SLI: Separating The Haves From The Have Nots?

You’ve heard the stories about SLI and how it’s supposed to crank up video performance bigtime. This article isn’t going to be about that.

Rather, it’s about the dilemna hardware sites are going to face when this happens.

Just how are they going to test equipment from now on?

In the past, benchmarking has usually been done with the biggest and the best, and if only a few actually bought the top-end CPU, at least overclockers could approximate the results.

SLI will be a rather different story. I may be wrong, but I don’t think most of you are going to lay out $800+ for a video array.

If you don’t, then any gaming benchmarking done with one is going to be pretty useless to you.

One can always say someone testing can do the tests both ways, but that might be a little tricky, and at best will double the time any group of tests will take, which in many cases will effectively half the testing people will be able to do with loaned equipment.

It would be one thing if half the audience went SLI and the other half didn’t, but what if the numbers are more like 5%/95%? Do you cut down on the information you provide to the 95% to make the other 5% happy?

It’s very easy to say, “Just work more,” but if your boss told you, “You’re going to have to work eighty hours a week from now on, same pay,” I doubt you’d so easily agree.

It’s not so much an issue for us, but for those who essentially only do hardware reviews, they’re going to have to make a choice between either writing off the 5% or 95%, test both less, or take twice as long to do a review than they do now.

That in-and-of-itself is bad enough, but SLI could be the first instance of pitting the interests of the haves against those of the have-nots. Dual cores may be next.

It’s one thing to review products that eventually will become affordable to most members of the audience, but what happens if that no longer is the case.

Will “Have Vs. Have-Not” become just as much a rivalry as Intel vs. AMD?

Or will hardware sites just get SLI etc., into their hot little hands, test just using that, and not even notice that they’re relegating most of their audience to fanciful window shopping?

It’s an interesting problem.


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