SLI vs Crossfire: Does a Multi-GPU setup worth gaming in 2021?

SLI vs Crossfire: Does it worth in 2021

SLI vs Crossfire

SLI vs Crossfire: If you playing games on PC for the last 10-15 years you might hear about multi-GPU setup. Or maybe you have seen something like that. Well the multi GPU configuration works for both AMD and NVIDIA cards. Those who don’t know about SLI and Crossfire. Its the basically the same multi-GPU technology with two different names from two different companies. AMD called it CrossfireX and NVIDIA called it SLI (Scalable Link Interface).

SLI vs Crossfire, although these are basically the same. But there are some critical differences between those. Both technologies are pretty much a way to utilize more than one graphics card in a single system. They both work with anywhere from two, three, or up to four compatible in one system. Double GPU may increase the performance but not double the performance. They probably perform their best at high resolution with graphically demanding games, they also both increase the power consumption heat. In fact, the game doesn’t have a profile implemented, they may not improve performance at all.

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Difference between SLI vs Crossfire

1. Compatibility

  • You can use the different vendor card and clock speed for SLI. But with same GPU and same memory configuration. ex: SLI with EVGA 1080ti with Gigabyte 1080ti
  • On the other hand, you can crossfire two different vendor cards with different clock speeds, VRAM amounts, and even different GPUs as long as both the card has the same architecture.

2. Cost

  • NVIDIA requires SLI certification for your card. Plus for SLI PCI.E 8x slot is minimum required. They require a board manufacturer to pay a license fee.
  • But for the AMD crossfire, you don’t need any certification, license. Also, crossfire support any PCI.E slot to run.

3. Connector

  • NVIDIA SLI needs an SLI bridge to connect the two graphics card in order to run together.
  • AMD card doesn’t require any sort of connector. They are capable of crossfire over the PCI express bus. Its’ Higher-bandwidth, cleaner-looking solution.

4. Flexibility

  • NVIDIA doesn’t allow or impossible to SLI with the CPU’s integrated graphics. Because you need an SLI bridge in anyways.
  • AMD allows their low-end card to crossfire with their onboard graphics of their APU’s.

I guess that the main difference between NVIDIA SLI and AMD crossfire. NVIDIA has some strict rules to use SLI. On the other hand, AMD offers some flexibility and choice. Though these options aren’t best, at least you can pick them.

also read: How much VRAM or video memory or graphics memory do I actually need for gaming in 2019 or in Future?

Problems with SLI vs Crossfire multi-GPU scaling

So you all read the facts and differences and thought to put another one or two cards in your system. Hold on though you put double GPU doesn’t mean you double the performance. Two graphics cards mean they have to communicate somehow. Most modern multi-GPU set up using alternate frame rendering. Each graphics card renders every frame separately. In order to display the right data to monitor, both cards need to be sync properly.

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If you add more cards and the synchronization is not well it will cause Micro stuttering. For smooth gameplay, you not only just need higher FPS but also a consistent frame time. Poor synchronization can skip certain frames on your monitor and made the game overall unplayable.

Micro stutter, SLI vs Crossfire

An even bigger problem is that it’s very difficult to GPUs to know what frame should render next. It depends heavily on what the player chooses to do. Some game developer code the game such a manner that makes it easier for multiple GPUs to split the workload. But many developers don’t see any point to put extra effort and time to code the game that it will play nicely with multi-GPU system.

Does this mean multi-GPU set up use less or complete waste of money?

Well, no. A multi-card setup will give you the best possible performance in certain cases and even can make some games playable at very high settings and resolution. Direct X 12 and Vulcan API may improve the multi-GPU rendering.

SLI vs Crossfire Conclusion: Is It Worth In 2021?

The SLI and crossfire things came into the PC gaming industry a long time ago. But we are now in 2021, using these kinds of stuff is like taken a step backward. It’s becoming less common to see multi-GPU setups. As I said before some technical issues inherent to the platform. Due to poor synchronization, micro stuttering cause happen. Alternate frame rendering doesn’t always play nicely on some modern games.

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Newer technology doesn’t completely solve the problem that multiple GPUs perfectly communicating with each other. Although from NVIDIA a newer bus called NVlink has greater bandwidth. But it was designed for the professional GPU user not for gamers. Newer API such as DirectX 12 and Vulcan API hasn’t made the situation easier for average consumers.

In the past, SLI and crossfire took an active role to split the work across the GPUs. However, newer gives more control to the game developers to code the game for the multi-GPU system. Although it sounds like it games work more efficiently on multi-card setup but it turns out developers are not quite interested to put extra time and effort into code. Because the multi-GPU setup users are very very low. So lots of modern games are not well optimized for multi-GPU setup.

The fact is that modern cards such as RTX 2080 or Radeon 7 are more powerful which makes multi-GPU less appealing. Most gamers out there are playing on a 1080P monitor and a solid single current-gen card in well enough to run a modern game at a smooth frame rate. You do not require a $2000 multi-GPU rig to run Cuphead or Sonic mania and even popular current title Fortnite doesn’t require expensive hardware.

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