By: Charles P. Jefferies
Today on PCGamingCorner.com, we are going to walk through the installation of two ATI video cards in CrossFire mode from start to finish, beginning with the uninstallation of your old video card and ending with the installation of software drivers for the new graphics cards. We will show you what you need and how to do it, step by step. Ready?
Notes & Disclaimer:
This guide is generalized to a level that allows us to cover most installations of this type; it is not possible to cover every possible configuration. Follow each step to your own interpretation if necessary.
PCGamingCorner.com and its authors are not responsible for any damages, injuries, or related that occur from following this guide. You proceed at your own risk. In addition, we are not responsible for any content in the links that go outside of our site.
ATI CrossFire Technology
ATI CrossFire is a platform capable of using multiple graphics cards. Two identical graphics cards paired together can increase gaming performance up to 100% over a single card. ATI CrossFire main page.
Requirements for ATI CrossFire
Not all systems can use dual ATI graphics cards; in order to take advantage of ATI CrossFire technology, you must have the following:
- A Crossfire-capable motherboard with two PCI-express x16 or x8 lanes
- A power supply capable of powering the cards you choose
- Two identical ATI CrossFire-capable graphics cards
- CrossFire bridge connector
- Phillips head screwdriver
- Anti-static wrist strap
For detailed information on selecting the right power supply, refer to the guide on AMD’s website. Don’t know if your system is capable? Ask us in the forums.
We will be using two mid-range Radeon HD 4670 graphics cards for our demonstration today. We did a full analysis and review of the cards here. Let’s begin.
Step 1: Get ATI Drivers for the New Graphics Cards
Before you alter your computer, let’s first download the drivers for the graphics cards to be installed. A driver is software that lets the Windows operating system communicate with the graphics card. Follow this link to AMD’s website and follow the instructions to reach the appropriate drivers.
I run Windows Vista 32-bit and have Radeon HD 4670 graphics cards; my selections are as follows:
Click the download link under ‘Option 1′. When prompted, save the drivers to a location you can easily access.
Step 2: Uninstall the Old Graphics Card Drivers
You will need to remove your old graphics card drivers prior to removing the card itself, since the new cards will need a different driver. Save all your work and make sure no programs are running before starting this process.
Click Start → Control Panel → click ‘Control Panel Home’ link in left pane
Next, click ‘Uninstall a Program’ under Programs; a window will come up with a list of all the installed programs on your computer. If you have an ATI video card, you should see the drivers listed at the top of the page. My desktop has an Nvidia card installed; in the screenshot below, you can see the Nvidia drivers highlighted:
Double-click the driver to begin the uninstallation process, and click through the simple wizard that follows. Your screen may flicker, become distorted, and/or go blank during the process; this is normal. Shut down your computer once the graphics card drivers are uninstalled.
Step 3: Removing the Old Graphics Card
Now this is the exciting part – time for some hands-on work. To remove the old graphics card, you will need to open your desktop’s case and access its internals. Prior to touching your desktop, put on the anti-static wristband, which will dissipate any static.
Start by unplugging everything from the desktop. Flip your power supply’s switch off (if applicable). Set the desktop down on its side on a flat surface, with the removable panel side facing up.
Before you open the desktop, push the power button several times to drain any residual electricity.
Behold the semi-cable managed internals of my desktop; that green circuit board towards the bottom is the Nvidia graphics card that I am going to replace.
Several items must be taken care of prior to removing the card. First, remove any power connectors going into the graphics card; there may be a six-pin PCI-e power plug from the desktop going into the card, which looks like the following:
The graphics card is most likely screwed down; use a Phillips head screwdriver and remove the screws. They are located on the metal bracket on the left side of the card, as circled above.
The last part is perhaps the most tricky; the graphics card is still anchored to the motherboard by a safety clip. The following picture shows the motherboard’s two blue PCI-express graphics card slots; your graphics card currently resides in one of them.
On the right side of each slot is a safety latch/hinge (circled above). You want to carefully pull it towards the top of the motherboard to release the clip holding the graphics card in place (see the arrow above), while gently pulling the graphics card straight up and away from the motherboard. It should come free with minimal fuss. If the card isn’t moving, then push the safety latch a bit further. Be careful not to hit or push anything on the motherboard itself to avoid damage.
If it feels like you are using too much effort, then you are. Remember, talk to us in the forums if you get stuck.
Step 4: Install the New Graphics Cards
Take one of your new graphics cards and line up the bottom connector, circled in the above picture, with the PCI-express slot on your motherboard. Once it is resting on top of the slot, carefully push straight down and the card should click into place. Remember, if it feels like you are using too much effort, you are.
Before you install the second graphics card using the same method, take a moment and screw down the first card. Do the same for the second once installed.
The Radeon HD 4670 cards we are using do not require additional 6-pin power connectors. If yours do, then plug them in now.
You will see there are actually two connectors on either card where the bridge can fit over; it does not matter which set you choose. Align each end of the connector over a connector on the card, and push down gently until it will not go down anymore.
The graphics card installation is now complete. To recap this step, you should have:
- Installed both cards by pushing their connectors into the motherboard PCI-express slots until they clicked
- Screwed down both cards
- Installed any PCI-e power connectors (if applicable)
- Affixed the CrossFire bridge to connect the cards
Securely close your desktop and re-connect all the cables. While reconnecting your monitor, you will notice there are quite a few monitor ports to choose from; fortunately, it does not matter which one you choose as they all function the same.
Step 5: Installing the New Graphics Card Drivers
Turn on your PC and log on. Your screen may appear distorted – this is normal and nothing to worry about.
Find the driver package you downloaded and double-click it to begin the installation process. The new drivers need to be installed so Windows and programs can use the graphics card.
Restart when the installation completes, and you’re done!
This completes the first article in PCGC’s How-To series, and we sincerely hope you enjoyed it. ATI CrossFire is a wonderful technology that can dramatically improve gaming performance. It is worthy consideration for those looking to game at higher resolutions and settings. Please see our ATI Radeon HD 4670 and HD 4670 CrossFire review to see what kind of difference it can make.