We have two GPU brands on opposite sides of the ring. On one side is the NVIDIA® GeForce®, well-known for its GPUs that focus on the use of CUDA technology and power consumption-control. On the other side is AMD Radeon™, a graphics card series that uses Stream Processor technology and software drivers that push your PSU to its limit in exchange for extreme performance. Which do you choose?
And more importantly, why can’t you choose both?
In this article, we will tackle why using an NVIDIA® GPU with an AMD Radeon™ chip would not be as effective as two equally-branded cards. We’ll also try other options available, should there be (possible) alternatives for each.
1. Motherboard Chipset
One big factor in this is how the motherboard chipset does not support both. For example, an MSI® Z87 Gaming motherboard might have a preference to NVIDIA® while an ASUS ROG AM3+ might have a preference to the AMD Radeon™ architecture.
Some motherboards can manage through this by being able to tackle both. An example of this is the MSI® Z370 Tomahawk. It has an Intel®-based chipset (and thus prefers NVIDIA®), but the Tomahawk foregoes tradition by still being able to use the AMD CrossFire built-in software.
2. BIOS Overclock
Another factor is how a GPU might not be supported by the BIOS over/downclock function. Since the BIOS cannot manage this, a certain brand might not be able to work with optimized speeds. One will have to switch to another brand to maximize the GPU speed.
Since the BIOS is software, not hardware, the motherboard can still manage to adapt to this: A way to do this is by BIOS flashing. A new flashed BIOS changes the motherboard settings. If earlier, the motherboard can only overclock NVIDIA®, maybe after flashing, it can also overclock AMD.
3. Built-in Software
Finally, built-in software is a factor. Most modern gaming components today (not just GPUs) have complementary software with them. For example, the AMD Radeon™ has Radeon™ Chill™ and AMD OverDrive™, which requires specific power supply units. NVIDIA®, on the other hand, has the NVIDIA® Game Ready software suite, which needs an HDMI 2.0-compatible monitor to maximize its use.
There are software that are cross-platform, or “cross-brand,” but might still manage the same functionality to some extent. This means that both brands can still be optimized. Examples of these are overclock software like RivaTuner and GPU-Z, graphics-optimizing programs like Razer™ Cortex, and the countless driver updaters out there.
In the end, though switching between SLI and CrossFire is tough to handle, it might still be managed – albeit, with some drawbacks. Managing these need one to be well-informed, and of course, a little intuition is a requirement somehow.