One of the hottest new trends that everyone, not just gamers anymore, are getting into is….you guessed it, dual video cards. In this article we show you the steps and preparations for installing your own dual video cards in your computer.
Dual video card support allows you to have the power of dual video cards as one, kind like splitting the graphic load between the two cards. For example your number 1 slot video card renders frames 1,3,5,7,9 and the second video card renders frames 2,4,6,8,10. This does not mean that you will automatically be able to have dual monitors just because you have dual video cards. It is possible, but that is not what having dual video cards is intended for.
Always remember that if you install your own parts you can save money with not only the installation but the actual cost of the parts, but also remember if you do something wrong you can mess your computer up. So only perform the next how to if you are comfortable with replacing parts and you kinda know your way around the computer.
Ensure All Parts Are SLI / Crossfire Capable
When you are planning on going with dual video cards you need to make sure that the video cards and motherboard can handle running the dual video cards. If you are installing the video cards on a existing, installed motherboard you will have to either check the manual that came with the motherboard or you will have to go to the manufacture’s website. If you are installing the video cards on a new motherboard make sure that the motherboard you are going to purchase has the SLI Capable or Crossfire Ready logo somewhere on the packaging or the motherboard.
You also need to make sure that the video cards support SLI or Crossfire. The video cards will also have the SLI Capable or Crossfire Ready logo somewhere on the packaging. If you are trying to setup the dual video cards with one existing video card you will have to the manufacture’s website to see if it is capable of running dual video cards. An easy way to tell if a video card supports SLI or Crossfire is to see if the cards have a single connector on either the top or bottom (opposite side of the card then the PCI Express connector). If it does then you may have an SLI Capable or Crossfire Ready video card. This is not always the case, but most times it is. If you do have the single connector then you will need to buy a bridge to connect the two video cards (if one does not come with the video card you purchase).
Install The Video Card
First unplug your computer completely from the wall, just because it is off does not mean it does not have power flowing through it. If you are working with a magnetic wristband then you can proceed with caution, but if you are not you will have to ground yourself by touching the metal of the case before touching anything else. This will keep the static electricity from leaving your body and short circuiting your motherboard, etc.
After you have grounded yourself you will need to remove the back case screws and take the side panel off. In doing this you will expose the motherboard and internal computer parts. Located the dual PCI Express slots on the motherboard. This is where the card will need to go. There should be two back panel covers that you will have to remove. Make sure these covers correspond to the slots you are placing the cards into.
If you are installing this into an older motherboard you may have to flip a switch located between the two slots. Flip it from single to dual. On newer motherboards this is not necessary.
Place both video cards into the slots and make sure they are firmly in place by closing the clasp on the far side bottom of the PCI Express connectors. Once that is secure you can screw the dual video cards into the back panel (remember where you removed the cover?). That will ensure that the cards will not come lose after you finish. If they come lose it could cause you to lose the video cards and potentially your motherboard.
The last part of the installation is the bridge. Remember those little connectors on the opposite side of the video we talked about earlier? Well, the bridge connects them with each other. So basically you will have a small bridge connecting the first video card to the second video card, now you have dual video cards for you computer.
Depending on the motherboard and the video card you may have to attached extra cables to the power supply. So, if you have a high end dual video card setup you may have to buy a new power supply. This new power supply needs to be SLI Capable or Crossfire Ready and must now also have PCI Express connector to power the video cards. Not all models require this, but a lot do. Just be aware of it when you are purchasing the parts.
You can close the case now and power the computer on. if it is working (it should be), you will be able to start windows. Once your computer starts up you will need to either go to Nvidia’s Download Page or go to ATI’s Download Page. Once you install the video card drivers you will need to reboot your computer.
Once the computer restarts you should see a message that states your computer is configured to use multiple GPUs (if you have not already seen this message before the reboot). Use this section to enable the dual video card output. After you enable this you will have to enable SLI MODE to use the actual video card setup. After all of the configuration is completed you can reboot the computer and begin you wonderful world of dual video cards.