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7950 GX2 or 8800 GTS, Best choice for 3 Monitors?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 3, 2006 7:24:03 PM

I have 3 lcd 19 " monitors at 1280 x 1024. I want a setup for playing games and for Autocad to utilize all three the best with the highest refresh rate.

My 7950 GX2 setup would be easy because there are 4 outputs. I would hook up the centre monitor to one video card, and the exterior ones to the other. I wanted to know if in this setup i could keep the refresh rate at 72 hz or would i have to lower it to 60 hz? I figured 2 processors would be better than one for multiple screen applications.

My 8800 GTS setup would have 2 outputs on the card, I would purchase a Matrox dual head 2 go and hook up the 2 outside monitors on that channel, which i know would be 60hz, and the primary centre monitor on the single one left. Looking at graphics card benchmarks the 8800 has more overall power, but would there be enough signal strength for good refresh and resolution?

I have looked for benchmarks but there is not alot of information I have found on triple monitor setups. I would appreciate your opinion and any good links you have. If anyone also has this setup let me know what you have found from personal use.

Thanks,

Grant
December 3, 2006 8:16:01 PM

If you go with the Matrox Dual Head 2 Go, will it sync with the 3rd monitor, or will you need the Triple Head 2 Go?
December 3, 2006 8:29:03 PM

The 7950GX2 only has 2 outputs. To use both of them you have to turn off multi-GPU mode, so it is basically a 7900GT.

The 8800GTS also has two outputs.

The Matrox Dualhead/Triplehead systems are very poor imho. Firstly windows only "sees" one large display. This means applications try to spread themselves out across all of them and other annoying things like that.

Also, it doesn't support DVI-D, and running a VGA cable at resolutions like 1280x3072 just means poor picture quality most of the time.

What games do you have in mind? Not many games support three monitors, (or one small one and one double size one as Windows would see it with a Dualhead on 1 output). The Triplehead option means trying to get games to support a resolution of 1280x3072, which again not many will without artefacts.

As for refresh rate, most LCDs default to 60Hz. The flicker issue that causes people to use more than 60Hz in CRTs is just not there with LCDs. While I cant use a CRT below 85Hz myself without eye strain, I cant tell the difference with LCDs. Without the flicker of the impulse driven CRT display system, the human eye cant tell the difference.

Most LCDs will accept more than 60Hz over VGA, but they will max at 60Hz over DVI, and if fed more than 60 over VGA they will only down convert it to 60Hz internally before displaying it.
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December 3, 2006 8:37:34 PM

I wish I could figure out a good way to run 3 monitors effectively......I actually have 4 sitting around here LOL.

I love the notion of gaming across 3 screens........but how to get it working well????

Does anyone have experience with this?
December 3, 2006 8:44:36 PM

Well....

3 Independant Gfx cards (NOT SLi) in an nForce 680i board?

2 Independant Gfx cards (NOT SLi mode) in any Dual PCIe 16x board, but this means that one is doing twice the work of the other, so maybe the outer two monitors could be in lower resolutions....?

Matrox do make some triple-output Gfx cards, but the performance is crap. They also make some PCIe x1 cards you could fill up those extra slots with...

Just about the only game that likes multiple monitors is Flight Simulator anyway... The only way other games work is if the thing is set to span and Windows is seeing it as one massive screen, but most games look terrible and stretched like this. The ones that don't look stretched have other issues, like a field of view that is distorted and over 360° in alot of FPSes
December 4, 2006 3:57:02 AM

The 7950 GX2 does have 2 video cards connected that fit into 1 pcie slot, each card has 2 dvi outputs equalling 4. You were probably thinking of the 7950 GT thats the higher clocked 7900 GT.

I wanted to use the matrox system so that when I get a better SLI system in 1-2 years and better larger monitors, I can use the dual head or triple head for my laptop and the 2-3 19" monitors. However if the picture quality drops off it may not be worth it.

Games I have in mind are counter strike source, I've actually had it working on the dual monitors, but I found that the targetting eye is in the dead zone between the screens. It works for civilization 4, and ive seen fear and a few other game pics with multimonitors, and i find it adds alot of peripheral vision. I was also goingto get some racing games, I havea force feedback wheel, formula 1 game. And flight sims are good too.

On my present setup of dual monitors with the 6800 gs I have noticed a very slight difference in sharpness and eye strain upping them from 60hz to 72 hz each. I just thought since i do play alot of games, and use cadd appications for school, and the computer for work that it be prudent to minimize eye strain.

Regarding 2 independent gfx cards, my motherboard only has 1 pcie slot. Originally I was planning on upgrading with the GX2 for sli performance and 4 dvi outputs. However I have also considered that the 8800 gts or gtx will eventually have a similar option of a dual card. I have not heard any reports of this yet.

However the performance of the 8800 gts, gtx is good, even when they come out with the 8900s, or 8800s with dualcore video processors my problem will still be only 2 dvi outputs for 3 monitors.

If I dont use a matrox tripple head 2 go, is there any other ways of running 3 monitors with a single graphics card in he event that the maximum outputs I will have would be 2 dvis?
December 4, 2006 11:37:13 AM

The 7950GX2 only has 2 DVI outputs. I have one. :lol: 
December 4, 2006 12:43:29 PM

I'm very interested in this answer as well. It's a really simple question really:

What is an effective way to use 3 monitors for:
1) normal applications
2) CAD
3) gaming

:?: :?: :?:


The TripleHead2Go gets mixed reviews due to weird resolutions and possible unsupported resolutions in various games.

So, has anyone tried it? Or have an alternate solution?
December 4, 2006 2:31:15 PM

Quote:
The 7950 GX2 does have 2 video cards connected that fit into 1 pcie slot, each card has 2 dvi outputs equalling 4. You were probably thinking of the 7950 GT thats the higher clocked 7900 GT.


No, I was thinking of the 7950GX2. I know it is two G71's in one, but it still only has 2 DVI ports. Not only that but if you run in multi-display mode both displays run on a single GPU - the second does nothing.

nVidia have been promising to get SLI (that is, a single 7950GX2) working with multiple monitors in a driver update since the release of the 7950GX2. It has yet to happen.

Quote:

I wanted to use the matrox system so that when I get a better SLI system in 1-2 years and better larger monitors, I can use the dual head or triple head for my laptop and the 2-3 19" monitors. However if the picture quality drops off it may not be worth it.


Meh, the main issue is the VGA connection and the fact that it just wasnt intended for such high resolutions. Most laptops have VGA 15 pin DSUB connectors and not DVI-I anyway in my experience, although I haven't played with a "high end" laptop in a while.

The 7950 would be able to run in SLI mode with a triplehead, as then it "sees" 1 display, but if you are having to buy that anyway you are better buying an 8800GTS/X

Quote:

On my present setup of dual monitors with the 6800 gs I have noticed a very slight difference in sharpness and eye strain upping them from 60hz to 72 hz each. I just thought since i do play alot of games, and use cadd appications for school, and the computer for work that it be prudent to minimize eye strain.


Are you using VGA or DVI-D cables with these LCDs? assuming they have the input I'd be willing to be you'd notice a much better quality with DVI-D, even though you will likely not be able to go over 60Hz then.

Quote:

Regarding 2 independent gfx cards, my motherboard only has 1 pcie slot. Originally I was planning on upgrading with the GX2 for sli performance and 4 dvi outputs. However I have also considered that the 8800 gts or gtx will eventually have a similar option of a dual card. I have not heard any reports of this yet.


My 8800GTX @ stock gives over double the 3dmark06 score of my old 7900GT @ 740/1400, which is 240MHz faster on the core than the 7950GX2.

As SLI usually gives a 30-75% performance boost, I'd say the 8800GTX @stock is probably 40% or more faster than a 7950GX2 @ stock, even though the latter uses SLI. The 8800s also offer DX10.

The 8800GTS has been benched by most sites as faster than the 7950GX2 by a significant margin. I doubt the 8800GTS and GTX will have a "2-in-1" card released, with a 384 bit bus the board routing would be hideous, and the power consumption and cooling requirements of both cards is already insane - trust me I have one of the damn things :/ 

Quote:
If I dont use a matrox tripple head 2 go, is there any other ways of running 3 monitors with a single graphics card in he event that the maximum outputs I will have would be 2 dvis?


Unfortunately the only way is a Matrox gfx card - I think the G400 is offered with 3 outputs. Gaming performance is dire however.

Unfortunately not even 2 cards will save you as you need the "span" type mode where the card tells windows they are all one big monitor in order for most of the games you mention to work. This is not possible over multiple cards. Hell, you might even have difficulty with one screen direct to the Gfx card and one on a matrox dualhead, because of the differing resolutions.

For games to work in the "proper" multi monitor mode where you have independent screens (You can tell because windows will maximise to just one monitor rather than all of them, and the taskbar will only be on one screen) the game needs built in multimonitor support. I think X2 The Threat, Star Trek Armada 2, are the last games I remember to support this. I think Flight Simulator X probably does too.

Personally I think triple monitor gaming really needs to wait for nVidia and ATi to start supporting 3 monitors or for Matrox to release a Duallink DVI version of the triplehead.

Have you considered just using a 24" or 30" widescreen monitor?
December 4, 2006 9:48:34 PM

Yeah, I have a correction, you are both correct, the GX2 only has 2 outputs, the other space is for cooling.

Both my lcds are vga, they work fine, although 1 flickers when i run both monitors for a second, i think its that the 6800 gs isn't powerful enough.

I have read reviews on the 7950 gx2 and the 8800 gtx, and gts, and have found that the 8800 gts is still more powerful. I couldn't find the article I read but it's a significant improvement for less power.

Matrox is not an option, pathetic at games. With my 6800 gs, nvidias monitor management allows you to select spanning, or multiple monitors, and such, i thought it would be the same for 3 monitors. I have noticed that bill gates uses 3 monitors, surely he uses something more powerful than matrox?

Actually x3 uses multimonitors too, and hopefully legacy will. I have considered 24, and 30" monitors but the price is to high, and my desk is to small, 1 more 19" lcd would only be $230.

The only thing I can think of now is buying a SLI motherboard and with 2 video cards i would have 4 outputs. I guess temporarily I could buy a 6800 gs for now to run the 3 monitors. Would that setup work? And later I could purchase 2 8800 gts, or gtx when they come down in price? 2 full video cards could should have higher resolution, refresh rate, and signal strength, and if worse comes to worse i could use sli on one screen for single monitor games?
December 5, 2006 1:11:59 PM

I don't think you can do spanning over two gfx cards, the two outputs from one card can be spanned but I don't think you can add a 3rd one to the span from another card, especially not in 3D mode.

Years ago I had a dual monitor setup with a geforce 5800 Ultra AGP and a 5200 PCI. Games ran fine on one monitor or the other (although obviously slower on the 5200 monitor) but if i tried to put a windowed 3d game in a position where it crossed the monitors, the whole thing slowed to a crawl as the gfx cards couldnt work together on one 3d Window.

This may have changed with newer drivers however.... I have my old Pentium D 805 in the other room on an ASrock 775DUAL-Vista board with a 6600GT AGP in it, I may try sticking the 7900GT PCIe I have kicking about from before my 8800GTX upgrade in there too and seeing if it lets me span them for you if I get time....
December 5, 2006 1:16:17 PM

That would help!!!

You'd think that this question would have come up somewhere, since we're not the only ones with 3 monitors in existence.

Maybe vid card company or monitor manufacturer tech support will have answers???
December 5, 2006 4:50:44 PM

I thought it prudent to find some hard facts so I checked out the Nvidia website and this is what I have found:

Question
Will NVIDIA SLI™ technology support surround gaming with 3 or more monitors?
Answer
NVIDIA SLI™ technology based products can only support a single display within SLI mode. When SLI mode is disabled and set to Multi-Display mode, each graphics card acts independantly and can each support up to two displays for a total of four monitors using Windows Extended Desktop technology.

For the resolution maximum of your video card you need to go to your manufacturers website and look at resolutions. Here is one for my 6800 GS as an example.
http://www.evga.com/products/pdf/N389.pdf
If you look at the chart I have 2 monitors running at 1280 x 1024 at 32 bit. It says the maximum setting is 150 Hz. That is of course the maximum, so if you divide the Hz by 2 that should be 75 hz maximum per monitor. Or 150 Hz maximum for 1 monitor, of course I dont know of any monitors taht really go much about 85 or 100hz so this is more than enough.

The only question I couldnt find the answer to was this one, On an SLI motherboard with 2 pcie slots can i have 2 different video cards to run 4 monitors. I would not be putting it into sli, I would just be using it for 3 monitors or 4?
December 5, 2006 5:36:16 PM

Yes, you can do that, running 4 monitors, that is what I was saying.

I don't think you can run in a "spanned" mode however, so you will only be able to run games across all three that support multiple monitors. nVidia call this "Dualview" if I remember correctly, and its the same mode that windows supports natively.

CS:Source is not one of these.

I tried getting my 7900GT working with my 8800GTX to test this for you, but the two nVidia drivers conflict and make Windows bluescreen on boot after the 7900GT drivers are installed. If nVidia ever release a unified 7900GT and 8800GTX driver I'll try that again.

I might try it with my 6600GT AGP and 7900GT PCIe later on the other computer but that also means reinstalling windows on that PC as it has no HDD atm, and I cant really be bothered right now. :p 
December 5, 2006 6:04:08 PM

8800GTS is faster then an 7950 GX2

Use 2x 8800 GTS in None SLI mode and you have 4 DVI/VGA outputs

i not consider anything less then an 8800 GTS now that i have got my 8800 GTX (DX10 as well when New windows comes out)

or use older PCI-E cards that are cheaper
December 5, 2006 6:44:42 PM

as far as triple monitor support with 2 gpus... even oblivion will span 3 monitors (in windowed mode), 2 monitors driven by a 7800GT, and the third driven by a geforce2mx (youd think a geforce2mx wouldnt even be able to run oblivion, lol, or that HDR wouldnt work on it for that matter, quite the contrary though), though the performance running it on a geforce2mx isnt even worth the time, other than for an eyecatching slideshow

during nongaming (and in most situations actually), i just have the 7800GT running in dual view mode, and the geforce2mx as a single display, and the desktop seemlessly spans all 3

an application that also really helps though is MultiMon, should look into it... it helps manage multiple windows, multiple taskbars, multiple desktop backgrounds, etc
December 5, 2006 9:10:15 PM

I've heard of MultiMon, and I'm seriously looking at getting it.


My question is:

So a triple monitor setup needs a dual-DVI PCI-e card and.....what? A PCI card will do the trick? The game(s) would just need to be run in windowed mode??

Assume I have an 8800 (or whatever really).......then I just need a PCI card? Like a......5500 or something?
December 5, 2006 9:18:49 PM

AFAIK, you just need a minimum of 3 vga/dvi gpu outputs, with gpus on any combination of either onboard, agp, pci, or pci-e interfaces... ...ive only used nvidia cards, so im not sure this also works with ati based gpus, in regards to their drivers, or how it would work, if it does infact work

but, as AFAIK... the only issue i can see using an G80 gpu and an older generation gpu simultaneously, is a possibility of driver conflicts, because the G80 drivers arent usable on older cards, and vice versa, but, even then, i wont say it cant be worked around with alittle creative installing (if it does happen to be an issue)

but yes, in order for it to work... a game needs to be set in windowed mode, and since technically windows can only set the largest resolution of 2 spanned monitors (for supported game resolutions), you need to take that into account when setting the third monitors resolution for gameplay... ...and not all games offer windowed mode or using possibly unsupported resolutions either, so, youll have to find out what works for you there.
December 5, 2006 9:28:03 PM

Quote:
but, as AFAIK... the only issue i can see using an G80 gpu and an older generation gpu simultaneously, is a possibility of driver conflicts, because the G80 drivers arent usable on older cards, and vice versa, but, even then, i wont say it cant be worked around with alittle creative installing (if it does happen to be an issue)


It is an issue. 7900GT + 8800GTX in my board lead to instant bluescreens as soon as the drivers for the second card were installed, it overwrote some .dlls in the system32 directory.

About to try spanning with a 6600GT and the 7900GT
December 5, 2006 9:57:07 PM

Quote:
About to try spanning with a 6600GT and the 7900GT


i hope the performance isnt anything like a 7800GT and a GF2mx processing together... that its only choppy because of how slow the GF2mx is, and not an issue with the software itself
December 5, 2006 10:06:13 PM

Well i was toying with the idea of an 8800 and a 6200 PCI.......but the driver issue is a big concern. :( 
December 5, 2006 10:07:16 PM

yeah, it sucks :( 
December 5, 2006 10:29:24 PM

This is really valuable information.

I have a 6800 gs, and if i buy a new sli motherboard i was considering having to buy another 6800 gs to pair it up with so that i could run 3 moitors. It sounds like id have to make sure they were all dx9 for now, unless new drivers ever come out.

But by the sounds of it, I could buy a 7900 gt and o/c it, and use it to run 2 monitors, and because its about 2x powerful than the gs, it would probably be ok for playing most games, discluding oblivion.

Actually ive been looking at the Asus Striker Extreme
I could always buy a 7900 gt if i wanted... or 8800 gts if they ever get compatible drivers. Or even a third video card because this motherboard has 3 pcie slots, 2 x 16 and 1 x 8.... which would be fine for the 6800gs
December 5, 2006 10:35:12 PM

really, the directx version wont matter... as you know, the gf2mx is a dx7 based card, and the gf7 series are dx9 based cards, and they work seamlessly together, even both simultaneously rendering dx9 apps (has to be in a window though for that to happen)... ...its just the G80 drivers that are currently having issues with older cards
December 5, 2006 10:38:35 PM

Well that bites, because with modern games and 3 monitors (or 2 on 1 card), an 8800 series card is pretty much necessary.

My 7900GTX won't cut it, so I'm Stepping Up to an 8800....but if it wont' work with DX9 cards then that's a huge issue until (unless??) they sort out the drivers :( 
December 5, 2006 10:45:48 PM

well... they do need to resolve the driver conflict... ...but, a more expensive option (and just as viable as using older cards, i would hope), if using a G80 is a necessity, is to have 2 of them then... too expensive for most people though, considering the requirements to have 2 running, and just plain too expensive by themselves right now.
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