It’s not often you get to play with two GeForce RTX 2080 in NVLink mode. That’s partly due to the high cost associated with having a multi-GPU setup … but thanks to ZOTAC, we were able to do just that.
Before we start, let me remind you that the new NVLink fom Nvidia is not same as SLI (older). Here’s a quick overview …
The new Nvidia Turing GPUs are bringing with them a new form of multi-GPU bridge for gaming, called NVLink. It’s an interface with many times the bandwidth of the old-school SLI connection, but it’s also much more. … NVLink can still work that way, but only because Nvidia has made SLI work across the speedier bridge.
There are many questions when it comes to building a multi-GPU system. Is it worth it? What are the benefits? And what type of applications will utilize it? Let’s begin with …
Is it Worth it?
This is the probably the most asked question … is it worth having a multi-GPU system? Well, it all depends what you want and what you’re trying to achieve. For most applications and games … a single graphics card is more than enough. Really!
But for those who want higher frame rates, and want to run the highest resolution possible, then you might want to consider a multi-GPU setup. It will mean buying two graphics card of the same spec and model, and that means doubling your budget. However, don’t expect to double your graphics performance … NVLink/SLI will NOT and does NOT give you that.
What are the Benefits?
Installing two or more graphics cards in NVLink/SLI mode can provide better video, 3D, and gaming performance over a single graphics card. The other real benefit is the ability to run games at higher resolutions such as 4K (3840 x 2160), that’s 4 times the resolution of your standard 1080p monitor, or run multiple monitors at the same time. I’ve listed some of the benefits below …
- Support and run at higher resolutions (4K and beyond)
- Run games at slightly higher frame rates (if graphics card drivers allow it)
- Looks AMAZING and impressive!
Things to look out for …
Benefits aside, you’ll also need to look out for the following …
- Two graphics cards installed closely together inside your case will produce more heat, and produce more noise. Extra cooling is recommended.
- Also, two graphics card will draw more power, so we recommend a minimum power supply of 750W or higher.
- Make sure your motherboard fully supports SLI. Also be aware of the PCIE slot configuration (refer to your motherboard manual).
- Not all games support SLI. And this all depends on your graphics card driver, not the game itself. Nvidia will often update their drivers to include multi-GPU support for new games. But if the game isn’t supported, then you’re out of luck … the system will only use one GPU.
Now, I’ve explained some of the advantages and disadvantages … let’s continue and build our test rig with 2 x Zotac GeForce RTX 2080 AMP Extreme Core in NVLink/SLI mode. We’ll start off with some photos.
For our pair of ZOTAC GeForce RTX 2080 cards … a 3-slot NVLink bridge was used to connect the two together in NVLink/SLI mode.
— FUNKYKIT (@funkykit) April 27, 2019
Although the cards may see VERY tight together, the Zotac’s ICE STORM 2.0 cooling solution was sufficient enough to handle the high temperatures.
For our tests, we used a new test rig which is comprised of a ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 9 Motherboard, along with an Intel Core i7-8700K at default clock speed of 4.7GHz, as well as 16GB of DDR4-3200 ram in dual channel mode.
All tests were conducted at default clock speeds at a resolution of 1920×1080. High or Ultra settings enabled.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-8700K @ 4.7GHz (Coffee Lake)|
|Cooling||Custom Loop with all Thermaltake watercooling components|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 9|
|Ram||16GB Thermaltake WaterRam RGB DDR4-3200|
|HDD||Adata SX 7000 240GB PCIE M.2 SSD|
|PSU||Thermaltake Toughpower XT 1275W|
|VGA card||2 x ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 AMP Extreme Core (8GB GDDR6) in NVLink/SLI Mode|
|Nvidia Drivers||Latest GeForce Game Ready – WHQL|
Windows System Properties
Nvidia Control Panel – SLI Configuration
Make sure you’ve installed the latest GeForce drivers and that you’ve enable NVLink/SLI in the Nvidia Control Panel.
Now that we’ve configured the two cards in SLI mode… it’s time to run some benchmarks 🙂