Is it worth installing 2 video cards in a gaming computer? / Hebrew

Is it worth installing 2 video cards in a gaming computer? / Hebrew

Not always two video cards give better performance than one

Installing a new video card – this is an increase in graphic performance, an increase in fps, frame time and, of course, the quality of the picture itself. But video cards – especially powerful ones – are not cheap, so some craftsmen prefer to use a couple of weaker and cheaper ones instead of one powerful model. At one time, even before the appearance of the GeForce RTX line, such specialists managed to launch games in 4K on the basis of two GTX 1080. And what if we take two RTX 4070 Super? Can you imagine what the performance will be like? But not everything is so simple.

Build-up practice graphics performance by installing additional graphics cards in the assembly really took place in the past and is still found today. Despite the fact that even when using two identical models, it will still not be possible to achieve a two-fold increase, in some cases it can reach 80% compared to single-card stacking.

Let’s be honest: even such numbers are breathtaking. Immediately there is a desire to buy more second video card in a pair to his old, but quite alive GTX 1660 Ti and play on ultra-presets. And if you pick up a few more such cards, you can count on outstanding performance figures that were undreamed of, probably even by the newest solution of the RTX 40 series line.

How to combine two video cards in a computer

The combination is carried out using jumpers, which video cards are connected to each other directly using a special bridge. The Nvidia standard is called, depending on the generation SLI or NVLinkand AMD has it CrossFireX. The cards themselves have specific interfaces that allow them to be connected to each other, and different generations are incompatible, as well as different interface solutions.

CrossFireX is a method of combining Radeon video cards from AMD

Essentially, CrossFireX – this is a way of combining video cards with each other, similar to SLI, which works according to the master-slave principle. Unfortunately, it is no longer compatible with new cards. Therefore, it will be possible to combine only…

These video cards
  • Radeon RX Vega 64

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CrossFireX offers two image processing methods:

The essence of the method AFR is to distribute frames between different video cards. For example, the first process only even, and the second – only odd. As a result, they are combined with each other and the final picture is obtained. But with this method of data processing, one serious problem can be revealed, which will not allow the frames to follow each other evenly, provoking screen jerking.

SFR, Unlike AFR, it assumes that each frame is divided into many points, some of which are processed by one video card, and some by another. Although both methods are used, SFR is considered to be the slightly more advanced method as it usually does not suffer from processing speed bottlenecks as the dot alignment is more uniform.

The main thing advantage of CrossFireX lies in the relative universality of the method. AMD does not insist on connecting the same cards, allowing you to combine different models with each other. The main thing is that it is a Radeon, and the model and manufacturer do not matter. However, there is no guarantee that the setup you created will start in either case.

How CrossFireX differs from SLI and NVLink

SLI (Scalable Link Interface) is an old Nvidia technology that allows you to combine video cards according to the master-slave principle, when one of them acts as the main one, and the second and all subsequent ones act as secondary ones.

Why can’t they just be installed in the motherboard, especially if it has the appropriate connectors? It’s a good question, because in fact it is possible to do this, but we will not achieve the desired effect. Everything always rested here PCI-E bandwidthwhich is severely limited even compared to SLI, which is overclocked to 1 GB/s

Two or more video cards are connected by a physical SLI or NVLink bridge

For comparison, NVLink already accelerates to 300 GB/s, and also allows all video cards in the cluster to work on equal terms, which gives minimal losses in performance.

In addition, the connection by NVLink summarizes video memory (For some RTX cards), but SLI is not. But SLI allowed to combine up to 4 video cards together in the setup, and NVLink – only 2, if we talk about the solution of the consumer, not the professional segment.

However, any stages will function at the frequency of the least performing GPU. This should be kept in mind if video cards of different versions are used in the assembly.

What is needed to install a second video card on a PC

Multi-card systems, although attractive in theory, are practically quite problematic in terms of the requirements that must be met in order for everything to work.

First of all, you need to take a compatible case. To add a second video card to the assembly, it is necessary to achieve its placement inside the system unit. And this can only be done if there is free space. It is also possible to place the map outside, but this is not a rational decision. Therefore, you will have to spend on large eATX format case.

Maybe something smaller will do – it all depends on the cards you use – but if you take a small case, there is a high chance of breaking its breathability and impairing its cooling ability. Then warm air will stagnate inside, and the rest of the components will heat up more.

In order not to let this good thing overheat, it will be necessary not only not to worsen the breathability, but, if possible, to additionally strengthen it. This can be done by SO customization of the video card itself, which may threaten its damage and loss of warranty. Or you can by installing case fans, which will blow heat out of the case and prevent it from stagnating there, heating other components. In general, it is desirable to do this with all assemblies, not only multi-card ones, but also the last ones without auxiliary cooling risk not surviving.

In addition, two video cards are not only hot, but also energy-consuming. If one The GTX 1660 Ti consumes 125 watts, then two will need already 250 W. To provide the setup with such power, you will have to install a more powerful power supply unit. If by default you needed some kind of 400-watt unit, then in the case of the second card, you will have to choose at least a 600-watt solution, which will cost more.

Performance of two video cards in one assembly

Installation of two video cards, regardless of the connection method, always involves summarization of CUDA cores and a proportional increase in productivity. But everything works out well only on paper, while in practice you need to be prepared for a number of limitations.

When connected by the SLI method, you can not count on the summation of video memory, since it does not provide for it adding VRAM in principle. This is possible on NVLink, but this technology only works on some 30 series graphics cards. But the same RTX 3090 although it has a suitable interface, it is unlikely that you will find it an attractive option for organizing a multi-card collection for games.

RTX 3090 – SLI vs Single // Test in 7 Games | 4K, 8K

Increase in fps and frametime in games possible, but not guaranteed, on computers with two graphics cards. First of all, because the game has to be optimized accordingly, and their creators are usually not very interested in this, because the audience for such systems is extremely small.

On the contrary, in the context of games, the use of two graphics cards can even be harmful. The lack of the same optimization will not just leave the fps at the level that a single card could achieve, but will certainly cause it to drop. In addition, multi-card systems require more high performance from the processor. So, you will have to use something more or less fast, capable of pulling the resulting data flow.

What is more profitable: two old video cards or one new and powerful one

The cost of game assemblies with two video cards is a special red flag.

Even if you just take into account the price of a pair of cards that you want to combine, it will turn out to be a rather irrational prank. Take for example Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti. This new video card can be purchased in stores for approximately 20,000 rubles. Through simple calculations, we get 40 thousand, not even counting the auxiliary components that we may need:

  • Compatible motherboard

  • eATX case

  • A more powerful power supply unit

  • SLI/NVLink bridge

  • Casing fans

For this money at XCOM-SHOP.RU, for example, you can buy a GeForce RTX 4060 video card. From the point of view of game performance, this will be a better solution, since it will not require unusual manipulations for the union, calculations of the air permeability of the case and, in fact, the case itself with increased internal space.

It is better to buy a good modern video card and do not worry

You probably noticed that I’m talking about unification only in terms of far from the latest video cards. They mainly belong to the generations that came out before 2019. This is not because RTX cards are expensive, and the fact that modern models cannot be combined in principle. For example, SLI is only suitable for GTX cardsAnd although NVLink is its more modern analogue and worked with RTX models of the 20th series, it no longer supports the 40th series.

This does not negate the fact that there are scenarios where setup with several video cards is a need If we are talking about mining or learning artificial intelligence, then it is simply impossible to do without a large number of video accelerators. A colossal load falls on them, and only many cards can cope with such a volume of calculations at the same time. But there are completely different rules of use that have nothing to do with gaming.

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