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Help!! trying to build a rig to hook up 6 monitors

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March 28, 2006 8:02:59 AM

8O Hello...
I am trying to help a friend who is opening a store and wants a display unit which will be constructed with 6 lcd monitors....
this display needs to display 6 differnent presentations (pic slide show, or powerpoint or something in that line) and to cut cost, we want to use just one cpu unit.

how many graphic card can I load on to one machie???
my thinking is to buy some cheap daul display cards and load it up

would someone please help me if this is possible...?
and if possible, what is the cheapest way for me to achieve this goal.
Thank you
March 28, 2006 9:08:23 AM

well i don't know if it's cheap but i think you can use 2 graphics cards ins sli mode to display the 4 monitors and then i asume you can get a pci card that make the other 2 wich makes a total of six, toms hardware has made a rig with 10 monitors in a near past so check it :D 
March 28, 2006 9:22:27 AM

Look at matrox graphics cards.

They specialize in multi monitor setups. I'm pretty sure that you can get a single card that will do 3 monitors, with 2 of those you are sorted!
And you don't need a fat lot for power point in terms of graphics horse power.

They also still make PCI gfx cards, so you don't have to invest in an SLI mobo and stupidly priced gfx cards to match!

There is also a device that allows you to connect monitors via your usb port. I can't for the life of me remember what it is called though (Matrox have something similar coming called triple head 2 go, that connects to a bog standard gfx card. Could possibly use that with a single two socket gfx card)
Related resources
March 28, 2006 9:23:37 AM

Last I heard it wasn't pssoble to use more than 1 monitor with SLI anyway.

May have been revised with new cards/drivers though.
March 28, 2006 10:32:42 AM

Quote:
8O Hello...
I am trying to help a friend who is opening a store and wants a display unit which will be constructed with 6 lcd monitors....
this display needs to display 6 differnent presentations (pic slide show, or powerpoint or something in that line) and to cut cost, we want to use just one cpu unit.

how many graphic card can I load on to one machie???
my thinking is to buy some cheap daul display cards and load it up

would someone please help me if this is possible...?
and if possible, what is the cheapest way for me to achieve this goal.
Thank you



You could use an SLI motherboard with 2 cards ( in single mode? ) for up to 4 monitors and you could add a plain old 32bit 33MHz PCI video card for another 2 monitors for a total of 6.

The individual cards do not need to be great if you simply plan to play video. If you need high end 3D you'll need better cards.

Performance would not be great but you could use 6 monitors that way.

That would be the least expensive option.

You could use a stand like this:

http://www.ergoindemand.com/computer_monitor_stand_hex....

Matrox offers these products which may help but are very expensive:

http://matrox.com/graphics/offhome/th2go/home.cfm

http://froogle.google.com/froogle?q=triple+head+VGA&hl=...
March 28, 2006 11:12:07 AM

Actually given that only basic gfx are required (power point)
A very low spec card could be used.

In the UK I can get a Matrox Millenium 32mb dual head PCI for about £70 - multiply by 3 = £210 approx $350-$400

Ok so thats three cards, but that is quite reaonable for the setup you require.

There are usually loads of PCI slots on the mobo, and I'm sure that WinXP/2000 supports any number of video cards. correct me if i'm wrong
March 28, 2006 11:33:28 AM

Quote:
Actually given that only basic gfx are required (power point)
A very low spec card could be used.

In the UK I can get a Matrox Millenium 32mb dual head PCI for about £70 - multiply by 3 = £210 approx $350-$400

Ok so thats three cards, but that is quite reaonable for the setup you require.

There are usually loads of PCI slots on the mobo, and I'm sure that WinXP/2000 supports any number of video cards. correct me if i'm wrong


That would work but those 3 PCI cards would have to share PCI bandwidth which is severely limited and would be a major bottleneck.

I would strongly recommend 2 entry-level PCI-Express Dual Head VGA cards in Single mode on an SLI motherboard and 1 PCI VGA card with Dual Head. That way you would reduce the impact of the PCI bus bottleneck but not eliminate it -- it would still be there but it would not be as bad as it would be with 3 PCI cards.
March 28, 2006 11:46:04 AM

Good point on bandwidth.

The other option would be 1 AGP card and 2 PCI cards.

I haven't really looked in to either.

I am just conscious of the fact that this setup would only be used to throw bog standard GDI+ graphics around. The cards would only act as a framebuffer to put the images onto the screen.
I think that the bandwidth would be sufficient.

I'm thinking back to the days when I had a Matrox Mystique and M3d PowerVR accelerator and god knows what else in the PCI bus with a 133mhz Pentium. PCI seemed sufficient for that at the time.

It think there would be virtually no bottleneck in PCI-E!
Again if there is only a small amount of info being passed to the gfx cards.
I guess it is left up to the user to see what each solution would cost them.

Obviously if the PCI-E option works out about the same or only a little more, then that would be the best choice.

There are more mobos out there that use twin PCI-E 16x slots that aren't neccesarily SLI, such as Xfire and some other budget boards but this mode would have to be disabled to allow for the multi monitor set up. Chances are though that the cheaper cards would bot support SLI anyway so this a moot point.
March 28, 2006 11:47:29 AM

how about that dual x1600 which had the connector which you could convert into two dvi's, since there were two of those connectors, you would have 4 outputs on one card. this way, you would just need another card with two outputs.

i have no clue if the card is out yet, but i read a story on it

one of them would solve 2/3 of your problem.

Ara

it was somewhere on anandtech's dailytech
March 28, 2006 12:13:52 PM

Quote:
Good point on bandwidth.

The other option would be 1 AGP card and 2 PCI cards.

I haven't really looked in to either.

I am just conscious of the fact that this setup would only be used to throw bog standard GDI+ graphics around. The cards would only act as a framebuffer to put the images onto the screen.
I think that the bandwidth would be sufficient.

I'm thinking back to the days when I had a Matrox Mystique and M3d PowerVR accelerator and god knows what else in the PCI bus with a 133mhz Pentium. PCI seemed sufficient for that at the time.

It think there would be virtually no bottleneck in PCI-E!
Again if there is only a small amount of info being passed to the gfx cards.
I guess it is left up to the user to see what each solution would cost them.

Obviously if the PCI-E option works out about the same or only a little more, then that would be the best choice.

There are more mobos out there that use twin PCI-E 16x slots that aren't neccesarily SLI, such as Xfire and some other budget boards but this mode would have to be disabled to allow for the multi monitor set up. Chances are though that the cheaper cards would bot support SLI anyway so this a moot point.



Since you're just doing simple stuff then you could get 2 PCI-Express Dual Head VGA cards for as low as $40 USD each ( about 20 GBP ) and 1 Dual Head PCI VGA for about $100 ( 50 GBP )???

OR you could get 2 PCI-Express VGAs plus an AGP to PCI-Express bridge so you can use 2 PCI-E cards + 1 AGP card.

It might also be possible to get a board which can handle more than 2 PCI-Express VGA cards.

There is at least one Quad SLI motherboard however it is quite expensive and not worth it in my opinion.
March 28, 2006 12:14:48 PM

Quote:
how about that dual x1600 which had the connector which you could convert into two dvi's, since there were two of those connectors, you would have 4 outputs on one card. this way, you would just need another card with two outputs.

i have no clue if the card is out yet, but i read a story on it

one of them would solve 2/3 of your problem.

Ara

it was somewhere on anandtech's dailytech



I am not familiar with that card, but I suspect it is / will be expensive.
March 28, 2006 12:56:34 PM

Matrox makes a line of vidcards that support 4 monitors:

http://www.matrox.com/mga/corp/insurance/products/qidlp...
http://www.matrox.com/mga/corp/insurance/products/g450m...

They come in PCI and PCIe x16 flavors. You can load up a system with (I think) 4 of these for 16 monitors if you really wanted to. Since you're not doing 3D rendering, huge bandwidth isn't necessary.

They also make a vidcard to fit that useless little PCIe 1x slot:

http://www.matrox.com/mga/corp/enterprise/products/gser...

The G550 PCIe, which supports 2 monitors.

Matrox cards also run cool, and have rock-stable drivers. They always have had the best 2D image quality out there, and since they gave up competing in 3D-land against the big boys, they concentrate on 2D quality and other innovative ideas like the Triplehead-2-go external box.
March 28, 2006 1:12:01 PM

Quote:
Matrox makes a line of vidcards that support 4 monitors:

http://www.matrox.com/mga/corp/insurance/products/qidlp...
http://www.matrox.com/mga/corp/insurance/products/g450m...

They come in PCI and PCIe x16 flavors. You can load up a system with (I think) 4 of these for 16 monitors if you really wanted to. Since you're not doing 3D rendering, huge bandwidth isn't necessary.

They also make a vidcard to fit that useless little PCIe 1x slot:

http://www.matrox.com/mga/corp/enterprise/products/gser...

The G550 PCIe, which supports 2 monitors.

Matrox cards also run cool, and have rock-stable drivers. They always have had the best 2D image quality out there, and since they gave up competing in 3D-land against the big boys, they concentrate on 2D quality and other innovative ideas like the Triplehead-2-go external box.



Thanks!

I am aware of that, in fact I linked to products like these above.

However @ around $800 USD those are relatively very expensive solutions.

The least expensive solution would be 2 low-end or mid-range Dual Head PCI-Express ( as low as $40 each ) cards and 1 Dual Head PCI-E 4x or 1x VGA ( $100 - $150 ) or 1 plain old Dual Head PCI VGA ( $40 - $100 )

2 6600GTs = $200
1 Matrox PCI-E 1x = $150

Total = $350 which is less than $699 or $799.

For this type of application 6600GTs would be overkill.
March 28, 2006 1:20:32 PM

I agree, the Matrox way is expensive, but it's elegant.

You could even drop 3 of the PCIe 1x dualhead boards in a SLI mobo since they work in any size PCIe slot.

Or dig up a few cheapo old PCI G450/550's and an AGP one on eBay for under $20 and put them in an old AGP mobo. You don't need a lot of computer to do what he wants, even recycle an old system for this.

Lots of interesting fun possibilities.
March 28, 2006 1:22:02 PM

Quote:
I agree, the Matrox way is expensive, but it's elegant.

You could even drop 3 of the PCIe 1x dualhead boards in a SLI mobo since they work in any size PCIe slot.

Or dig up a few cheapo old PCI G450/550's and an AGP one on eBay for under $20 and put them in an old AGP mobo. You don't need a lot of computer to do what he wants, even recycle an old system for this.

Lots of interesting fun possibilities.



Tru64 :-D
March 28, 2006 1:23:27 PM

I would tend to go with something Matrox just to have the driver stability pushing 6 displays, I wouldn't trust anything from the Big Two to stay stable pushing 6 displays.

It would be a fun build :D 
March 28, 2006 1:55:55 PM

I think either nVidia or ATI demo'ed a multi-display setup a while back for bragging rights.

I have never done it but I suspect it would work with either nVidia or ATI cards.

Granted Matrox drivers are probably better for this sort of thing -- like you said :-D
March 28, 2006 3:10:56 PM

Matrox did invent multimonitor support in a single card back in 96-97 or so. All the others have been copying the modes and methods since then.

Bragging rights makes for a nifty showoff demo, but rarely translates into long-term device stability. The refinement and development usually stops after the demo.

Yes, I admit it, I'm a Matrox fanboy. I'd still be using them if they had kept up with 3D performance. That Triplehead2Go thingy has me really intrigued, you get the 3D performance from one of the Big Boys, and you get it over 3 monitors like the old Parhelias could do. I'm a big fan of desktops spread over multiple monitors, I've jiggered my laptop here ot work to use 2 monitors.
March 28, 2006 3:49:55 PM

Quote:
Matrox did invent multimonitor support in a single card back in 96-97 or so. All the others have been copying the modes and methods since then.

Bragging rights makes for a nifty showoff demo, but rarely translates into long-term device stability. The refinement and development usually stops after the demo.

Yes, I admit it, I'm a Matrox fanboy. I'd still be using them if they had kept up with 3D performance. That Triplehead2Go thingy has me really intrigued, you get the 3D performance from one of the Big Boys, and you get it over 3 monitors like the old Parhelias could do. I'm a big fan of desktops spread over multiple monitors, I've jiggered my laptop here ot work to use 2 monitors.



I still have a Matrox G400MAX that I paid a fortune for.....
March 28, 2006 3:52:43 PM

Quote:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
This motherboard has 3 pci-e slots


Quote:

Great Idea But..

Pros: Its a great idea, 3 pci x16 slots. So, I bought 3 6600gt's.....


Cons: But, they dont fit.. Slots are too close togather.:-( Ones fan is against the others back side and with 3 fans blasting it buzz's big time! Come on Jetway?? figure these things out BEFORE you sell you... More »
r product!

Other Thoughts: Sending it back..:-(

Reviewed By: Dr. Pogo, 3/16/2006 2:44:01 PM




I agree it is a great idea but you have to make sure the cards will actually fit. I believe there's are few other boards with similar slot configurations but I'm not sure they would work any better.


I can't recommend Intel but there are some Intel boards with 3 PCI-E 16x slots and 1 with 4 PCI-E slots which can do Quad SLI as I mentioned above.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.asp?Submit=EN...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Again I cannot recommend these boards.
March 28, 2006 4:02:00 PM

Quote:
I still have a Matrox G400MAX that I paid a fortune for.....


I do too! Had to have the MAX version, too. I loved that card. Had it hooked up to two huge 20" monitors that took up the whole desk. Too bad I can't plug it into my newer mobos. :cry: 
March 28, 2006 4:13:35 PM

It seems to me it might be cheaper in the long run to get some old computers out of a dumpster, set them up with dual cards and have 2 monitors each connected to 3 different CPU's.
March 28, 2006 4:35:01 PM

Seriously just find an old Socket A system or something, Find an old AGP Matrox G450 Dual head, and 2 PCI G450 Dual heads on ebay for like 20-40 bucks each and your set. There is plenty of bandwidth on the PCI bus for simple 1024x768 or 1280x1024 power point presentations.

When I worked at a computer shop a while back, I setup a display rig similar to what you are wanting to do, using a crappy "dumpster fodder" Dual PII 300MHz Computer, w/ 6 Video cards, 1 AGP and 5 PCI ATI Rage 2-4MB cards, and it worked fine for displaying several presentations. The thing that got most people intrigued though was a simple scrolling marquee screen saver going across all 6 monitors. People are easily amused.
March 28, 2006 6:12:23 PM

After reading through all of the below, another option to consider is a company called Colorgraphics. (http://www.colorgraphic.net) They specialize in multimonitor solutions. (up to 8 screens per card...) I had an aplication where I needed a video wall across 3 monitors with a control screen on a fourth. They were the only company that had the hardware software mix to enable 1 video across all 3 screens without glitches (ran on a P4 2Ghz). And depending on what you are trying to get into... powerpoint is very limited. In fact I'm not sure you can run multiple powerpoints on different screens... You might be able to run 1 powerpoint across multiple screens if drivers support or a software app called UltraMon to merge them into "1" screen. Though even then I'd think it would be buggy. Having a video presentation is much more powerful of a solution and less prone to crashing (But is hardware intensive). All that to say the video card is around the $600 to $800 price mark but is well worth the investment for stability reasons alone (blue screens of death and lock ups don't impress customers for some reason). On a side note an excellent multimonitor LCD display can be found at 9X Media (http://www.9Xmedia.com). They have some awesome presentation equipment for the kind of thing I think you are trying to do.

To add to what other people have been saying about multiple cards... I have put three PCI cards into a system and been able to run Desktop Apps quite sucesfully. The problem comes when you need any kind of overlay across multiple monitors (IE video and some Powerpoint effects that use DirectX). Generally overlays will only show on the primary monitor. This is true for even some Dual headed cards.

Hope this helps...
March 28, 2006 6:29:55 PM

I would get 2x7900 or 7800 cards, whatever floats your boat (wallet).
And the matrox 3head box..

http://www.matrox.com/graphics/offhome/th2go/home.cfm

1. you can use old monitors, for the side ones, and a good monitor for the middle.
2. If in to surround gaming, there you go.
3. No need for extra pci usage, just the 2 cards, will support 6mon.. BUTTT

I use a 4 monitor setup, left right, center, and i taped a 17dell lcd ontop of the center. Works for me, but i use a 7800gtx, and a pci card. Works effectively, but when i do certain things, like video watching, it wont move from screen to screenn.. The matrox solution would definetly help me with that problem. Depends on what you do. not to mention you can get 8 monitors, out of htis setup, by just adding a pci nvidia card.
March 28, 2006 6:35:07 PM

My first thought when I read this was to SLI two newer nVidia cards and use the HDTV-outs some of them have. That would give you 4 DVI and 2 Component outputs, for exactly 6 displays with two cards. What I don't know is how the drivers work for such a system and if it would actually let you display seperate screens for each DVI/HDTV output. I don't know if a single card is built for 3 displays, but it might be worth investigating.
a b U Graphics card
March 24, 2013 6:08:55 PM

I find it funny this thread showed up in my "Updates" box. Did this ever get sorted out?
!