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Please explain to this SLI/CF noob (me) why my motherboard can't...

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I plan to upgrade my sig rig to a multi video card and multi display setup
My motherboard specs says it can run 2-4 video cards in CrossfireX or 2 or 4 video cards in SLI. It has 2 PCI Express 3.0 x16 and 1 PCI Express 2.0 x16

I know modern video cards use PCI Express x16. But does the 2.0 and 3.0 matter?
I assume in dual SLI or CFX, it would just use the 2 PCI Express 3.0 x16. But how is this mobo able to quad SLI? How come this mobo can't triple SLI? How is it able to triple and quad CFX?
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post #2 of 9
3.0 has twice the bandwidth of 2.0, for most applications the extra bandwidth isn't needed.

When using more than 1 PCIe slot, the allocated bandwidth will change. If only the main slot is used, it will run at full x16 speed. When using 2 slots, it will split x8/x8. It may also drop to x4 for certain slots. This can all be found in the motherboard manual.

- 2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (PCIE2/PCIE4: single at x16 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4) or dual at x8/x8 mode)
This means those 2 slots can run at x16/x4 OR x8/x8, the latter is better for multi gpu setups.

- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (PCIE5: x4 mode)
This slot can also be used for a third card, even though it's slower. However this will only work with crossfire, as SLI requires x8 bandwidth. Thus, 3 way crossfire is supported, but not 3 way SLI.

- 2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots
- 2 x PCI slots
These slots cannot be used for GPUs

- Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™, 3-Way CrossFireX™ and CrossFireX™
- Supports NVIDIA® Quad SLI™ and SLI™
When they say quad, I believe they mean a pair of dual GPU cards, like a pair of 690s. There are only 3 full size PCIe slots so you can't use 4 whole cards.
Edited by MME1122 - 5/19/13 at 8:38pm
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post #3 of 9
You are limited by your amount of PCI-express lanes with the 3770k.

Some higher end motherboards can get around this by adding a PLX chip or if you have a E series cpu e.g 3820/3930/3970 they have more lanes natively to support more cards

With your current motherboard+cpu, with 3 cards it would do 8/4/4 - not a good configuration for tri-gpu

With 2 cards it will do 8/8 which isn't too bad.

The reason tri crossfire is supported is because AMD support a dual gpu card combined with a single gpu card e.g 7990+7970
post #4 of 9
With the Sabertooth, your best going with SLI or crossfire vs Tr-fire or tri-sli. The reason being, in order to get the full PCIe x4 on the 3rd slot, you need to disable 2 of your Sata ports and turn off one of the USB 3.0 controllers and a couple of other things.

As far as 3.0 goes, it is twice the bandwidth of 2.0, but even modern cards cannot use the full bandwidth of 2.0 to begin with.

PCIe has 16 lanes, hence the PCIe x16. Unless stated otherwise, most boards will do X8 X8 in SLI and X8/X8/X4(x1) in Tri-sli. Higher end boards (like X79) can do X16/X16 (I think), or X8/x8/x8 or X8/x8/x8/x4/

However, the difference between 2.0 and 3.0 x16 is marginal (a couple of percent) and between X8 and X16 is like 5-10% as far as FPS goes.
 
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post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
so physically at most, i can dual sli or tri fire?
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post #6 of 9
Yea, and I wouldn't recommend 3-way Crossfire on your board due to X4 at 2.0. X8/X4/X4 at 3.0 on the boards like my is a better option.
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post #7 of 9
Technically you can do 3 cards, but I would stick with 2.
 
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post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Xeb View Post

Technically you can do 3 cards, but I would stick with 2.
what do you mean?
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post #9 of 9
Lets look at my board.

PCIe X16 (top most)
PCIe X8 (middle)
PCIe X4(1) (bottom)

As far as my board goes, I can TECHNICALLY do 3 cards because I have 3 slots to put them in, the problem is that it will only be running at X1 vs the X4 if I were to turn off my usb 3.0 ports (4 of them) and 2 of my sata parts... And I use all of them. At X16, the card runs at full speed. X8, you get about a 5-10% reduction in FPS vs a system running full X16 X16. Now, you thrown the X1 into the mix, you are going to see about a 20% reduction overall vs X8 or X16. That is not good... The bottom card in the X1 slot, now becomes a bottleneck in your SLI setup. Will it work? Yes, will it perform well? For having 3 cards, yes, but it is not ideal.

Now, lets say you turn of some of the features to get your PCIe to X4. You are still down to about 15% reduction in FPS compared to a system running X16, x16, X16.

Now, as far as your board goes, the bottom X4 slot is running at 2.0 speeds. That is not a bad thing, but 2.0 at X4 not as fast as 3.0 X4.
 
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