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Dual Graphics Cards (Without Crossfire)

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 2, 2010 10:50:57 AM

Hello,

I consider myself very proficient when it comes to hardware, and I've looked this question up 100 different ways but lack a definitive answer for my situation. Not wanting to waste money or deal with the hassle of returning a product, I thought I would ask this in a manner specific to my needs.

I'm currently running a Sapphire ATI Radeon 4890, pushing 2 22" monitors for gaming and the like. I would like to add another monitor to my system, just for general purposes when doing design work, or to keep an RDP window open in, and, well, because I have another monitor just collecting dust.

I'd like to keep my two primary monitors on the 4890 and add a lesser priced ATI card (possibly a 4550) for the third monitor. I don't care if it runs crossfire. I just want to drive a third monitor.

Is this possible? Will it affect the performance of my 4890?

For reference sake, I'm running:
Core 2 Quad Q6600
8 GB Ram
Windows 7 (64 Bit)
1000 watt PSU
July 2, 2010 11:17:15 AM

Adding another card to your 4890 and not crossfiring them should give you exactly what you're after (a third screen running off the new card). It shouldn't affect the performance of your 4890 at all, but personally I haven't tried this so cannot speak from personal experience.

I'd say give it a shot and it should work. Also, please post back your findings so the next person googling the same question will find your answer too. :) 

Good luck.
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Best solution

July 2, 2010 7:29:22 PM

Yes, you can do this. I have done this with a 4870 and 4850, driving 2 main monitors on the 4870 and 2 other displays on the 4850 for a total of 4 displays.

In your case, it will not affect the performance of your 4890. The monitors connected to the 4890 will have their graphics powered by it; if you move a game from your 4890 over to a third monitor connected to your cheaper 4550 (or whatever you end up with), the 4550 will drive that third display.

You will also know that this is how it is working because you can test it: say you have a game in windowed mode running on your 4890. In order for the game to run, it needs to cache all of it's stuff in your frame buffer on the 4890 (i.e. "loading"). If you move the window over to the third monitor (on your 4550), you will see the game hiccup or stop playing for a bit while all the data gets swapped between the two cards' frame buffers. Then, your game will see the performance hit on the 3rd monitor caused by the 4550 driving it.

Obviously, you would not want to crossfire these cards, since the 4890 would be downclocked to match & synchronize with the 4550. (not sure if it's even possible, but that's what would have to happen).

Hope that answers your question!
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July 2, 2010 7:39:33 PM

I'll have to agree with everyone...this is definitely possible and doable. You should have no issues, and could probably get away with an even lower card if you are just looking for basic function.
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July 2, 2010 10:37:18 PM

Thank you to everyone for your help! I'll give it a shot and report back.
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July 9, 2010 11:58:25 PM

Best answer selected by guitarob.
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July 10, 2010 12:04:00 AM

I have the monitors up and running now. It seems to work flawlessly, although I did have to reinstall drivers after installing the 4350 that I went with because windows kept recognizing those drivers as the primary.

The only issue I have now is:

Photoshop will not recognize the 1 Gig of RAM on the 4890, preferring to limit me to the 512 megs on the 4350.

Any suggestions?
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January 9, 2013 7:59:41 PM

hokkdawg said:
Yes, you can do this. I have done this with a 4870 and 4850, driving 2 main monitors on the 4870 and 2 other displays on the 4850 for a total of 4 displays.

In your case, it will not affect the performance of your 4890. The monitors connected to the 4890 will have their graphics powered by it; if you move a game from your 4890 over to a third monitor connected to your cheaper 4550 (or whatever you end up with), the 4550 will drive that third display.

You will also know that this is how it is working because you can test it: say you have a game in windowed mode running on your 4890. In order for the game to run, it needs to cache all of it's stuff in your frame buffer on the 4890 (i.e. "loading"). If you move the window over to the third monitor (on your 4550), you will see the game hiccup or stop playing for a bit while all the data gets swapped between the two cards' frame buffers. Then, your game will see the performance hit on the 3rd monitor caused by the 4550 driving it.

Obviously, you would not want to crossfire these cards, since the 4890 would be downclocked to match & synchronize with the 4550. (not sure if it's even possible, but that's what would have to happen).

Hope that answers your question!


I have 5850 and a 5450 cards can use 3 displays of 24" on 5850 connected in eyefinity and 32" on 5450 as extended display?
my current setup with the 5850 card only supports 3 displays with one display has to be used. please let me know so I can set it up.

thank you.
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