Product: NFORCE4 SLI Mainboard
Series: K8SLIManufacturer: Albatron
MSRP: 140 USD
You know, when NVIDIA released their SLI functionality at first I was a little skeptic. Although I could see the potential of this 'combined effort' plus the warm fuzzy 3dfx feeling that I got from that 1997 era, I was a little afraid that if things where not handled properly by NVIDIA we'd soon run into compatibility issues. When we first reviewed a SLI graphics card setup most of my worries were quite frankly vaporized and I consigned to the fact that undeniably SLI was going to grow big and popular.
We are now a year past launch and pretty much anyone on this globe that knows a little about computers and can go first base with it also knows what SLI is. That's how powerful NVIDIA marketed this function. Now one year later we also see that the small issues there were a year ago are slowly phasing out.
Mainboard wise in my humble opinion, a couple of things were a little nasty with SLI. The first was driver compatibility with games. Well NVIDIA surely solved most of that. Secondly that weird SLI card you needed to switch on the mainboard if you wanted to enable SLI, which quite honestly made me feel we were going back to the Jurassic era. Finally the price of a new SLI setup was rather high, as you needed two graphics cards, a new PSU and a new mainboard.
Albatron decided to ease the pain a little. They introduced a mainstream SLI mainboard based on the NFORCE 4 SLI chipset that is quite affordable and offers more than enough of functionality versus excellent performance. With this board, one of my wishes finally came true... as stated you need to enable SLI mode on the mainboard if you are using two GeForce graphics card in a SLI setup, which normally can be done with that little SLI card that sits securely on your mainboard and needs to be be flipped around. Some manufacturers ditched that SLI card and allow that change from the BIOS or even automatically. Albatron is such a company and this mainboard has a digital switch, you seriously don't have to do a thing. Lovin' it!
There's a lot more to this mainboard then just SLI though, the Albatron k8SLI is a very compact NFORCE4 SLI mainboard that offers a lot for its relatively small size and price. Gigabit network Ethernet, 5.1 channel audio controller (with even an SPDIF out), two free 32 bit PCI slots, as well as two PCI Express x1 and PCI Express x16 slots and the standard assortment of Serial ATA and IDE connectors.
So with the Albatron box styled in an Army/Camouflage packaging and the slogan: "Desire for 2," let's see how well this mainboard works and performs.