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The Labyrinth of SLi


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Hello all ,

I own a Toshiba X200-192 SLi Ready with double 8600M GT /256 , 4GB RAM 667, 2x320HDD 7200rpm and a T7700 Core Duo @ 2.4GHz.

The last couple of months i was reading and reading more and more in laptopvideo2go, in nvidia site and everywhere i could find information

about SLi technology on laptops, about drivers, about everything that could make a gamer's life easier so finally i could say that i have setup

my laptop ready to face games and their needs.

The thing is that all the reading and the research i did is similar to a labyrinth , once you get in very hard you get out. You are misleaded,

get tricked, you listen people that maybe have knowledge or less familiar people that support different experiences and ideas and finally in

the end you don't know where to end up after all the research.

I know by now that my pc can handle games but of course everything depends on settings of your GPU usage, of your OS and much more behind it.

Where i want to reach is: I am watching all the new and newer drivers released here, and i would like to know which one should i choose after all, why to

choose a 180.XX and not a 176.XX or a 177.XX for example and all of these in order to avoid changing and rechanging drivers every week.

Is SLi really that supported or just a myth and barely needed when you dont have cards that are actually better than the 8600M GT , and if SLi is working how a simple gamer user

can make benefit from it with no overclocking or "harassing" his pc in order to push it more, but just to make it work correct and as it is supposed to be.

8600M GTs are a type of a card i heard that was theorytically defective by its nature, which is a rumour i read somewhere but not verified officially of course. Why is that ?

Maybe because of performance? Maybe because of people having problems with overheating while playing?

Why there are so many different answers to simple questions like SLi Mode: Single GPU and what this really means and how it works in action and not in theory.

Why there is noone from nvidia team or support that can verify what exactly those simple actions can bring on by selecting them?

Why when you install any 180.XX driver on the SLi laptop it keeps the SLi on and even if you change the SLi Mode to anything other than Single GPU the settings will not be saved?

Why AGEIA PhysX or as we know nowadays, Nvidia PhysX does not support the mobile nvidia 8600 when it is supposed in theory to support the 8xxx Series? And why in every other

driver than the 180.XX ones you see the PhysX checked on and when you install anything else (versionwise) you cant have PhysX support, is it really working or what?

Don't get me wrong by this post , but after so much reading i think i know so much but still i am here with full questions of what kind of actions i need to make my

laptop worth the money i spent on it when i bought it months ago.

Pretty much a common post for everyone here and i am not the only person posting something like that :) But drivers and how we use what we got in a pc makes

the difference and make us happy to enjoy our games.

Thanks in advance to everyone that will read this post and make some helpful comments or give some trustworthy answers that may help me get out of this Labyrinth :)

Best Regards

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To start on your questions:

- PhysX - Even if the control panel doesn?t display the function to turn it on or off it will still be working. (Only if you have installed physX drivers of course)

[The new 180 series drivers already incorporate PhysX]

- 8600m GT - I had this card in my XPS 1530. Very defective. I have been answering a lot of questions try and fix the issues that the 8600 GT has. There are a lot of quick fixes. But in the end the user has to replace the card/ motherboard. This is usually under warrantee. It?s a heat issue and the card under clocking itself is the end result.

Some companies don?t have this issue because they have better cooling. This helps.

- Money well spent - I don?t want to come out with bad news, but an 8600GT SLi is not a very good setup. The performance will be less than that of a single 8700GT card. In saying that my setup with 8700 GT SLi is not as good as one 8800GTX card. So, SLi is not a very good option unless you have money to burn, and want to have a laptop as a desktop replacement.

The next time I would only get SLi if I had the best GPU available at the time. (and if I felt the extra $500 sitting in my account was doing nothing better)

or if the GPU's were in MXM format and I could upgrade.

take a look at my links

For information about which driver to choose, performance based comp. http://forums.laptopvideo2go.com/index....5&hl=8700gt

and this link: http://forums.laptopvideo2go.com/index....showtopic=21425

I did some testing on my new-ish laptop to see if it was worth having SLi or not. Results detailed.

hope it helps

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To complement wook's post;

Where i want to reach is: I am watching all the new and newer drivers released here, and i would like to know which one should i choose after all, why to

choose a 180.XX and not a 176.XX or a 177.XX for example and all of these in order to avoid changing and rechanging drivers every week.

180.xx series bring better SLI support (atleast that's what NV says) and have various optimizations for Far Cry 2, but their overall performance should be a little decreased, comparing with 170's, for most users. I'd suggest to try 178.24 or 180.44 both by Dox as that's what works best for me, but as you probably have noticed already, notebooks come in countless amount of configurations and specifications and every single person will have another opinion on things and another driver they'd suggest, so the best option would be to simply test some drivers yourself and not follow others.

8600M GTs are a type of a card i heard that was theorytically defective by its nature, which is a rumour i read somewhere but not verified officially of course. Why is that ?

Maybe because of performance? Maybe because of people having problems with overheating while playing?

Yes, very many of the G86 and G84 chips are faulty, and NV did admit this officially, they ofcourse keep blaming everyone else - suppliers, packagers, OS, overclocking etc. The chips are having many various problems, mainly, but not limited to, overheating and causing BSOD's at random times. Just look at masses of posts at our Support Discussion section.

"Our products are complex and may contain defects or experience failures due to any number of issues in design, fabrication, packaging, materials and/or use within a system." [...] During our fiscal quarter ended July 27, 2008, we recorded a $196.0 million charge against cost of revenue to cover anticipated customer warranty, repair, return, replacement and other associated costs arising from a weak die/packaging material set in certain versions of our previous generation MCP and GPU products used in notebook systems. [...] We have worked with our customers to develop and have made available for download a software driver to cause the system fan to begin operation at the powering up of the system and reduce the thermal stress on these chips. We have also recommended to our customers that they consider changing the thermal management of the MCP and GPU products in their notebook system designs. We intend to fully support our customers in their repair and replacement of these impacted MCP and GPU products that fail, and their other efforts to mitigate the consequences of these failures."

Why there are so many different answers to simple questions like SLi Mode: Single GPU and what this really means and how it works in action and not in theory.

SLI usually gives you about 10-50% better performance in games comparing to a normal, single GPU card. Sometimes, though, SLI causes various problems or even lower performance and this is mainly why the Single GPU mode is useful - you can "emulate" a normal card if you are having compatibility or performance problems. I'm not an SLI user myself so you should ask someone else if you need more details.

Good luck in the labyrinth :)

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First of all thanks for the answer :)

After reading the directed links and choosing the driver 180.70 (the modified / optimized one) i saw some better performance in 3D applications generally games ofc.

A funny and same time weird thing is that after the new drivers installed i refreshed the Vista score for the laptop and except the 4.8 of the memory due to being DDR2 / 667 the 3D Gaming Graphics were boosted to 5.8 LOL.

I mean :P Give me a break Microsoft or Nvidia or Toshiba ... You can't have a 256MB card or SLi system and score 5.8 rating when you suffer playing games in high and you drop it in medium to low to catch up with the performance.

But anyway, the point is that SLi suffers big time at the moment due to the companies not taking advantage of it in making applications/games that actually support this. And you said above about burning money, after so much time

with SLi / Xfire dropped in the market and the minimum of support they have from the software companies it is not worth it really. I would prefer to have a single GPU with 512 than this system but now it is late :P Except if we see , somewhere

in the near future the upgrading parts of laptops where you can change a gpu from a brand name laptop to what you wish for...

Best regards and thanks again for the help :)

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  • 4 weeks later...
First of all thanks for the answer :)

After reading the directed links and choosing the driver 180.70 (the modified / optimized one) i saw some better performance in 3D applications generally games ofc.

A funny and same time weird thing is that after the new drivers installed i refreshed the Vista score for the laptop and except the 4.8 of the memory due to being DDR2 / 667 the 3D Gaming Graphics were boosted to 5.8 LOL.

I mean :P Give me a break Microsoft or Nvidia or Toshiba ... You can't have a 256MB card or SLi system and score 5.8 rating when you suffer playing games in high and you drop it in medium to low to catch up with the performance.

But anyway, the point is that SLi suffers big time at the moment due to the companies not taking advantage of it in making applications/games that actually support this. And you said above about burning money, after so much time

with SLi / Xfire dropped in the market and the minimum of support they have from the software companies it is not worth it really. I would prefer to have a single GPU with 512 than this system but now it is late :P Except if we see , somewhere

in the near future the upgrading parts of laptops where you can change a gpu from a brand name laptop to what you wish for...

Best regards and thanks again for the help :)

So far the only Game series I've seen that actually specifically allows for SLI in its options is the Call of Duty series. In both Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 4 it gave the option of turning on SLI or not.

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