I have a 3 monitor setup working for my mother. The current video cards are a ATI 7500 AGP and a ATI 9000SE PCI. Sometimes when videos are playing off of the PCI card, the system crashes. Also, when I am over there playing a game like Neverwinter Nights, and I play with the mouse on one of the other monitors, the system freezes. I now have an extra ATI 9100 to swap the 7500 with, but will that make a difference if I am haveing trouble with the three monitors? Currently, only one monitor is going off of the 7500 and two are off of the pci 9000, in an effort to only use the AGP card for one monitor when playing games.
I also have a GF4 Ti4200 agp and a pci GF2 MX400 that I could put in her computer as well, if Nvidia does a better job with three monitor setups.
Which is better for a three monitor setup Nividia or ATI? I hate having to disable that pci card when I want to play games over there.
Triple monitor support is very finicky. I had it for a while, and it's much harder than dual monitor to get everything to play nice (although it appears much better than before from my experiences at work). To generalize it can be said that for triple monitor support it goes like this Matrox>nVidia>ATi, but it's really REALLY close, and if it were for anything other than gaming I'd suggest using a god specialized 3rd party app like UltraMon. Regardless or 'rank', alot of it is application dependant, and will favour one or the other even if overall not as good.
The thing that I find issue with your setup is that the 'power' card is the PCI card, and I wonder about the stability of that setup versus if the R9000 wer AGP and the R7500 were PCI.
Video playback is an issue on many multi-monitor setups, so make sure you have the latest Hydravision or nView for that as they are constantly fixing, and I remember seeing in the Cat6.5 release notes that they tweaked alot of video playback multi-monitor stuff too.
Overall for gaming I'd say nV and for day to day and video I'd say ATi, but really both can have issues.
If you look at the old OLD THG review by Lars it shows a few of the common issues, some of which have been fixed (like spanning on ATi), but some of which are still present;
I would say try the radeons (R9000&9100) together after blowing out the drivers and reinstalling only because it's something she would be familiar with for settings. Then if it's still giving you issues then try the Geforces. Sounds like alot of work, but it is finicky for multi-monitor, more so than dual. And just because one works once you install it doesn't mean you won't have to revisit it with another app/setup.
Heck an IRQ conflict might only crop up every 5-10 boots.
Anywhoo, hope that provides some insight, while not techinically giving you a solid answer I don't think there is one really. nV does have better game support in my experience, but they are very close nowadays.
Who knows man - triple screen setups are problematic unless you have a Matrox Parhelia. I have three here: an nVidia PCIe 6600GT and an old piece of shit PCI thing (I think a nVidia 5600?) in PCI slot #2. They're driving a trio of 19" Philips 170B LCDs.
I never watch movies though, as this is a development box, and I seldom have any hassles with it.
I do know that "overlay mode" is difficult in a two-card/3 screen setup and that you should not attempt to drag a movie from one card to the other. That will cause problems for sure.
If you currently have the old PCI card in PCI slot #1 then move it. That slot must remain vacant at all times. (It shares an IRQ with the AGP card.)
Are you running Ultramon, and/or PowerStrip? If not, you should be.
the best for a triple monitor/gaming solution that has very few problems from what i have seen (though i could be wrong) is the triplehead2go. but you will need a very POWERFUL graphics card probly need a sli or crossfire setup and it seems like your just a little bit outdated :wink: . but i know very little about dual monitor solutions.
Ya, she is a geek. She retired and now she has been working on this history of the world outline decade by decade back to prehistoric times, looking at history, geology, weather, everything, and it spans three word documents.
I will try the 9100 then, next time I am over there. The 9100 is the version that does not allow dual output, so the 2nd and 3rd monitor will have to be off of the pci card.
You have mentioned UltraMon before, but I keep forgetting to try it instead of Hydravision.
my secondary system (once primary) runs a 9700pro AIW and a 9250 pci and 3 monitors. As long as the primary one is actually used as primary you will see less issues. DirectX is not supported in Win on secondary/tertiary monitors. period. I have run tests on my own system and been a part of a test bed for multi-user gaming networks on single systems. (using Nv cards) Windows just freaks on directX if you try it on anything but the primary. OpenGL does not have this problem.
A similar issue is that ANY game (openGL or not) and most video playback can have issues in Windows when run on the 2ndary monitors. Developement/text it no problem. Linux sails here, and I have personally run many games/video etc on all displays in that environment w/ much fewer issues.
Some of the issues can be fixed w/ the likes of UltraMon, but some are inherent windows flaws that will take a new OS (vista?) to fix. Try Linux (ubuntu is easy) and you may be happily pleased.
Your problem may not have anything to do with having 3 screens (that is, some of your problems may happen with only 2 screens).
A secondary monitor can have different requirements when using overlays. Playing back video on a secondary card may require some adjustment of your overlays. ATI cards tend to have some hardware assist to video playback, but this is exactly where they can have problems on the additional screens. Some cards/systems have problems playing back VMR7 or VMR9 on secondary screens.
I have a two monitor setup and frequently put my PVR playback on the additional screen, so I had to experiment with different overlay setups to get it to work right. Symptoms can include a blank screen, no screen or lockups when you drag the screen over there.
Personally, I would put the two screens on the AGP card, it is designed to handle more load.
The triple head to go mentioned earlier was interesting to me until I learned that it works well with NVIDIA cards, but at lower resolutions with ATI cards. I crossed it off my wish list.
If your mother is truly a geek, then it's time to look at upgrades. That PCI card is getting pretty old. It may be time to look at an SLI or crossfire solution which can handle three monitors much better (at least horsepower wise).
I use ultramon on two laptops with two displays and desktop with two radeon 9000's with three displays, never had any of the problems you guys talk of, I don't play games on it though.
And that's just it without games it's much easier. Video playback can still be problematic because of many things (overlays, software digital rights crap, and even competing settings.
I think we've given him a bunch of ammo to try and get the system just right for her. Gaming IMO will always be the sticking point, but likely he'll work through that too.
And airalex, while TripleHead2GO is nice he's trying to get this to work on hardware he currently already has (not spend a mit more), and I doubt the R9000 will have the juice to do gaming at such a resolution, and so something involving the TH2G is going to be expensive.
IMO now it's alot of trial and error for the apps she uses. As for linux, I'm not sure how geeky she is but that's an extreme solution for a mother who may have nerdy tendancies like her son, but likely doesn't need that level of new challenges.