Are you building a custom gaming rig and are unsure about whether you can SLI two of your NVIDIA Graphics, then here we will try to dispel your concerns.
The simplest answer to the question can you SLI two different GPUs is NO! You cannot SLI two different GPUs. NVIDIA is a bit inflexible as compared to AMD Crossfire when it comes to multi-GPU operation.
However, there are a few other very important aspects about the SLI that you MUST learn before you continue building your custom rig.
Here we explore the concept if SLI in depth.
FYI; What is SLI Technology?
SLI is a Multi-GPU technology used by NVIDIA. This is worth noting especially for those who confuse the term “SLI” as an umbrella term for AMD multi graphics cards technology as well.
AMD multi graphics card technology is known as Crossfire.
Therefore, the drivers may not necessarily support SLI for all the games. In other words, not all games support SLI.
Also Read: Best Motherboard for SLI
Can You SLI Two Different GPUs?
Simply put, NO! you cannot SLI two different NVIDIA graphics card. In order for SLI to work, you need to have GPUs with the same chipset.
Therefore, for instance, an NVIDIA GTX 1070 can only SLI with another NVIDIA GTX 1070. Similarly an RTX 2080 can only SLI with another RTX 2080.
Does It Have to Be from the Same Brand?
No! In order to SLI graphics card, they do not need to be of the same brand. As long as they have the same chipset, they are good for SLI.
For instance, an EVGA GTX 1660 can SLI with ASUS GTX 1660 since they have the same chipset “1660”.
Do You Need to Have Same VRAM?
Ideally, YES! When getting graphics card for SLI, you should aim to get two with the same VRAM amout. Otherwise, while the SLI WILL work, it will operate with capacity of the lowest denominator.
For example, if you get an NVIDIA GTX 1060 3GB VRAM gpu and an NVIDIA GTX 1060 6GB VRAM gpu for your SLI setup, then while the SLI WILL work, it will only work at the reduced performance of 3GB each.
In other words, the VRAM will NOT add up here to 9 GB, instead, it will be brought down to 6 GB in total.
Does “Ti” Matter? Can You SLI “Ti” with “Non-Ti”?
Some NVIDIA graphics card have the “Ti” suffix. This is stands for “Titanium” and basically says that the particular graphics card is more powerful than the vanilla version.
For instance, the NVIDIA GTX 1660 has both non-Ti as well as Ti version.
So the question is, does Ti matter when you decide to SLI. In other words, can you install an NVIDIA GTX 1660 with an NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti?
No! Unfortunately, you cannot SLI Ti GPUs with non-Ti GPUs.
What Can You Do with Your Second NVIDIA Graphics Card?
It should be clear by now that if two NVIDIA cards are NOT the same, you cannot SLI them.
So what can you do if you have another graphics card laying around. Well other than selling it off, you can actually install it for a few uses.
If you want to improve your gaming performance, the best thing you can do is to install it as a dedicated NVIDIA PhysX card.
You can set a particular card as a dedicated PhysX card via the NVIDIA control panel.
What is Nvidia PhysX? As the name suggests, NVIDIA PhysX is a critical physics related engine. With more and more games heavily reliant on complex mathematical and physics based operations, the PhysX engine helps facilitate those operations.
The debris that you see when you blow up something in a game, or the trajectory of sniper bullet falling in a curve path all follow physics based equations.
A dedicated PhysX card helps improve all the physics based operations and thus delivers a much better performance on debris heavy or physics heavy games.
How To Enable PhysX
Enabling a dedicated card for PhysX is fairly simple.
- Open NVIDIA Control Panel
- Select “Se PhysX Configuration” from the panel on the left.
- Select the drop down menu under the “Select a PhysX processor” to find your dedicated PhysX card.
Note that if you have none installed as a dedicated PhysX card, then your CPU will be the default PhysX processor.
It should be noted, however, that hardware accelerated (GPU-based) PhysX is rarely seen these days. Modern GPUs and CPUs are well equipped to handle the PhysX related operations in games.
Physics in games is not dead, however. Quite on the contrary, it is the integral part of most latest gaming engines like Unreal 4, Frostbite or the Unity 3D.
If you have another graphics card at your disposal then dedicating it as a PhysX based card is still worth a try. You can test the frame rate before and after installing a dedicated PhysX card.
2. Mining and SLI Configuration
While not as lucrative as it used to be, you can use your second NVIDIA graphics card for mining.
Therefore, you can earn some cash in the background.
However, you would have to calculate if the rate at which you make money mining is higher than the electricity cost of running that second GPU.
Installing a second CPU is not a matter of just slapping in a new graphics card on an available PCIe slot.
The first thing you will need to make sure is if you have enough PCIe lanes to support dual graphics cards.
Secondly, you will need to make sure that you have a Power Supply powerful enough to support the requirements of the two graphics cards optimally.
Lastly, you will need to have an excellent ventilation system to remove the heat generated by two graphics card.
SLI is a bit draconian when it comes to their multi-gpu compatibility so the answer to the question can you SLI two different GPUs is NO, you cannot.
However, you CAN put your second graphics card to good use if you have an available PCIe slot left.
Also, when looking into SLI, it is also worth checking out SLI compatibility of the games you want to run since not all games are supported.