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Two Graphics Cards

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by jusmann68, Jan 30, 2009.

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  1. jusmann68

    jusmann68 Thread Starter

    Mar 17, 2008
    In the past whenever my computer got outdated I would just take out my old graphics card and throw in a better one. This would let me keep gaming on my computer for another year or so before I bought a new one. But lately I keep hearing about "SLI mode" or whatever it is called. From what I can gather about it, is it uses two graphics cards instead of just one.

    I was wondering what people's experiences were with using this setup. So I have some questions:

    • Is it better to just get one up to date graphics card and throw out the old one?
    • I have a 9800 GT right now, if i wanted to do SLI would I have to get another 9800 GT?
    • Does it work better with a Dual Core?
    • Can my computer even handle doing SLI? I have a Quad Core 9300 @ 2.5 Ghz , 8 GB of ram and three "PCI Express Root Ports".
    • Is it easy to setup? I have put new graphics cards into computers before without any problems. Do I just put the other graphics card in another slot or do I have to connect them together? If so, would I be able to do it or do I have to get a computer technician?
    • Will it effectively double what the graphics cards can handle or are they less effective working together?

    I don't know much about building computers, the most I've ever done is put in sticks of ram. Also another question though it is off-topic, how do I find out how many ram slots I have?

    Any help is greatly appreciated (sorry for asking so many questions).
  2. Tanis


    May 29, 2006
    First Name:
    I haven't had a great deal of experience with SLI myself but I can answer some of your questions to a certain degree. I am sure someone with far more knowledge will come along at some point.

    1) From what I have seen in general, unless you are running two high end cards in SLI it is generally better to upgrade a single card for a better, single card. Of course, if you upgrade your cards aswell that will give an even better boost however it will double the cost.

    2) Yes, both cards have to be the same.

    3) Yes

    4) Is your motherboard running an NVidia chipset? I don't know if it has changed but it always used to be the case that to use SLI you need an NVidia chipset.

    SLI is the name given to NVidia method of running two cards, ATI use Crossfire which is essentially the same thing.
  3. BG-0


    Dec 31, 1969
    "Will it effectively double what the graphics cards can handle or are they less effective working together?"
    Definitely not double efficiency. At worst, some games work, somehow possible, worse than with one card. Best performance gain is about 50 %.
    Just get a new single card. When you have a top-end card(today GTX280-295, tomorrow something else is top-end) and still need more power, then consider SLI.
    Being able on unable to do SLI depends on your motherboard. Not only if it has nVidia chipset (the new Intel X58 chipset does SLI too, for example), but if the chipset is capable of SLI. Some nVidia chipsets(quite a lot of them) can't handle SLI.
  4. Gulo Luseus

    Gulo Luseus

    May 12, 2007
    Been on SLI rigs for a fair few years now, sohopefully can give a bit more :)
    1. Depends on what you have. For a 98, it should be fine for pretty much anything you want to do with it. In terms of upgrades, there is the 200 series that are good cards. I have seen a lot of benchmarks that rate them poorly, but in my experience these dont count for much. In real gaming terms, I get a lot better framerate than would be expected from a BM. Generally though, unless yo uhave a high enf card, its better to get one card a few notched higher than the one you are using, and this will outperform any SLI setup with a second original card. The only time it becomes useful is when you are near the top of the heap, and the boost from SLI becomes viable.
    2. Yup. Ideally you want 2 cards, same model, same maker, and preferably from the same shop at the same time with a guarantee that if they dont work as required you can change them. SLI drivers are a lot better than they were, but I would still say get the same cards, as close as possible. SLI is still a bit quirky, so give it as few excuses as possible to go wrong.
    3. CPU doesnt havea lot oeffect. The only reason a dual core would perform better is the higher overall performance as opposed to a single core. remeber, dual or quad core arent utilising memory any faster than a single, so in terms of overall bandwidth there isnt a lot of difference.
    4. Handle it? It can eat it for for brekky. There is more than enough there to cope with SLI- my first rig was an AMD 2500 with 2 66s, as I recall.
    5. Setup is as simple as it can get. You plug the cards in exactly as you would normally, only with 2 cards (or 3, or.... lets not go there). There is a small connector that joins the cards together at the top, about as dufficult as a SATA cable to an HD. Overall, if yo ucan plug in a card, you can set up SLI. As for chipsets (as Tanis said) there wont be a problem. You HAVE to have an SLI enabled board, which will have 2 or more PCI-e slots. Preferably, these should both run at 16x simulataneously, a lot of older ones give 16x/ 8x on the main and second slots. Check the board is SLI, not Crossfire, and life is ok.If th eboard is SLI, then it will have all drivers ready to go.
    6. No doubling I am afraid. dependng on what, when, drivers, board etc, you may get up to 50percent extra, generally 30 percent. Some games, in combo with certain drivers/ hardware, can even drop- I havent found this myself, but have heard of it. So as a rule, allow a 30 percent boost and you are probably in the right field.
    Hope it helps :)
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