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New Graphics Card for Three Monitor Display

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 23, 2011 5:39:03 PM

I am looking for a way to get three monitors working on my system. Currently I am running 2 monitors on a GTX295. I would like to add the third monitor. All three monitors run at 1920x1200. Only one of them has DP input, the other two only have DVI input. The three options I have considered so far are:

2 x GTX 460, sell the GTX 295:
Total cost: 2 * 180 - 200 (selling old card) = 160
Pros: Adds Direct X11, and the ability to play games across all three monitors. Runs cooler and softer(?) than the GTX 295.
Cons: Most expensive. Does it really add that much time before I will have to buy a new GPU?

2 x ATI 6850, sell the GTX 295:
Total cost: 2 * 160 - 200 (selling old card) = 140
Pros: Adds Direct X11, and the ability to play games across all three monitors. Runs cooler and softer(?) than the GTX 295.
Cons: More expensive. Does it really add that much time before I will have to buy a new GPU?

1 x 9500 GT, keep the GTX 295:
Total Cost: 60
Benefits: Cheapest options
Cons: Still using GTX 295, which is two years old. Will need to replace sooner.

Overall I would like to keep things cheaper, but I want to continue to be able to play games at as close to maximal settings as possible., so if moving to a newer DX11 card can help me keep me from upgrading for about an additional two years, then I think that the additional price now would be acceptable. I also think reducing the heat and sound output caused by the GTX 295 would be a big plus.

I would like to buy the cards by the end of the month. What do people think would be the best option?
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March 23, 2011 6:03:35 PM

One HD6850 will drive 3 monitors, that would be your cheapest route.
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March 23, 2011 6:21:06 PM

I guess I should emphasize that I would like to play my games at as close to maximal settings as possible. I wouldn't want at least the performance as I am getting out of my GTX 295 currently. From my research a HD6850 doesn't provide this power.
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March 23, 2011 6:24:54 PM

mathflair said:
I guess I should emphasize that I would like to play my games at as close to maximal settings as possible. I wouldn't want at least the performance as I am getting out of my GTX 295 currently. From my research a HD6850 doesn't provide this power.

True. That being the case, you can step up to the HD69XX series (as much as you can afford) and get the same effect (3 monitors with one video card) and the desired increase in performance.

Make sure you have the physical space needed, as well as the power supply and cooling needed for any solution. Remember, multiple GPUs take quite a bit more power and add quite a bit more heat to a rig.
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March 23, 2011 6:27:59 PM

I am pretty sure my GTX 295 already pulls just as much power, considering it is a dual GPU card in the first place. What is your reasoning for the HD69xx series over the Nvidia GTX 460. Just price, or any other reasons?
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March 23, 2011 6:32:49 PM

A single video card vs. two video cards to drive three monitors..... As I understand it, you would need 2 GTX 460s to drive 3 monitors where one ATI/AMD HD 69XX can do it. Make sense?
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March 23, 2011 6:33:03 PM

Both the 6850's in Crossfire and GTX 460's in SLI at stock speeds will give about a 13% boost over your GTX 295. However, you are more likely to buy factory overclocked versions of either choice, in which case the advantage will fall more onto the GTX 460's in SLI. The GTX 460's will generally come with higher factory overclocks, and when you overclock yourself, the GTX 460's will scale up their performance better than the 6850's. Part of the reason for this is that Nvidia clocks their shaders at 2X the core speed, while AMD clocks shaders at 1X the core speed. For each boost in core speed to the GTX 460, you get a 2X boost to the shader frequency.
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March 23, 2011 6:38:14 PM

COLGeek said:
A single video card vs. two video cards to drive three monitors..... As I understand it, you would need 2 GTX 460s to drive 3 monitors where one ATI/AMD HD 69XX can do it. Make sense?

The problem with that logic is that the GTX 460's will still outperform a single 6970 and will be cheaper. The GTX 460's in SLI will outperform a single GTX 480, which is about the same level as the 6970.

Again, please note that this chart is showing the stock clocked GTX 460's at 675 mhz, while you are likely to either buy a factory overclocked version or overclock yourself.



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March 23, 2011 6:48:29 PM

Hard to extrapolate a direct comparison between 2 GTX 460s vs 1 HD6970 with these charts, nor does it take into account the power and heat generated. Needless to say, it is a good position to be in to be looking at GPUs at this level of performance knowing you will have a beast in the end that will run just about anything you through at it.
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March 23, 2011 7:02:36 PM

A pair of GTX 460's is closer in performance to a single GTX 580 than to a single 6970. Both the 460's and the 580 are about 10% less than the 5970, while the 6970 is 23% less than the 5970. The GTX 460's will be about 13% faster than the 6970 and cost less.
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March 23, 2011 8:40:37 PM

Just to double check, two GTX 460 in SLI will be able to power three monitors, correct?. I want to be sure that all three monitors will work durring normal use, and the pages on NVidia's site I find about the issue don't show three monitors running on two cards.
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March 23, 2011 9:21:59 PM

mathflair said:
Just to double check, two GTX 460 in SLI will be able to power three monitors, correct?. I want to be sure that all three monitors will work durring normal use, and the pages on NVidia's site I find about the issue don't show three monitors running on two cards.

Three monitors will not be a problem using two 460s. You will be good to go.
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March 23, 2011 9:25:01 PM

mathflair said:
Just to double check, two GTX 460 in SLI will be able to power three monitors, correct?. I want to be sure that all three monitors will work durring normal use, and the pages on NVidia's site I find about the issue don't show three monitors running on two cards.

Yes, here is a Tom's Hardware review of GTX 460's in SLI running NV Surround on 3 monitors:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/quad-sli-nvidia-sur...

FYI, a comparison of NV Surround and Eyefinity:
http://www.hardocp.com/article/2010/07/20/nvidia_surrou...

The last thing that bears mentioning is whether the 2GB memory on the 6970 is enough to tilt the performance difference on 3 screens vs. the 1GB memory on the GTX 460's in SLI. So far, we have only been comparing single screen resolutions. I do not have that answer.
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March 23, 2011 9:51:41 PM

I know that they work three monitors in gaming. My question is they show up as three seperate monitors when not gaming. I know that Eyefinity does, but I cannot find anything that says I will have 3 seperate 1920x1200 monitors show up in the windows display manager using GTX 460. I want to double check this, as I would hate to order them and then find out I can only use all three monitors while gaming.
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March 23, 2011 9:57:44 PM

mathflair said:
I know that they work three monitors in gaming. My question is they show up as three seperate monitors when not gaming. I know that Eyefinity does, but I cannot find anything that says I will have 3 seperate 1920x1200 monitors show up in the windows display manager using GTX 460. I want to double check this, as I would hate to order them and then find out I can only use all three monitors while gaming.

Check out that second article I linked, it may say something about it.
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March 23, 2011 10:13:57 PM

Eyefinity turns separate monitors and treats them as a single larger screen. So outside gaming ti would effectively function as a single very large screen, not 3 separate monitors. Though you could just resize windows so they just fit in the monitors.

In regard to gaming with 3 1920x1200 monitors, no sli gtx 460's will not work. matto's link above clearly shows 460s failing at 5760 x 1080p or 6.2 megapixels.

your monitors would be at 5760x1200 or 6.9 megapixels, actually a very significant increase, 11% increase in fact.

For good gaming at this resolution, you need more than 1gb, no if's and or buts about it.

Cheapest solution as a bare minimum would be 2x 6950's 2gb. The only cheaper possibility is to grab 2 5870's 2gb versions. they're cheaper if you can find them on sale, though performance would be worse thanks to the poorer scaling of the 5xxx line.

Take a look through wide screen gaming forum. Here's 460 (and 1gb VRAM in general) sli fail detailed some more. Also test's were done right at the resolution you'll be gaming at so you've got more accurate results.

The only diff hardware wise is 2gb gtx 460 sli vs 1gb gtx 460 sli, yet performance increase is anywhere form 50% to a couple thousand %.

http://www.widescreengamingforum.com/wiki/NVIDIA_GTX460...
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March 23, 2011 10:14:49 PM

Best answer selected by mathflair.
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March 23, 2011 10:23:59 PM

mathflair said:
I know that they work three monitors in gaming. My question is they show up as three seperate monitors when not gaming. I know that Eyefinity does, but I cannot find anything that says I will have 3 seperate 1920x1200 monitors show up in the windows display manager using GTX 460. I want to double check this, as I would hate to order them and then find out I can only use all three monitors while gaming.

Apparently, you can enable and disable the Surround mode in the Nvidia Control Panel.
http://www.club-3d.com/isotope/i/id-3d-vision-surround-...

Be sure to take a look at some of the 2GB versions of the GTX 460.
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March 23, 2011 10:37:33 PM

I guess I am being ambigious. I am more concerned with having three distinct monitors when I am on the desktop, and then having an SLI setup while gaming. From these documents it doesn't look like that will happen automatically. Is that correct, or does someone know a way to have this happen automatically?
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March 23, 2011 10:52:04 PM

I have dual 295's and I'm just waiting for the single 590 to be released which will power all 3 of my monitors on s single card and faster. Even if it draws a lot of power it will still be less than my OC'ed 295's when running full tilt. With three monitors you really need the power of 2 580's to run most games at the highest of resolutions. Anything slower and you will have to scale down the resolution which kind of defeats the purpose of 3 monitors don't you think?
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May 12, 2011 8:13:20 AM

Hallo, mathflair!

So what is your final hardware solution for "Playing game stretched on three monitors on a single computer"?
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!