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Need Help- Best graphics card, 3 monitors, new build

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March 4, 2011 12:36:38 PM

Hello,

I am a newbie and would greatly appreciate any help here.

I am building my first system and need help selecting a graphics card. I will be getting three new monitors, but I want them to operate separately (for now). Meaning I want to use one monitor for web browsing, one for email, and one for work (editing, multimedia, multiple Skype conferences, etc.). At some point I'll probably get into hard-core gaming.

Money not being an object, what is the BEST graphics card I can get for this setup? Better to have one graphics card or two? Which model? DVI, HDMI, etc., configuration?

Here are the specs of my build so far:
1. OS - Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate
2. Motherboard - Intel DX58SO2
3. CPU - Intel - i7
4. Case - Corsair 700D

Thank you very much any help and advice you can offer!

Jack
March 4, 2011 1:48:10 PM

If you are definitely interested in Eyefinity/ Surround gaming down the road, an SLI/ CF setup is definitely going to be the way to go. If the 3 monitors are going to be 1920x1080 or higher, you should consider going all out and getting either SLI GTX 580's or wait and get either CF HD 6990's or SLI GTX 590's. I'm not sure what outputs each is going to have, but you'll definitely have the graphics horsepower to drive that kind of display.

If you are looking to do it for less, you could always go with a single 6950/ 6970 now and get a second down the road once you decide you're ready to get into triple monitor gaming. The one advantage Eyefinity has is that you can do it with a single card if you have at least one DisplayPort monitor or an active DP to DVI adapter.

The GTX 580's are around $500 a pop, and the 6950 is currently around $270. I'm not sure of the exact prices on the new cards, but from what I've read the HD 6990 is going to be at least $600 and the GTX 590 is going to be even more.
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March 4, 2011 1:59:52 PM

Thanks keenyj313!

Your comments and advice are very much appreciative.

Jack500
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March 4, 2011 2:05:30 PM

You can extend your desktop to use all three monitors and place your windows appropriately if you want to do different things on different monitors.

Best Cards
The best graphics cards (money not an object) are the GTX 580 (one GPU on one card) and the Radeon HD 5970 (two GPUs on one card). Kind of depends on brand preference (AMD or Nvidia). Depending on the benchmark, one beats the other.

Gaming across monitors
If you want to game on 3 monitors, you'll need two GTX 580s whereas with the 5970, you can do it from one.

Concerning single and multi-card configurations...
A big plus of the 5970 is it is capable of crossfire right out of the box because it has two GPUs on the card.

On the other hand, my SLI setup has given me no issues whatsoever. When I ran with 2 and then 3 5850s, I had all sorts of driver issues. I know of people having driver issues with the 5970s and the more recent releases of the AMD drivers. Personally, I'm to a point in my life where I just want things to work as advertised. As a result, I prefer the SLI option.

People will argue that OC'd this or OC'd that will perform like one or the other, but why void your warranty? On the other hand, you could OC a GTX 580 or 5970 and then compare framerates with the other cards.
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March 4, 2011 2:29:12 PM

I totally forgot about the 5970. As ubercake mentioned, it's basically a crossfire setup on one board (the 6990 will be similar), so you avoid some of the normal issues with multi GPU setups. That being said, it's still $910 on Newegg, and you will either need 3 monitors with DisplayPort connections or 3 active DP to DVI adapters. Also, if you look at THESE benchmarks, it would make more sense to go with the SLI 580's at that point.
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March 4, 2011 2:42:44 PM

Ubercake,

Thanks for your comments! Keep it coming guys...

Jack500
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March 4, 2011 2:43:17 PM

FYI You cannot plug in more than 2 monitors with any single Nvidia card. If you want Nvidia, you HAVE to do SLI for 3 monitors.

I think the best solution, honestly, is a 6970 2gb now and if you want to game it'll be ok, but you can crossfire a second 6970 for super good performance.

A 5970 is a nice card of course but very pricey and 2 6970s will pwn it anyway.

Another decent option would be (if you can find them) 2gb models of the 5870.

This is, of course, assuming you're going to do gaming on all 3 monitors. 3 1080p monitors, for example, need a lot of horsepower and VRAM, which is why I suggest these 2gb cards.

I know Palit released 2gb 560s, which in SLI would be good... and they also released 3gb 580s which would be super awesome.
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March 4, 2011 2:56:43 PM

kennyj313 said:
I totally forgot about the 5970. As ubercake mentioned, it's basically a crossfire setup on one board (the 6990 will be similar), so you avoid some of the normal issues with multi GPU setups. That being said, it's still $910 on Newegg, and you will either need 3 monitors with DisplayPort connections or 3 active DP to DVI adapters. Also, if you look at THESE benchmarks, it would make more sense to go with the SLI 580's at that point.

Good comparison tool kenny. Also, the 5970 is extremely hard to find. The one kenny referred to is the 6 Display Port (DP) version. You can actually connect 6 screens directly to this one card! There are cheaper versions of the 5970 out there - not set up for 6 DP connections - with 2xDVI, 1HDMI, and 1 DP connection, but they are even more rare, though they run around $600. The 5970 actually does share the same driver issues with other multi-gpu AMD setups because it is two separate down-clocked 5870 GPUs on the same card. It's built-in crossfire. These things can crank if the drivers let them.
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March 4, 2011 3:57:45 PM

My recommendation would be to wait a few days and go with the 6990 when it comes out. Like I said, from what I hear it's going to be around $600, and you will have the option of adding in a second one down the road (or at the same time if your budget allows). The reason I would avoid even the 2GB 560's is that with a 5760x1080, you still might not have enough how horsepower to run it well. The 6950's have the same problem, and the 5970 is a little pointless with the 6990 right around the corner.

Even if you decide to go with just one 6990 for now, you'll still be able to drive all 3 monitors reasonably well, and you can always add in a second to get the most out of the 3 monitors.
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March 4, 2011 4:21:04 PM

Thanks again all. You guys seem to really know your stuff.

Now, I think I can wait for the CF HD 6990's or SLI GTX 590's.

What are your opinions of one vs. the other?
Why would someone choose one over the other? Quality, brand, reputation, speed, etc.
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March 4, 2011 4:27:19 PM

There's not much verified info out on either of them, so you'll have to wait and see. It looks like the 6990 is going to be equivalent to 2 6970's on one board, whereas the GTX 590 is basically going to be either 2 570's or 2 580's on one board. It could really go either way at this point, so as I said, it's best to wait and see. Either of them should be enough to drive all 3 monitors though.

Generally speaking, AMD and Nvidia both put out quality products, so you can't really go wrong with either. The one thing I'm interested in is if someone releases a version of the 590 that supports Surround with a single card. I know back with the GTX 295, the version with 3 outputs DID support it, so I would not be surprised to see a 590 with the same feature.
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March 4, 2011 4:33:13 PM

There's pretty much no info out on either so not really any point in speculating.

I will say that if the 5970 is anything to go by, CF dual gpu cards isn't a good idea. There were plenty of people with CF5970s, which is technically quadfire, and they didn't perform all that well in certain games.

Now, maybe it's better for the 6990? Don't know.
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March 4, 2011 4:41:35 PM

I'll just hang out and look at the specs when they come out which according to reports will be within two weeks.

I'm leaning towards the SLI GTX 590 and I think the Intel DX58SO2 mobo I selected can accomodate that.

Now, all things being equal, are there any preferences from the following manufacturers:
(I list these specific ones because they referenced in an article I read)

1. ASUS
2. EVGA
3. GIGABYTE
4. Sapphire
5. VisionTek
6. XPX
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March 4, 2011 4:46:23 PM

Once again, you'll probably have to wait until they come out. I personally like EVGA, but they all have their ups and downs. As wolfram23 said, right now everything is just speculation. You'll just have to wait and see (I know, waiting sucks, I've been waiting to build my new system since January :p )!
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March 4, 2011 4:59:15 PM

Yes, waiting does suck.
I'm actually putting in the sound dampening stuff into my new case now. It is SOOOOOO much better having a big case to work in like this 700D is.
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March 4, 2011 5:01:43 PM

Jack500 said:
Yes, waiting does suck.
I'm actually putting in the sound dampening stuff into my new case now. It is SOOOOOO much better having a big case to work in like this 700D is.


It'll be especially with those huge cards in there too!
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March 4, 2011 6:08:34 PM

Jack500 said:
I'll just hang out and look at the specs when they come out which according to reports will be within two weeks.

I'm leaning towards the SLI GTX 590 and I think the Intel DX58SO2 mobo I selected can accomodate that.

Now, all things being equal, are there any preferences from the following manufacturers:
(I list these specific ones because they referenced in an article I read)

1. ASUS
2. EVGA
3. GIGABYTE
4. Sapphire
5. VisionTek
6. XPX

I like the Gigabytes because of their dual-fan and copper heatpipe cooling solutions. Though I'm not sure how the different companies will incorporate their own solutions with the 590s vapor chamber (assuming they will continue with the vapor chamber).

Also, if you're not going to OC, much of your decision should be driven by what companies are offering the best warranties. I chose PNY over other brands on my 580s, not because they're my favorite brand, but due to the limited lifetime warranty above all else. Some companies will only offer a year. I wasn't considering any brand with under 3 years of warranty. I figure I'll probably be using new cards in 3 years anyhow.
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March 4, 2011 6:24:53 PM

I agree. I wouldn't look at anything under 3 years.
I'm assuming the top 3 on that list offer at least 3 years.

I'm not doing any OC. Air cooling for now. Water cooling when I'm more comfortable with my system.
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March 4, 2011 6:53:25 PM

Jack500 said:
I agree. I wouldn't look at anything under 3 years.
I'm assuming the top 3 on that list offer at least 3 years.

I'm not doing any OC. Air cooling for now. Water cooling when I'm more comfortable with my system.

I have to tell you though (hopefully will further assist in your decision making), I am completely impressed with my 580s. No driver issues = no headaches and no flicker in SLI. I can't recommend them enough.
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March 4, 2011 7:00:36 PM

ubercake said:
I have to tell you though (hopefully will further assist in your decision making), I am completely impressed with my 580s. No driver issues = no headaches and no flicker in SLI. I can't recommend them enough.


I don't own them but I've seen and heard the exact same things. If the 6990/ 590 end up being too expensive/ not being powerful enough, I would highly recommend the SLI 580's.
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March 4, 2011 7:03:28 PM

Hmmm, more food for thought then...

So, what will be the big difference between the 580 and 590 then?
Is it just raw speed?
Will the end-result of a 3-monitor setup with a 580 vs 590 be that much different?
I can hook up 3 monitors with the 580, right?
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March 4, 2011 7:21:07 PM

A 590 is a dual GPU card, either it will use 580 or 570 gpus (well... they're the same just with different shader counts... more or less). So SLI 580s would be faster than a single 590 just like CF5870s are faster than a single 5970.

And no, AFAIK you still need 2 580s for 3 monitors. Don't know about the 590... But all ATI cards support 3 monitors on a single card (I should say all recent ones like 5xxx and newer).
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March 4, 2011 7:41:22 PM

Sorry, but I may be confused a little here.
There are GTX 580 and SLI GTX 580 graphics cards?
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March 4, 2011 8:00:00 PM

No if someone says SLI or CF, it means using 2 discreet cards connected with a bridge.
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March 4, 2011 8:18:34 PM

Oh, that's why I was getting confused. Thanks for clarifying wolfram23!

[ This is such a great community! I hope one day to be as knowledgeable and helpful as you guys have been to me so I can return the favor. ]

So, let's see if I have this straight... If I want the best setup right now for 3 monitors(meaning money no object) and I want to choose either NVidia or Intel, I can

A. Use nVidia - Use 2 GTX 580s or use 2 GTX 590s OR
B. ATI - Use 1 AMD Radeon 6990

Is this correct?
Also, would it make a difference if my motherboard is an Intel?

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March 4, 2011 8:34:03 PM

In theory, yes that's right. Again I don't know if the 590 will support 3 monitors on it's own. It might, but it might not. But yeah a single 6990 would support 3 monitors.

Motherboard's need to be SLI certified in order to run SLI (Nvidia) cards but all motherboards support Crossfire (ATI). Your motherboard appears to support both.
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March 4, 2011 8:34:05 PM

The 5970 is still loingering but its hardly a performance contender .... it's twin GPU's do about half of what two 580's will do. Twin 570's do 230 fps for example in CODMW to the 5970's 130 fps .... in some games like COD even a single 570 with 148 fps beats the twin GPU 5970. In FarCry 2, a single 570 is 1 fps behind the 2 GPU 5970.

Now the 6970 and GTX 590 were supposed to hit the streets in February.....my guess is they have been held until B3 stepping boards show up as I would think no one wants it to appear like they are not "moving" while everyone is sitting on their hands waiting for B3 stepping 1155 MoBos to arrive. I expect they will arrive before end of March.

Eyefinity is a term you should become familiar with and 3D Surround can be a rather stunning experience experience, tho the 3D Vision Surround has been known to cause motion sickness similar to what many peeps experience in an IMax theater.

http://www.hardocp.com/article/2010/06/29/nvidia_3d_vis...

As for manufacturer choice, I personally tend to lean Asus. Not that I have seen much difference between the major brands, with GFX cards, (I do in MoBos), since i'm most often using Asus MoBos, it does if nothing else eliminate a potential tech support issue when the MoBo tech tries to blame the vid card vendor (and visa versa) when both are same vendor. I also like the Asus PC utility out of all of them. My most recent builds have been EVGA cards but they kinda on my poop list since they won't honor their vaulted "lifetime warranty". The factory OC'd card just wont run at the factory OC'd speed with any nViida driver less than 15 months old....it barely goes above the reference speed ..... and no, temps are not a problem.....won't even break 80 on OCCT's GPU test. The "off brands" (Galaxy, Sparkle, etc) are leaps of faith, I'm not ready to take.

As for differences between nVidia and ATI, there are several. ATI has Eyefinity ..... nVidia has Surround. NVidia supports CUDA which allows your GPU to augment CPU and do things like crunch numbers, render 3D and do movie editing on a scale that's frankly amazing. NViida also has PhysX .... it's basically a physics technology that provides for increased realism. It's kinda one of those things that ya really don't appreciate until ya seen it .... turn it off and all of a sudden the experience has a big sense of "missing something". to get a feel for what it is, see this:

http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/batman_arkham_asylu...

To my mind, the best choices are the GTX 570 and the 6970. In G,uru3D's tests, the 6970 edges out the 570 526 fps to 524 fps summing up the results in these games:

COD-MW
Bad Company 2
Dirt 2
Far Cry 2
Metro 2033
Dawn of Discovery
Crysis Warhead


Things change in SLI as the twin 570's better scaling edges out the twin 6970's, 873 fps to 825.
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March 4, 2011 9:13:07 PM

Cool. I can hang out and see if the 590 supports three monitors and I hope it does. I'll also be comparing it to the 6990.
I can only hope that they offer a "buy one, get one free" special. Ha!

JackNaylorPE - thanks for your detailed response. I've heard nothing but good things from ASUS.
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March 4, 2011 11:49:15 PM

Thanks everyone. You have been extremely helpful!!!
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March 5, 2011 1:41:22 PM

wolfram23 said:
A 590 is a dual GPU card, either it will use 580 or 570 gpus (well... they're the same just with different shader counts... more or less). So SLI 580s would be faster than a single 590 just like CF5870s are faster than a single 5970.

And no, AFAIK you still need 2 580s for 3 monitors. Don't know about the 590... But all ATI cards support 3 monitors on a single card (I should say all recent ones like 5xxx and newer).

True. You need 2 580s for 3 monitors with 3d/2d surround. I'm thinking the 590 will allow this from the one card, though that's speculation. Nvidia needs to meet the multi-monitor gaming demand, so I'm guessing this will be the direction.
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March 10, 2011 9:56:25 PM

Best answer selected by Jack500.
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March 11, 2011 5:44:34 AM

This topic has been closed by Maziar
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