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ASUS Extreme Dual N7800GT
There’s no denying that the whole world is going dual. Most top-of-the-line brand new PCs will sport dual-core CPUs this year and if you’re really serious about gaming, two graphics cards are a must. The main problem with two graphics cards however is noise. The boys in green and red are having a hard time keeping the fan noise on their single cards down to an acceptable level, let alone two. As anyone who has two graphics cards in their system will tell you - fast they may be but quiet they ‘ain’t’.
Noise then, is one of the benefits of this quite simply gargantuan card from Asus. It’s quite massive, measuring 245 x 130mm, so you’d better be sure you can fit it into your case before considering it. It’s this large because of the large heatsink and fan and extra power requirements from the two 7800 GT GPUs that Asus had mounted onto the PCB. Of course it’s not a new idea. 3Dfx did it ‘Back-in-the-day’ in 2001 with its ill-fated Voodoo 5 5500 sporting dual VSA-100 chips, ATI flirted with it with its Rage Fury Maxx and recently Gigabyte reinvigorated the genre with its 3D1, which featured two GeForce 6600GTs.
With two 7800GTs the Asus is a much more attractive proposition, though you can’t help but wish it was two 7800 GTX cards instead. It’s likely though that the power requirements for those two cards were simply too much for one board, at least on the current generation micron process.
The other frustration is that you can’t (officially) put two together to form a quad SLI system. However, the reason it doesn't work is because nVidia want it that way and its drivers prevent two of these cards working together. There are reports that using the driver supplied by Asus on the CD, quad SLI will work, but as we don't have two of them we can't confirm this for ourselves. However, even where it has been made to work, BSODs, on screen image corruption, and i some cases poorer performance than just one Dual card have been reported, so it's clear that without offical support from nVidia the quad-SLI that nVidia is custom making for Dell is the only way you’ll get your usable four GPU loving.
The Asus is also guaranteed to work in a rather limited number of motherboards, which are listed on the Asus web site. Nine of these are Asus, there’s one DFI and one Gigabyte, so the list is hardly exhaustive if you didn’t want to go with Asus.