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Need help building 4-monitor high-res display

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 15, 2005 6:35:55 PM

Hi all,

I'm planning on building a display consisting of 4 high-res LCD monitors. I'm a bit lost with some of the standards, here's some questions:

1) Can I drive two 30" Apple Cinemas at 2560x1600 with a nVidia or ATI dual-DVI card? From the screenshots it looks like they are all dual-link DVI but it's not explicitly mentioned

2) Can I put two of these cards into one PC and have the desktop go over all 4 monitors? None of my PCs have two PCI Express or AGP slots, is it even possible to get 4 dual-link DVI outputs out of one PC with simple PCI? If I buy a new MB, which one would support two PCI Express graphics cards?

3) Would an analog solution on a 23" HP monitor (1920x1200) with a quad-head analog output card be a lot worse than the output from two two-ouput dual-link DVI cards? (on the same monitor, of course, not on the Apple display)

Speed is not an issue (the last game I played was Drol on my Apple II) but maximum resolution is important.

Thanks,
Andrew
a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
December 16, 2005 2:06:51 AM

Quote:
1) Can I drive two 30" Apple Cinemas at 2560x1600 with a nVidia or ATI dual-DVI card? From the screenshots it looks like they are all dual-link DVI but it's not explicitly mentioned


Only the ATi X1xxx series (edit NOT the X1300) has two dual-link TMDS DVI ports for many models. Even the nVidia Quadro and FireGL vary from model to model, and very few have dual TMDS let alone 2 dual TMDS DVI. They are also far more expensive than the 'gaming/home/office' cards.

Quote:
2) Can I put two of these cards into one PC and have the desktop go over all 4 monitors? None of my PCs have two PCI Express or AGP slots, is it even possible to get 4 dual-link DVI outputs out of one PC with simple PCI? If I buy a new MB, which one would support two PCI Express graphics cards?


Yes it's possible with PCI and PCIe 1X (from Matrox) but it's usually cheaper and wiser to simply get an ATi Crossfire or nV nF4 Ultra based boards and then just use 2 X1xxx cards (NOT the X1300 it seems unlike I first suggested) IMO. The Quadro 280 is PCI with dual link, but ridiculously expensive so no point for 2D work, as it would require 2 of them since each only has 1 dual link DVI.

Rare nV GF6800U DLL and ATi X800XT Mac editions have dual dual-link DVI but they are so rare they likely won't be much of a bargain now anyways, and you'd still need 2 PCI/PCIe cards to drive the other two monitors.

Quote:
3) Would an analog solution on a 23" HP monitor (1920x1200) with a quad-head analog output card be a lot worse than the output from two two-ouput dual-link DVI cards? (on the same monitor, of course, not on the Apple display)


For the average user the difference will be minor, if this is your job and you need ABSOLUTE precision then the DVI is better, especially dual-link since it doesn't have the poor quality internal TMDS problem notorious to some cards.

Quote:
Speed is not an issue (the last game I played was Drol on my Apple II) but maximum resolution is important.


Well dude you need to try Tetris man, it's really COOL, especially at high res! :roll:

PS, do yourself a favour and get a quality multi-monitor program when you set this up, because the bundled nView and Hydravision software just isn't powerful or flexible enough if you're serious. IMO Matrox is close to good enough, but even still the added features of quality 3rd party software is better. You may want to check with the software you use to see if there's optimizations for some software or hardware for multi-mon support.
a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
December 16, 2005 2:38:06 AM

AH, CRAP !

The X1300s are only 1 dual + 1 single link DVI.

So it may be the X1600 (ATis specs don't say enough about the X1600s TMDSs) and X1800 for dual dual link.

That kinda sucks, and I would expect a special revision card for 2D prosumers, but that may be a bit away, the way the R9650/R9600P Mac&PC were late comers.
December 16, 2005 1:24:53 PM

Thanks!

So maybe with an x1800-based card I would be able to do this. I sent a query to PowerColor to see what they say.

I hadn't thought of the possibility of using 4 cards, that seems kind of brute-force but in the end might be cheaper. We have plenty of industrial PCs with tons of PCI slots.

Andrew
!