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October 21st, 2012

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Is it better to have 2 decent video cards or one powerhouse video card?

I'm building a gaming computer for my own use and have picked a motherboard that will allow me to use two video cards. (Both PCI Express 2.0 x16)

Now, If I were to pick 2 decent video cards and 1 powerful card, and they basically were about the same if I went either way, (Like 2 decent = 1 great card) which is the better choice?

It depends on which cards you're pairing. For example, I chose to pair two NVIDIA GTX 460 1GB cards in SLI because, combined, they perform better than a single GTX 480 at a slightly lower cost. I haven't read anything about the newer GTX 560 Ti cards vs. the GTX 580, but I'm guessing their scaling might be about the same. It's worth doing some research about.

I'm not as clear on how ATI/AMD cards perform when paired in a CrossFireX configuration.

One other factor might be whether a particular game you're interested in has optimizations for SLI or CrossFireX.

Hope this helped!

From the Conclusion section of the Tom's Hardware article referenced below:

"With an MSRP of $250 and a Web price around $230, GeForce GTX 460 1GB graphics cards were already known to be great mid-priced performers. Doubling these up in SLI gives us the same MSRP and Web price as a single GeForce GTX 480. But does this give us more performance? You bet!

The GeForce GTX 460 SLI configuration absolutely obliterates the GeForce GTX 480’s performance scores, landing a 26% performance coup de grace upon its big brother after continuously battering it with wins in every benchmark at every setting. That would put it in the same performance class as a certain $700 dual-GPU card, according to Don Woligroski’s recent review. But—at less than $500—it doesn't even need to compete there. While far-more-expensive solutions do have their own particular strengths, what we really wanted to know was where our $460 would be best spent, and today’s test revealed that answer."

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