How to run dual graphics cards


Requirements for Dual Graphics Cards

To use dual graphics cards, your computer needs AMD or Nvidia technology that links the cards to produce a single output. The AMD graphics technology is CrossFire and the Nvidia technology is SLI. For each of these solutions, the computer must have a compatible motherboard and the motherboard must have the necessary PCI Express graphics slots.

To find out if the motherboard supports dual graphics cards, go to its official product page and check the specifications. Or, look for the Crossfire or SLI symbol on the box the motherboard came in.

Dual graphics cards also require a desktop case that is large enough to fit the extra hardware and a power supply that can run dual cards. The cards must be linked using a bridge connector; which may be included with either the GPU or the motherboard. Finally, the SLI or Crossfire feature must be enabled in the GPU driver control panel.

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What Is the Flipside?

While dual graphics cards have their perks, it’s a double-edged sword because there’s a flipside to them, as discussed below.

  • High running cost: Top of the range graphics dual cards cost at least $500. But, reputable brands like NVIDIA offer lower-priced options with dual capability. So, techies can spend the same amount of cash for a single card with superior performance to the lower-priced GPUs.
  • Compatibility issues: Not all games are compatible with more than one card. And, some graphics engines don’t mesh well with dual cards. Consequently, some games may exhibit decreased performance. In other instances, shuttering occurs, which makes the game look choppy.
  • Significant power consumption: Dual graphics cards are power-hungry to the point that they can double the amount of energy needed to run them in tandem. For instance, one high-end card may need a 600-watt power supply for proper functioning, whereas two of these cards may need 1000 watts. Furthermore, most PCs for home use aren’t equipped to deal with high-wattage. So, it’s essential to check your system’s power supply wattage to determine whether or not it’s compatible with multiple cards.
  • Performance: The efficacy of a dual-card environment varies based on a computer’s other components. Even with two of the most powerful cards, a low-end processor can throttle the amount of data that a PC supplies to the graphics cards. Therefore, they’re only suitable for top of the range computers.


Setting up your own Crossfire and SLI systems

Assuming you have plenty of cooling, a compatible motherboard, and a power supply powerful enough to power the extra graphics cards, installing those cards in a system for SLI or CrossFire is relatively straightforward; the process isn’t much different than installing a single graphics card.

Begin by shutting down the system and unplugging it from the electrical outlet. Next, insert the graphics cards into the requisite PCI Express x16 slots on the motherboard and connect the necessary supplemental 6- or 8-pin power feeds for your particular cards. Then install the SLI or CrossFire bridge connector (or connectors) to link the cards together.

With the exception of a few low-end products, Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards running in multi-GPU configurations require a bridge connector to link the cards together. For more than two graphics cards, you must use larger 3-way or 4-way bridges, or multiple single bridges.

Once everything is properly seated and secured, connect your monitor (or monitors) to the primary graphics card—typically the card in the PCI Express x16 slot closest to the processor on the motherboard. Then power up the system, let your operating system boot, and install the latest drivers for the graphics cards.

After you install the necessary hardware and drivers, you must enable CrossFire and SLI in your graphics control panel. You can find CrossFire settings in the “AMD CrossFireX” section (above) under Performance in the Catalyst Control Center, and SLI settings in the “Configure SLI, Surround, PhysX” section (below) of Nvidia’s GeForce drives.

After installing the graphics drivers, you may receive a notification that the system is SLI- or CrossFire-capable and be prompted to enable the feature. If not, simply open your graphics control by right-clicking on a blank section of your desktop and selecting either ‘Catalyst Control Center’ for AMD Radeon cards or ‘Nvidia Control Panel’ for GeForce cards from the menu, then navigate to the necessary menu to enable CrossFire or SLI. Find SLI-related settings can be found in the “Configure SLI, Surround, PhysX” section of Nvidia’s GeForce drives, and CrossFire settings in the “AMD CrossFireX” menu in the Performance section of the Catalyst Control Center.

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 · Alternatively, newer monitors with DisplayPort multi-streaming support can be daisy-chained together from a single DisplayPort 1.2 connection on your graphics card, using

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Running Two Graphics Cards Without SLI or Crossfire

Yes, it is possible to run dual GPU without SLI, but only if you own two monitors.

In this situation, the workload is evenly separated between two GPUs, thus the performance of PC games is improved.

Rendering will be done on one monitor or one graphics card, while the other will handle video games or any other task.

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The one thing you should check before adding an extra GPU is whether the CPU can handle that extra workload.

Future Proofing

  1. Graphics cards become obsolete over time in the face of continuing advances in newer games and software technology. In addition, a single graphics card will not hold up as well as two cards would with newer 3-D applications. Even if you choose not to install two graphics cards right away, having the option to do so on your motherboard will allow you to invest in a newer card when needed rather than being forced to upgrade the entire computer.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Having Dual GPU?


  • Better gaming performance at higher resolutions: When gaming at higher resolutions like 4K and 8K, the power of a dual GPU shines best and allows you to run games at higher frame rates much more smoothly often at a higher graphics quality. 
  • Upgrade path: Because a dual GPU set-up requires compatible hardware, such as the motherboard, case, power supply, you’re guaranteed to have high-end components in your set-up already that make it easier to facilitate upgrades down the line. At the same time, you won’t be needing to upgrade your graphics card and other hardware components soon as well. 
  • Support for multi-monitor set-ups: A side benefit of having a dual GPU is that it can support multiple display monitors right out of the bat. 


  • Expensive: From the added electricity costs of running a dual graphics cards setup to how expensive a dual GPU card usually is, a dual GPU card set-up can cost you a lot of money the more you use it if it’s not necessarily utilized for whatever workflow you have planned for it. 
  • Issues with driver and compatibility: Not all games are designed by its developers to support dual GPU cards. So, instead of seeing the graphical performance of your set-up improve, some dual GPU cards might even end up performing worse than their single GPU counterparts.


The primary disadvantage of running dual graphics cards is the cost. Top-of-the-line cards can cost $500 or more. While both ATI and Nvidia offer lower-priced cards with dual capability, you can spend the same amount of money for a single card with equal or better performance than two low-priced GPUs.

Another disadvantage is that not all games benefit from multiple graphics cards and some graphics engines do not handle two cards well. Some games may show a decrease in performance over a single graphics card setup. In some cases, stuttering makes the video game look choppy.

Graphics cards are power-hungry. Two graphics cards installed in a computer can double the amount of power required to run them in tandem. For example, a single high-end graphics card might require a 500-watt power supply to function properly; two of these cards may require 850 watts. Most consumer desktops aren’t equipped with high-wattage power supplies. Refer to the computer power supply wattage and requirements to determine if your system can run dual graphics cards.

The performance benefits of a dual-card environment vary depending on the other components in the computer system. Even with two of the highest level graphics cards, a low-end processor can throttle the amount of data the system provides to the graphics cards. Dual graphics cards are typically recommended only in high-end systems.

People who mine cryptocurrency often run massive banks of video cards because GPUs process blockchain transactions much more efficiently than a CPU.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the point of dual GPUs? The whole point of getting a dual graphics card is to increase efficiency. Instead of a single card handling all of the work, it will be split between the two. For example, during the live stream, games will run on one, while the other will handle the rendering. The same rule goes for any work done on the computer. That is why they are useful even for media experts that have to use multiple high-demanding programs simultaneously on their computer – one line is being rendered on one card and one on the another. Are dual GPUs worth it? Yes and no – depends on what you are doing on your computer. If you are an average gamer, it will most likely be a waste of money. Before purchasing one of the dual GPUs, take into account the cost. Firstly, you will have to spend a few hundred dollars on the GPU itself, then you have additional costs of setup and energy usage. In this case, it would make more sense to just purchase a single, high-end GPU. For professional streamers, multi GPU is a good choice. Are dual-fan graphics cards better? Yes. More airflow is always a better option, especially if the heatsink is similar. Keep in mind that this could also mean more noise. Even though many multi GPUs have some type of noise reduction, the level will still be higher compared to the single fan.

Does Having 2 GPUs Increase Performance?

In an ideal world, using multiple graphics cardssh

In an ideal world, using multiple graphics cardsshould increase performance. In the real world, things aren’t so simple. 

For an increase in performance to be felt, a particular software or game will need to be optimized for such set-ups. This is much easier said than done.

The reason being is that developers will have to put in the work to make sure that their software or game is optimized for SLI or CrossFire. 

The main problem with this is that it takes away from time that they could have used to optimize a game or software for single GPU cards. 

This is why you see some games or software performing worse for users with an SLI or CrossFire set-up.

Now, while some video game studios and software developers do take the time and resources to optimize their product for both dual- and single-GPU set-ups, there’s just not enough upside for them for this to be an industry standard. 

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