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Adding 3 displays question

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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June 8, 2010 6:00:47 PM

Hi,
I'm trying to work out a simple way to put 3 displays on my PC.

PC is a Dell 545 with an "PCI Express x16" slot and "PCI Express x1" slot.
power supply is 300 watts. 1 year old -- 8 gb memory -- win 7, 64 bit.
The current display card is a Gigabyte GV R4350C using the ATI HD 4350.

I have a 22 inch monitor that does 1680 by 1050 -- I'd like to add 2 more of these.

I'm not a gamer and don't need high performance. I do some work in Sketchup, but my feeling is that its not very demanding.


So, questions that come up after reading a lot of posts here:

- What is the simplest way to add the three monitor capability?
ATI Radeon 5700 family?

- Which member of 5700 family would best?
I'd like the lowest power consumption that gives OK performance.

- Will I need the "active display adapter" that is mentioned in some posts?

- Is my power supply too small the 5700 series?
Power supply is 300 watt.

- My Dell document does not mention anything about the version of PCI Express (ie does not say 2.1), but the ATI 5700 specs do specify PCI Express 2.1x16 -- is this a problem?

Thanks for any help -- I'm not a computer person and this is giving me a headache :) 

Gary


a b U Graphics card
a b ) Power supply
June 8, 2010 6:40:05 PM

Even a lowly HD5450 can handle 3-way Eyefinity.

POWERCOLOR Go! Green AX5450 512MD2-SD Radeon HD 5450 512MB 64-bit DDR2 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card w/ Eyefinity $54.99 - $10 MIR

Yes, you do need an active Display port adapter to make it work. You need to make sure to use an adapter that's on ATI's official support list. Here's an article you will probably find helpful:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5450,2549...
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a b U Graphics card
June 8, 2010 7:30:22 PM

Make sure that if you do get a 5450, though, that you get an eyefinity edition card, as some of them are not.
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a b U Graphics card
a b ) Power supply
June 8, 2010 7:56:49 PM

That's true. The one I linked to is an Eyefinity edition. That's why I linked to it. :) 
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a b U Graphics card
June 8, 2010 8:25:30 PM

You don't need an active DP if it's a different output source (ie 2 DVI with 1 VGA or vice versa) you can use one passive DP adapter if the combination is right. Active adapter is definitely needed if you want 3 similar outputs/inputs, like 3 DVI or 3 VGA, because they only have 2 RAMDACs or 2 TMDS pairs.
What monitor specifically (22" doesn't say much about input options).

However, something to consider is whether for what you are doing you really need a new 'eyefinity' card or can just use a cheap PCIe 1X card for the third monitor essentially cheaper than the new card+adapter.

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

However if you think the HD5450 is going to improve Sketchup at all (I don't) then maybe it's worth it.

Make sure if going the Eyefinity route you know your connections before you purchase a card, because an active adapter isn't cheap.
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June 8, 2010 9:09:45 PM

TheGreatGrapeApe said:
You don't need an active DP if it's a different output source (ie 2 DVI with 1 VGA or vice versa) you can use one passive DP adapter if the combination is right. Active adapter is definitely needed if you want 3 similar outputs/inputs, like 3 DVI or 3 VGA, because they only have 2 RAMDACs or 2 TMDS pairs.
What monitor specifically (22" doesn't say much about input options).

However, something to consider is whether for what you are doing you really need a new 'eyefinity' card or can just use a cheap PCIe 1X card for the third monitor essentially cheaper than the new card+adapter.

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

However if you think the HD5450 is going to improve Sketchup at all (I don't) then maybe it's worth it.

Make sure if going the Eyefinity route you know your connections before you purchase a card, because an active adapter isn't cheap.



Hi -- thanks to all.

The monitor I'm thinking about is the Hanns-G Hi-221DPB from Newegg:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Its on special for $140 and seems to get good reviews -- AND FREE SHIPPING :) 
This is what it says on connectivity:
Connectivity
Input Video Compatibility Analog RGB, Digital
Connectors D-Sub, DVI-D
D-Sub 1
DVI 1
HDMI No

Like the idea of just adding another simple card if that won't make for a lot of trouble getting it up and running. If I got another ATI based card, would the Cataylist (sp?) ATI software recognize both?

Gary







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a b U Graphics card
June 8, 2010 10:54:28 PM

Yep, it's simple that way (2 cards), and since you're not concerned with gaming it won't make much difference versus single card with eyefinity.

With the connections of the monitor, you could try the HD5450 with a passive DP->VGA connection on one and then DVI on the other two, but you would need a proper dual DVI card for the easiest time (HDMI to DVI adapters can be a pain, especially when trying to drive a VGA off of the passive DP connection since it doesn't send EDID information well to aid with detection).

Get eyefinity to work is probably the most feature-rich setup of the two, but likely the second card option is the easier of the two.

IMO, jut make sure you have a good return policy for either so you can swap if not satisfied, since a myriad of secondary issue can occur that mess-up a setup for one way or the other. Hopefully we've reduced some of them by sticking with the same model PCIe 1X card, but you never know with these things. Also the passive adapter route with VGA is a little more finicky than the active DVI option, but it's also about $50+ more expensive usually for the active adapter, so they all have their good/bad and potential hiccups.
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