Dear Lifehacker,I’m architecture a new gaming PC application your guide, but I accept one question: Is active two cartoon cards account it? Some bodies acquaint me I can get added blast for my blade with two midrange cards, but others say I should get one high-end agenda instead. Which is true?
Building a computer from blemish gives you the absolute apparatus for your needs, but it can be…
Sincerely,Dual Agenda Dude
Dear Dual,Using two (or more) video cards in tandem—known as “SLI” for NVIDIA cards and “Crossfire” for AMD cards—can get you bigger performance, sometimes alike for beneath money than you’d absorb on a commensurable distinct agenda solution. However, whether it’s account it is addition story. Here’s what you charge to know.
To run SLI or Crossfire on your system, you charge a few things: a accordant motherboard, two accordant video cards, and a “bridge” that connects the two cards calm (these usually appear with your motherboard or video cards). In SLI, you charge two cards that accept the aforementioned GPU—for example, two GTX 560 Tis. They don’t accept to be from the aforementioned manufacturer, they aloof accept to both be GTX 560 Tis. Crossfire has a bit added jerk room, acceptance you to brace some GPUs with added agnate cards—like a Radeon 7950 with a Radeon 7970. To see which cards are accordant with one another, analysis out NVIDIA’s SLI folio and AMD’s Crossfire page. Tom’s Hardware additionally has a abundant FAQ if you’re absorbed in award out more.
Once you install both cards and the all-important bridge, you can accessible up your driver’s ascendancy console and accredit SLI or Crossfire. Accomplish abiding your drivers are up to date and comedy a game—if your drivers abutment SLI or Crossfire for that game, you’ll apprehension a cogent achievement boost. It won’t be absolutely alert the performance, and every bold will be a little different, but in abounding amateur you should acquisition that aggregate runs added smoothly—with some exceptions.
So why would you run assorted video cards? The capital acumen bodies go for it is its amount to achievement ratio. It varies from agenda to card, but in some cases, active two mid-range cards is hardly cheaper than active one commensurable high-end card. You can get the aforementioned achievement for a few bucks cheaper. They’re additionally ideal for multi-monitor or high-resolution gaming. Plus, they attending sweet, and some bodies aloof appetite to accomplish their rig attending as baller as possible.
So that sounds awesome, right? Unfortunately, active assorted cards comes with some cons. For example:
In short, application two video cards may crave added absorption and tweaking on your part, whether to affinity issues, heat, or aloof ambidextrous with micro stutter.
We can’t acquaint you what will assignment for you, but I about consistently try to go with a able distinct agenda rather than two cards in SLI or Crossfire. To me, it’s account the added $50 (or whatever it is) to accept a agenda that works after arrangement tweaks, after the added noise, and after the adventitious of any micro dribble issues.
However, there is addition academy of thought, that says you can buy a acceptable agenda now, and SLI it later. Tom’s Hardware user phishy714 explains:
With a [single GTX 560 Ti], You will be arena new amateur on aerial settings with appealing acceptable fps calmly for the abutting year. . . Once you alpha acquainted you CAN’T comedy them on aerial settings, that’s back you buy addition GTX 560 Ti (which will be clay bargain by then, apparently about the $120 range) and SLI them. Your arrangement will again calmly do addition year’s account of amateur on HIGH settings.
After that, back your GPU is two ancestors old, that’s back you atom them both and get a new card.
This still agency you’ll accept to accord with the cons of SLI, but it allows you to delay a little bit best afore bottomward abounding of banknote on a cast new card—you can buy an earlier agenda for bargain and eke added achievement out. Of course, you could consistently aloof advertise your old agenda on eBay and buy addition single, high-end GPU too, which will save you the agitation of SLI and Crossfire.
In the end, it’s all about how abundant assignment you appetite to do. Some dual-GPU configurations may not crave any work, but it’s adamantine to apperceive that out of the gate—you consistently run the accident of accepting added assignment back you get assorted cards. But in some cases, it may be account the trouble.
Photo by Gregg Tavares.
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