Tech Annoyances – NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2

Before I launch into my latest Tech Annoyance, let me say some of this is probably my own fault for not researching as thoroughly as I should have had I been more cognizant of the potential pitfalls. The annoyance is two-fold, stemming from a combination of Dell’s design-your-own system options, and a lack of easily locatable documentation.

Part one of this is that I ordered a Dell system with 4GB of RAM, but because the system also has the NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2 Quad-SLI hardware (which requires 2GB of memory mapped address space) I only get to use 2GB of RAM, and have the other 2GB just sitting there collecting dust. Dell’s on-line system creation system should have warned me of this, as should have the sales person I spoke with. Interestingly, the order system did warn me that I had no more PCIe slots left when I wanted to add the AGEIA physics accelerator to the system, so it works properly for some combinations of things.

A Dell technical support representative indicated that as my Dell XPS 710’s quad core Intel CPU also had 64-bit support, should I get a 64-bit version of, say, Vista, then I would have full access to all 4GB of RAM I purchased. Nice to know that, but not very helpful as 64-bit OSes were not offered by Dell during the system configuration on-line. I am using Windows XP Media Center Edition at present.

The other technology annoyance was that this great QuadSLI NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2 dual-board set will not allow for dual display monitors when the SLI-acceleration is enabled. So I have to choose between running really fast graphics for games on one screen, and my more regular day-to-day work on two screens as I am used to. If I could dynamically switch between the two modes, it might not be so bad, but going from non-SLI to SLI mode requires a reboot of the system, and that is truly annoying.

So in the meantime, my second 24” Dell LCD panel is being used as the display for my office Xbox 360. Not ideal, but at least I don’t feel like I have completely wasted my money on the second display. Now I only need time to actually play games on the Dell XPS 710 and the Xbox 360.