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Is SLI mandatory for surround gaming?

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March 20, 2007 6:39:14 PM

Im thinking of getting the Matrox Triple Head Go. I havent seen too many benchmarks with 3840x1024 resolution so I ask the kind people here, is SLI a must for that kinda setup?
March 20, 2007 7:12:15 PM

Well, if you're going to play titles like Oblivion and F.E.A.R. at that resolution, you'll want an 8800GTX or better.
March 20, 2007 7:31:23 PM

Well, the thing is, im getting a laptop, and please for the love of god, nobody convince me otherwise XD. Job demands it.

New SLI notebooks came out and I can get either a 7950GTX or I can get two 7950GTX.

That is a pretty sweet set up.

My monitor broke so I will be getting a replacement monitor soon. I had a Viewsonic VP930b, costs about $300, so I asked the lady for an upgrade where I would pay the difference and she said no problem. I would get the VG2230wm as the replacement and I shouldnt pay much extra, probably less than $50.

VP930b
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

VG2230wm
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

My idea is to get the 22 inch widescreen monitor and then add two relatively inexpensive monitors to complete the surround.

Will this work and will one Go 7950GTX be enough to power that sucker, or should I get the second one? Its $500 extra, but I dont terribly mind.
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March 20, 2007 7:31:39 PM

Are you looking to game with this high resolution or just do normal office/multimedia stuff on it. Even with SLI there is no way you will be able to play a recent game at a resolution that high. First the games don't support atypical resolutions such as that. Second even with an SLI setup of 8800GTX's Oblivion is still slow at higher resolutions let alone at that resolution it would be unplayable even if it could use that resolution.
March 20, 2007 7:35:00 PM

Currently, the games I want to play are these;

Call of Duty 2
Brothers in Arms EiB
Brothers in Arms RH30
Brothers in Arms HH (Coming out at the end of the year)
Company of Heroes
Medieval II

Those are my main concerns.

I dont need an exaggeration in FPS, I would be more than happy with 60fps, and as long as I dont dip below the 30fps mark, I should be a happy camper.
March 20, 2007 7:38:10 PM

I just have to say that there is no chance of getting good framerates at a resolution that high in call of duty 2 or company of heroes for sure. Even if you can force the games to play at that resolution there will be scaling problems and/or graphical distortions. You'll also end up hurting your neck looking back and forth to see everything.
a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2007 7:38:29 PM

Quote:
Im thinking of getting the Matrox Triple Head Go. I havent seen too many benchmarks with 3840x1024 resolution so I ask the kind people here, is SLI a must for that kinda setup?


Well I was having this discussion with another forum member who just bought a TH2G setup powered by a GF8800GTS, and before he bought it were were looking at the performance in some benchies, and if you look at 25x16, even a GTS seems able to handle it easily even with 4XAA, so 38x10 being a lower resolution shouldn't pose much problem to a single GTX and even GTS. He's currently running 30x7 due to monitors used.

Oblivion performance at 25x16;
http://techreport.com/reviews/2007q1/geforce-8800-sli/i...

http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/evga_e-geforce_8800...

http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/evga_e-geforce_8800...

Fear 25x16 and 20x15 which is closer to the workload of 30x10;
http://techreport.com/reviews/2007q1/geforce-8800-sli/i...

http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/evga_e-geforce_8800...

For now you'll likely encounter some sub optimal refresh rates, but if they're playable with that level of AA in the TechRepot reviews you should be fine for now.
It's in the future titles, like Crysis and UT3, where you'll likely have more issues IMO..
March 20, 2007 7:41:20 PM

The normal aspect ratio's for game resolutions are 4:3 and 16:10, and rarely 5:4 and 16:9. the resolution you're looking at would be 3.75:1 which is not a supported resolution. Games are not made for surround gaming currently.
a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2007 7:42:24 PM

Quote:
Well, the thing is, im getting a laptop, and please for the love of god, nobody convince me otherwise XD. Job demands it.

New SLI notebooks came out and I can get either a 7950GTX or I can get two 7950GTX.


Well my reply was before you wrote THAT !!

You're going to struggle IMO, but it's still doable. Look at the TechReport FEAR benchies to get an idea, then consider taking off about 15% performance for laptop versions.

That laptop's going to be very HOT though.
a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2007 7:46:30 PM

Quote:
The normal aspect ratio's for game resolutions are 4:3 and 16:10, and rarely 5:4 and 16:9. the resolution you're looking at would be 3.75:1 which is not a supported resolution. Games are not made for surround gaming currently.


Don't write stuff you know nothing about!

There's a TON of games with surround gaming support;

http://www.matrox.com/graphics/jp/gxm/products/th2go/ga...

JEEZ! :roll:

BTW, do you even know how to manually change and FOV in a game?
March 20, 2007 7:46:59 PM

http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/gxm/products/th2go/ga...

Matrox begs to differ.


@TheGreatGrapeApe

http://techreport.com/reviews/2007q1/geforce-8800-sli/i...

Thanks for the great find.

The 2048x1536 resolution ran 60fps on average with a 7900gtx in SLI. Thats very doable.

The laptop Im getting will feature a E6600(this system im getting has the desktop C2D), which is not near as fast as the X6800, but the GPUs are a bit faster and maybe I can OC to at least come a little closer.
a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2007 7:48:38 PM

LOL!

Beat-ya with the link. :twisted:

Yeah I'd say you're stressing the Laptop alot, but it's doable in current games, but I have a feeling in future games you'll need to turn some stuff off.

Edit, but you beat me on the beat-ya post. :mrgreen:

BTW, something to consider, you're laptop may be a little penalized due to some of the component in the laptop versions, memory and core are a little slower. 600/500, versus 650/800, that's why I say calculate at about 15% penalty. Also depending on your CPU it could affect your performance too, a desktop replacement will allow you a full CPU, but a Merom C2D will be a little slower than the desktop C2D they used.
March 20, 2007 7:52:56 PM

If you use oblivion as an indication of games to come, you won't be having very good framerates on future titles at such a high resolution.

Oblivion
a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2007 7:59:37 PM

That's with 4XAA, so it'll be playable, just not with heavy AA.
BTW, the GF7900 isn't there due to HDR+AA.

Crysis and UT3 will be playing on the GF7900GTX in DX9 mode, so it'll be on the high end of that generation, just lose out on some of the benefits.
March 20, 2007 8:02:21 PM

I think ill reconsider the laptop thing.

Maybe I should get a cheaper one. The one I was looking at was going to come out around $4000. Didnt realise that. Thats too much.

However, I can get one with very similar specs for $2500 with a 7950GTX.

This one would be with a C2D laptop processor, and I would then wait until Santa Rosa comes out in the summer, by then I should get the introduction to the DX10 laptops.

But judging by those benmarks, I am pretty sure that one 7950GTX should be enough to get at least 30fps at those resolutions. Those games should keep me busy for a while.

When I start playing next-gen games, Ill get a desktop with SLI to push the surround sytem.

Sound like a plan?
March 20, 2007 8:09:12 PM

that resolution is rediculous. I don't really like the idea of 3 monitors. I'd wait for a bend around monitor (If anyone ever made one). or better yet.. the holodeck.
March 20, 2007 8:17:41 PM

Would you happen to know if it is possible to use different monitor sizes for the TH2G? What would be the result?
a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2007 8:49:52 PM

Quote:

However, I can get one with very similar specs for $2500 with a 7950GTX.


Better idea IMO.

Quote:
This one would be with a C2D laptop processor, and I would then wait until Santa Rosa comes out in the summer, by then I should get the introduction to the DX10 laptops.


Wouldn't worry too much about the DX10.... IF you can get one with an external PCIe connector (not Express Card), then you could use LASSO and then buy whatever you want for graphics, and also remove it when not gaming.

Quote:
But judging by those benmarks, I am pretty sure that one 7950GTX should be enough to get at least 30fps at those resolutions. Those games should keep me busy for a while.


Yeah, it may be tight and choppy at times but adjusting things like view distance etc will help.

Quote:
When I start playing next-gen games, Ill get a desktop with SLI to push the surround sytem.

Sound like a plan?


Yep, that's likely better and cheaper.

Quote:

Would you happen to know if it is possible to use different monitor sizes for the TH2G? What would be the result?


You can use different sizes, just not different resolution IIRC. This orm of surround gaming is essentially just a big single image. I don't think it's possible, but I haven't investigated it as much. Unlike the Parhelia, in this case the monitors are not truly independant.
March 20, 2007 8:51:06 PM

Quote:
Wouldn't worry too much about the DX10.... IF you can get one with an external PCIe connector (not Express Card), then you could use LASSO and then buy whatever you want for graphics, and also remove it when not gaming.


Please explain.
a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2007 9:11:15 PM

Quote:

Please explain.


Well LASSO from AMD (and likely something similar eventually from nv) using the recently finalised PCIe External spec allows the user to add regular cards in an external housing. Asus has this for their ExpressCard solution, but it works at PCIe 1X speed and limited cards, so I wouldn't want to consider it for the highest end of the gaming spectrum.

Here's a link, supposedly/hopefully, the rumours are we can expect them in the summer/fall period, and likely connector support sooner;

http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=7995

Personally that let's me pick a nice efficient laptop for the portable side, with good battery life, and then I can add ridiculous graphics power outside without heating the rig, and without worrying about it eating my battery on a regular basis.

That's the solution I like for the mobile user who also wants to game every once in a while. I found with multiple computers, I used my laptop more than anything, and only rarely turned on the gaming desktop, which meant about $2,000 worth of hardware going to waste, which could make the laptop better. I still don't want an SLi or even X1900 laptop for my day to day, but an external solution fits perfectly, where I can plug in my port replicator and voila, the power fo an XPS rig when I need it, and the efficiency of an ulra-light when I need that instead.
Also the heat from a GF7900GTX/X1900 inside the confined space of a laptop can't be good for everythig else, even with fans running all out.
March 20, 2007 9:27:50 PM

So the Lasso is supposed to use regular PCIe? Just so I dont get confused, thats PCI Express x16 right?

Sounds very promising!

The thing is though, that the laptop I want (its a Hypersonic) has, as its most important feature, RAID 0. Sadly, they do not allow video card downgrades.

I would be stuck with a 7950GTX with limited upgrade possibilities.

This sucks.
a b U Graphics card
March 20, 2007 9:44:17 PM

Well yeah it's a PCIe16X slot, but is using 2 PCie external 8X links to link to the test system. Even just one wuld be fine for most situations (even 4X+4X SLi/Xfire IMO).

Yeah it's tough I know, Believe me, it's worse in Canada. HP and Gateway only support us through places like BestBuy, you can't order custom made online like you can in the US. So chosing carefully is important, and this type of upgrade option is very VERY attractive.
March 21, 2007 1:19:20 AM

I'm not sure I'd like to play at 3580 x 1024. I love the idea of that width, but having a vertical 1024 seems like a big disadvantage (what monitors have a native resolution of 1024 vertical beside 1280 x 1024, which would be 3 x 15" monitors or something like that?)

I think I would prefer a single 24" widescreen at 1920 x 1200 at its native resolution, or the one just below (1680 x 1050)

Now if the triplehead2go had a 1050 vertical, three monitors at 1680 x 1050 might become quite interesting.

The games are listed on Matrox's site, but are they really playable ? The system doesn't seem to be very popular (I hardly ever read about it in forums) so it doesn't seem like it's gaining traction.

Here's a Tom's Hardware article about the triplehead2go, they don't seem too hot about it Link
For 285 (TH2G) plus 3 x 175 $ = 810, the setup is about the same cost as a 24" LCD at 1920 x 1200
a b U Graphics card
March 21, 2007 1:49:10 AM

Quote:
(what monitors have a native resolution of 1024 vertical beside 1280 x 1024, which would be 3 x 15" monitors or something like that?)


Actually 15" LCDs are usually 1024x768. 19" LCDs are 1280x1024;
http://www.samsung.com/Products/Monitor/LCD_Digital/LS1...

Quote:
I think I would prefer a single 24" widescreen at 1920 x 1200 at its native resolution, or the one just below (1680 x 1050)


It's not for everyone that's for sure.

Quote:
The games are listed on Matrox's site, but are they really playable ? The system doesn't seem to be very popular (I hardly ever read about it in forums) so it doesn't seem like it's gaining traction.


It's a niche market, like SLi. It's been around longer though. And it's got wide support from developers. And hey, if it's playable on Oblivion and FEAR then it's pretty much playable on any supported game.



Quote:
Here's a Tom's Hardware article about the triplehead2go, they don't seem too hot about it


Like I said, to each their own. And the difference between the FOV of 19x12 and 38x10 is pretty dramatic.

Here's the 30x7 view of Oblivion;


That to me is much more realistic, and less VPU intensive than 25x16.
PS, that was on a GF6800 series before the person upgraded to the GF8800.


edit: St00pid photobucket resizes the images! :evil:  now changed to imageshack so you could see full screen.
March 21, 2007 2:24:59 AM

I'd love to see that on my 8800GTX...
March 21, 2007 4:22:43 AM

Hey great ape i really like your posts , they are very interesting and knowledgeable :D  .

That screen sure looked gr8 8O
March 21, 2007 12:08:03 PM

Hey GreatApe/Fellow Canuck

Yes I agree with what you said (My bad on the 15" vs 19" LCD)

The screen shot would be more realistic with black bars in it where the screens split... That's what turns me down into the TH2G scheme. It cuts down on the dramatic field of view.

If they made a single screen 3580x1024 it would be awesome.

I wonder how many gamers (percentage wise) do use the TH2G. Solutions that work well usually grab traction in the market.
March 21, 2007 2:32:37 PM

One thing I found out as I was doing research is that the TH2G has 3 supported resolutions.

1280x1024 X 3
1024x768 X 3
800x600 X 3

In order words, it doesnt matter what monitor you use, you could in essence use three 24inch monitors and still use the 1280x1024 X 3 resolution and get bit more screen space. The strechting will suck, but its just to make a point.

But either way, gaming at 3580x1024 already requires an ultra high end system that costs well over $2000 without the monitors.

I plan on solving that problem with the simple fact that the games I will be playing all the way up until the end of the year arent very high end;

Call of Duty 2
Brothers in Arms EiB
Brothers in Arms RH30
Medieval II
Halo 2
Company of Heroes

I think the only games out of all of those that might suffer a bit are CoH and Medieval II. But I doubt Ill see any lag in the others with everything turned on.

If that happens, I trully do not mind turning down the res to 1024x768 X 3.

That alone takes away a total of 1024 pixels. That alone should bump my fps up 20 or so.

Hell guys, Im currently playing CoD2 with a Radeon 9600 Pro and an old P4 3.0GHz with 1.5GHz of memory not in dual channel. I think I can get buy with a 7950GTX and a C2D.
March 21, 2007 2:45:51 PM



Kind of expensive though:

Quote:
No price is specified on the website, but Seamless Display promises to email back more details to people who fill out a request form. According to German website Golem.de, the monitor will be available in early 2007 for around $16,000.
March 21, 2007 2:55:08 PM

Do you really need a laptop?

Also, watch out for that "30 fps" criteria.

On my previous P4 3.0GHz with the X800XL, yeah I could play CSS at 30-50fps, but when it really mattered (lots of players in screen, lots of action around) and then my FPS fell to 10-20 and I'd usually die

If you don't ABSOLUTELY need a laptop, I'd go with a new desktop now instead. Playing non-native low resolutions on a beautiful LCD isn't great.
March 21, 2007 3:35:03 PM

Thanks for the heads up. Ill keep that in mind.

Basically, yes, I need a laptop. Heres the reason why.

I work for a company who dabbles in different areas of computer related work. I have to work with a freakin P4 3.0 and 512MBs of RAM. It sucks. Everyone at my work has there own high end laptops, and my friend even brought his desktop to work since he has a low midrange laptop that he says is fine for his personal things at home.

I need mobility for work, so Ill get a laptop. However, I made some calculations and realised that getting a midrange laptop, and a mid to high end desktop would be more expensive than getting a high end laptop. Plus, I really really want to get RAID 0 for my laptop, and only high end ones offer that.

See, what Im trying to decipher now is what is less expensive;

The Surround Gaming System
or
24inch Benq FP241wz

I already have one 19inch monitor, meaning I would pay $190 x 2 for the monitors and $315 for the TH2G, which comes close to $700 when you throw in S&H and stuff. Now, that is about $100 less than the Benq, but then I have to realise that I will quickly need a Vid card upgrade to get it to be able to play at such high res. The video card upgrade would cost over $800 for the following reasons;

The base system is $300 more expensive than the other system I would get. It is more expensive cause it has space for 3 HDs and SLI.

Adding another 7950GTX would cost $500.

That means that a Surround System would cost me $600 more than a 24incher.

But wait, theres more;

My monitor is getting replaced because it broke and its under warranty, and I spoke with the people in charge and they said I might be able to trade it in for another monitor. So I might be able to trade it in for a cheap 22inch wide screen one, and maybe pay for the small difference which should cost around $20 to $50 for the upgrade.

My current monitor;
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The one I would get;
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This would be the cheapest way to go and since id be gaming at 1680 x 1050, my vid card will last me a lot longer. When Im on the road, Ill play 1920x1200, which should my 7950GTX will be able to handle.

Conclusion, Surround gaming would be a lot more expensive given my situation and I should be smarter and not waste $500 on a new freakin 24inch monitor just to get 2 inches of extra screen space.
a b U Graphics card
March 21, 2007 4:26:51 PM

Quote:

The screen shot would be more realistic with black bars in it where the screens split... That's what turns me down into the TH2G scheme. It cuts down on the dramatic field of view.


True, but here's the fun part, the person whose screen shot that is is thinking of projector setups next stage. :mrgreen:

It was worse in the CRT days though, my first surround gaming experience was with the Parhelia on 3 x 21" Sonys and while the bezels are huge compared to current LCDs, yet they actually kinda dissapeared a bit as it became center focus with the 2 sides for peripheral vision. I really liked it, and still do. After that I was a surround fan, I just wish the laptop could drive that kind of resolution without requiring a desktop replacement humungous thing. That's why Lasso is so attractive too.

Quote:
If they made a single screen 3580x1024 it would be awesome.


Yep, but the market is so small I bet it'd be expensive. Think cheap LCD TVs or Plasma for the ultimate in immersion. It get's ridiculous, but it would be about as expensive to get 3 30-32" LCD TVs, as getting something so specialized as a single panel with that 38x10 resolution.

Quote:
I wonder how many gamers (percentage wise) do use the TH2G. Solutions that work well usually grab traction in the market.


Very small. Surround gaming is truely niche, but it is one of those things that once you've played, you always appreciate, even if it isn't practical for your situation, and just aren't there yet.
a b U Graphics card
March 21, 2007 4:33:59 PM

IMO, if the numbers aren't working for you, then don't bother adding the TH2G, it is a tough solution for a laptop, one of the main reasons I didn't go with it for Oblivion after seeing how awesome it was for Morrowind (as well as a few other titles).

IMO, I would recomment, that if you are using the monitor for gaming, and not detail work (which you use the native laptop LCD for), that you should consider an LCD or Plasma TV as your gaming panel. Truely it's better than a 24" inch monitor for the immersion and can be about as expensive. The major drawback is the Image Quality up close.

It might be a better compromise, and it also allows you a litle more flexability with lower resolutions (1080P or 720/768P) than even the 24".

Just a thought. I love playing on the 50" plasma at work. :mrgreen:
March 21, 2007 4:43:00 PM

Actually, I was going to buy a new 1280x720 Projector regardless of what i did with my monitor choice, since my current one is showing its age and cannot handle those resolutions.

If I set up my room appropriately, I might be able to play my PC games on a 100" screen and like you said, 1280x720 will get his arsewhole eaten out by my 7950GTX. :twisted: I know im going to get a 360 and play on that since I decided that getting a 24" monitor is just too expensive.

Ive actually already tried it with Brothers in Arms; Road to Hill 30. But my room is not set up in a way that it was comfortable. But with a laptop, everything changes, just need a place to set up my mouse.
!