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GPU Physics Processor in SLI?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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a b U Graphics card
February 25, 2013 8:09:04 PM

Hi everyone,

I keep hearing people mention about having three cards, but only 2 of them are in SLI and they use the 3rd as a Physics processor? What is this?

I am going to be purchasing myself 2 x EVGA FTW 2GB 670's on Friday, to replace my current Gigabyte 2Gb 670. Would it be beneficial to keep my gigabyte 670 and use it as one of these 'physics processors'?

If someone could give an explanation I would highly appreciate it, thanks. =)
a b U Graphics card
February 25, 2013 8:12:54 PM

Why don't you keep it and so a 3-way SLI. That will last you a long time and you can always have the CPU, which is more than capable, handle the PhysX duties.
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a b U Graphics card
February 25, 2013 8:13:38 PM

If your mobo can support 3-way keep the card just for that. If not, get rid of it and have the CPU do the duties and get some cash back.
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a b U Graphics card
February 25, 2013 8:20:03 PM

Thanks for your quick reply's!

Okay, I understand that having 3-way SLI would be beneficial, But I really would like to know what this physics processor business is all about anyway for future reference, you know?

Plus, I don't really need 3-way SLI as I am only running a 27" 1080p monitor, The only reason I want 2 of the same card is for aesthetic reasons. =P

BTW, I will also be buying myself the AMD FX-8350, so I think this should handle any physics calculations should I get rid of the Gigabyte anyway. XD
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a b U Graphics card
February 25, 2013 8:23:49 PM

grebgonebad said:
Thanks for your quick reply's!

Okay, I understand that having 3-way SLI would be beneficial, But I really would like to know what this physics processor business is all about anyway for future reference, you know?

Plus, I don't really need 3-way SLI as I am only running a 27" 1080p monitor, The only reason I want 2 of the same card is for aesthetic reasons. =P

BTW, I will also be buying myself the AMD FX-8350, so I think this should handle any physics calculations should I get rid of the Gigabyte anyway. XD


Physics stuff mostly just adds explosion shrapnel to your screen that others can't see so it doesn't change games all that much in most cases. Some people use it to make physics based games, but mostly people design these games to run on very little hardware... also, if you are buying all that video gear, why wouldn't you buy a gaming processor to go with it?
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a c 216 U Graphics card
February 25, 2013 8:37:49 PM

You are talking about GPU accelerated PhysX, not physics. While PhysX does some physics, it is a special case for PhysX only titles that utilize GPU acceleration. There are only about 21 games that use this, the 1000's of other games do not benefit from this at all.

Nvidia's control panel allows for you to just leave it in default mode, and will automatically utilize one of your cards for GPU acceleration should the time come, but most the time, it'll just perform like normal in SLI.

This is what you'd want:


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a b U Graphics card
February 25, 2013 8:46:58 PM

@Traciatim

Basically I find my current 8120 running @ 4.3Ghz to be more than sufficient, and I am in the position where I can afford to purchase the 8350 along with a new Mobo. Both the new CPU and Mobo are going to cost £290 altogether. In order for me to purchase myself an Intel equivalent (In performance terms) CPU, I would have to spend more on both the CPU and Mobo, more like £400. I did research this so believe me. But all in all from the many many MANY reviews of the Bulldozer and Piledriver series CPU's, the 8350 is in fact a gaming CPU, even though it is not as powerful as, lets say, A third Gen i5 2600k.

@bystander

Thanks very much for clearing that up for me, I appreciate the explanation. So what you're basically saying is that I can forget the idea of a PhysX (Thanks for the spelling correction!) GPU and not really notice a difference in real time gaming?

Obviously I could still keep the 3rd GPU and have 3-way SLI, as others have mentioned above, but I think that for now, bearing in mind I am only using 1 1080p monitor, 2-way will be fine for now. Which means that I can sell the 3rd and make some of my money back! =)
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a b U Graphics card
February 25, 2013 8:47:10 PM

Best answer selected by grebgonebad.
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a b U Graphics card
February 25, 2013 8:48:22 PM

Ahh, thanks for the pic, It makes things a lot clearer now. Best answer to you Sir!
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a c 216 U Graphics card
February 25, 2013 8:50:24 PM

grebgonebad said:

@bystander

Thanks very much for clearing that up for me, I appreciate the explanation. So what you're basically saying is that I can forget the idea of a PhysX (Thanks for the spelling correction!) GPU and not really notice a difference in real time gaming?

Obviously I could still keep the 3rd GPU and have 3-way SLI, as others have mentioned above, but I think that for now, bearing in mind I am only using 1 1080p monitor, 2-way will be fine for now. Which means that I can sell the 3rd and make some of my money back! =)


In the vast majority of the games, you'll never gain anything from a dedicated PhysX card. You might not even own a game that benefits from this.

However, if you do, and you leave it in "auto-select" mode in the Nvidia control panel, it will use one of your cards for PhysX if you play a game that can use it, but remain in 3-way SLI. Though in the cases when GPU accelerated PhysX is applied, one of your cards will not perform much in SLI.

This gives you the best of both worlds.
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