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ATI 5xxx 3 display question

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
February 4, 2010 2:48:17 AM

Hi, I have a couple of questions about the ATI 5xxx 3 display output cards.

- If you are running 3 displays (2 DVI, one HDMI) and run a game on one focus screen (coming from SLI, so like how SLI has a focus screen), do the 2 other ATI displays stay on?

- If you run a game on an SLI or ATI focus screen (if that even applies), does performance suffer on the main screen if other screens are being displayed instead of one?

Thanks in advance guys.
February 4, 2010 3:08:06 AM

First you cant use all three (2 DVI + 1 HDMI) outputs on the HD 5000 series cards only two (2 DVI or 1 DVI + 1 HDMI) the third output has to be the Displayport output, if you dident already know that.

Dont know much about focus screen but it sounds like your running the monitors in extended mode (where you gain extra desktop space) and when you run a game it will full screen and cover just one screen the rest will continue to display your desktop, but unless you run that game in windowed mode you wont be able to move your mouse over to the other screen unless you alt + tab out of the game. In terms of performance hit, you shouldent see that much of a hit, just a very small ~2% maybe. Although if you already have three screens why not give Eyefinity a try?
February 4, 2010 3:32:33 AM

If you are running 3 displays (2 DVI, one HDMI) and run a game on one focus screen (coming from SLI, so like how SLI has a focus screen), do the 2 other ATI displays stay on?

The "focus" screen is called the "primary" display. This should be the center screen. Make sure this runs off an ACTIVE display port (~$100). Try to avoid APPLE display ports. I've read they are hit and miss. I've read that for lower resolutions you can use a PASSIVE display port (~$15) but this option didnt work for me. If you run an application ex: 1920x1080 (single screen mode) it will run on your primary. The side screens will generally be blacked out.

If you run a game on an SLI or ATI focus screen (if that even applies), does performance suffer on the main screen if other screens are being displayed instead of one?

I havent noticed any performance hits running just off your primary. If running across 3 screens you will probably have to turn down your settings to get good frame rates.

Good luck.

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February 4, 2010 4:08:50 AM

Hi and thank you for the quick replies. My apologies, I meant Displayport as the third.

Let me give you my current configuration, and what I hope to achieve with a single 5xxx. (please note that I am running 3 displays as seperate screens currently with two sli cards, and not as an extended 3 screen setup/stretched)

8600.1: DVI to DVI monitor,
DVI to VGA adapter to VGA projector

8600.2: DVI to DVI monitor (it might be with a VGA adapter too, not
2nd DVI port blank

Note that my monitor displays are simple 19 inch ones that I use for multitasking, so a step down in one of them to VGA is not a big compromise for me.
I usually am in SLI mode, and only use one monitor on, and the projector as the primary SLI display, for game screens.

When I really need to multitask I disable SLI and use all 3. But more often than not its 2 displays on for me (SLI enabled).
(fwiw, SLI on allows for 2 screens max, SLI off allows for 3 or more. Originally SLI on allowed for 1 screen max, but they updated the drivers in 2009)

The Potential single 5xxx setup which I have in mind:
DVI to Mon 1
DVI to VGA adapter to projector
Displayport VGA adapter to Mon 2

(I've read the Displayport to VGA adapter setup works passively, and rarely if at all DVI'ly, hence my above plan)

Again, all three displays will be seperate desktops. Currently I am running 3 1024x768 desktops.

Do I get your blessings on this setup guys?

PS: I would like at least one monitor on when I play a game on the projector.

February 4, 2010 4:14:56 AM

Looks like youve done your reaserch and done it well. :) 
February 4, 2010 5:11:11 AM

Thanks for the compliment paperfox :) 

Before I go to sleep on this side of the Atlantic, I did a more exhaustive googling.

I found this out of many posts and it was the closest to what I want to do:
Not very promising that thread..

It seems all the youtube videos too for Eyefinity focus on the 3 monitor stretched mode (group mode) vs Extended display/3 separate which is what I want to do.

I'd like to ask. Has anyone on here done something like this with 3 displays separately?

I don't want to be forced to play my FPS in windowed mode to achieve the other 2 monitor displays on at the same time, because that detracts in so many ways.

Do you guys think I could run a simple nvidia or non 5xxx series card in the second pci slot for the monitors, and use the main 5xx card just for the gaming display?
February 4, 2010 6:07:16 AM

What was it about that AMD thread that worried you? The problem the OP had about his movie slowing down or that he had to play WoW in windowed mode?

My setup is a 5870 and two 1680x1020 monitors. I normaly use extended mode for my monitors. When I have one game full screen and an internet browser open in the other, the only way I can move my mouse over to the browser is to alt tab the game. This is normal and can be somewhat annoying though playing the game in windowed mode fixes the problem. This would be the same with a 3 monitor extended mode setup.
February 4, 2010 5:57:06 PM

Thanks Paperfox. Saved me asking about it in the AMD forums.
I think I had read on a thread in a window next to the above Wow posters one, about a guy with blank extra monitors when the game was in full screen mode on the primary.

I'm glad you got it working full screen with alt-tab. This is how I play in my current nvidia setup with tab.

I was wondering. When you have your game in Full screen mode and a second monitor running windows generally, do you notice slowdown in your 3d game? or do you think its just wow?

I hope its all cool as I was totally rethinking my future upgrade with Ati because of this..

Best solution

February 4, 2010 8:20:28 PM

I can confirm that the performance hit will be very small. I ran Dragon Age and Empire Total War and the loss was only a few frames. Both games in full screen during all four tests.
Single screen/Dual screen FPS ave
DA 85/83
ETW 75/74
Id like to note that DA had a problem with fraps reporting that my FPS was 65 every other time I alt tabed out of it, in both dual and single screen modes.

But the Interesting thing about ETW was that I could move my mouse freely across both screens while the game was still in full screen mode, though this made turing the camra around very hard but you can use the keyboard to do that.

It could just be wow, Ive never seen any huge FPS spikes or slowdowns whenever Im running dual screens in extended mode. Though Ive never run a game and watch a movie at the same time, It could be that he ran out of RAM or CPU usage got to close to 100%.(DA gives me 100% on my 2 cores while ETW gives about 75% both with ~3.1 GB RAM usage)
February 4, 2010 10:17:24 PM

Thank you so much paperfox for that and your detailed results. I feel much better about everything thanks to your help. You have helped me decide on my upgrade route and I really appreciate that. :) 
February 16, 2010 9:50:29 PM

Best answer selected by fps-r.