Activating NVidia SLI and Surround

The simple process of Activating SLI and NVidia Surround

Steve Smith explains how to activate and setup NVidia SLI and Surround.

Episode #5-38 released on June 9, 2015

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There are two features in NVidia's lineup that a lot of people may not know exists. These features include NVidia's SLI and Surround features.

The reasons may include things like only having a single monitor, or only having a single graphics card. Since the common user won't have extra screens, or more than one identical graphics card, this this not concern them. However, NVidia still makes it possible for all users to tweak their systems, if you have an NVidia graphics card.

The most likely scenario that a person will encounter, is having more than one screen. This most affects people who like having more than one screen, but most productivity people will enjoy and benefit from multiple screens. There are, also, many gamers that may want the benefits of a wider field of vision, whether it be for first person shooters, aviation games, racing games, etc...

In, order to use multiple screens in some games, you must enabled NVidia surround, which will require that you have two or more screens of the same resolution. Depending on the task though, three screens are better because you can clearly see what is happening in the center.

NVidia surround creates a single virtual monitor that Windows and other application perceive as a single monitor.

NVidia SLI is, also, used to boost performance is some heavy tasks such as video encoding, rendering of 3D graphics, gaming, etc... It is done by combining the overall power of multiple graphics card, all containing the same GPU, normally being all the same card itself, for maximum compatibility.

It is not well explained, but the process of creating a SLI enabled computer requires a series of steps more than just using a single graphics card. For one, depending on your graphics cards of choice, you will have to determine the correct PSU wattage, ensure that the mainboard is rated for SLI, that your processor will have enough PCI-E lanes available because each card requires a minimum of PCI-E 8 lanes each. You need to make sure you have the same graphics cards, using different ones may work for Crossfire, but NVidia does not allow it. You will, also, need an appropriate length SLI cable, or bridge. SLI cables are normally included in all mainboard boxes for mainboards certified for SLI, if you want a nicer way of connecting your using an SLI Bridge is your best bet.

Once you have connected your graphics cards in your computer, and attached your SLI cable, or SLI Bridge, you can turn on your computer. It may ask you to install the graphics card driver if you didn't already have the same graphics card before. Your computer will install the drivers in the back end if you already have the correct drivers installed. Windows may request that you restart the computer to finish the install. Once your computer has reloaded Windows, it will now detect the SLI connection between your graphics card and you may now turn on SLI.

In order to turn on SLI or use NVidia Surround, you have to visit the NVidia Control Panel. It may not look as fancy as GeForce Experience, but believe me when I say, this is where all the power is hidden. Once you are in the NVidia Control Panel, go to 3D settings section, the third option is Configure SLI, Surround, and PhysX, or if you don't have a SLI setup, it will be indicated Configure Surround, PhysX.

With an SLI possible in your system, you will be provided with a few possible options, Maximize 3D performance, Span displays with Surround, Active all displays, and for possible future use, Disable SLI.

If you are looking to simply activate SLI, you select Maximize 3D performance, this is, also, useful for those who will have only one monitor with an SLI configuration.

If you are looking to create a Surround setup, whether you have SLI, you can for the 3D settings and SLI configuration for Surround under SLI. If you are attempting to do a Surround setup without SLI, It will simply present you with one option, Surround Configuration. At which point the process is the same. Span Displays with Surround. All displays in surround have to have the same resolution, even if they aren't physically the same size.

Just a note, you may have to close a few programs to start, which I personally find ridiculous since most of the applications requests of me to shut down have nothing to do with the graphics of the screen.

Maximizing 3D performance is easy. Just a switch that allows programs to know that SLI is enabled, and those that support it will use it. Spanning displays will open a configuration menu, which will allow you to determine the overall Topology of your monitors, which you will be able to put in the correct order. If you have two screens you will have access to 1x2, and 2x1. If you have three monitors you will have access to 1x3, and 3x1, in addition to 1x2, and 2x1. In, either case, select 1x2, or 1x3 depending on your scenario to have the screens all horizontal. The screen resolution and refresh rate will automatically adjust itself. You may use the bezel correction if you want to correct the way the image looks. You only need to enable Surround at this point.

And, before you enable surround, I'd like to point out a few details. Windows will now treat the screen as a single monitor, so all your task bar information, password prompts, etc... will span the screens. Some games may have the menus in the middle, but some may have some parts of the menus on the extreme left, and others extreme right. It is a side effect of using surround, but occurs when in ultra wide monitors, so do not be alarmed, it is entirely normal. And, you can always turn off Surround, now that you know how to use it.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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