Nvidia quietly kills 3- and 4-way SLI support for GeForce GTX 10-series graphics cards

Buh-bye, ridonkulously overpowered gaming rigs.

Adios, Enthusiast Key. Nvidia’s doing away with plans to require a special software tool to unlock 3- and 4-way SLI setups. But instead of making systems with three or four GeForce GTX 1080 or GTX 1070 graphics cards play nice out-of-the-box with the company’s Game Ready drivers, Nvidia’s pretty much declaring 3- and 4-way SLI setups dead for traditional gaming.

A forthcoming Game Ready driver release will add in 3- and 4-way SLI support, no Enthusiast Key needed—but that support will only be enabled for a handful of specific benchmarking applications like 3DMark Fire Strike and Catzilla, Nvidia told PC Perspective. So you’ll still see extreme Nvidia-powered rigs at the top of overclocking charts, but you won’t be able to put that power to use in actual games. In-game support stops at 2-way SLI profiles.

There’s a caveat to this: Cutting-edge graphics APIs like Vulkan and DirectX 12 allow developers to directly access GPUs, so specific games will be able still tap into three or more graphics cards if the developer implements it. (The same tech lets you run Radeon and GeForce cards together in the same system.) But both of those graphics APIs are still in their very early days, with DX11 titles still representing the vast majority of PC games shipped, and directly implementing mGPU support costs developers time and money. So don’t expect to see a flood of DX12 games capable of supporting 3- and 4-way SLI setups anytime soon.

If you managed to snag several new GeForce cards it’s time to think about returning some of them, in other words. While 3- and 4-way GPU setups have long been in the extreme minority and this move from Nvidia frankly makes sense, it’s deeply unfortunate that Nvidia waited until after the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 went on sale to change its mind regarding SLI support. Hopefully returns from disappointed enthusiasts go smoothly.

AMD hasn’t said how its new Polaris-based graphics cards (like the $200 Radeon RX 480) will handle CrossFire support for systems with multiple GPUs.

We’ve reached out to Nvidia PR with some questions about finer details and will update this article if we hear a response. In the meantime, read PC Perspective’s look at 4-way GTX 1080 SLI benchmarks in LuxMark for a brief taste of what might have been.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags nvidia

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?