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What GPUs Support SLI

What GPUs Support SLI

Since the re-branding of SLI by Nvidia in 2004, PC owners have been able to run up to four GPUs simultaneously. This allows them to boost graphical processing power without investing in higher-priced and more modern single GPUs.

Unfortunately, not all GPUs support SLI technology. In fact, SLI is limited to select Nvidia GPUs that must be combined properly to ensure compatibility. In this article, we list the GPUs that support SLI before giving you a few pointers to help you use SLI technology.

The GPUs That Support SLI

Barring a few exceptions, nearly all of the GPUs that support SLI are part of Nvidia’s GeForce range. Every card that offers SLI compatibility is an Nvidia card, while other manufacturers like AMD offer similar concepts without the SLI name. For example, AMD’s Crossfire tech works similarly to SLI for the AMD range of cards. Cross-compatibility between manufacturers is nonexistent.

Even though all SLI-compatible GPUs are Nvidia-branded, not all Nvidia cards support SLI. The following list includes all currently compatible cards:

What GPU Support SLI

What You Need to Run SLI

You need two key things to run SLI.

The first is an SLI-compatible motherboard. Assuming that your motherboard supports the technology can be a costly mistake because some models don’t. For example, AMD motherboards are far more likely to offer compatibility with the company’s own CrossFire technology than they are SLI. That’s not to say that no AMD motherboard is SLI compatible. Some offer joint compatibility with SLI and CrossFire. Motherboards made by other manufacturers may offer SLI, CrossFire, both, or neither.

The point is that you need to confirm your motherboard supports SLI before attempting to combine GPUs. Google the part’s model number to find its product page, which should tell you if the motherboard is compatible with SLI. You may also see an icon on the motherboard’s packaging that says it’s SLI-compatible.

Second, you need identical GPUs to leverage SLI technology. That means you can’t take two different graphics cards from the above list and combine them. A GeForce GTX 970 can’t be combined with a GeForce GTX 1070, for example. It can only be combined with another GeForce GTX 970. Thankfully, you will rarely find conflicts occurring between different manufacturers, so two GeForce GTX 970 GPUs made by different manufacturers should work together.

There are limited exceptions to this rule. It’s occasionally possible to create a mixed SLI configuration using two different GPUs that share a core codename. For example, you may be able to combine two cards with the G70 codename, even if the cards are different models from one another. There is no guarantee that this will work, meaning you must research the specific cards to see if they’re compatible with one another.

It’s worth noting that many modern GPUs either don’t support SLI at all or have relegated it to a per-application basis. For example, the GTX 16 series of cards, which are mainstays of modern budget gaming, do not support SLI. The GTX 30 series, which includes the 3080 and 3090 GPUs, offers limited SLI support for select applications.

As such, full SLI support is mostly relegated to older graphics cards. It may be more cost-effective to source a modern GPU that offers better results than you’d achieve by combining two older SLI-compatible cards.

How Does SLI Work in Practice?

When you combine GPUs, they’re set up in a master-slave configuration. In other words, one card will become the “master” card, which traditionally means it handles the bulk of the workload. The “slave” card then handles any other issues that the master card passes down.

SLI works similarly in terms of having the master-slave designation. The key difference is that all cards handle an equal amount of the graphical workload. Assuming a two-GPU SLI setup, you may find the master card works on the upper part of the screen, with the slave card handling the lower half. In a three-card setup, each GPU handles a third of the visual workload.

Using SLI Bridges

If you’re running a pair of low or mid-range GPUs, you’ll likely be able to combine them using your motherboard’s chipset. Unfortunately, this isn’t an optimal solution when combining a pair of high-end GPUs. Most motherboard chipsets don’t have the memory required to get the most out of the combined cards.

In these cases, you’ll need an SLI bridge.

Also known as SLI connectors, these bridges come in three varieties:

  • Standard
  • LED
  • High-Bandwidth

Standard should work for any motherboards that support SLI displays of 1920×1080 and 2560×[email protected] Hz. You’ll need an LED bridge to get the most out of SLI on a 4K monitor. High-bandwidth bridges are currently only sold by Nvidia and only support 2-way SLI configurations. They’re ideal for high-end monitors that offer surround or 5K displays.

GPUs Support SLI

Ensure SLI Compatibility

SLI allows you to combine the power of two or more GPUs, which is ideal for gaming and high-end graphical design work. The technology also allows you to combine low and mid-range GPUs so they can do the same work as a more expensive high-end option.

However, it’s not a plug-and-play technology. You need to have a compatible motherboard and several of the same model of SLI-compatible GPUs to make the technology work.

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Jul 29, 2022

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