Nvidia NVlink vs Nvidia SLI vs AMD CrossFire

Using a high-end motherboard for gaming is now an essential part in 2020. The high-end graphics required to play high-end games demands the use of multiple GPUs at a time. In 2006 we got introduced to multi GPU support wherein we can fit two GPUs in a single motherboard. This approach was appreciated by many gamers all around the world.

Then the battle between the two major brands in the gaming community; NVIDIA and AMD started. AMD first launched its AMD CrossFire technology in 2005 and then later Nvidia launched its NVlink and SLI (Scalable Link Interface) with more than one GPU support in a single motherboard.

That’s a whole lot of the history part. Now, let us delve in the article with the clear comparison of these three technologies – Nvidia Nvlink, Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFire. But before that let’s see what each of these technologies offer.

Nvidia NVlink

Nvidia NVlink

Nvidia NVLink is a spiced-up variation of SLI, and one of the most advanced multi-GPU solution around. It is a bridge technology offering upwards of 50 times the data transfer of SLI HB and is only readily available with the leading tier RTX 2080 line of GPUs.

Technically, NVIDIA NVLink is a high-speed, direct GPU-to-GPU interconnect. NVIDIA NVSwitch takes interconnectivity to the next level by incorporating multiple NVLinks to provide all-to-all GPU interaction at full NVLink speed within a single node like NVIDIA HGX A100.

It allows each node to relay information rather than transmitting it with one specific node. What’s great about this arrangement is that nodes dynamically self-organize and self-configure, which enables a dynamic circulation of the workload.

Suggested motherboards:

It does not require any particular chipset but to connect 2 GPUs, you must have two PCIe x16 slots.

NVlink vs SLI

Basically, where SLI struggled is the place where NVLink shines the brightest, and that is the speed at which information is exchanged. Using the mesh networking infrastructure, it’s able to treat each node equally and hence substantially enhance rendering speed.

The biggest benefit of NVLink, when compared to SLI, is that, as a result of the mesh network, both graphics cards’ memories are accessible at all times.

NVIDIA SLI

NVIDIA SLI

With over 1,000 supported applications and used by over 94% of multi-GPU PCs on Steam, SLI is the innovation of option for gamers that require the very best. NVIDIA SLI innovation connects numerous GeForce GPUs with each other for drastically enhanced graphics performance.

SLI is Nvidia’s matching of CrossFire, except that it is exclusive to Nvidia GPUs. In its existing form, SLI has been around since 2004, although the underlying hardware and technology has changed substantially with time.

SLI runs a stricter set of requirements, including the need for 2 identical graphics processors (clock speeds can be various to enable overclocking), not always from the very same maker (believe MSI, EVGA, etc.) and also with the same RAM arrangement.

Suggested motherboards:

You can connect up to 4 GPUs together unlike the NVlink which only allows communication between two GPUs. There are many supported motherboards. You can check the list of SLI supported motherboards here.

SLI vs Crossfire

With CrossFire, you can couple an AMD Radeon RX 580 with an RX 570 with no concerns, while with SLI, you’ll require to have two Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 cards.

Nvidia is all about ring-fencing the user experience by restricting compatibility to make certain uniformity, while AMD uses flexibility and degree of options leading to less regular user experience.

Having the same configuration, almost all the motherboards have SLI and Crossfire support. But Nvidia requires SLI certification from the manufacturer which limits the options to X370s as all the X370 motherboards support SLI and Crossfire. There are soo many good options under X370. You can check this list of 10 best X370 motherboards to narrow down your options.

AMD CrossFire

AMD CrossFire

AMD CrossFire is a multi-GPU (MGPU) technology which combines the processing power of graphics cards (GPUs) with the purpose to enhance performance by quickening the making of 3D graphics. The performance gains making use of AMD Crossfire are dependent on the application and can deliver boosted performance than a solitary GPU configuration.

When AMD CrossFire support is made it possible for, one GPU serves as the key GPU whereas the added GPUs serve as additional GPUs. Graphics rendering tasks are divided among each GPU to drive a single display connected to the key GPU.

With DirectX 12 as well as Vulkan 3D Applications, multi-GPU support is specifically taken care of by the application and should be offered as an option in the game launcher or within the graphics/video settings menu.

AMD CrossFire is the AMD matching to SLI, but it operates a little in different ways. One huge difference is that it just works in fullscreen applications, whereas SLI can be utilized in windows applications without problems.

Nvidia NVlink vs Nvidia SLI vs AMD CrossFire – Which one to Choose?

Among the three, Nvidia NVlink and AMD Crossfire are mostly identical except for the latter offering better compatibility and flexibility. And no doubt the winner is Nvidia NVlink as it provides 50 times better transfer speed and offers better interconnectivity.

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