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Thread: SLI Configuration - best setting for PhysX, using two graphics cards and one monitor?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Default SLI Configuration - best setting for PhysX, using two graphics cards and one monitor?

    Hi Everyone,

    I have just enabled SLI in my computer for the first time. Being new to SLI I am wondering what my optimum settings will be. I am running an i7 2600K box, with 16 Gigs of DDR3 1600 & 2 x Gigabyte GTX 560 graphics cards.

    When I look in the NVidia Control Panel I see the following options for SLI -

    As I only have one monitor connected to my computer I have selected the 'Maximize 3D performance' option.

    I am now wondering what my best option for the PhysX settings is -

    Given that I have a relatively high end processor am I better off setting this to CPU? Alternatively is the Auto-Select, or one of the graphics cards preferred?

    Any advice here will be greatly appreciated.

    Kind Regards,


  2. #2
    profJim's Avatar
    profJim is offline Chief Munchkin + moderator
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Tacoma, WA. [USA]

    Default Re: SLI Configuration - best setting for PhysX, using two graphics cards and one monitor?

    I think that you will find that the answer to your PhysX question is: it depends

    The following general information is from PhysX | FAQ | GeForce:
    Will running PhysX on a GPU slow down gaming performance?
    Running physics on the GPU is typically significantly faster than running physics on the CPU, so overall game performance is improved and frame rates can be much faster. However, adding physics can also impact performance in much the same way that anti-aliasing impacts performance. Gamers always enable AA modes if they can because AA makes the game look better. Gamers will similarly enable physics on their GPUs so long as frame rates remain playable. With AA enabled, running physics on a GPU will generally be much faster than running physics on a CPU when AA is enabled. PhysX running on a dedicated GPU allows offloading the PhysX processing from the GPU used for standard graphics rendering, resulting in an optimal usage of processing capabilities in a system.

    Can I run NVIDIA PhysX on my motherboard GPU?
    NVIDIA PhysX API uses the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) to process the physics environment calculations in games and applications which support NVIDIA's Physx. Physics calculations can be very complex and therefore as a system requirement, a GPU must feature 256MB of dedicated local video memory, support NVIDIA's CUDA technology and also have 32 cores or higher. If an NVIDIA motherboard GPU or a NVIDIA graphics card does not meet these requirements, you will not be able to use the GPU to process NVIDIA Physx calculations.

    Does PhysX scale across the GPU and CPU? If yes, does that mean having a faster CPU enhances PhysX performance or visual quality?
    PhysX uses both the CPU and GPU, but generally the most computationally intensive operations are done on the GPU. A CPU upgrade could result in some performance improvement, as would a GPU upgrade, but the relative improvement is very dependent on the initial balance of the system. An optimized PC with the right mix of CPU to GPU horsepower will be the best balanced solution.

    Intel and AMD say it’s better to run physics on the CPU. What is NVIDIA’s position?
    PhysX runs faster and will deliver more realism by running on the GPU. Running PhysX on a mid-to-high-end GeForce GPU will enable 10-20 times more effects and visual fidelity than physics running on a high-end CPU. Portions of PhysX processing actually run on both the CPU and GPU, leveraging the best of both architectures to deliver the best experience to the user. More importantly, PhysX can scale with the GPU hardware inside your PC. Intel and AMD solutions, which utilize the Havok API, are fixed function only and cannot scale.

    How does PhysX support heterogeneous computing?
    PhysX shows how heterogeneous computing delivers the best user experience. While the game is running, the PhysX system executes portions of the physical simulation on the CPU and other portions on the parallel processors of the GPU. This ensures all the components of a balanced PC are used efficiently to deliver the best experience.
    I'd guess that Nvidia's auto PhysX settings are pretty good and their built-in individual game profiles do a pretty good job. That's not to say that you can't tailor some settings for some of your games.

    Check out overclocked GTX 560 SLI reviews and you will find that overclocking your video cards will provide better gaming performance and let you use higher in-game quality settings. Overclocking your cpu should also improve game quality and performance. Keep in mind that the GTX 560 Ti cards are one step up from your GTX 560 cards.

    I got excellent SLI results with my overclocked cpu and o/c'd GTX 460 SLI setup with my older cpu/motherboard setup.
    Check out my MSI N460GTX Hawk (1GB) Overclocking Results thread to see how much better my system ran.

    Hopefully your power supply can handle the additional power requirements and that you have an excellent case cooling setup.

    You should find helpful information at Support | GeForce and the Nvidia user forums.

    We can best help you after you create a detailed hardware list in the System Specs
    portion of your forum profile at the bottom of the profile page or in your forum signature.
    Be sure to include brand names and model numbers.
    When you are done editing or creating your hardware list, save the settings.

    Hope this helps.
    Q9650 @ 4.10GHz [9x456MHz]
    P35-DS4 [rev: 2.0] ~ Bios: F14
    4x2GB OCZ Reaper PC2-8500 1094MHz @5-5-5-15
    MSI N460GTX Hawk Talon Attack (1GB) video card <---- SLI ---->
    Seasonic SS-660XP2 80 Plus Platinum psu (660w)
    WD Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB (data)
    Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD (boot)
    SLI @ 16/4 works when running HyperSLI
    Cooler Master 120XL Seidon push/pull AIO cpu water cooling
    Cooler Master HAF XB computer case (RC-902XB-KKN1)
    Asus VH242H 24" monitor [1920x1080]
    MSI N460GTX Hawk (1GB) video card
    Logitech Z-5500 Digital 5.1 Speakers
    win7 x64 sp1 Home Premium
    HT|Omega Claro plus+ sound card
    CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD UPS
    E6300 (R0) @ 3.504GHz [8x438MHz] ~~ P35-DS3L [rev: 1.0] ~ Bios: F9 ~~ 4x2GB Kingston HyperX T1 PC2-8500, 876MHz @4-4-4-10
    Seasonic X650 80+ gold psu (650w) ~~ Xigmatek Balder HDT 1283 cpu cooler ~~ Cooler Master CM 690 case (RC-690-KKN1-GP)
    Samsung 830 128GB SSD MZ-7PC128B/WW (boot) ~~ WD Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB (data) ~~ ZM-MFC2 fan controller
    HT|Omega Striker 7.1 sound card ~~ Asus VH242H monitor [1920x1080] ~~ Logitech Z-5500 Digital 5.1 Speakers
    win7 x64 sp1 Home Premium ~~ CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD U.P.S

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Default Re: SLI Configuration - best setting for PhysX, using two graphics cards and one monitor?

    Hi profJim,

    Thank you very much for your in-depth analysis of PhysX. I will definitely look into over-clocking my two cards; your results with the GTX-460 were impressive.

    I am responding to this post in my lunch break; so I won't be filling out all of my specs at this stage.

    Kind Regards,


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