Can You Run Two Different GPUs in One PC? [Mixing NVIDIA and AMD GPUs]

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CG Director Author Alex Glawionby Alex Glawion   /  Updated 

Can AMD and NVIDIA GPUs be “mixed?” It’s an endlessly interesting question, and we’ve all thought about it at some point in our PC-building “careers.”

So, is it possible? Why would one even go for such a setup?

We’ve made sure to cover all of these questions (and more) down below.

Can you Have More Than One Discrete GPU in the Same PC?

You absolutely can, but only if your motherboard has enough PCIe slots, sufficient PCIe lanes, and a PSU that’s strong enough to power both GPUs simultaneously.

Also, think about the bigger picture; alongside two (probably quite powerful) GPUs, you’ll also need a large enclosure, not just for housing said graphics cards but for providing sufficient airflow as well.

Can You Use Multiple Discrete GPUs Simultaneously?

You can, with the right set-up, have two and more (fully functioning) discrete graphics cards connected to your motherboard, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use both at the same time.

Two or more GPUs can work simultaneously in the following cases:

  • If you have two or more of the same GPU brand that can use the same driver
  • If you have two or more similar GPUs which utilize the same SDKs (i.e. CUDA or OptiX on Nvidia). In other words: Your software has to be purpose-made to utilize multiple GPUs (Think: GPU Render Engines, Machine Learning, etc.)
  • When using different GPU brands or when they can’t utilize the same driver: make sure both are recognized by the OS, and launch multiple instances of the application you want to use the GPUs with. Each instance will be able to utilize one of the GPUs. (May need proper setup within the application – see below)
  • (Optional) If you have them hooked up through SLI, NvLink, or Crossfire

Keep in mind that you won’t see any improvement in rendering unless you’re using a dual GPU setup for VRAM sharing. These setups might improve your gaming performance, but even that will vary from one title to the next.

Can You Use an iGPU and a dGPU At The Same Time?

Theoretically, integrated and discrete graphics can be used simultaneously. However, most pieces of software don’t offer official support for this type of workload.

There are rare instances in which you will get some performance benefits from such a setup – most video editing programs can utilize Intel’s Quick Sync technology to greatly speed up encoding/decoding of footage and rendering.

Intel Quick Sync Video

Image Credit: Intel

Can You Run AMD and NVIDIA GPUs on the Same System?

You can, but you most likely won’t be able to use both of them within the same application instance.

There are ways to make AMD and NVIDIA GPUs run on the same system – A prerequisite being that your motherboard has two PCIe slots. If it does, you will have to do quite a bit of manual labor to get them both to work properly.

Even if you do get the PC to work properly with both cards inside, chances are that the system will only use one of them – the other one is likely going to be dormant.

That being said, there are cases in which you’ll see real performance benefits from using two different GPUs in one system.

For example, running multiple instances of a render engine, one set to CUDA/OptiX and the other set to OpenCL or HIP will allow you to utilize both GPUs (e.g. in Render Engines like Blender’s Cycles). I’ve tried this before and while it works more often than not, driver issues do tend to arise at times, as the operating system is running two GPU drivers from different brands, one of them having a monitor attached to it and rendering, the other just rendering.

It’ll certainly confuse not just your OS but also the software that is supposed to be utilizing both GPUs.

Mixing AMD and Nvidia GPUs certainly is a fringe case that, while possible, isn’t something intended by software developers, and subsequent bugs are encountered much more often than when running more popular hardware combinations. It’s something for tinkerers but certainly not something I’d advise using in production-ready environments where reliability is key.

How to use AMD and NVIDIA GPUs in a Single PC for Rendering

AMD and NVIDIA GPUs can be used in the same PC for rendering purposes (or other professional workloads), but you might face certain driver-related issues.

What exactly can you do with AMD and NVIDIA GPUs rendering-wise? Well, for starters, pick the GPU you wish to use as your main GPU and make sure it’s connected to your main display. This will ensure your operating system picks it up as the default GPU.

The other GPU you have in your system doesn’t need to be connected to a monitor, but you will need to manually order your programs to use it.

For DaVinci Resolve workstations, for each instance, navigate to Preferences, then go to System and find Memory and GPU. From the GPU Configuration tab, select your desired GPU and GPU processing mode.

Davinci Resolve GPU Preferences

Image Credit: Black Magic Design

In each Blender instance that you launch, navigate to Preferences > System > Cycles Render Devices and make sure your GPU is selected. Once there, you can select one of the following: HIP, Metal, CUDA, or OptiX.

Blender GPU Preferences

Image Credit: Blender

You’ll also need to configure each scene to use the corresponding GPU rendering method.

Can you use AMD and NVIDIA GPUs in a Single PC for Gaming?

You can not. Remeber what we said above about needing multiple application instances that each talk to their respective GPU? Well Gaming isn’t something you can spread across multiple instances and hasn’t been intended by developers, so for now, no utilizing and AMD and Nvidia GPU simultaneously for gaming.

Of course, you should be able to utilize your secondary off-brand GPU for something else (e.g. rendering) while gaming on your primary GPU that is attached to your monitor.

Conclusion

Using multiple GPUs of the same brand and optimally, the same SKU within a single PC is something that is quite popular and most often found in visually demanding workloads such as GPU Rendering and Machine Learning.

Mixing GPUs of different brands, though (e.g. one from AMD and one from Nvidia) is something else entirely. There are fringe cases and workarounds with multiple application instances where you may be able to simultaneously utilize both GPUs fully, but such scenarios are rare and bring stability issues with them.

Still, if you already have one AMD and one NVIDIA GPU, a beefy power supply, and an appropriate motherboard, why not test it out and see how you can make it work?

Over To You

Have you tried mixing AMD and NVIDIA GPUs? If so, what were your results? Leave a comment below or on our forum and let me know if you have any other questions.

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Alex Glawion

Hi, I’m Alex, a Freelance 3D Generalist, Motion Designer and Compositor.

I’ve built a multitude of Computers, Workstations and Renderfarms and love to optimize them as much as possible.

Feel free to comment and ask for suggestions on your PC-Build or 3D-related Problem, I’ll do my best to help out!

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  • Neo Morpheus

    Hello,

    About the gaming part, in my case, I want to recreate what was done back in the early 2000’s which was using an AMD gpu as primary gpu and a nvidia one just to handle Phyxs.

    Nvidia, being the “nice” people they are, started disabling their own gpus when their driver detected an AMD gpu.

    Fast forward to today and supposedly thats no longer the case. That said, if you still have the possibility of recreate this, can you please test the game Arkham Knight and see if you can enable Physx in it?

  • Mieszko

    Thanks for This valuable Article. I own 4090 and RTX 6000 Ada. Mostly for very big scene in Twinmotion. The latest version of TM which is 2023.1 prev 2 has possibility to run “Multi GPU” do you think is there possibility to benefit of my setup ? If yes How should I prepare my workstation?

    • Alex Glawion

      Hey Mieszko,
      Here’s Nvidia’s official statement: “We recommend against using GeForce and Quadro cards in the same system as it may cause unpredictable results. As such this is not considered a supported configuration.”

      That said, it can certainly work. The thing is you’ll need two separate drivers, one for the Quadro, one for the mainstream GPU. And you can certainly try rendering in twinmotion on both simultaneously. If worse comes to worst, you’ll need to launch multiple instances and render on each GPU separately.

      Cheers,
      Alex

  • Arlysy

    The not being able to use them for gaming when mixed isn’t exactly true at least not 100%. There is a way to do it, but I can only think of a few games (less than 5 really and might be 1 or 2) that actually makes use of the method that you would need to implement as a developer to use it. I think only the first new generation hitman game and ashes of the singularity actually use the technique to allow mixed graphics cards and reviewers actually found the mix of amd and Nvidia to be best together when this was tested.

    • Alex Glawion

      Hey Arlysy,
      That’s very interesting, I did not know that, thanks for the input! 🙂

      Cheers,
      Alex