In simplistic terms, scalable link interface technology, otherwise known as SLI, involves linking two graphics cards together to boost the performance of a PC. The brainchild of nVidia, SLI takes advantage of the increased bandwidth of the PCI Express interface to boost graphics and improve the gaming experience.

That's the theory, anyway. The reality isn't always so simple - take the Tiny Vipana E10263. Using two 256MB GeForce 6800 Ultra cards, there's an Athlon 64 FX55 processor running at 2.6GHz and 1GB of DDR RAM. So you'd probably think the Tiny would ace our graphics and productivity tests. You'd be wrong.

Make no mistake, the Tiny isn't slow, it's just not nearly as quick as we expected. A WorldBench 5 score of 82 isn't a tragedy, although we'd want a lot more grunt for £1,800. The frame rates achieved in the Doom 3 and Halo tests at a resolution of 1,024x768 were 78fps (frames per second) and 55.5fps respectively, which was slower than the Packard Bell system (see page 53) using two 128MB GeForce 6600 GT cards.
It's mystifying. Perhaps the full potential of SLI technology and the GeForce 6800 Ultra cards haven't been fully exploited here.

The BenQ monitor is excellent, though interestingly it only has a VGA input whereas the GeForce 6800 Ultra cards only have DVI outputs, so you'll need to use the supplied converter.

Vipana E10263: Specs

  • 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 processor
  • Windows XP Professional
  • 1GB DDR RAM
  • 2x 200GB hard drives
  • 2x 256MB nVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra PCI Express SLI graphics cards
  • 19in BenQ FP931 flat-panel
  • 48x/48x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) 16x/12x/16x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/+R DL/-RW/+RW) drive
  • integrated audio
  • Altec Lansing VS-315 5.1 speaker system
  • Microsoft Works 8.0
  • 3 year return-to-base warranty
  • 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 processor
  • Windows XP Professional
  • 1GB DDR RAM
  • 2x 200GB hard drives
  • 2x 256MB nVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra PCI Express SLI graphics cards
  • 19in BenQ FP931 flat-panel
  • 48x/48x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) 16x/12x/16x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/+R DL/-RW/+RW) drive
  • integrated audio
  • Altec Lansing VS-315 5.1 speaker system
  • Microsoft Works 8.0
  • 3 year return-to-base warranty

OUR VERDICT

Full of promise but ultimately disappointing, the Tiny Vipana E10263 doesn't make the most of its classy components. It's possible that this was a dud system, but the test results were very consistent. We ran them all several times.

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