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Dual Graphics Card Step by Step Guide

Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX

So you want to go multi-GPU for the first time, but are not a hundred percent sure what to do or how to go about it? Fear not intrepid gamer, this simple step by step walk-through will make the process of setting up a SLI or CrossFire system a breeze.

This guide is divided into two distinct parts. First we have to physically install the cards in the appropriate dual card configuration, and then we have to configure the cards in the OS to enable dual card operation.

 

Part 1 – Physical Installation Process

The Motherboard

Not all motherboards will allow a dual graphics card set up, make sure that your motherboard is compatible. An easy way to find that out is to simply go to the product page and check the specifications of your motherboard.

Or look on the box.

The Graphic Cards

Nvidia SLI

Obviously for dual graphics cards we will need two physical graphic cards. Both these cards need to be of the same model for SLI.  The two cards do not necessarily have to have the same clock speed, just the same model graphic card and memory capacity. What that means is it is possible to pair to different variations of the same model. For example I am going to use GeForce GTX 580 MATRIX 1.5GB and  580GTX DirectCU II 1.5GB in SLI. As long as they are both GeForce GTX 580 cards with the same memory capacity I will be able to use them in SLI configuration. The same goes for a GeForce GTX 560 Ti or any other graphic card series.

Two of the same series is fine!

Two of the same series is fine!

Mixed cards?

Mixed graphics cards = no SLI

Mixed graphics cards = no SLI

 

AMD CrossFire

The red team allow you to pair any two AMD graphic cards in CrossFireX. Notwithstanding that option, it is still most common to pair two cards that are the same in CrossFire to maximize performance. I have paired a HD 5870 and a HD5850, but I could have used a HD 6850 and a HD 5850. CrossfireX is flexible enough to allow a pretty neat upgrade path for a gaming system.

AMD Graphics from two generations works fine, but performance is not optimal

AMD Graphics from two generations works fine, but performance is not optimal



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