Article 81: GPU Tandem Configurations

 If One is Good – Two Must Be Better

Hi there desktop PC’ers. Welcome back to another article in the Modern Nerd series. As my personal desktop has grown into the Frankenstein Monster that it is, there were intermediate steps. Adding components along the way as I could, and now I have my first experience firsthand with a multiple GPU system, so that will be our topic of the day.

What is that? Sounds Awesome!

Yeah, I know. AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards have the ability to link together and work as one card in your computer. Not all of them. Just some. The NVIDIA cards are called SLI, and the AMD cards are called CrossFire compatible.

So instead of taking that card that you paid 200 hundred dollars for a year ago and replacing it with a 400 dollar one, you can get comparable performance by adding the same card and linking them together on your motherboard. There are a long list of requirements, but I am going to try to give you guys the quick rundown to help you decide if this is something that you think is viable to help you get more power for less deniro.

Know Your Motherboard

Can you even fit two cards? Open up that case and take a look. Most motherboards have more than one PCI Express (Graphics Card or other expansion card) slot, but you will not benefit from a second card if you don’t have the RAM or processor to keep up. Computers are like chains in a way, they will only be as strong as their weakest link, or slowest component. A racecar of a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) will not go very fast if it’s stuck behind a clunker of a CPU.

A quick glance through the manual of your motherboard’s operating manual (don’t worry, they are all available as PDF’s online) will give you more information about your specific setup.

Three? That’s Madness!

There are some boards that can run on three or four GPU’s. It is for the enthusiast set only of course, but know that you would not be limited to two cards.

Exact Matches Only

One more word of warning to those who might not know – GPU’s in a tandem configuration must be identical. You can’t mix and match, because the information will not be properly allocated across multiple cards to run one program. The drivers will not work, and you might end up causing harm to your components. Please be aware of your model card and its compatibility with an SLI setup.

Does it Work?

Yes!! I have had a great experience with my SLI cards. I run a benchmarking program to check out my computer’s performance during high-load applications, and I am getting framerates of 60 frames per second and above with all of the eye-candy turned on. I would definitely say that it is worth the effort to add to your system and improve it, if you fit into this category.


Thanks for reading. Check out the rest of the Modern Nerd content, available every two weeks on the Computer Fixer’s site, as well as the archives, which can be searched. Subscribe to our mailing list or like the page on facebook to get all of the updates when they are posted.


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