Motherboards are still not designed for SLI and Crossfire

I think it is time to admit the obvious: the ATX form factor is obsolete in a world of SLI and Crossfire gaming systems. There simply is not enough real estate on the motherboards to fit two (or even three) big video cards and a premium sound card. I just did a build with an Asus P6T v2 and trying to mount a second ATI 5970 card on it would have been an ordeal. As it is, the Creative X-FI card is setting just about on top of the ATI-5970 in the top PCI-e slot — which is bound to create additional heat loads in both items.

I put it in a CM 830 Stacker case, which has fans like crazy, which should help. However, the SLI system I built using an Asus M2N32 SLI Deluxe also had a problem with a sound card partially blocking the airflow to a video card.

I can also attest that most computer cases cannot really handle two or three enormous video cards like the ATI 5970. The one in mine comes up to within an inch of the hard drives in my cavernous CM 830. It would have just about been sticking into the drive bay in the Antec 902 case I just used for another project.

It is time for motherboard and case designers to look realistically at the space requirements presented by SLI/Crossfire rigs with big video cards and a need to accommodate sound cards and other PCI devices. I shouldn’t have to pull a premium sound card to fit in a second video card or some other sacrifice. If SLI/Crossfire is the wave of the future, then let’s see some motherboards and cases that will work with it. This has to include allowing sufficient space between devices to allow heat dissipation and at least a couple of PCI and PCI-e slots available for sound cards and other PCI devices.

SLI/Crossfire is an exciting trend, but it is being poorly grafted onto a motherboard layout that just doesn’t work with it.

And hey, while we at it, could sound card vendors start making cards that have the hookups for front panel connectors. Every gaming case sold these days has a port in the front for a mic and headphones. Yet, try to find a sound card that supports it via a connector on the card. They are still pretty rare.


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