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So I have a machine that I have been running with two Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT video cards for two years now. Been running fine but now I am starting to notice that some games are requiring more performance to run at the quality levels I have grown used to. I originally got the 8800 GT's because they had decent performance for single width cards, and I didn't like the idea of having to sacrifice two PCIe slots for just one card, and have benefited from the modularity when I've been in a bind and had to add either additional networking cards, sound cards, and/or RAID cards. But looking through the available video cards of both ATI's and Nvidia's most recent series, it seems like the quality of single-width cards has decreased a lot and almost every card now has to be double-width for the cooler.

So my question is if I am a user who likes his modularity, but also wants to improve his graphics performance, should I stick to lower-quality single width cards or should I just invest in dual-gpu cards to allow me to justify taking up two slots by having a card with dual-GPU's?

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This question would probably be a good one for – SysAdmin1138 Aug 8 '10 at 18:09
Suggestion noted. I didn't know about stackexchange before. – grg-n-sox Aug 9 '10 at 15:19
up vote 3 down vote accepted

From what I've seen, when you look at many of the cards that use two slots they get their extra performance not as much from extra cooling as because they really are just two video cards stitched together on one board.

With that in mind, I think that two of the single width cards in SLI/Crossfire ought to almost exactly match the performance you'd get from a double-wide, without giving up the modularity you're accustom to. The downside it that it will likely cost you more for two single cards than the equivalent double, and that it's harder to get SLI/Crossfire working correctly.

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The other thing to remember is that games get more an more advanced, and therefore have bigger and bigger requirements. The dual and triple wide cards offer the best possible performance right now, with newer technology and games. It probably sounds like a sales pitch, but it might be time to reevaluate if you need the extra PCI cards or if you could live with just one super video card and take up two/slots

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