Will there be a time when a single graphics card will be more than adequate and a second card become unnecessary as what happened in the past with dual PCI Diamond Monster set-ups being supercede by the much more powerful single AGP configuration?
I think for the majority of gamers a single mid range graphics card is adequate, something like a HD6870 will play almost all games on medium/high settings at 1680 x 1050.
Multi card setups are beneficial when two lower end cards outperform a high end card for less money or when the end user wants to max out the latest and greatest games at high resolutions/3D/multi-monitor setups.
I just switched from 2x5770s to a 570 gtx sc. So far it's been great with the single card setup. I do plan on SLI'ing in the future when prices drop. The xfire setup I had worked really well, but I decided to go back to a single card setup because AMD's drivers were pretty inconsistent. One release would do really good, but the next would crash my system so I'd have to roll back. 1 card is less of a headache, and from my experience with SLI on an older build, nvidia's drivers have always been better for me.
i prefer single card pc setups.
less airflow issues.
less extra power consumption worries.
better suited for matx cases and mobos.
better suited for non overclocking intel hxx series mobos.
less driver problems.
less (almost no) microstuttering issues.
suited for htpc systemps that use discreet cards.
easier to add extra pci/pcie cards (e.g. nic or usb 3.0 expansion cards).
easier to cool.
easier to maintain and troubleshoot.
I ran SLI back in the day with dual 7800 gt's but have only been running single card set ups since. mostly because of money restraints and the need to use my other motherboard slots that get covered by the big dual slot cards now adays.
The Gpus are fast enough. Even the older stock like the previous series are fast enough. Its the programs that written very poorly. Designers forgot to do maths.
I mean if you write a game towards Dx and do it right why the hundred patches? What happened to testing?
take a look at the chart in this link: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card-...
for example, 2x hd 3870 is as capable as an hd 5750 or 6750. when 3870 came out, two of those boosted performance but later single 5750 could do the same, 6850 would perform even better than 2x 3870.
It appears from the benchmarks that having a two card set-up boosts noticable performance, even for low end cards and this was the same case years ago, up until the introduction of the AGP interface.
i don't quite understand what you're saying. agp was phased out, pcie is the standard now. with pcie you have more choices. you can choose either 2-4 card setup or a single card setup. today's pcie cards are much more powerful than old agp cards.
I am asking, is will there ever be a shift back to single cards with comparable or superior performance to two cards?
two cards in combo will almost always perform better (in terms of fps) than a slightly higher tier single card. e.g. 2x gtx 460 vs gtx 570.
but if you use a single gtx 570 you don't have to worry about things like micro stuttering, ram bottleneck at high resolution. you can cool the single gtx 570 better than 2x 460. both setups work for different people. people who have a gtx 460 already and doesn't want to spend extra for a 570 can buy another 460 and sli. some other people can get a single 570 and be satisfied. it comes down to personal preference, budget.
then there are dual gpu cards. they are single cards containing two gpus in cfx or sli e.g. powercolor 6870 x2 or the new evga 560 ti 2win. high end cards like gtx 590 or radeon hd 6990 are single pcb, dual gpu cards that have two gpus with their own vrams. one can use those and get sli or cfx performance from a single card setup.