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Building Multi-Display gaming rig, need advice.

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May 1, 2009 11:09:04 PM

I am currently trying to draw up a gaming rig with multiple displays (two or three), but on a decent budget (which is relatively flexible, although $2000 is a rough limit). I want a best-value setup, other than the extra screen space :wahoo: . I have really only built one other system before (although I have done a upgrades and repairs multiple times), and it was more of a low-cost, general use system. Thus, my knowledge in higher-end parts is limited, although I would much rather build my own system than buy one. (What's the fun in that?)

However, even with my lack of knowledge in high-end computer gear, I have an idea as to what the build would look like, besides a few important areas where I felt that it might be best to get some help from people who have more experience; Namely, the PSU, graphics, and sound card.

For the most part, I wouldn't need anything that can run Crysis at maxxed out settings on multiple screens, but it should pack some power (like running WoW, CoD: WaW, L4D, TF2, etc. at high settings with good fps) and be upgradable in the future.

My only worry is that having multiple screens will naturally hurt performance, so there needs to be some sort of balance between resolution and whatever video card(s) is/are used.

I will be OC'ing the CPU, graphics, and possibly the RAM as well.

Anyhow, here is what I have so far:

MOBO: EVGA, NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI ATX. This board has pretty good specs, is a good value, and has good OC cred, but I am willing to switch over if necessary.

Video Card: ??? Probably several cards using SLI w/MOBO. I was looking at several GeForce 9800 GTX+'s or some GeForce GTX 275's. Since this is a gaming rig, I expect to allocate a large portion of my budget to the graphics I put in it.

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 Wolfdale 3.33GHz, OR an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz. I am a little indecisive between these two because they are both great if you plan to OC (and I would throw in an Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro either way), but in terms of gaming, the jump from 2 to 4 cores isn't nearly as large as, say, 1 to 2.

RAM: OCZ Platinum Edition 8GB (4 x 2GB) DDR2 SDRAM 800. I run multiple applications quite often, and I figured that I could splurge on some extra RAM. I figure that it would remove memory as a bottleneck for apps and some games.

HD: Western Digital Caviar GP 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5''. I originally considered buying a gaming-specific HD, but I realized that the only tangible gain I would get for spending more per GB on a hard drive would be faster load times, since almost all games are now dependent on GPU, CPU and RAM, not the HD. I would much rather have more space and better reliability for less, even if I load a game a few seconds slower. Of course, feel free to disagree!

Sound Card: ??? I have NO experience with sound cards, so I really need advice as to what to use here.

DVD/CD Drive: Samsung Black DVD+CD RW. I really don't need Blu-ray, and this is a reliable drive in my experiences with it on several machines.

Case: NZXT Guardian Black Steel ATX Tower. I like the apperance of this one, it has good reviews, and I have personal experience with it since a friend of mine used it in his own build, and really liked it. It seems to be good in terms of cooling as well.

PSU: ??? This is hard to choose, since what I would need depends on everything I choose above.

Displays: I don't have anything specific yet, but I would just choose some Dell lcd screens that have good resolution, faster response rate and better contrast. You can recommend anything here, really, as long as the price is right.

Speakers: Luckily I already have some great speakers, so I won't need to spend anything on them.

So what do you all think I should choose? Do you like the setup? I would really appreciate any feedback, be it positive or negative. Ask questions, too, if you want. And I am flexible on everything from the displays to the MOBO, CPU, etc.

Thanks, VGM.
May 2, 2009 12:59:08 AM

Two monitors is not always the best way to go when gaming. A 30in lcd is the best for gaming. This is because few games support dual monitor.

Also you should not be needing a sound card as the onboard sound card is very good.
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May 3, 2009 4:33:20 AM

Tech-Boy said:
Two monitors is not always the best way to go when gaming. A 30in lcd is the best for gaming. This is because few games support dual monitor.

Also you should not be needing a sound card as the onboard sound card is very good.


I am on the fence as to weather or not to get a few screens or 1 large one. I have found what you said about multi-screen support to be true; it's really 1 screen or 3 due to bezels, and 3 screens is both tough for a sub-2k machine and supported by a select variety of games (Maxtor's TripleHead2Go has the most supported games in my findings, but I would need a $300 exterior box w/an extra display and the system would see the screens as 1 monitor.).


As for the sound card, I diddn't even realize it until I got a PDF of the specs from NVIDIA; it's good news to hear, since it's both less to spend and less to worry about during assembly.
May 3, 2009 5:28:19 AM

U say your comp is for gaming, yet u have speakers?? Invest in a decent headset..
On board sound imo is good enough for gaming IF they have an built in equaliser that u can tweak.

As for running multiple screens, i run 2, a 24" lcd from my main GFX card (radeon 4870) and i run my 19" lcd from an older gfx card i had lying around (radeon X1650) with no problems at all, not many games have dual monitor support, so what are u using the second monitor for?
My only advice with running dual monitors is get a program called ultra-mon, because the windows based and even gfx software based dual monitor stuff is bad at best.
May 3, 2009 2:52:03 PM

Mitchmj said:
U say your comp is for gaming, yet u have speakers?? Invest in a decent headset..
On board sound imo is good enough for gaming IF they have an built in equaliser that u can tweak.

As for running multiple screens, i run 2, a 24" lcd from my main GFX card (radeon 4870) and i run my 19" lcd from an older gfx card i had lying around (radeon X1650) with no problems at all, not many games have dual monitor support, so what are u using the second monitor for?
My only advice with running dual monitors is get a program called ultra-mon, because the windows based and even gfx software based dual monitor stuff is bad at best.


I have both some nice speakers (albeit somewhat old) and a pair of Bose headphones w/ a seperate mic that are plenty good enough for me (I am not an audiophile of sorts; I have the speakers just because I have enough music and videos for them to be worth it).

The second monitor would either be to run other programs (web browsers, office apps, CS4 apps, etc.) or to do some dual-screen gaming. Of course, I have to reiterate what I said to Mitch, that being that most games don't support dual-screen, and that those that do can't get rid of the really annoying bezel. Which would mean I would need 3 screens, which would mean better graphics, which would stretch my budget even more.

I'm going to look at displays today, and later I will post my choices for either a large, single display, a duo-display, or a triple.
May 3, 2009 11:30:48 PM

I just looked at some displays, and I am pretty set on eliminating having a 30'' display. The cost is just not worth it; I could get several 24'' screens with better contrast and response rate for much less, and given that the setup is value based given the budget...

Still, it is also hard to justify 3 screens as well. That too adds up quickly, unless you sacrifice the quality of the image.

Anyhow, here are my "choices" for dual and triple-screen setups:


DUAL SCREEN: Two Dell S2409W 24'' Widescreen 1920x1080 Displays. At $249 each, I get full 1080p on both, with an OK response rate and contrast. They have HDMI, DVI-D and VGA connections.

TRIPLE SCREEN: Three Dell E2009WFP 20'' Wide Flat Panel 1680x1050 Displays. Ironically, 3 of these at $149 each means they would cost $447, which is less than the two 24''. The response rate and contrast is the same, and they come with DVI-D and VGA inputs.

Yes, they are both only OK in terms of game-abiity, but the price is low. I diddn't look for hours, so if anyone has any better ideas for displays, feel free to suggest them. Thanks.
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