How can I build a computer for both gaming and work? Hybrid computer build!

-=-=- The solution-=-=-

It is possible, without dual boot. Switching GPU takes less than 5 seconds!

Only one monitor is required.
Make sure you have two cables to get each video card to the monitor.
I had to get a DisplayPort to HDMI cable when I added a W7000 to my gaming setup. It can be found for less than 10$.

Build a nice computer with:
A great CPU
A gaming GPU
A workstation GPU

For this tutorial, I've used the following set-up:

Intel Core i7 920 D0 @4.15 Ghz
Gygabyte X58A-UD3R BIOS F8a
24Gb DDR3 Corsair Vengeance @1592 MHz 10-9-9-24
Radeon HD 7950
FirePro W7000

Windows 7
AMD Catalyst 14-9
AMD Firepro 13.352.1019

Here is how it is possible:

  1. Step 1:

    Build your computer and make sure the two GPU are connected and powered.

  2. Step 2:

    You don't need to reformat your current windows installation. I tried both from a 2 years old setup and from a fresh install and both work great.

    However, I suggest to do it, a fresh start is always good.

  3. Step 3:

    Install your Catalyst driver first.

  4. Step 4:

    The gaming card is detected. It is normal that the workstation card is still not detected.

  5. Step 5:

    Install your FirePro driver. Select a different location (folder) than the Catalyst driver.

  6. Step 6:

    Once the computer is rebooted, both cards are detected.

  7. Step 7:

    In Catalyst Firepro drivers, both cards are listed in the "Hardware" section.

  8. Step 8:

    Windows will consider the setup as two different monitors.
    Change the "Multiple Display" to "show desktop only on 1"

    ** I haven't had the chance to try multiple variation here, as it is complicated to test with only one monitor. Contact me if you have found something interesting with multiple monitors, but I doubt it could work due to driver switching. **

  9. Step 9:

    By default, Windows will run on your primary card, even if both of them are enabled.
    In my case, the primary card is the Radeon Hd 7950.

    To work with the second card, simply disable the primary card. Once it is disabled, the screen will be dark. Use the "switch input" button located on your monitor to used the second input. This different input comes from the workstation video card.
    After a few seconds, depending on your monitor, you will see your desktop. Your system is now running on the workstation card.

  10. Step 10:

    Proof, here are Solidworks benchmarks results and Unigine benchmark, both using each cards:

  11. Step 11:

    Unigine with the Radeon 7950

  12. Step 12:

    Unigine with the FirePro W7000

  13. Step 13:

    Solidworks with the Radeon 7950

  14. Step 14:

    Solidworks with the FirePro W7000

  15. Step 15:

    I hope it helped! I wish I could have tried it sooner. It is very pleasant to benefits the performance of both GPU, without having to reboot!

    Have fun playing/CADing !