Setting up SLI - a "nightmare"? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 26 Old 02-27-2013, 06:04 PM - Thread Starter
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I decided to add a second GTX670 to my rig for a little dual-GPU SLI action. But every time I read about SLI, I also read the words "problems", "headaches" and "not optimized" associated with this task.

I want my computer to be as trouble-free as possible, so I have to ask: Is adding a second GPU really like entering one of Dante's Circles of Hell? confused.gif

For the record, I understand two 670s might be foolish overkill for the most part these days, but I won't rest until I experience it. tongue.gif

UPDATE: click here for my experience.

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post #2 of 26 Old 02-27-2013, 07:17 PM
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I have a 670 as well and am considering going SLI in the future. I hear its actually a lot better these days however if you have issues with certain games you can always disable the 2nd card and go that way.
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post #3 of 26 Old 02-27-2013, 07:26 PM
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SLI being a "nightmare" is about as likely as your computer making you a cake. I've yet to encounter any rig I've ever built having SLI issues and thats over 100 sli rigs easily. Don't worry about it and enjoy your 2 cards!!
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post #4 of 26 Old 02-27-2013, 07:34 PM
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I've never had a problem with SLI, but I've always used identical brands and models of cards. If anything your power supply might be an issue.
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post #5 of 26 Old 02-27-2013, 08:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Cool, thanks guys. I ordered an identical 670, and my power supply is a SeaSonic 750 watt, so I should be good.

It'll probably happen tomorrow, so I'll post back here with results and findings.

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post #6 of 26 Old 02-27-2013, 09:14 PM
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I'm not trying to be insulting, but I hope you saved your mainboard SLI bridge. I've had a couple of friends who have thrown theirs away, and begged me for my extras, lol. Have fun with the overkill!
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post #7 of 26 Old 02-27-2013, 10:27 PM
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It's not 'overkill' if you wish to run Crysis 3 pegged @ 1080p (or higher) at a constant 60 FPS. biggrin.gif

I'm lucky to maintain 30 FPS with my OC'd 6970 (very high). redface.gif

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post #8 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 05:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lurkor View Post

I'm not trying to be insulting, but I hope you saved your mainboard SLI bridge. I've had a couple of friends who have thrown theirs away, and begged me for my extras, lol. Have fun with the overkill!

Thanks for the heads up, and that wasn't insulting at all.

I think nVidia should mandate the SLI cable should be included with every GTX card. It would put the option in the mind of everyone who buys a single card. I guess the downside would be the motherboard has to be SLI compatible, which definitely isn't a given, so there's potential for customer support "nightmare".

Anyway, I have my motherboard's SLI cable and power supply's dual 6-pin connector ready. smile.gif

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post #9 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 10:39 AM
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Then you sir are ready to rock and roll......

Oh yeah get the latest version of EVGA's Precision X overclocking utility and start pushing them a bit. They are pretty phenominal overclockers, could be the difference between sub 60 and 60+ on the latest higher end games.
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post #10 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Oh yeah get the latest version of EVGA's Precision X overclocking utility and start pushing them a bit.

Will it work on Gigabyte cards?

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post #11 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 11:23 AM
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Yeah. That software works with any brand.
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post #12 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 11:31 AM
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Damnit. Now I really want to buy a 2nd 670. redface.gif
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post #13 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 01:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Scott Simonian View Post

Damnit. Now I really want to buy a 2nd 670. redface.gif

Have you done your taxes yet? That's what did it for me. tongue.gif

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post #14 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 02:03 PM
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Have you done your taxes yet? That's what did it for me. tongue.gif

Yes and all that is spoken for while I am wrapping up a three-years-in-the-making multi-thousand dollar mega speaker project for my HT room. Yup.

Then I can buy other things like a 2nd videocard. biggrin.gif
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post #15 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 02:33 PM
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With a 750W power supply and SLI I'd keep all overclocking on the conservative side if at all. At least until you have it solid and stable. It's common sense I know, but I've been down the power monger path myself, and have done some pretty questionable things in my quest to turn it up to 11.
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post #16 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 08:44 PM
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Yeah I Crossfire my 6950 2GBs and I've had no issues with them at all. I thought about going the single powerful card route but I already had one 6950 and someone was selling theirs (same model) for about 100 bucks and I couldn't turn it down. So far so good and I'll probably wait out this year to see what comes down the pipe at Christmas or early next year.
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post #17 of 26 Old 03-01-2013, 09:16 PM
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As someone who has been using SLI for 2+ years it really couldn't be easier and I haven't had any problems. That said, the triple screen gaming is hit or miss. When it hits, it's fantastic.

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post #18 of 26 Old 03-02-2013, 09:30 AM - Thread Starter
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So... SLI.

Setting up - definitely NOT a nightmare. In fact, as long as the power supply and motherboard are certified SLI-ready, and the SLI bridge ribbon/connector (comes with an SLI-certified motherboard) and an additional two PCI-E power connectors (comes with the SLI-certified power supply) are handy, it's a simple install. Because I was coming from a system that already had a single 670, drivers were all loaded, and nothing needed to happen in BIOS or anything. The only minor confusion is there's two connectors to hook the bridge up, but only one bridge is need in a dual-GPU setup. I took a guess and picked one, googled this dilemma, and found out both connectors are identical and either one is fine. The reason for two connectors is for 3 and 4-way setups.

So after trying some games that push my system, I'm left with mixed feelings.

First the good:

My 670s are the Gigabyte Windforce 2X OC Edition. I was concerned that two of these in my computer might noticably raise the noise level, but I can barely tell the different between running one or two of these - the are very quiet cards.

I ran the Catzilla benchmark and my system's score is now around 70% better. Which is impressive because CPU seems to be factored strongly in this test.

I loaded up Far Cry 3 set everything to ultra, and it ran smooth and looked great in the process. The single 670 couldn't handle this level of graphics. Crysis 2 also seemed to have no problem with framerate on Ultra, although I noticed some graphical oddities that I didn't notice with my dialed-down setup. This can probably be fixed with adjusting one of graphics options, or some nVidia control panel tweaking.

Then the bad:

...or at least not "bad", but somewhat disappointing - it didn't do everything I had hoped. But that had more to do with expectations and understanding the limits and problems of certain software.

A couple examples - I was hoping SLI would fix some problems I was having in a few areas of Borderlands 2 where the framerate would drop to the 40s and sometimes 30s. After more testing in SLI, I found these drops are because certain sections aren't optimized for PhysX, at least with the current Nvidia drivers.

Also, I loaded up Batman: Arkham City and put everything on Ultra - no good. Traveling around the open city has inconsistent framerates, and some areas of painful slowdowns. Again, I believe this is more software optimization, and not anything wrong with the computer's setup.

Overall:

My target for games is 1080p at solid 60fps with no drops. I hoped that doubling my GPUs would help with headroom with certain games that didn't live up to my target, and it did very well with the Crytech games. But other games that had trouble spots, SLI seems to make little to no impact over a single 670. At least in early 2013.

At higher resolutions beyond 1080p, SLI would have a greater value, but for those targeting 1080p @ 60fps, a single 670 is fine for most of the games out there. Even with SLI, there certain unoptimized games where settings have to be dialed down.

But it's good to know I don't have to worry if my system is underpowered for the next year or so. tongue.gif

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post #19 of 26 Old 03-02-2013, 10:43 AM
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Now that you're in the overkill club, check some of these out.

http://www.geforce.com/games-applications

I'm glad it worked out for you.
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post #20 of 26 Old 03-02-2013, 02:41 PM
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Did you install the most recent nVidia drivers? When/if you do, select custom and make sure it removes all the previous drivers.
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post #21 of 26 Old 03-02-2013, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Did you install the most recent nVidia drivers? When/if you do, select custom and make sure it removes all the previous drivers.

Yeah, through the "GeForce Experience" software, which updated to GeForce 314.07, dated 2/18/2013. I don't mess with the beta drivers anymore.

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post #22 of 26 Old 03-03-2013, 12:38 AM
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What I think Almost is trying to say is this: Think of updating drivers as adding another layer of paint. If there was a flaw in the previous coat, an update may simply gloss over it instead of fixing it. By selecting custom install with the fresh install box checked, all the old coats are sanded out, and you are left with a beautiful new finish. You will have to redo all your tweaks, but it's a small price to pay. It is a really nice feature in Nvidia drivers, and could potentially solve that mystery issue. You probably knew this already, but it could be a useful tip for those reading this who didn't.
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post #23 of 26 Old 03-03-2013, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lurkor View Post

What I think Almost is trying to say is this: Think of updating drivers as adding another layer of paint. If there was a flaw in the previous coat, an update may simply gloss over it instead of fixing it. By selecting custom install with the fresh install box checked, all the old coats are sanded out, and you are left with a beautiful new finish. You will have to redo all your tweaks, but it's a small price to pay. It is a really nice feature in Nvidia drivers, and could potentially solve that mystery issue. You probably knew this already, but it could be a useful tip for those reading this who didn't.

It is, and no I didn't know that. Thanks. I didn't install the latest drivers as suggested, but I'm not noticing any problems, at least this time around.

I'm using the GeForce Experience tool as well. I've just started playing Far Cry 3, and it seems to have helped in cancelling out the choppiness I was seeing by making some changes to my game settings.

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post #24 of 26 Old 03-03-2013, 01:39 PM
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Arkham City should run plenty good with one 670...forget two......I didn't spend much time with the game but you shouldn't be seeing sub 60's.......

You did remember to turn SLI back ON in the Nvidia drivers correct? Remember, each time you install new drivers from nvidia ALWAYS do "CUSTOM" install and check the box for a CLEAN installation......and then first thing when you go back into a regular system again, after the install completes,
remember to turn SLI back on to Maximum Performance.

The thing is, you had a 670....which is a very powerful card. There were a few games that you can now run a steady 60fps on that you couldn't before. When the next game comes out, you'll be at the top of the heap in terms of framerates, in Titan/680sli/690 territory.....perhaps not neck in neck depending on how tweaked your system is, but you'll be well above folks with a single 670. Understand that if your CPU isn't overclocked, but your motherboard lets you tweak it, you could very likely pick up 5-10+ more frames on average if not more by getting an extra 500 or 1ghz (or more?) out of your cpu. Again, its free performance....just waiting for you to invoke it. Yes, aftermarket cooler means an afternoon setting that up.....and the further you push the more blips you'll have to deal with in terms of getting the system stable...(I can run my system all day at 5Ghz, and game on it...but as soon as I try to encode a video or unRAR something.....I bluescreen, so 4.8 is my max. Going from the standard 3.4 to 4.8 makes a pretty hefty difference across the board. Just sayin......

60 is the magic number.....mid 50's are fine......anything above is gravy, hit the mid 40's and things start to deteriorate......but yes, SLI is not the perfect solution. When that comes out, we'll all have one. Some on this board will have three smile.gif

You can probably still return that 670, right? If you can live with just the one card and dial-down some settings...that might be the answer too.....put some money back in your pocket and wait to see what happens in 2013 if you aren't completely thrilled.

Remember...you were at or close to 60 most of the time, this will pay off more in the future when, say, the next Metro comes out (and it'll be a buggy mess) or the next hot shooter or console port......or you can just sell both 670's and get a pair of Titans!

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post #25 of 26 Old 03-03-2013, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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You can probably still return that 670, right? If you can live with just the one card and dial-down some settings...that might be the answer too.....put some money back in your pocket and wait to see what happens in 2013 if you aren't completely thrilled.

Nah, I'm probably happier with my dual-GPU setup than I seemed in that earlier post. wink.gif

I was just disappointed to find buggy and/or unoptimized software still exists, no matter how much money and tech we try to throw at it. Being in console-land for so long, I had forgotten the efforts needed to run the occasional PC game. It's gotten better with automatic updates to drivers and optimal settings via "GeForce Experience" and patches via Steam, and many if not most games are trouble-free.

Even though there's still some room for improvement for gaming on the PC side, I'm not looking to jump back to consoles any time soon.

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post #26 of 26 Old 03-04-2013, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by N8DOGG View Post

SLI being a "nightmare" is about as likely as your computer making you a cake. I've yet to encounter any rig I've ever built having SLI issues and thats over 100 sli rigs easily. Don't worry about it and enjoy your 2 cards!!

I agree 100%. I have had 580 Tri SLI for nearly 2 years now and never a single issue.

I've paid for my sins. We're even!
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