Benefits and Disadvantages of Dual Graphics Cards – Is It Worth It?

In many instances, two is better than one, and that’s no different for PCs. Some techies believe that having dual graphics cards is just as essential as several core processors. While reputable brands like NVIDIA and AMD provide options for running multiple cards, is it something you should factor into your gaming experience? Can a single card get the job done? Read on to find the answer to these valid questions, and more.

What Are the Requirements?

To use dual graphics cards, your PC requires NVIDIA or AMD technology that ties the cards to generate a single output. The graphics solution for NVIDIA is SLI, whereas that of AMD is CrossFire. For each, your PC must have a compatible motherboard with the required PCI Express graphics slots.

As a tip to discover whether or not a given motherboard supports more than one card, head over to its official product page and keenly go through the specs. Alternatively, you can keep an eye out for the SLI or crossfire symbol that the motherboard was packaged in.

These graphics cards also need a PC case that’s big enough to accommodate the additional hardware and a power supply. Moreover, they must be connected via a bridge connector that may be included with the motherboard or GPU. Lastly, the Crossfire or SLI feature must be activated in the GPU driver control panel.

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What Are the Benefits?

We’ve rounded up some of the perks that stem from using dual graphics cards.

  • Increased gaming performance: When at least two cards render the same 3D visuals, computer games run at higher resolutions with extra filters and greater frame rates. It’s this superior capacity that boosts the graphics quality in most games.
  • Higher resolutions: It’s no secret that single graphics cards of excellent quality can effortlessly handle games with up to 1080p resolutions. But, what you’re getting with more than one card is a higher resolution, thereby ushering in the possibility of utilizing newer technology. For instance, 4K displays that offer four times the resolution.
  • Facilitates upgrades: Using a CrossFire or SLI-compatible motherboard ushers in PC upgrades down the line without replacing the existing graphics card. You have free rein to throw a second card in the mix for enhanced performance without getting rid of the first one. Given that manufacturers typically upgrade these cards every 18 months, finding a compatible card after a two-year window can be an uphill battle.
  • Multiple monitor support: Dual graphics cards allow you to connect to multiple monitors concurrently. While this is not a necessity, it can enhance the gaming experience for some players.

What Is the Flipside?

While dual graphics cards have their perks, it’s a double-edged sword because there’s a flipside to them, as discussed below.

  • High running cost: Top of the range graphics dual cards cost at least $500. But, reputable brands like NVIDIA offer lower-priced options with dual capability. So, techies can spend the same amount of cash for a single card with superior performance to the lower-priced GPUs.
  • Compatibility issues: Not all games are compatible with more than one card. And, some graphics engines don’t mesh well with dual cards. Consequently, some games may exhibit decreased performance. In other instances, shuttering occurs, which makes the game look choppy.
  • Significant power consumption: Dual graphics cards are power-hungry to the point that they can double the amount of energy needed to run them in tandem. For instance, one high-end card may need a 600-watt power supply for proper functioning, whereas two of these cards may need 1000 watts. Furthermore, most PCs for home use aren’t equipped to deal with high-wattage. So, it’s essential to check your system’s power supply wattage to determine whether or not it’s compatible with multiple cards.
  • Performance: The efficacy of a dual-card environment varies based on a computer’s other components. Even with two of the most powerful cards, a low-end processor can throttle the amount of data that a PC supplies to the graphics cards. Therefore, they’re only suitable for top of the range computers.

So What are the Best Graphics Cards to Buy?

You can take your pick from any of the reviewed products below.

1. ASUS GeForce RTX 2070

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It’s powered by NVIDIA Turing that packs 1845 MHz Boost Clock, 8GB GDDR6 memory, and 2560 CUDA Cores. Supporting up to four monitors with one 2.0 HDMI port and three display outputs, the GeForce RTX 2070 is a killer card for the money. It offers IP5X dust-resistance and boosts airflow through the heat-sink courtesy of the three Axial-Tech fans. The backplate designed from sturdy aluminum keeps trace damage and PCB flex at bay.

2. EVGA GeForce GTX 1060

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Packed with innovative technologies, the GTX 1060 is the perfect option for the latest high-end games. Courtesy of NVIDIA Pascal, this product provides unmatched performance that paves the way for virtual reality (VR) and more. It also features the state-of-the-art ACX cooling technology that constitutes double ball bearings, swept fan blades, and a low power motor. Collectively, they provide increased airflow with reduced power, thus channeling more power to the GPU.

The GTX 1060 is compatible with systems that have a minimum power supply of 400 watts and operate on Windows 7, 8, and 10 (64/32-bit). Armed with a three-year warranty, Real Base Clock of 1607 MHz, and GDDR5 6144 MB memory, users get value for their money.

3. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660

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With an array of cool features, the GTX 1660 stands out from the rest. For instance, it has a powerful photo mode feature that allows users to capture top-grade photos (HDR, Stereo, and 360-degree) of their games and share their excellent gaming experiences.

Courtesy of the dedicated hardware encoder, you’re assured of 15% better efficiency over older graphics card models. The GTX 1660 also optimized for Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), which ushers in topnotch live streaming on various platforms such as YouTube.

Armed with multiple outputs, the silent and efficient Wind-force 2X cooling system, 6GB memory, and an AORUS engine, you’ll be blown away by the overall performance. While the GTX 1660 shoots up to 144 FPS on games such as Destiny 2, it may not be compatible with games that need a stronger card.

To Wrap Up

For average computer users, dual graphics cards are not necessary. They only come in handy for those that stand to gain from an optimized 3D performance. But, if you decide to go down this route, then you must also be ready to shell out extra bucks for the appropriate motherboard. Ultimately, the ball is in your court. So, weigh the pros and cons and check out our reviewed products to permit an informed decision.