Greetings to all you Alienwareites. For those of you who will be upgrading to SLI yourself, you will likely find this guide useful. Enabling SLI can be as simple as checking a box in the NVIDIA properties. But under some circumstances, it can be a real pain in the ass to get it to work right. Lets start off with the SLI requirements:
1. An SLI capable motherboard (duh)
2. Two identical video cards
3. An SLI Bridge
4. An SLI certified Driver set (66.93 or 71.89)
5. Both video cards must have the exact same BIOS
Good things come in pairs
Number five is very important. If you purchase the video cards at different times, both cards will likely have a different BIOS revision on them. In this case we will have to perform the "pain in the ass" procedure.
Ok, now that that is out of the way, let's get down to the nitty gritty. The hardware portion of the setup will vary depending on your motherboard but it basically involves setting the motherboard into "SLI mode" installing the video cards and connecting the SLI bridge. If you have an Asus A8N-SLI you will have to change the selector card so the "dual video cards" side is pointing towards the slot.
Once you get everything hooked up, boot into Windows like normal. Windows should detect the second video card and install it. Now open up the NVIDIA display properties and select the SLI multi-GPU tab. If you are lucky, all you will have to do is check the box that says "Enable SLI multi-GPU." If you see the following screen, we get to perform the pain in the ass method.
Before we get down to it, we are going to need to download some files. You will also need two floppy disks handy for this. First download the following files:
The first file will format a floppy as a Dos 6.22 boot disk. Run the file and insert the first disk. Extract the contents of the other files onto the second floppy disk. Next you have a couple of choices for the BIOS. You can check the website of the video card manufacturer and download the latest BIOS. If the manufacturer does not provide BIOS images (like XFX), you will have to flash the second card with the BIOS from the first card. If you download the BIOS, put it on the second disk.
Before I continue any further, I should throw out a disclaimer. Although I have made this guide as dummy proof as possible, there is always a risk of something going wrong. As such, if you decide to continue from this point on, keep the following in mind: Flashing the BIOS of a video card is done at your own risk. If something does go wrong, don't blame me.
If something does go wrong, you should be able to recover by booting with another video card (pci for example) and attempt to re-flash. I would strongly recommend completely reading through this guide before attempting. It would also be helpful to print out the guide so you have all of the DOS commands handy.
Now we are ready to get down and dirty. Boot the computer from the first floppy disk to get to a command prompt and then switch to the second floppy. When you run a command with NVFLASH, you will see a csdpmi.swp error. It is safe to ignore this error. First thing we should do is get NVFLSH to list the video cards in the system.
In the output above, <0> refers to the card in the primary PCIe x16 slot and <1> refers to the card in the secondary PCIe x16 slot. I am not sure what the numbers in the parentheses represent, but if they are different, NVFLASH will complain when you try to flash the card(s). Now let's look at the BIOS information for each card.