  • 1000W PSU - $229USD.
  • Case, ODD, Misc. - $150USD.


Total cost of TRi-SLi = $3323USD (est.)

While you may very well be able to score hardware cheaper and probably already have some of the hardware required, the price list is pretty steep, and very restrictive.  Only 8800GTX and 8800Ultra cards are currently supported.

That being said, let's take a quick peek at the board before we talk about the 780i chipset and 3-Way SLI in more detail.

 Full Board
Full Board
 Slots And Chips
Slots And Chips


The following information has been pulled from the nVidia page here

NVIDIA nForce® 780i SLI™ media and communications processors (MCPs) are the foundation for the world's ultimate gaming PC. Maximize your rig's performance with 3-way SLI technology, achieve ultimate control with the real time component monitoring and tuning features the first platform designed for ESA-certified components, and experience phenomenal DirectX® 10 gaming with the best platform for GeForce GPUs.

Maximize Your Rig's Performance
Get as much as 2.8x the performance of a single card configuration with support for 3-way NVIDIA® SLI™ technology. Play the latest DirectX® 10 games at mind-blowing frame rates and resolutions for an unmatched gaming experience.

Achieve Ultimate Control
Real-time component monitoring and tuning features give you complete control over your PC. Maximize your PC's performance through an immersive, all-in-one, 3D system monitor application.

Spectacular DirectX 10 Gaming Experience
Up your game by pairing NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI with three NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX or GeForce 8800 Ultra graphics cards and experience next generation DirectX® 10 games the way they're meant to be played.


Designed for NVIDIA® SLI™ technology
NVIDIA SLI technology is a revolutionary platform innovation that allows you to intelligently scale graphics performance by combining multiple NVIDIA graphics solutions in a single system with an NVIDIA nForce SLI MCP. New support for 3-way SLI technology provides up to 2.4x performance increase so you can play the latest next generation applications at mind-blowing framerates and resolutions.

Support for ESA
Provides real-time and complete PC performance management. Tested by a comprehensive certification program for system compatibility and reliability, ESA-certified components and applications bring you unprecedented control to manage and tune thermal, electrical, acoustic and operating characteristics to maximize your PC's performance. For more information, visit www.nvidia.com/esa

NVIDIA Control Panel
NVIDIA Control Panel allows you to take full advantage of ESA. Easily adjust PC characteristics for maximum performance. Features NVIDIA System Monitor, so you can seamlessly monitor characteristics in an intuitive and customizable 3D environment.

PCI Express 2.0 Support
Designed to support the new PCI Express 2.0 bus architecture, offering a future-proofing bridge to tomorrow's most bandwidth-hungry games and 3D applications by maximizing 5 GT/s of bandwidth (twice that of first generation PCI Express). PCI Express 2.0 motherboards are fully backwards compatible with existing PCI Express products for broad support of PC peripherals.

NVIDIA MediaShield™ Storage
Suite of features that safeguards your most important digital media assets; always reliable, scalable, and accessible. Includes support for RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 configurations and up to six SATA 3Gb/s drives.

NVIDIA FirstPacket™ technology
Be the 'King of Ping' with NVIDIA FirstPacket technology. Get the crystal-clear phone conversations and online gaming performance you expect. NVIDIA FirstPacket technology assures your game data, VoIP conversations, and large file transfers are delivered according to preferences set by you in an intuitive wizard.

High Definition Audio (HDA)
High definition audio brings consumer electronics quality sound to the PC delivering high quality sound from multiple channels. Using HDA, systems can deliver 192 kHz/32-bit quality for eight channels, supporting new audio formats.



780i SLI Specs

On the next page we'll look at the graphics card end of things as we build the system and then begin testing.