In the mid-2000s, players typically imagined a low-end Intel processor with at least 16GB of RAM and a wide range of four premium GPUs when talking about the ultimate gaming machine. These cards run on Nvidia SLI or AMD CrossFire technology.
However, almost 20 years later, people are no longer talking about this kind of raw power. Instead, it’s all about expensive GPUs, cryptocurrency, and 4K displays.
So, what happened? Are multiple GPU settings still valuable for players? Let’s examine their pros and cons and see if it’s still worth the cost.
Advantages of multi-GPU gaming systems
A GPU is specifically designed to process tons of graphical data. So, if you are a gamer, you want a good video card in your game layout to offer high quality graphics. However, from the mid-2000s to the mid-2010s, game development boosted hardware capacity – meaning that even high-end cards struggled to provide high-FPS 4K games.
That’s why most players built computers with two or more GPUs. There are two key benefits to unlocking multiple GPU computers.
Better resolution, higher frame rates
By installing two or more GPUs, your computer can split workloads between video cards. This system allows your computer to process more data, thus allowing you to have larger resolutions while maintaining higher frame rates.
For example, high FPS 4K games require at least 3060 Ti or 2080 Super. However, in a video posted on YouTube, DudeRandom84 was able to run the Grand Theft Auto V in Ultra settings in 4K. It came back in 2017, about a year before Nvidia launched its RTX GPUs.
DudeRandom84 uses two Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti GPUs connected via SLI and powered by an overclocked Intel Core i7-7700K.
You have a backup GPU
Another advantage that most GPUs offer is the availability of a backup card. If ever one of your video cards fails, you can still play on the other while waiting for a damaged GPU to be repaired or replaced.
In addition, multiple GPU configurations are very useful in professional use. Whether you’re a researcher, a video editor, or have any other application that requires great computer power, most GPUs will perform your work much faster than just relying on one card.
Multiple GPU computer shortcomings
While having multiple video cards offers a pool in power, it’s not all sun and rose. Multi-GPUs also have issues that you should consider before installing a second GPU.
GPUs are expensive
Before the 2020 plague devastated the world, many GPUs had reasonable prices. For example, the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti had a RP 699 SRP. But, if you get two of these cards, you’ll have to spend 1,398.
But in 2022, prices have changed dramatically. Ignore GPU shortages in 2021 and early 2022 The Nvidia RTX 3090 and Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti retail for $ 1,499 and $ 1,999, respectively. So, if you plan to get two RTX 3090s, you should spend around $ 3,000.
Multi-GPU computers consume a ton of power
GPUs are some of the most powerful elements of any computer. If you run the RTX 3090 Ti, the GPU has a 450 watt TDP – which is far more powerful than what some PSUs can offer. So, if you plan to install these two cards, you should have at least 1,300 watts of power to account for GPUs and your processor and other components.
Considering that these cards already consume 450 watts each, they will also consume an equal amount of heat. With this, you can expect the area where your computer is located to be particularly hot. This means you have to invest in an air conditioner or heat exchanger unit, or you run the risk of overheating your body while playing.
Multi-GPU systems require special video cards
If you upgrade your gaming computer, you will be interested in adding your old GPU to the new system. However, it is not so simple. Multi-GPU systems usually require you to have GPUs from the same model and series. So, if you have the Radeon RX580 on your current computer, and you want to attach the R9 390 GPU from your old gaming system, it won’t work.
There are cases where cards of different performance levels may work together, but a low performance GPU will block fast cards. For example, you could theoretically connect the RTX 3090 Ti to the RTX 2080 Ti. However, you should not maximize your fast GPU because the old card is blocking it.
Your games must specifically support multiple GPUs
Say you’ve finally configured two RTX 3090s on your computer, and you’re now working on testing with your games. However, it’s not as easy as opening your favorite title. You should first check if it supports multiple GPU technologies first.
Grand Theft Auto V, for example, runs smoothly with this because it has support within the game. However, other headlines, such as Forza Horizon 5, do not support this. If a game runs on DirectX 9, 10, or 11, you can still run it by downloading driver profiles from your GPU maker.
But, if the game you are playing uses DirectX 12, it should basically support multiple GPU technologies. Otherwise, the game will use only one GPU on your system. The rest will remain idle while you play.
Some games that support multi-GPU systems also require complex settings. In addition, there are times when headers with multi-GPU support end up with poor performance, such as frame drop and stringing, due to poor driver implementation.
So, should you use multiple graphics cards for your gaming computer?
The short answer is: no. Considering the above advantages and disadvantages, investing in two or more cards makes no sense unless you use them professionally. If you have specialized software that processes billions of data points or 4K video hours, multi-GPU systems fit into your workflow.
However, multiple GPU gaming systems are simply done for good. This is because the new GPU models, structures, and technology are more than enough to offer ultra quality games with high frame rates. Even current mid-range GPUs like the 3060 Ti can now perform like the latest generation of interest cards.
If your work requires such a system, and you are also into games, then, anyway, get a few GPU computers. But if not, you are wasting money putting a second GPU into an already powerful system. The additional cost – an additional $ 2,000 for a 3090 Ti – is not worth the extra performance.
Be a smart player
If you have an unlimited budget, you can install a second (or third, or fourth) GPU to maximize the potential power of your system. But that’s just it – probable. No game, current or past, uses this amount of horsepower. So, unless you use your devil’s computer for work, you don’t really need another GPU to play in the best possible quality.
Instead of spending 2,000 on a second card, why not get the best equipment? For this money, you can get a great 4K or 8K display, some high-speed SSDs, game keyboards and mice, gaming controllers, wheels, and boards, and even a full VR layout to increase your immersion.
After regulating your system, you will have even a little change left to treat yourself to a good diet.