Can You SLI Two Different Graphics Cards?

SLI is quite a familiar name to gamers and PC freaks in custom gaming rig building. It is mainly a technology introduced to us by NVIDIA for some advanced purposes and the betterment of gamers worldwide. It stands for Scalable Link Interface, which is used for establishing the connection between two graphics cards. 

And those two graphics cards will work together in a single PC system to enhance the available processing power. But the most asked question related to this matter is, can you SLI two different graphics cards or not. And unfortunately, the answer is no; it isn’t possible to pair two different graphics cards in the same system. 

What is SLI Technology in Gaming Rig or PC Building?

As we have learned before, SLI stands for Scalable Link Interface technology to pair up two graphics cards. When you pair two graphics cards in the same PC system, the work rate and capability of the system become double. In addition, the available processing power of the whole system will enhance because of it. 

NVIDIA first introduced this multi-GPU technology for the betterment of heavy users. But this technology is available when you have two same graphics cards in your collection. By the same, it doesn’t mean that two graphics cards are from the same brand or manufacturer.  

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If the chipset of both the graphics cards is the same, then you can pair them up in a common computer system. So, you will have to somehow manage two same graphics cards for establishing an SLI system. But if you have two different GPUs, it is not possible to SLI those two in your PC system. 

At the same time, the VRAM of the GPUs should be the same in order to pair them up. Because when the VRAM is 6 GB in one GPU and 3 GB in another, combinedly, they will operate in 6 GB even after having the capacity of 9 GB.  

But when you use two GPUs of 6 GB VRAM each, the capacity will become 12 GB as expected. 

Can You SLI Two Different Graphics Cards

Can You SLI Two Different Graphics Cards or Not– The Actions to Take in this Situation

As you have learned above, you can SLI two same graphics cards in a computer system. But there is no way of pairing two different GPUs in a single PC system, even if they are from the same brand. 

So even if you want to pair two different GPUs from the introducer of this technology, NVIDIA, it is still not possible. As you can’t SLI two different cards in the same system, you will have to find a way to build your system somehow. 

In this situation, there are two steps that you can do to complete your PC system in the best possible way. The first one is you will have to purchase another GPU that matches the better GPU among your two older GPUs. 

Then you can pair up those two similar graphics cards to build your gaming rig or for the purpose, you dreamt of. However, there is another solution for you in which you will have to build your PC with the better one between them. The other graphics card from your collection will remain unused as you do so.  

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After hearing about both these solutions, two significant confusions will arrive in your mind. Like the first solution, you may purchase another GPU matching with one of your older GPUs. Then the question of how to SLI those two same graphics cards will arrive.  

On the other hand, what to do with the second GPU when you build your system with one graphics card? Let’s have an in-detail discussion about these two scenarios below: 

How to SLI two NVIDIA Graphics Cards?

To establish NVIDIA SLI, you will have to go through some phases, which consist of individual steps of their own. The phases are: 

Phase-1: Installation of the Two NVIDIA Graphics Cards 

Before installing both the NVIDIA graphics cards in your PC system, you will have to check some facts. At first, you need to make sure the operating system of your computer supports a two-card SLI system. If you are using any version of Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10, you will be able to establish NVIDIA SLI. 

The next task for you is to find the GPUs that are capable of being part of an SLI system. You will get the list of SLI-capable GPUs on the NVIDIA website. Make sure one of your older GPUs names is on that list, and purchase the same GPU again.  

You will also have to confirm that you have a power supply with at least 650 watts outputs. Now in the motherboard you have, find the PCI-E slots, and place those two graphics cards. While recognizing the cards in there, make sure not to break them or put them in odd angles. 

Then tighten the screws from every side to secure their position into that PCI-E slots. Now you must have an SLI Bridge as you have the SLI-supported board. Both the NVIDIA graphics cards will be attached to each other through this SLI Bridge.  

If you don’t have the bridge, you can make the connection through the PCI-E slots. But unfortunately, you will face a significant performance drop in this case. 

Phase-2: SLI Setting Up 

After placing the cards, the next task for you is to set up the SLI system. While completing the first phase, your computer must stay shut down. So, after installing the cards, you will have to shut the case and power on the computer. You might think of some arrangements in the settings section. 

But no, you won’t have to make any changes in settings to set up SLI in your computer system. Instead, after powering up, your device will detect the presence of those two newly added graphics cards. As a result, your device will try to install drivers for the cards. 

Both these graphics cards will require individual drivers for them to perform. That’s why the process of drive installation can take a while to get the job done correctly. In addition, in some cases, the drivers for the graphics cards may not install automatically. 

For those situations, you will have to download the latest drivers from the NVIDIA website to cope with the GPUs. After the installation of the drivers, enter the NVIDIA control panel. For doing so, right-click the computer mouse or touchpad, and enter there by selecting the NVIDIA control panel.  

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Locate the “Configure Surround, PhysX,” and click on it in that control panel window. Then you will have to select “Maximize 3D performance” from the previous section and click Apply. Right after you do that, the screen of your computer will flush several times. 

Thus, the SLI configuration will be enabled in your computer to maximize the capability. Now you are almost closer to fully enabling SLI; you need to click the “Manage 3D Settings” link. In this section, the next task for you is to locate the “SLI performance mode” option.  

From there, you will need to change the “Single GPU” settings for the final stage. Then set it as “Alternate Frame Rendering 2” to provide the final touch in the process. As a result, the SLI mode will be turned on, and you can use it after further testing. 

What to Do with The Secondary Graphics Card?

If you build your system with a single and better graphics card, another card will be spared. Then the more critical question arrives about what to do with that secondary graphics card. Setting up your second graphics card as a dedicated PhysX card is the best what you can do in this situation.  

To complete this task, you will have to go through some proper steps, and those are: 

Step-1: You will first have to open the NVIDIA control panel from your computer system. 

Step-2: Then, you need to access the options bar situated on the left side of the control panel. You will have to find and select “Set PhysX Configuration” from the options bar.  

Step-3: You will find a dropdown icon beside the option named “Select a PhysX processor.” Click on that dropdown icon to expand the list of processors hidden in there. When the list is disclosed, you will find the name of your secondary graphics card. 

At last, you will have to select the secondary graphics card name to set it as a dedicated PhysX card. 

Frequently-Asked Questions

Can I use SLI technology to pair up two different NVIDIA GPUs in the same PC system? 

No, you can’t SLI two different NVIDIA graphics cards in the same system even if they are from the same brand. This is because, to establish a connection, the graphics cards need to be identical; otherwise, it won’t be possible. In addition, the chipsets of the graphics cards must be similar for the process.  

Is it possible to SLI two same NVIDIA GPUs in my Windows 10 OS computer?  

When the GPUs are identical, there is no issue establishing a connection from that side. But first, you will have to make sure your device’s operating system supports the SLI system. If you use a Windows 10 operating system device, establishing LSI connection is very much possible. 

You can also establish NVIDIA SLI in the Windows Vista, 7, and 8 supported computers. 

Should the VRAM of the identical GPUs be the same while performing SLI? 

If you are connecting two identical NVIDIA graphics cards, you should keep an eye on VRAM as well. In this case, if one GPU is 6GB and the other one is 3GB, the maximum capacity will be (3+3) =6GB, where it should be (6+3) =9GB. So, there won’t be maximum utilization of the GPU RAM. 

But when the two graphics cards have the same 6GB RAM, you will get a maximum (6+6) =12GB capacity. So, it will be beneficial to use identical graphics cards with the same amount of VRAM.  

Final Thoughts 

You may have heard about pairing two GPUs in the same computer system for maximum power. This technique is called SLI, and the most asked question on this is, can you SLI two different graphics cards or not. Unfortunately, the answer is no, but you can perform SLI if both of your graphics cards are identical. 

So, if you have one capable GPU, you need to purchase another one to make a pair of them. Of course, you can also use the single GPU system with sparing another different GPU. But in both cases, you can use that spare GPU as the dedicated PhysX card.

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