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Need a cheap 3 monitor solution

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 22, 2011 2:48:40 AM

Hi Guys

I'm building a new system, and need help with the video aspect.
System will be for screen based trading, commercial and proprietary software use.
Will probably go with Phenom II 955, 8gb ddr3, 2TB HDD, 500w PSU, and DVD.
Now I need a motherboard and graphics solution, and I can't seem to get the right info, so I'm turning to the experts.

I need to run 3 monitors. It would be good to be able to run four monitors, but three is essential.
I'm not doing any 3D gaming and rendering, and I don't need high fps. All my stuff is 2D (graphs, spreadsheets, quote monitors, etc.) The thing is, I need a really cheap solution, beacuse I want to be able to afford the other stuff mentioned above.

My thought was, get a motherboard with 2 PCIe 2.0 slots, and plug in a couple of cheap cards and go. Cards like:

http://www.circuitcity.com/applications/SearchTools/ite... ($15 after MIR)

or

http://www.circuitcity.com/applications/SearchTools/ite... ($10 after MIR)

Motherboards like

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($65)

or

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($65)


Here's my problem: I don't understand this very well, and apparently neither do the tech support people at the respective companies, because I'm getting contradictory opinions from everyone. Several companies said I need one eyefinity card and an active dongle, others said I need 2 SLI ready cards, others said Crossfire. MSI said that I could use any 2 PCIe cards in the 2 PCIe slots, and it would run 3 (or4) monitors. But the card makers (e.g. PowerColor) said that won't work.

From what I understand (not a lot), SLI and Crossfire are gaming solutions to increase the quality of the graphics rendering, not the number of monitors. Eyefinity could work, but seems pricy for the low quality output that is required. I am at the point where I don't know and can't trust tech support people on this. After all, it's no skin off their nose if I get the wrong motherboard.

So the real question is, what is the cheapest way to currently drive a 3 or 4 monitor desktop, not for gaming? Do I need to stick to certain families of GPUs? Certain motherboards, as well?

Thanks for your help!

More about : cheap monitor solution

a b U Graphics card
a b V Motherboard
March 22, 2011 4:50:44 AM

I have a AMD 890GX board (Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H) with on-board graphics. I have added a HD5770 graphics card. Using an active display port adapter ($30), I can have five monitors hooked up. The ATI eyefinity cards allow three displays to be attached in eyefinity (3 displays as 1), extended (three displays with seperate windows) or duplicate (all the same screen). The onboard allows main window plus extended or duplicate modes. Both of these screens will display the same as 2 on the ATI card.
Note: Some settings to make both onboard and discreet cards work together need to be made in the OS.
All-in-all, ATI Eyefinity cards are a very good option for multiple displays. The also have
6 display cards with 6 display ports on the card.
Example:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
To stay on the cheap side, I would recommend a HD5670 or HD5770 card.
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March 22, 2011 5:59:32 AM

At Cheap price and better performance!i would say to buy hd 5750/hd 5770.they have good horsepower+are cheaper nowadayz.
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March 22, 2011 1:31:15 PM

Hi guys
You both mention the HD5770. I think I would need two to run 3-4 monitors, right?Pricing these, $122.50 x2 = $245. Is this really the cheapest solution?

The cheapest 5670: $65 x2= $130. The cheapest 5750: $97 x2= $194.

I'm reluctant to depend on onboard graphics. I've had video cards go bad, and if the motherboard graphics go bad, the whole motherboard is shot for me, if I'm depending on them. I'd rather get 2 cheap cards and a 2-PCIe motherboard.

MSI says their board 870-G45 mbo (linked above) will run 4 monitors with ANY 2 PCIe cards. Galaxy says their GeForce 210 and 220 cards will NOT run 3-4 monitors when put in ANY motherboard.

Who's right?
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March 22, 2011 4:49:00 PM

You will need only one 5770 (and an active Displayport > DVI adapter) to run three monitors.

For example...

Sapphire 5770

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

Sapphire Active Displayport > DVI Adapter

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

One of your monitors will be hooked up to the display port (using the active adapter)

The other two can be connected by.....

1) using the two DVI

or

2) using one DVI and one HDMI


EDIT: This is assuming you dont have a display port on your monitor. This card only supports two legacy interfaces (DVI, HDMI) at a time. That is why the active display port adapter is needed to drive the third monitor. If you have a display port on your monitor (unlikely as they are not on most monitors) you can pass on the active adapter.
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March 22, 2011 7:59:02 PM

Theoretically you can plug in any 2 compatible cards with multiple ports per card and connect up to 4 monitors. If you aren't gaming then you don't need very powerful cards, but you'll have to spend around $50 each to get decent video cards. Of course you can buy some $20 video cards and try them but when you buy a video card for $20 you may only get something that is worth $20.
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March 22, 2011 8:31:56 PM

In talking to several tech support people, they indicate that a multiple monitor solution depends on the motherboard chipset - you need nVidia chipset motherboards for SLI video cards, and AMD chipset motherboards for Crossfire video cards. Am I starting to get this right?
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March 22, 2011 9:15:24 PM

cadder said:
Theoretically you can plug in any 2 compatible cards with multiple ports per card and connect up to 4 monitors. If you aren't gaming then you don't need very powerful cards, but you'll have to spend around $50 each to get decent video cards. Of course you can buy some $20 video cards and try them but when you buy a video card for $20 you may only get something that is worth $20.

It's the 'theoretically' that I'm getting conflicting advice on. MSI said I can use any 2 PCIe cards, like you said, on their boards and drive 4 monitors. Most video card makers I called said no, it depends on the video chipset - some will run 4, others won't. Everyone has a different idea of which chipsets will work, and which will not. Galaxy said to get a SLI-ready motherboard, but I like the AMD chipsets better (on advice from THG forums). I don't know who to believe, and don't know what to order.

I don't really mind $20 video cards, as I'm not gaming and don't need high performance.
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a b U Graphics card
a b V Motherboard
March 23, 2011 2:10:26 AM

I tossed the idea of a 5770 eyefinity card earlier, but you could go cheaper by getting a mobo with integrated graphics and a HD4000 series card.
Two different GB mobos I have experience with:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
and 2 different ATI cards:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
either combo can be used for up to 4 monitors with a single add on card.
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