When you buy a new video card that is different from your current video card, usually you have two options: sell the old video card or leave it collecting dust inside a closet. If your old and new video cards use an NVIDIA graphics processor, a third option is available: install and configure the old video card as a dedicated PhysX processor. Let’s see how this is done.

PhysX is a technology for physics calculations from NVIDIA. In games with this technology and a video card with an NVIDIA graphics processor installed, you can enable it in order to get a more realistic experience inside the game. However, although enabling this technology increases the realism of the game, it also decreases the game’s overall performance. By installing a dedicated video card for these calculations, you can increase the PhysX detail level in your game without seeing any drop in the number of frames per second being generated.

In order for your dedicated PhysX video card to be used, you will need to correctly configure the system (see next page), use a game that is based on PhysX, and enable PhysX hardware acceleration on the game’s configuration panel. Also, your new video card must be installed as the primary video card, and your old video card (the one that you will configure as a dedicated PhysX processor) must be moved to the second (or third, if you have an SLI setup) PCI Express x16 slot. You can use a dedicated PhysX video card together with two or three video cards in SLI mode without a problem.

There are a couple of drawbacks with having a dedicated PhysX video card. The main one is power consumption. You PC’s overall power consumption will increase even when you are not playing games, since you will have another video card hooked up to your PC. The second problem is that the dedicated PhysX video card will only be used with games based on PhysX technology, so only a few games will use this additional video card.

Let’s see how you configure a dedicated PhysX video card.


Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.