You might be able to house two GPUs in your computer, but is that an option worth exploring? Can a single graphics card suffice or is a dual configuration necessary for gaming and high-end design work?
What are the requirements for dual graphics cards?
Before even determining if a dual graphics card setup is better than a single one, it is necessary to know how you can install multiple graphics cards in your computer.
To run dual graphics cards on your PC, your rig must have access to technology provided by NVIDIA or AMD that allows multiple GPUs to produce a single visual output. These technologies are called CrossFire for AMD and SLI for NVIDIA. You can check if your PC is compatible with CrossFire or SLI by checking if your motherboard and GPU support the technologies.
Identifying your existing GPU is simple. Windows 11 users can press the Windows key, type Task Manager, then select the Performance tab to see the GPU.
The easiest way to see if your current graphics card supports SLI or CrossFire technology is to visit the manufacturer’s website. For example, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 confirms that it is “NVIDIA SLI Ready” and supports the SLI HB Bridge.
To check if your motherboard supports SLI or CrossFire, you can look for the SLI or CrossFire symbols on the motherboard box or check the manufacturer’s website for its specifications.
Along with compatible components, it is also necessary to have a desktop computer case large enough to hold two graphics cards and a power supply unit (PSU) capable of supplying enough power to both GPUs.
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Benefits of having more than one graphics card
There are quite a few advantages to having two graphics cards. The main benefit is increased gaming performance; rendering is split between two cards rather than one, which increases frame rates and achieves higher resolutions.
To further improve performance, dual graphics cards offer double the VRAM. If you had, say, two 4GB graphics cards, your total VRAM would increase to 8GB. SLI-enabled games like GTA V make the most of this technology and enjoy the fast-paced action of this AAA title, with exceptional frame rates and smooth gameplay.
Perhaps one of the most practical benefits of dual graphics cards is that your display options open up to a wider market. If you’re using a dual-monitor setup and your existing graphics card only supports one monitor or supports two but only has HDMI and DisplayPort, you’ll have more choices when you install two graphics cards.
Disadvantages of dual graphics cards
The main downside to a dual graphics card setup is the cost. For example, a graphics card like the ASUS GeForce GTX 1050 Ti will cost you almost $250. However, if you’re installing two comparable graphics cards, you’re looking at upwards of $500 for this type of setup.
ASUS PH-GTX1050TI-4G GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
You can, of course, have two sub- to mid-range graphics cards, making for a very good one that costs slightly less than a high-end model. But, then you double your power requirements, and frankly, it’s more of a pain to keep up with GPU market technology and upgrade two graphics cards than just one.
It’s also necessary to consider the potential cost to ensure your setup can handle two graphics cards. If your PC components are not suitable for a dual board environment as explained above, you will have to spend more money to upgrade your hardware.
Finally, if you’re using the latest hardware, you’re unlikely to find support for dual card technologies. Modern GPUs are capable of delivering high performance gaming without the need for a multi-GPU setup. And, with decreasing support for SLI and CrossFire, game developers are favoring the use of single-graphics card machines. Graphics cards like Gigabyte’s GeForce GTX 1660 OC support one HDMI output and three DisplayPort outputs, meaning a multi-monitor setup is within reach and costs less than two midrange cards.
Less is often more
While it’s entirely possible to install two graphics cards in a computer, it’s not necessarily the most effective way to improve your PC’s graphics performance. Unless you’re on a tighter budget with a mid-range rig that requires a multi-monitor setup for work or gaming, you’ll likely get better results upgrading your PC and hosting a only high-end graphics card.
With technology that supports dual-graphics like SLI and CrossFire dying, if you’re considering a dual-graphics setup, it might be worth waiting for NVIDIA to invest more in multi-GPUs, or identifies what is dragging your existing down computer and upgrade your components when you can.
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