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Dual or Triple Monitors?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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August 4, 2011 8:41:07 AM

Hello Everyone,

I'm starting my first semester at college, and I've been saving up for a multi-monitor setup. I currently have a single 28" Hannspree 1920x1200 monitor and a dying Samsung 19" from 5 years ago in portrait orientation next to it. I am going to leave the Samsung and get a newer monitor(s) to complement my 28". I am trying to decide whether to get a dual-monitor setup with a matching 28" Hannspree, or whether to get a triple-monitor setup with two 22" monitors flanking the 28" on either side in portrait configuration.

Here's how I see it:

Dual monitor (28+28)
Pros:
- identical color calibration
- same resolution/pixel density, so linear dragging between screens
Cons:
- less screen real-estate
- 28" monitors in my price range have lower pixel density and CCFL backlighting

Triple monitor (22+28+22)
Pros:
- More screen real-estate
- LED backlighting and significantly higher pixel density
- Probably a higher-quality panel (Asus or something like that)
- Slightly cheaper, but not significantly so.
Cons:
- Harder to get all three evenly calibrated
- Different pixel density/resolution than the center 28", so dragging/cursor movement is not linear (can be somewhat annoying)

So, which would you go for?

More about : dual triple monitors

August 4, 2011 9:31:29 AM

personally I would get another 28 inch. but thats just me
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August 4, 2011 9:45:58 AM

What kind of video card do you have? Do you plan to game across the 3 monitors in 2D/3D surround or eyefinity?
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August 4, 2011 10:18:04 AM

Is this for gaming or ??? If you're doing coding in college I do suggest the 3 monitor setup. The goal here is to be able to have the example code your looking at online on one monitor, your coding program (or notepad) on another, with the third monitor having your IM, music, etc showing on the third. This way you spend more time working and less time minimizing/expanding windows.

If you want to game however, you need three same sized monitors. In this case I'd still get the 3 monitors for work, but only game on the single screen.
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August 4, 2011 10:26:28 AM

I would certainly use it for 2D surround in games that support it, but as 4745454b stated, my main purpose is to use it to enhance my everyday desktop workflow. I will be majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering, so CAD, code, etc. will take up a lot of my time. The main reservations I have about the triple monitor setup is the difference in color calibration, and the different pixel density and resolution--in my current setup, I find it quite annoying when my cursor does not transfer linearly from one screen to the next due to the resolution difference.
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August 4, 2011 11:24:30 AM

Then you're not going to like the disparity between the monitors while gaming either.

If all three monitors were the same size, I'd go for the three.

Because they wouldn't be the same, I'd go for the second monitor. While this will only allow for gaming on the primary (or windowed-mode gaming across two), it allows you to view your code on one screen and output on the other. I always minimize audio and IM while working.
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August 4, 2011 11:47:01 AM

As you noted in the dual monitor cons, it has less screen real-estate. If the price is the same, I'd go for the three for the reason I listed above. And I do totally agree. If the pixel density bothers you now, you'll only want to game on the one.
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August 4, 2011 3:41:11 PM

Thanks for the input, everyone. To be honest, I'm fine with a single 28" right now for gaming, so the lack of surround with a 3-monitor setup really isn't a big deal to me. And the 3-monitor setup also has the advantage of giving me less bezel between screens (the 28" has like an inch of bezel).

So, two questions about the triple monitor option:

- Do you think I can get decent color calibration across all three?
- If I get all three, is there a simple "profile" setting or something in Forceware I can use to switch between all three monitors and only the center monitor? The problem is that using all three requires disabling SLI, but I want SLI enabled when using only the center. I used to be able to set a hotkey-triggered profile to enable and disable Crossfire when I had ATI cards, but I can't seem to find that in Forceware. Any ideas?
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August 5, 2011 1:30:22 AM

I'm not sure you need to. Nvidia does eyefinity now by having you enable SLI. You probably have driver settings that are hidden but will be shown once you have those extra screens plugged in.

Odd idea, but have you considered selling the 28 so you can afford 3 identical monitors?
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August 5, 2011 2:43:32 AM

I'm pretty sure I do still need to, because although Nvidia does indeed do their eyefinity equivalent via SLI, it uses the SLI to display across all three monitors, not to simultaneously render for a single monitor. I'm pretty sure they make you select between using SLI for "more performance on a single display" and "multiple displays", or something like that. So if there's a built-in driver function or a third-party utility that would let me switch between all three in "multi monitor" mode and just the 28" in "performance" mode, that would be excellent.

As far as selling the 28, I considered it, but I will also be using it as my TV in the dorm. I can't just get a TV tuner, because I'd like the tv image on a single larger screen, and to not have my roommate begging me to let him hijack my desktop every time he wants to watch TV :-).
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August 5, 2011 2:47:13 AM

Basically, the only things really stopping me from just getting triple monitor is the color calibration concern, and the resolution disparity. Do you think these are correctable and/or significant, and would they stop you from getting triple over dual?
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August 5, 2011 4:19:07 AM

Quote:
I'm pretty sure they make you select between using SLI for "more performance on a single display" and "multiple displays"


Again, this used to be the case but I'm pretty sure they fixed it. Check out a review of Surround to make sure. If they want Eyefinity, they have to keep SLI enabled. I do know only their recent cards support this. If you are running two 9800GTs in SLI, it won't work. Two GTS450s will however.

The color and size problems won't bother me. Main stuff on the 28", other stuff on the smaller monitors. But if the size issue bothers you, you probably wont' like the color issue as well.
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August 5, 2011 4:42:10 AM

Alright, thanks. Is there a way though to map a hotkey so that I can switch between only the center monitor and the extended desktop?
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