Is it possible to run two separate video cards. Would there be any benefit to this if it is possible and I am sure it all depend on the mother board.

Thank you.

migrated from serverfault.com Jul 30 '09 at 13:04

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.


There are ATI Radeon Crossfire and nVidia SLI that allows you to setup two Graphics cards together over two PCI slots.
The setup has an additional connection (bridge) between the two cards.
There are also multiprocessor cards that form Quad setups with two cards.

This TomsHardware article is a good starter brief.
It also gives a list for SLI and Crossfire certified motherboards.
Most configurations will also have special demands from the power supply unit.

Beyond basic SLI/Crossfire, there are now 3-way SLI and Quad-Crossfire setups
-- that is 3 video cards.
Intel Core i7 with 3-way SLI and Quad-Crossfire reviewed is a multi-page review
which has this opening picture.

alt text

These configurations need support in the hardware (motherboard, PSU, thermal conditions).
You should seriously consider your applications (typically heavy gaming, but also some modeling, animation and physics? applications).
If you will not be utilizing the hardware, it would be an awful waste of money.
You could also lookup 'Hybrid' SLI/Crossfire configurations supported by some motherboards.


It is possible, and until the advent of common cards supporting two monitors it was quite common.

If you want more a detailed answer than that then you'll need to give us more detail of your setup.

  • 1
    Still common since video cards typically only support 2 monitors and 3 monitors is rapidly becoming the norm. – Brian Knoblauch Jul 30 '09 at 13:22

You absolutely can. This is how SLI and crossfire use to provide high end (read expensive) graphics.


You can indeed use multiple video cards. An example of my multi video card setup can be found in this thread her on SU.

I found a single video card that would drive my four monitors however that video card was about $850 at the time. Comparative performance was possible by using two Matrox Dual head video cards. YMMV but I can tell you it was a significant savings in my case by using a distributed video solution as opposed to an integrated single card solution. Each set of monitors had a processor of it's own, so it made it possible to run video in several windows and on different screens concurrently. One of the cards was an AGP model and the other was a PCI card. Your motherboard will dictate which cards are appropriate for your solution, but as always, more memory per card is better.

Just my $0.02

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It does depend on the motherboard and the operating system. Depending on the drivers installed, Vista (and presumably windows 7) may require that both video cards use the same driver. The easiest way to ensure this is to buy two of the same card. This means ensuring that your motherboard can support two such cards.

  • Nice thing about the Nvidia series is that so many of them can use the same driver, makes life easy. Not sure if any other brands are the same way. – Brian Knoblauch Jul 30 '09 at 13:23
  • 1
    Just because all drivers come in the same package doesn't mean all cards are using the same driver (which I'd rather doubt). – Joey Jul 30 '09 at 14:12

Yes it is possible to run multiple video cards assuming you have the motherboard architecture that will allow for it. This can mean anything from having SLI-capable motherboards which allow you to run two PCI express cards in tandem, or something like I am running on an older motherboard where I have a PCI video card and an AGP video card running at the same time so that I can still have my multiple monitor set up.

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