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2 or 1 Graphics cards for 3 displays

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 19, 2010 8:31:02 PM

I've been running 3 monitors for a while now and its been an amazing experience, if you haven't tried it yet do it. Typically I use my left monitor (19" Wide screen from Hanns-G) for my ripped movies, my center monitor (22" Wide screen Hanns-G) and my right display for mirc and twitter and such (19" Wide screen from Hanns-G) with the left and right monitors on one GPU and my center display on its own dedicated card.

I was looking at upgrading to some new GPUs to get some better performance for games, especially when running my HD movies on my left screen. With the new line of eyefinities that can support up to 6 it got me thinking... Is one really high end card better for multiple displays or is 2 separate cards a better value.

My setup:
Windows 7: Ultimate Edition
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition
GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H
8 gigs of G.SKILL 240-Pin DDR3
2x EVGA 01G-P3-N981-TR GeForce 9800 GT
a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
May 19, 2010 8:37:25 PM

One high-end GPU would be better and would still give you an upgrade path. Getting two GPU's right off the bat doesn't make much sense IMO. A single GPU will run cooler, use less power, and give you the option of adding another GPU in Crossfire/SLI in the future.

You didn't list a budget for the upgrade, but I would get an ATI 5970 if it will fit in your case.
a b U Graphics card
May 19, 2010 8:38:33 PM

You can get an ATI 5850 and it will run three monitors. If one of your monitors doesn't have Display Port connection you will need an DisplayPort to DVI Active Adapter which is about $100. The more practical option would be to get two 5670's and you could run up to four monitors and pay half the price for more power in a Multi-Monitor situation. You can also connect them in Crossfire to play games.
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a b U Graphics card
May 19, 2010 8:40:08 PM

I've only heard of Eyefinity's function in unifying the image across multiple screens, treating it as a large single resolution. I would assume that if it can do this, it should be fully capable of running multiple displays doing different functions, such as you require. A single 5850 would probably do what your SLI configuration has been doing with better performance (5850> SLI 9800GTs, correct me if I am wrong) and as mentioned, adding a second card for crossfire in the future is an open, and greatly rewarding option.
a b U Graphics card
May 19, 2010 8:43:37 PM

multiscreenz said:
You can get an ATI 5850 and it will run three monitors. If one of your monitors doesn't have Display Port connection you will need an DisplayPort to DVI Active Adapter which is about $100. The more practical option would be to get two 5670's and you could run up to four monitors and pay half the price for more power in a Multi-Monitor situation. You can also connect them in Crossfire to play games.


Crossfire 5670s has never made sense to me, but when you put it that way, it indeed has a place here as a viable cost effective alternative, as opposed to paying for a GPU + $100 displayport adapter.
May 19, 2010 9:44:26 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. Wouldn't enabling crossfire kill off the additional displays? or will they keep running because they'll be on the same physical GPU?
a b U Graphics card
May 19, 2010 10:09:37 PM

The 5000 series will run Multiple Monitors in Crossfire, but it depends on the motherboard. But yeah, I was suggesting that if you wanted to use one screen. You can use the 5850 as individual monitors. The 5870 eyefinity6 is the only one you can make a single image desktop if you want. I work with these cards every day building multi-monitor computers so that's my experience.
May 20, 2010 4:31:29 PM

Thanks for all the recommends. I decided to go with a Radeon 5850. Going to hook my center main monitor up through HDMI and the two side monitors on the DVIs. Looking like I'm gonna see a big performance increase :) 
May 20, 2010 5:00:10 PM

jpine87 said:
Thanks for all the recommends. I decided to go with a Radeon 5850. Going to hook my center main monitor up through HDMI and the two side monitors on the DVIs. Looking like I'm gonna see a big performance increase :) 


I believe you might run into a problem. I think one of the monitors needs to be connected through Displayport (someone correct me here). Anyways the 5850 is an excellent choice.
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