This article will introduce you to the best games currently available which support SLI.
When the world was introduced to the idea of SLI and multiple GPUs connected to create one unit, it showed clear potential. However, as time went on and new graphics cards were launched, the technology has not lived up to its hype.
As such, we can’t help but feel disappointed. Although there are games that do support SLI and scale nicely, there are just as many where the performance boost is negligible, and even some that suffer performance drops.
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What Is SLI?
An abbreviation of Scalable Link Interface, SLI is an NVIDIA technology designed to combine resources from two graphics cards and utilize them as a single GPU. In theory, this idea sounds very useful, but we saw different results in reality.
This technology originally debuted in the mid-2000s to a mild reception and continued in the same vein. SLI’s entire run was marred by driver issues and by an apparent lack of support from game developers, the key ingredient it desperately needed to be successful.
Firstly, in order to function, SLI needed two identical GPUs running side-by-side. Only in rare instances was there the possibility of using a mismatched GPU setup, and it brought a steep performance cost.
What also ended up costing SLI its potential was the master-slave relationship in which the GPUs were configured.
As such, they were severely limited in the way that frames were rendered, often using a technique called alternate frame rendering in which one GPU would render every odd frame, and the other renders every even frame. The low bandwidth that SLI bridges provided was likely another nail in the coffin.
So, We Can’t Have Multiple GPU Setups?
We can but, considering more recent technological advances, there’s no need to do so. Having been outperformed by NVLink, SLI was quickly considered an obsolete technology. NVLink functions far more efficiently and aims to correct the mistakes made by SLI and, for the most part, it succeeds.
NVLink significantly improved upon SLI’s master-slave concept by instead using mesh networking, which allowed every GPU in the setup to function properly on its own as an equal contributor to the overall processing.
It also introduced NVLink Bridge, which substantially outperformed the SLI bridge. This all means that NVLink is currently a far superior option if you’re looking to link up two GPUs.
Again, it’s important to emphasize that modern GPUs such as the RTX 3080 or more budget-friendly options like the RTX 2060 or RTX 2070 will still be an excellent option for almost any modern game.
In fact, purchasing a second GPU will likely be a waste of both time and money.
Best Games With SLI Support
There are numerous games that technically support SLI. Almost any AAA title released in the past decade will probably slap on the SLI support label. However, there are several issues that have arisen with some of these titles.
We need to explain that this is not a list of the top SLI-supported games. Instead, it’s a list of games that use the added resources effectively and scale well.
Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar Games has been at the forefront of the video gaming world for the past twenty years. A major reason for this is that they have always adapted to and made full 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 are unfamiliar with their best-selling game.
Despite not being a game with groundbreaking graphics, GTA V has still been able to withstand the test of time and is currently among the most popular games. There are mods that enable more 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 of SLI technology. The video below shows what that performance looks like.
The Witcher 3
This game is part of an iconic series. CD Projekt Red was working on a tighter budget when they released the original Witcher, but that didn’t prevent the game from having some stunning visuals. Indeed, by the time the second installment was released, they had everything figured out. As a result, we saw even more remarkable visuals.
It’s safe to say that, with The Witcher 3, they knocked it out of the park, in terms of both gameplay and graphics. The game is beautiful to play and to look at.
Although it is a 2015 game, it’s still held in high regard in terms of graphics. This is why it feels so good to report that they fantastically executed their SLI support.
Below is a video that showcases the difference between one-card and two-card setups in The Witcher 3.
Far Cry 5
This series has always been beautiful to look at but also difficult to run, and its fifth installment is no different. Far Cry is often considered better than the GTA series in terms of industry-leading graphics, although GTA has innovated in numerous other areas.
Far Cry made lush tropical maps seem easy to create, but that shouldn’t be a detriment to the technical marvel of its wonderful gameplay graphics.
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the in-game benchmark being performed with one and two GPUs. The first thing you might notice is that the increase in FPS isn’t very noticeable; however, that might be an SLI issue rather than a Far Cry one.
If you were looking to buy a GPU anywhere between 2007 and 2014, the main question everyone was asking was “Can it run Crysis?”
Although those days are behind us, this question was asked for a reason. Crysis has been a graphics marvel since the first game was released and it has only become prettier and more realistic with each edition.
The way Crysis 3 has implemented support for SLI makes it look like sorcery. The game will actually run better with dual GTX 1070 Tis than with two GTX 1080 Tis. See for yourself:
On release, the innovative game mechanics and modes weren’t the only things at a high standard. There’s no need for superlatives; it’s enough to simply say that this is a truly beautiful game. Character models are stunning and so are the environments.
What could have surprised some individuals was its strong support for SLI.
As a game with extensive multiplayer options, every frame gained can be considered an advantage and For Honor has undoubtedly met multi-GPU enthusiasts’ expectations. Below is an excellent example of why.
This long-awaited sequel in the critically acclaimed Fallout series didn’t enjoy as positive a reception as we had hoped for. Still, to say that this game isn’t good or that it doesn’t look good would be very unfair.
Although at release Fallout 4 had its fair share of SLI-related issues and took some time to receive good support for it, its developers ultimately achieved the desired FPS increase.
The existence of sections like this is probably the biggest sign that SLI is dead and buried. In this section, we have listed games where there have actually been reports of an FPS decrease. That’s right, two GPUs in SLI mode perform worse than one.
In no particular order, these are the games that you should only run on a single GPU.
Rainbow Six Siege
In most cases, to have a multiplayer game that doesn’t take full advantage of the available resources is borderline criminal. However, if we take into consideration that the resource is SLI, it’s understandable that they haven’t bothered.
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)
Another online shooter that doesn’t get better with more GPUs. The results aren’t nearly as bad as they are in Rainbow Six Siege, but the FPS drop is still enough to discourage any gamer.
Resident Evil 7
Although FPS isn’t as important for this game as it is for online shooters, it’s still a bad sign when two graphics cards are outperformed by one.
Final Thoughts On SLI
It’s time to admit that SLI just isn’t it. To be honest, we should have admitted that five years ago, but very few did. In 2018, NVLink gave us a consumer-ready replacement to go along with the new RTX series GPUs and that was the death blow for SLI.
You may have observed that many of the games where SLI truly boosts performance were launched in 2015, SLI’s earlier peak years.