Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX are similar kind of technologies which are used to install more than one graphic card(or GPU) in a single system(desktop or laptop). These technologies makes the demanding games to run faster and smoother with higher frame rates. The number of graphic cards which can be installed in the desktop computer depends on the motherboard used. If a motherboard has one PCI-E slot,we can install single graphic card(single GPU card or dual GPU card). If a motherboard has 2 PCI-E slots, the following configurations are possible.
Motherboard with 2 PCI-E slots:
Setup1 – 2 way SLI or CrossFireX
- Slot1-1 single GPU graphic card
- Slot2-1 single GPU graphic card
Setup2 – 4 way SLI or CrossFireX
- Slot1-1 dual GPU graphic card
- Slot2-1 dual GPU graphic card
Note that the number of graphic card doesn’t matter. It the number of GPUs which we should consider for the multi GPU configuration. There is a difference between the graphic card (video card) and the GPU which I have explained in the post GRAPHIC CARD (VIDEO CARD) VS GPU (GRAPHICS PROCESSING UNIT) – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW.
Though both the technologies (Nviidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX) are developed for the same purpose, both have their own advantages and disadvantages when using multiple GPUs.
|Nvidia SLI||AMD CrossFireX|
|Must use same graphic card with same memory configuration||Can use same of different graphic card(even different manufacturer), but in same generation.
Note: graphic cards for CrossFireX with other cards in their sub series.
5830 and 5870 can CrossFireX
5770 and 5870 cannot CrossFireX
|For multi-monitor setup, it requires to use monitors with same resolution.||Can use monitors with different size and resolution.|
|Bridges (wire connecting two or more graphic cards) are required when installing two graphic cards in SLI configuration.||Some graphic cards require bridges while some other do not require bridge.|
Note that a dual GPU graphic card internally uses SLI and CrossFireX technology to communicate between the two GPUs.
Is your PC ready for SLI or CrossFireX?
First a compatible motherboard is required to use multiple graphic card in a desktop computer. The next thing to consider is the heat dissipation unit used in the cabinet. The heat dissipation unit will be usually fan sink. Higher end cabinets supports for liquid cooling system. For SLI or CrossFireX setup, a proper cooling solution is required since the graphic cards will generate more heat. If you are targeting laptops with multi-GPU support, you don’t need to worry about all these things. However the same technologies(even same model hardware) wont perform the same in desktop and laptop. Desktop models always give better performance than the laptops. The following post Desktop vs Laptop Performance – Processor & GPU – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW details more on the performance difference between desktops and laptops.