Now as I was saying, you can use the board with two graphics cards, much like some of the new VIA chipsets. But as nVidia has certified its drivers for Intel chipsets, it is possible to run the GA-8I915P Dual Graphic in SLi mode. There is an if though – a big if – and that is that you need to have an SLi bridge connecter. However, as this isn’t an official SLi board, in doesn’t ship with one. The bridge connector doesn’t ship with graphics cards either so the only place you can get one is from another SLi motherboard.
The other problem is that the board only works with an set of old beta drivers that Gigabyte supplies on a CD. The problem with this is that when you update the nVidia drivers, SLi will no longer work as the new drivers won’t detect the motherboard as SLi certified. This also means that there won’t be any support for the new games that nVidia has added to in its latest SLi drivers.
The problems don’t stop there as during the benchmarking of the board very few of the applications tested would actually work in SLi mode. Although this is most likely down to buggy drivers, I would go as far as to say that this implementation is a waste of time. If you want proper SLi and a Pentium 4 processor, wait for the new nVidia chipset which was previewed at IDF as it is a certified and working SLi solution. Kudos to Gigabyte for trying, but this is not a viable option for anyone looking at playing games in SLi mode.
However, if you plan to use two graphics cards for multi display purposes, there shouldn’t be any reason why this board shouldn’t be of interest to you. However, the review sample sent to us was not able to finish any of the standard benchmarks we use, which was disappointing to say the least. Hopefully this is something that Gigabyte will be able to sort out with a BIOS update. This doesn’t mean that standard applications won’t work, as benchmarks are very different to day to day applications.
The GA-8I915P Dual Graphic tries hard to do things that the chipset it is based on was never intended to do. While it’s good to see innovative moves by the motherboard manufacturers, this one doesn’t quite manage to do what it sets out to. The board doesn’t seem to be available for sale in the UK as yet, but a Euro pricing of €139.20 across the channel – plus postage – comes in at about £95.86. This is quite a lot of extra to pay for a second x16 PCI Express slot, as the GA-8I915P Duo, which has the same features bar the extra slot, can be found in the UK in the region of £80-85.
The GA-8I915P Dual Graphic is a novel idea from Gigabyte but sadly it doesn’t quite work as well Gigabyte intended it to. The all important SLi bridge is missing out of the box, so even with the special drivers, SLi isn’t possible unless you can acquire one elsewhere.
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