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Need advice on GFX solution: Want 3 monitors for flightsim..

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 25, 2006 2:58:58 PM

Hi there!

Just started on my commercial pilot licence, and installed flightsim.. I have three 19" CRT monitors, but need some advice on hooking them up.
I've got an Abit AV8/Athlon 64 3500+, 1GB DDR 3200, and a Radeon 9800PRO 256MB with one VGA out.

Question is - how do I connect the other two monitors?
Are there PCI (not PCI-express) cards that will run FS2004 or even FSX with 3 monitors and good framerates on my system?
I've found a GeForce 4 mx 440 second hand, and a GeForce FX 5200 still for sale in PCI version. Is this top of the line for regular PCI ? If not, what is ? (please disregard any "pro" cards, ATI FireGL / Matrow QiD PRO Parhelia etc that are WAY too expensive)

Were there PCI gfx cards with 2xVGA/DVI in the above category?
Would there be issues running three graphics gards in one system ? How will it affect the framerate? (I'm willing to run the game with lower gfx settings, at least on the side screens, if needed.)

If I want to go crazy and spend lots of money on it, should I buy a separate computer for the extra screens, or go for a new mb with 2xPCIe and cards with dual outputs?

(Another option is the Matrox triplehead2go, but it's only suited for LCD screens, as it is 60hz only.)

Any help is much appreciated!
September 25, 2006 3:09:10 PM

Thats easy -

Your solution is the Matrox TripleHead2Go.

3 monitor solution 3840 x 1024. About £200 I believe.
September 25, 2006 3:27:43 PM

Hi there Vinny!

As I understood it, the triplehead2go was restricted to 60hz, which works fine on LCD screens, but not on my CRT screens.
I doublechecked now, and you can in fact run it with 3072 x 768 (triple 1024) at 75Hz. It would be awesome to have 3840 x 1024 (triple 1280) at 75hz as well, but I'm not sure my system would have performed at that resolution anyway.

I will look more into the Triplehead, but I still want to know "how possible" it is to add either a single pci with dual VGA/DVI or two separate PCI cards. After all, buying two new GeForce FX5200 cards is still less than half the price of the TripleHead.

So - my questions remain..(see original post)
Related resources
a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
September 25, 2006 4:32:22 PM

Do you want to use the 3 monitors to "span" the entire game view across 3 monitors? Or will you be using the other monitors for alternate views, data, or map views? Do you have a laptop you can network into the main PC?

With XP you can have up to 10 displays with a combination of extra video cards with multiple outputs.

AvSim Review TripleHead2Go
SimHQ Review TripleHead2Go
FlightSim review TripleHead2Go
September 25, 2006 4:47:17 PM

Quote:
Do you want to use the 3 monitors to "span" the entire game view across 3 monitors? Or will you be using the other monitors for alternate views, data, or map views?

I was planning on using them for spanning the main view.
(I guess graphics like maps, instruments, etc, would require much less gfx power..)

Quote:
With XP you can have up to 10 displays with a combination of extra video cards with multiple outputs.

Should be well covered, then :) .

So.. does anyone have a clue about CPU performance when running Flightsim on three gfx cards ? Specifically, will each added game screen draw lots of CPU power, or will the gfx card hardware cover it?
a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
September 26, 2006 4:04:53 AM

I know some games do allow for custom graphics .ini editing to allow multi-video card spanning.
3 Screen Gaming
But as far as I know FS2K4 doesn't support 3 or more monitor spanning (with or without multiple video cards) by itself. I think a program like Wideview may get you want you want. Its designed for multiple networked PCs but I believe you can run multiple clients on the same PC.

There is sure to be a performance penalty of some type. I tried spanning across 2 1280x1024 LCDs and to get decent performance with my 6800GT I needed to turn the Autogen and graphics options a lot lower than I really wanted to use. I finally switched to a 20" widescreen LCD and TrackIR3 for the views. Now using the 2 17" LCDs plus my laptop for the radio stack, avionics stack, engine quadrant and/or moving map and electronic flight bag.
September 26, 2006 6:47:12 AM

I read the reviews of the triplehead2go, and contacted one of the authors, as he stated triplehead2go was the only possible way of getting correct <i>panning</i> of the view across more than two monitors.

From his reply, I learned that <i>spanning</i> the view over three screens is possible on a single PC with several GFX cards, or across several PC's. But actually <i>panning</i> the view is not possible on more than one of these, using either the joystick tophat or TrackIR.

So... I gave in and ordered a triplehead2go :) 

Thanks for the help guys!
!