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What is SLI?

When we think of gaming, our minds usually turn to graphics-heavy titles like Cyberpunk 2077. These games are very graphics-intensive and require a lot of graphical processing power to run smoothly.

While searching the internet for recommendations on what graphics card to use to run these games on PC you may have stumbled across the term SLI. But what is it and how can it help run demanding processes like games? In this guide we detail everything you need to know about SLI.

What is SLI?

SLI is an industry standard that enables you to add more than one graphics card to your computer. Using multiple graphics cards allows you to boost graphical performance for selected titles.

SLI has been around for a long time, but it gained prominence again when NVIDIA released the GTX 980Ti. This was because the GTX 980Ti was one of the first cards we tested that was capable of reaching 4K resolutions with high dynamic range (HDR) lighting enabled in an SLI setup.

What are the benefits of SLI?

There are a variety of benefits to using two cards in an SLI setup, if you can get them working. The main one relevant to general consumers is how much it boosts graphical performance on compatible titles. We use the term “compatible titles”, because there are a number of caveats that stop SLI configurations working across the board.

Cons of a SLI set-up

SLI setups are notoriously fiddly, with many drivers not operating correctly and only a limited number of titles taking advantage of the twin GPU setup. Even when they do, when we’ve run twin 9-series GPUs in SLI our test bench frequently crashed or didn’t operate optimally. This is a key reason Nvidia’s actually stopped supporting SLI on its latest 30-series graphics cards and older 20-series GPUs. It’s incredibly expensive, with it requiring you invest in two GPUs.

This is a key reason we don’t recommend buyers bother investing in an SLI setup, even if they can still get their hands on older compatible GPUs. This is especially true now with both Nvidia and AMD offering powerful top end graphics cards that can easily run most games in 4K. You can see a selection of the ones we recommend in our best graphics card guide.

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