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Upgrade advice for going to 1080p triple monitor setup for sim racing rig

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 7, 2014 12:32:44 AM

Need New GPU!

I'm looking for advice on upgrade options for my gaming pc rig.

My goal: is to game across 3 monitors with great frame rates at 1080p at mid to high detail settings. I would like to keep my upgrade budget under $600 if possible, hopefully well under. But I will consider more if cost/benefits ratio makes much more sense.

My current rig consists of;

-Custom liquid cooled PC (built, not by me, December 2010) ... Specs:
Silencer PC Power & Cooling 750 watt power supply
Intel i7 950 CPU
EVGA X58 SLI3 motherboard
6GB DDR3 memory
Nvidia GTX 470 GPU
Danger Den Waterbox Plus Acrylic Case with two 80mm white led fans
EK Supreme nickel plated plexi top waterblock
EK GTX 470 GPU waterblock nickel plated plexi top
EK Radiator with two 120mm white led fans
EK DCP pump with reservoir combo
White tubing with black compression fittings
Sound blaster X-FI Soundcard
128 Samsung SSD
500GB 7200RPM Seagate hard drive for storage or otherwise
LG DVD rw Drive
Windows 7 Home Premium

-ASUS VG278H 3D Vision 2 Monitor
-Fanatec GT2 wheel and clubsport pedals
-Obutto R3VOLUTION cockpit workstation
-Line6 KB37 handles sound in lieu of XFi sound card
-Yamaha MSP10 Studio Monitors

Things to Consider:

1. I do not, nor do I know how to, over clock my CPU or GPU. Willing to learn if necessary.
2. I don't game in 3D often, but enjoy it when I do. However, I am unwilling to purchase 2 more identical $500 monitors just to game in 3D surround. 2D surround is a more than sufficient goal. If I want to game in 3D, I'll do it on 1 monitor.
3. I have 2 spare 24" monitors (sony playstation monitors) I'd like to use for side monitors if possible so I could use the saved money on better GPU.
4. Current installed GPU is a GTX 470 which is water cooled. New GPU would either also need to be water cooled, or if not, the current tube fittings would need an adapter for bypass, or retubed.
5. I play pretty much only racing games. Dirt 2 and Dirt 3 only, although I will probably want to try new games soon.
6. My current rig produces quite sufficient frame rates for me on dirt3 at 1080p on high or even ultra settings in 2D. Playing in 3D the fps is significantly reduced, but rather playable at medium settings still.
7. Working on a liquid cooled pc freaks me out, so I will have to factor in labor cost of upgrade to have someone do it for me.
8. If my goal is unrealistic for my budget, I guess I'd be willing to drop detail or resolution a bit to accommodate.
9. I have no issues buying used gear. In fact, I prefer it to save money, so a used GPU from flea bay may be the ticket for me. Looks like I could get a lightly used GTX 690 for little more than $500.


I have many questions to be answered as my knowledge on pcs is limited.

1. What GPU should I purchase for upgrade to give me the best bang for the buck performance on 3 monitors.
2. Should I consider 2 cheaper cards in SLI instead?
3. Is it advisable to keep the new GPU water cooled and invest in new water block? Or is air cooled fine enough and save the $100 or so a block would cost...
4. Will I have any (scaling/resolution) problems running 2 24" side monitors with a 27" center?
5. Is my current power supply adequate if I was to consider SLI configuration?
6. Is my current MB/CPU sufficient enough to only need an upgraded GPU to achieve my goal?
7. The PCIe port on my MB is old and I believe 2.0 not the current 3.0. Is this going to be a problem for newer GPUs? Hope my lack of understanding didn't botch that question.

Best solution

a b C Monitor
May 7, 2014 12:45:43 AM


1. There's really no such thing as good "bang for the buck" on 3 monitors. It's going to be cripplingly expensive. An R9 290X might be your best option, though I rather doubt even it will hold up in the best looking games at 5760x1080. Nvidia cards tend to run better at 1080p but lose their edge above 1440p, probably due to the lower VRAM or bandwidth.

2. No, perhaps two stronger cards in SLI/Xfire (ie, R9 280X + R9 280X) But not two weaker ones. At that point it's just a disadvantage from a single stronger card.

3. You should probably just get rid of the liquid cooling; if you're not overclocking then nothing modern needs it. If you are overclocking, then it's still useful.

4. Not sure.

5. That depends on the exact model and manufacturer of the power supply.

6. Not sure.

7. 2.0 won't hold you back at all. Even the strongest video cards only lose 1-2 fps from PCI 2.0 instead of 3.0.
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May 7, 2014 12:58:47 AM

Buy the absolute best single GPU you can afford.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

Don't sli, there are diminishing returns. Therefore your PSU/mobo will be sufficient.

Don't liquid cool it. A new block will take money away from your card and give you zero extra fps.

With a fast card you will likely benefit from an OC. Getting 20% isn't too hard on most Intel chips. There are plenty of walkthroughs online.

A 290x as suggested would be good, or the 780 Ti if you can afford the extra. Pricing can change quite quickly, so check for deals.
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May 7, 2014 1:10:52 AM

Rationale said:

1. There's really no such thing as good "bang for the buck" on 3 monitors. It's going to be cripplingly expensive. An R9 290X might be your best option, though I rather doubt even it will hold up in the best looking games at 5760x1080. Nvidia cards tend to run better at 1080p but lose their edge above 1440p, probably due to the lower VRAM or bandwidth.

2. No, perhaps two stronger cards in SLI/Xfire (ie, R9 280X + R9 280X) But not two weaker ones. At that point it's just a disadvantage from a single stronger card.

3. You should probably just get rid of the liquid cooling; if you're not overclocking then nothing modern needs it. If you are overclocking, then it's still useful.

4. Not sure.

5. That depends on the exact model and manufacturer of the power supply.

6. Not sure.

7. 2.0 won't hold you back at all. Even the strongest video cards only lose 1-2 fps from PCI 2.0 instead of 3.0.


Appreciate your brute honesty with "cripplingly expensive" lol. I'd like to stick with NVidia just because if I do want to game in 3D, I can with my asus VG278H 3D vision 2 monitor. If it weren't for that, I'd consider Radeon cards. As I understand, the Radeon won't do 3D with my monitor, is that correct? Could I keep my GTX 470 installed if I ever wanted to do 3D and use a r9 290 for triple monitor gaming? I'm guessing not. Sounds asinine as I type it lol. Power supply is a silencer 750 watt. Ridding liquid cooling on new GPU sounds great, I assume it wouldn't be terrible trouble to install new hose from CPU plate to radiator to bypass GPU. Would my GTX 470 with EK plexi water lock be worth ANything at all resale to put towards better card? Have original box and fan. Thanks for your reply
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May 7, 2014 1:16:25 AM

mrmez said:
Buy the absolute best single GPU you can afford.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

Don't sli, there are diminishing returns. Therefore your PSU/mobo will be sufficient.

Don't liquid cool it. A new block will take money away from your card and give you zero extra fps.

With a fast card you will likely benefit from an OC. Getting 20% isn't too hard on most Intel chips. There are plenty of walkthroughs online.

A 290x as suggested would be good, or the 780 Ti if you can afford the extra. Pricing can change quite quickly, so check for deals.


Ok, so no SLI, and eliminate liquid cooling. Great, sounds good to me. You are talking about OC my CPU right? What way do you suggest to do it? Do you have a link at all to what in your opinion is the superior way to do it. 20% would help achieve my goal you think? 780ti would be nice, if I could pick up a used one under $600. Is that GTX 690 I mentioned a viable option do you think to compete with the 780ti. Thanks.

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a b C Monitor
May 7, 2014 3:10:39 AM

Robin Banks Racing said:
mrmez said:
Buy the absolute best single GPU you can afford.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

Don't sli, there are diminishing returns. Therefore your PSU/mobo will be sufficient.

Don't liquid cool it. A new block will take money away from your card and give you zero extra fps.

With a fast card you will likely benefit from an OC. Getting 20% isn't too hard on most Intel chips. There are plenty of walkthroughs online.

A 290x as suggested would be good, or the 780 Ti if you can afford the extra. Pricing can change quite quickly, so check for deals.


Ok, so no SLI, and eliminate liquid cooling. Great, sounds good to me. You are talking about OC my CPU right? What way do you suggest to do it? Do you have a link at all to what in your opinion is the superior way to do it. 20% would help achieve my goal you think? 780ti would be nice, if I could pick up a used one under $600. Is that GTX 690 I mentioned a viable option do you think to compete with the 780ti. Thanks.



The 690 is actually stronger than a 780 TI, but the 690 is not worth it at all. The 690 is pretty much just two 680s built into each other. The 690 still has 90% of the instability and power consumption problems associated with SLI.
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