Can You Use Two Graphic Cards at the Same Time?

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Dual graphics cards have risen on the trend, working cooperatively to provide improved performance, video, and other benefits over using a single graphics card. With that, we have already given the answer to whether you can use two graphics cards at once or not.  

However, it is never a one-line answer. Thus, let us look into it in more detail in this post.

Can you use two Graphics Cards at once?

Yes, you can use two graphics cards at once – and it should technically work out, with both cards giving you graphical output. This, however, has some exceptions and requirements. If you are a Windows 7 user, the two graphics cards you choose will need to have the same driver – you can either choose Nvidia’s SLI or AMD’s CrossFireX, but not both.

Besides, previously, in order to use two graphics cards at once, you needed to have special and more expensive motherboards, and of course, cards from the same vendor (Nvidia only or AMD only).

On the other hand, when it comes to Windows 10, Microsoft does not care. Presently, the requirements in order to use have been simplified, and DirectX 12 allows for MDA or multi-display adapter where software is able to explicitly work with multiple displays, i.e., cards from both Nvidia SLI and AMD CFX. 

The catch is that different cards can not be linked to function as a GPU array, which translates to the inability to use them together to render graphics in games. Operating independently in one PC, at the same time, the second graphics card will be used by the system to render graphics on the additional monitors linked to it.

Requirements to use two Graphics Cards at once

To use dual or two graphics cards at once, your PC should either have AMD or Nvidia technology, which shall allow the cards to be linked. Moreover, for the PC to have AMD CrossFire or Nvidia SLI, it should have a compatible motherboard with necessary PCI Express graphics slots in the first place.

You can look for the CFX or SLI symbol on the original box of the motherboard to check if it supports dual graphics cards. Another alternative is to go to the motherboard’s official product page and check its compatibility with dual graphics cards under the specifications.

For using two graphics cards at once in a PC, your PC is required to be large enough to fit the extra component, i.e., the second GPU. It should also have a power supply that can support both the dual cards to allow them to run properly. 

Another set of requirements is that you must connect the cards using a bridge connector and enable the SLI or CrossfireX feature in the GPU driver control panel.

Complications in using a second Graphics Card:

Of course, the sheer increase in raw performance can be motivation enough to use a second graphics card. However, it does not come without the downside and the liabilities:

Space and physical complications:

Space is one of the most ignored complications when it comes to fuelling your system with a second GPU. As mentioned in the requirements section above, you will need a motherboard that has an appropriate number of PCIe slots. 

On top of that, you will also need enough clearance inside the chassis. Clearance inside the chassis is important to support the GPUs, which continually grow in size over time.

Moving beyond physical space, you will also need space for heat. When you are using two graphics cards, they will obviously generate more heat than a single one would. If there is not enough clearance, the chassis will force the other components of the PC, such as the CPU, to work harder. 

This, again, will raise temperature concerns. Although you can solve the same by making alterations to the heat sink, however, it must be noted that it is yet another layer of complication.

Another physical complication is being able to supply the amount of power required to run dual graphics cards in tandem. For instance, if you previously used a single high-end graphics card, it approximately would have required about a 500-watt supply. 

When you use two cards, they may require anything above 850 watts to function properly. Even if you could arrange the source of which high power, the problem lies in the fact that most computers do not incorporate such high power supplies in them.

Compatibility complications:

If you get over the physical complications, there is compatibility that you should factor in. For instance, if you install two cards in the PC – one with 484 GB/s bandwidth and the other with a bandwidth of 968 GB/s, the two will not translate together, and the setup will be a fail.

Besides, the physical components such as the motherboard must be compatible with the vendor you will be using – AMD or Nvidia. Even if all the components are compatible, it is possible that using two high-end graphics cards with a low-end processor will lead to throttling the amount of data the system provides to the graphics card.

It is also possible that SLI and Crossfire might sometimes make a video look a little choppy, owing to the phenomenon called micro stuttering. At lower frame rates, this phenomenon can be frustrating to work around.

It also must be noted that if you are aiming to install two graphics cards at once to increase performance, the performance may be hindered or varied since the performance is dependent on the other components of the system too.

Sky-high price:

Lastly, it is the budget that you should reconsider if you want to use two graphics cards at the same time. Unlike most other components, GPU prices have been scaling endlessly. This is one of the biggest disadvantages to using two graphics cards in a system – a huge dent in your wallet. Any top-of-the-line card shall cost anywhere above $500. 

Even if you choose inexpensive cards with dual capability, it is possible that you can get a single card with the same or enhanced performance at that price which will save you the hassle.

 

Is it worth using a dual GPU in 2021?

Sure, two graphics cards can offer you a great performance upgrade, but is it worth it to explore such an expensive concept, which also includes so many liabilities?

There is no cut and dry answer, but if you are willing to manage with the side effects and ACTUALLY need dual graphics cards running in tandem on your PC – it might be worth it.

If all things go as planned, you will have a dual-card setup resulting in higher framerates and an even higher ceiling of setting visuals as per your choice. Instead of replacing a card entirely, the addition of another graphics card means that you will also be getting enhanced performance, but the question you need to ask yourself is, do you really need it?

If you are a hardcore gamer, or your game runs across several displays, maybe at extreme resolutions, using dual graphics cards can greatly enhance your game speed and gaming experience. 

If you have incredibly intense editing demands, or you use a multi-monitor setup, using two graphics cards will surely benefit you.

However, if you are a regular OC user with regular, run-of-the-mill usage demands, we will definitely not recommend venturing into hooking two graphics cards on your PC.


FAQs

Why is my GPU not detected?

GPU not detected issues can occur commonly because not plugged in properly or because of some other complex issues which would require more time and information to solve. 

Here are some basic solutions to the GPU not detected issue.

  • Cross-check GPU installation and its slots – Completely take off the GPU from the motherboard and inspect if there is any visible damage; if not, then reinstall the GPU and restart the computer.
  • Reinstall the Graphics Card Drivers – It might happen that you have not updated the drivers or the drivers are broken. So you must reinstall the latest Graphics Card Drivers according to your model.
  • Compatibility issues – Maybe you have an older motherboard, and you have bought a recent GPU, or you might have an underpowered PSU. Double-check all the power cables if they are plugged in properly on your PSU, motherboard, and GPU.

 

How to detect the second Graphics Card on the computer? 

There are a number of users, specifically gamers, who have complained over the Microsoft forum that their PCs are unable to detect the second graphics card, and it only recognizes its onboard GPU. 

Here are some solutions which might help you to detect the second graphics card on the computer.

1.Install the latest drivers for your graphics card.

It is one of the common methods, and most of the time, while performing other tasks on the computer, we forget to update our drivers. To check if your graphics card drivers are up to date, follow the steps given below:

  • Simply right-click on My Computer and then go to Properties 
  • Click on Device Manager; you will find the Device Manager on the left side of the screen.
  • Look for your PCI-Express graphics card under the Display Adapters, then right-click on it and select Update Driver software.

You can also use your DriverFux-Banner tool, which will automatically download and update drivers for your Graphics card and other devices. It will find the latest drivers for your device, and if some drivers are broken, it will fix them instantly.

2. Try disabling the onboard GPU

Most of the time, the onboard graphics card in your PC prevents the second graphics card from working. So you should once try disabling it and then check if the second graphics card is detected or not.

The steps to disable the onboard GPU are as follows:

  • Go to the properties from My Computer.
  • Select the Device Manager from the left side.
  • Under Display Adapters, right-click on your onboard graphics card and go to disable.

3. Enable the second graphics card in BIOS

It may happen that your PCI-Express is not even active, so you need to disable the onboard GPU in BIOS and make your PCI-Express graphics card the primary graphics device. In order to do so, follow the steps given below:

  • Restart your computer
  • Open the BIOS menu by pressing the F2 key while the system restarts.
  • Select the Advanced tab, then go to Video Configuration.
  • Now go to First Display Device or Primary Display Adapter, and select the PCI-Express Graphics option, and press Enter.
  • Lastly, press F10 to save the new settings.

 

Does mining kill your GPU? 

The answer is yes; mining does kill your GPU. What happens is that mining causes heat production, and if you run your mining setup for 24*7 At high temperatures above 80°-90°C, your GPU will barely be able to sustain, and it will severely affect its Lifespan. But other than mining, demanding AAA games, overclocking GPU, and processing data using GPU can also put high stress on your GPU. There are a number of miners who claim that mining causes less harm to the GPU than the latest games. When the miners seek high hash rates, the GPU reaches a high temperature, but it remains consistent at a consistent workload. Whereas in gaming, GPU temperature fluctuates from rapid cooling to rapid heating depending on the workload, and this can cause more damage in the long run.

 

What are the similarities and differences between SLI and CFX?

Both SLI ( NVIDIA ) and CrossFire ( AMD ) are multi-GPU solutions, they use similar technology, and they allow you to utilize multiple graphics cards in the same system.

These technologies work in two different basic modes:

  • Split Frame rendering – In this mode, the GPU splits the work into one portion, now a GPU will work on one portion of the frame, and the other GPU will work on the remaining portion.
  • Alternate Frame rendering – In this mode, the GPU, the workload is split up, and GPU 1 handles frames 1,3,5.. and so on while GPU 2 handles frames 2,4,6…

Differences:

SLI configurations are more expensive than Crossfire configuration because of the extra pay that NVIDIA requires the motherboard manufacturers to be SLI certified. 

Whereas in AMD, there is no such certification requirement, and it can be used with many budget-friendly options that support CrossFire.

An SLI bridge is required to connect two cards only, whereas, in the latest AMD GPUs, two AMD cards can communicate via PCIe 3.0.

 

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