I am planning on building a gaming machine, and I'm looking for the best performance I can get. I keep hearing about "Crossfire" and "SLI" and I was wondering how exactly that would be done. I know it has something to do with having two or more video cards installed to boost performance but, as far as how it is done, I'm pretty clueless.
Do I just need two of the same video cards socketed in two of the PCI slots on the motherboard, or is there more to it? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
1. Modern graphics cards use PCI express, usually in 16x width, although they are only bottlenecked a tiny bit using 8x width. This is commonly referred to as PCIe16 or something similar.
2. Crossfire is for AMD/ATI graphics cards, SLI is for Nvidia cards. The way it works is that two cards are placed in two PCIe slots on the motherboard (consult motherboard manual for specifics about which slots). A connecting bridge is then placed on a "finger" of each card, which is a small projection on the opposite side that it connects to the motherboard. Just google Sli bridge or crossfire bridge to see a picture.
3. Not all motherboards with multiple PCIe slots support Crossfire or SLI. They may support one or the other or neither, or sometimes both.
4. You can even add three or sometimes four graphics cards together (For nvidia, the max is basically 3, for AMD it is 4). Only cards that have two connecting fingers on them can be used in 3x sli or 3x/4x crossfire. This is because the first and second cards connect with the first fingers on their cards, and the second and third cards with the second fingers on their cards.
5. Nvidia and AMD offer behemoth cards that have two graphics chips on the same cards. These chips function in sli/crossfire, even though they are on the same card. They are quite expensive and use a lot of power, but are extremely powerful and allow those who do not have more than one free PCIe slot open to run sli/crossfire on their machine. Such cards include the Radeon 6990 (which is two radeon 6970s on one board), GTX 590 (which is two GTX 580s on one board), and I think there might be a GTX 460 x2 card by zotac or something but it's not an official product in nvidia's lineup.
Thank you very much, this has been most helpful. I think I'll be able to figure it out with the information you provided. One quick question, though. Are there specific types of connecting bridges for different cards, or would an XFX Crossfire Bridge function with any crossfire enabled card?
Such cards include the Radeon 6990 (which is two radeon 6970s on one board), GTX 590 (which is two GTX 580s on one board).
The 590 is Technically two 570's on one board, while the 6990 is Two 6970's with basically a 6950 like performance ratio. Dual GPU Configurations often feature two of the Company's second best card crammed together.
One quick question, though. Are there specific types of connecting bridges for different cards, or would an XFX Crossfire Bridge function with any crossfire enabled card? said:
One quick question, though. Are there specific types of connecting bridges for different cards, or would an XFX Crossfire Bridge function with any crossfire enabled card?
Crossfire / SLI bridges are generally universal. However, I'd recommend buying two of the same GPU for crossfire reasons. It makes it easier on yourself and possibly your motherboard/wallet when it comes to RMA and product failure.
Thanks to you both. I really appreciate your helpful and timely responses. I think that's all I needed to know, I just wasn't quite sure how the whole having more than one graphics card thing actually worked. Thanks again!