In this article we will introduce you to the best games out there which support SLI.
When the world was introduced to the idea of SLI and multiple GPUs connected into a single unit, it was brimming with potential. However, as years went on and new graphics cards were released, the technology simply never lived up to it.
As such, we can’t help but feel disappointed because, even though there are games that do support SLI and scale nicely, there are just as many where the performance boost is negligible, and even a few where performance drops.
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What Is SLI?
A shorthand for Scalable Link Interface, this is an Nvidia technology designed to pool resources from two graphics cards and use them as a single GPU. On paper, the concept sounds really cool, but we saw different results in practice.
The technology originally reared its head in the mid-2000s to a mild reception and then sort of continued in the same vein. SLI’s entire run was marred by driver issues, and by an apparent lack of support from game developers, an ingredient it desperately needed for its breakthrough.
First and foremost, in order to function, SLI needed two identical GPUs running side-by-side, and only in rare instances was there a possibility of mismatched GPU setup, and at a steep performance cost.
What also ended up costing SLI its potential was the master-slave relationship in which the GPUs were set up. As such, they were severely limited in the way the frames were being rendered, most often using a technique called alternate frame rendering in which one GPU will render every odd frame, and the other one every even frame. The low bandwidth that SLI bridges provided might’ve also been the nail in the coffin.
So, We Can’t Have Multiple GPU Setups?
Yes, it’s just that, considering the more recent technological advances, there’s no need for that. After being outperformed by NVLink, SLI was considered an obsolete technology. NVLink functions much better and aims to correct the mistakes made by SLI and, fortunately, it partly succeeds.
NVLink enormously improved upon SLI’s master-slave concept by using mesh networking instead, which allowed every GPU in the setup to function properly on its own as an equal contributor to the overall process. Furthermore, it introduced NVLink Bridge, which substantially outperformed the SLI bridge. All this makes NVLink a much better option at the moment if you’re looking to hook up two GPUs.
Again, it’s important to emphasize that modern GPUs like RTX 2080 Ti or even more budget-friendly options like RTX 2060 or RTX 2070 will still be an excellent option for almost any modern game. In fact, getting a second GPU might as well be a waste of both time and money.
Best Games With SLI Support
There are a lot of games that technically support SLI. Besides, almost any AAA released in the last decade will probably slap on the SLI support label. However, there are several issues that have arisen with some of these titles.
Before we start, we want to clarify that this isn’t a list of games with SLI support we consider the best, but rather games that scale the best and manage to take advantage of the extra resources they’ve been given.
Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar has been at the forefront of the video gaming world for the last twenty years. One of the reasons for this is because they’ve always adapted to and made use of the best technology available to them. With GTA V, they released the Kraken and, at this point, very few people in the gaming world don’t know the name of their best selling game.
Despite it not being a game with groundbreaking graphics, it has still somehow managed to withstand the test of time and is currently among the most popular games. There are mods that enable some high-end graphics, but as those don’t come from Rockstar, it would be unfair to talk about them.
GTA V is the first game on this list because it’s probably one of the best executions on SLI technology. The video below shows what that performance looks like.
This game is part of an iconic series. CD Projekt Red was on a tighter budget when they released the original Witcher, but that didn’t stop the game from having some stunning visuals. Indeed, by the time the second instalment came out, they had everything figured out. As a result, we got even more remarkable visuals.
It’s safe to say that, with Witcher 3, they knocked it out of the park, both gameplay-wise and in terms of graphics. Simply put, the game is beautiful to play and to look at.
Even though it’s a 2015 game, it’s still held in high regard in terms of graphics. That’s exactly why it feels so good to report that they fantastically executed their support for SLI.
Below is a video that showcases the difference between a one card and a two card setup in Witcher 3.
Far Cry 5
This series has always been beautiful to look at but also hard to run, and its fifth instalment is no different. It’s often considered better than the GTA series in terms of industry-setting graphics, although GTA had other innovative things to factor in as well.
Far Cry made lush tropical maps seem easy to make, but that shouldn’t be a detriment to the technical marvel of its wonderful gameplay graphics.
Below is a side-by-side comparison between the in-game benchmark being executed with one and two GPUs. The first thing that might grab your attention is that the increase in FPS isn’t so ridiculously noticeable; however, that might be an SLI issue rather than a Far Cry issue.
If you were looking into buying a GPU anywhere between 2007 and 2014, we bet your only requirement was “Can it run Crysis?”.
Although those days are behind us, it’s worth pointing out that this question was posed for a reason. Crysis has been a graphics marvel since the first game was released and it only got prettier and more realistic with each edition.
The way Crysis 3 has implemented the support for SLI makes it look like dark magic – the game will actually run better with dual GTX 1070 Tis than with two GTX 1080 Tis. See for yourself:
Upon its release, innovative game mechanics and game modes weren’t the only things at a high standard. There’s no need for outlandish superlatives; it’s enough just to say that this is a truly beautiful game. Character models look stunning and so do the environments.
What may have caught a few people by surprise was its excellent support for SLI.
For a game with extensive multiplayer options, every little frame gained can be considered an advantage and For Honor has definitely met multi-GPU enthusiasts’ expectations. Below is an excellent example of why.
The long-awaited sequel in the critically acclaimed Fallout series didn’t have as good a reception as it had hoped for. Still, to say that this game isn’t good or that it doesn’t look good would be extremely unfair.
Although upon release Fallout 4 had its fair share of SLI-related issues and it took some time to get good support for it, they have achieved that desired FPS increase in the end.
The reason why this section exists is probably the biggest sign that SLI is dead and buried. To clarify, in this section we’ll list games where there have actually been reports of FPS decrease. That’s right, two GPUs in SLI mode are worse than one.
In no particular order, here are the games that you should only run on a single GPU.
Rainbow Six Siege
To have a multiplayer game not take full advantage of the available resources is borderline criminal, but if we take into consideration that that resource is SLI, it’s understandable why they haven’t bothered.
Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Just one more online shooter that doesn’t get better with more GPUs. Admittedly, the result isn’t nearly as bad as in Rainbow Six Siege, but the FPS drop is enough to discourage any gamer.
Resident Evil 7
Although FPS isn’t as necessary for this game as it is for online shooter games, it’s still a bad sign that two graphics cards are outperformed by one.
Final Points On SLI
It’s time to admit that SLI just isn’t it. Truthfully, we should have admitted that five years ago, but nobody did. In 2018, NVLink gave us a consumer-ready replacement to go along the new RTX series GPUs and that was the death blow for SLI.
In fact, you’ve probably noticed how most of the games where SLI actually does offer an increase in performance were released around 2015, SLI’s long gone prime years.