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Choosing a card for 6 monitor DVI setup

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 9, 2012 12:32:07 PM

Hi guys

I need 1 or 2 graphic cards to run a 6 monitor setup. The monitors are all Samsung 2443BW and have only DVI and VGA inputs. The monitors run at 1920x1200 so dual-link DVI channels are necessary. DP and mini DP outputs are not an option since they require active adapters which are simply to expensive.

I am using the system entirely for web development. This means no gaming, no video rendering, no 3D stuff. Most advanced application graphic wise is probably CS5. I would however like to have the option of installing a game just to see what it is like on 6 monitors - but this is not a requirement (EVE Online or BF3 for instance).

I have read the forums and it seems there is a consensus that nVidia cards are better due to CUDA etc. However I would then miss out on Eyefinity and I have trouble finding an affordable nVidia card which support 3-4 DVI dual link outputs.

Actually the only one I have found so far is the ATI FirePro 2450 Multiview. This card has only 512MB memory - would that be enough for 3 monitors (or 4 should I decide to upgrade)?

I am a little at a loss in deciding what to buy so any pointers are greatly appreciated.

Slightly unrelated question: Anyone know which model is the successor of the Samsung 2443BW model? It seems they are now out of production.

Cheers
March 9, 2012 1:19:15 PM

Thanks for the link - I've read the discussion. So Eyefinity is only available for the FirePro 2460 but this card uses mini DP so I can't use it.

Eyefinity is not a must - but nice to have. I am confused about how it works and how it relates to CrossFire. The cards discussed in the thread are all Radeon right - these are not an option for me if I only want to use 1 or 2 cards in my system as I can find no Radeon card supporting 3-4 DVI dual link outputs.

Would you say that the FirePro1450 is my only option? What would be the nVidia equivalent of this card?
Related resources
a c 143 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
March 9, 2012 1:25:12 PM

I don't have an experience with the Quadro/Firepro series from AMD or nVidia. But i can recommend one for your budget and your type of work.

For eyefinity to work, one of the monitors must support the display port, or you can use the active DP/DVI but again the GPU itself must support the DP output.
March 9, 2012 1:36:30 PM

Quote:
But i can recommend one for your budget and your type of work.

Any specific models? Does a nVidia quadro ard which supports 3-4 DVI dual link outputs even exist?
a c 84 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
March 9, 2012 1:38:41 PM

are you limited to just 2 cards? cant use 3?

and eyefinity and crossfire work together, though every screen must be connected to the 'master' card. (So to run 6 screens you'd need 1 eyefinity6 edition card with 6 mDPs as the master) Crossfire isn't really needed if you only need to run light apps without need for heavy graphics horsepower. You don't need to use eyefinity either if you dont need the Sinle Large Surface feature, if the windows' extended desktop mode is enough for your dev apps. Just run the cards as 2 separate cards and let the windows deal with the screens..
March 9, 2012 1:47:05 PM

Quote:
are you limited to just 2 cards? cant use 3?

No. 1 or 2 is just cleaner and take up less power.
Quote:
So to run 6 screens you'd need 1 eyefinity6 edition card with 6 mDPs as the master

I can't use mDP as the active converters to DVI dual-link is ridiculously expensive. Don't have a monitor with DP anyway - so no Eyefinity for me.
Quote:
You don't need to use eyefinity either if you dont need the Sinle Large Surface feature, if the windows' extended desktop mode is enough for your dev apps.

You're right. My only purpose for Eyefinity was to see myself get run over in a game like BF3...just for the laughs
Quote:
Just run the cards as 2 separate cards and let the windows deal with the screens
I would certainly like to do this...alas which cards?
a c 84 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
March 9, 2012 2:07:59 PM

well if you can use 3 cards that would be the easiest way to run 6 screens, just get 3 low power cards with 2 dvis each. Wouldn't be any good for gaming though...

the problem is the display logic on the chips is typically limited to just 2 outputs at once, amd cards can run more but need DP to do it. Any card that can run more than 2 cards via DVI (or HDMI) has some extra 3rd party chips to make it possible. The hd6950FLEX edition cards did just this, they had a on-board dp-to-dvi converter...
March 9, 2012 2:19:49 PM

The FirePro 2450 seems to be capable of running 4 DVI via VHDCI converter...but I guess that's just because it has 2 GPUs
March 11, 2012 8:50:35 PM

2 days of research later...

Will 2 x Radeon 5670 let me run 6 DVI monitors at 1920x1200 using the HDMI to DVI adapter and an active DP to DVI adapter like this one?

Is this my best option?

a b C Monitor
March 11, 2012 9:06:28 PM

Any active DP to DVI adapter should work.
March 12, 2012 11:23:52 AM

Parts bought...fingers crossed. You may close this thread. Thanks to all
March 31, 2012 1:48:30 PM

I thought I'd post my final configuration so that anyone else using google might pick this up.

So...running a 6 monitor setup using only DVI is possible using

2 x Sapphire Radeon HD5670. Each card has 1xDP, 1xHDMI and 1xDVI (dual-link). The card comes with a HDMI->DVI adapter. Additionally 2 active DP->DVI adapters are needed.

Running at 1920x1200 (or lower) does not require a DVI dual-link - hence you do not need an active adapter with USB power. A XFX Active Dongle will do just fine.

After installing the graphic card drivers all screens where detected properly by Windows 7.

It is possible to create 2 Eyefinity groups consisting of 3 monitors each - 1 group for each card. Windows correctly sees 2 large displays but it is not possible to extend the desktop between the 2 Eyefinity groups - or I can't figure it out at least. Testing the configuration in Eve Online correctly detected my 5760x1200 resolution but it was not possible to use all 6 monitors (both Eyefinity groups). Since I'm not a gamer it doesn't matter much to me...but would have been fun.

Finally the Catalyst Control Center provided by ATI seems to be very buggy. The UI sometimes works and sometimes not. After changing configuration I would often have to reboot in order to make the CCC work again.

If you want to game on 6 monitors get a single Eyefinity card with 6 outputs - if you just want to be able to use 6 monitors for development etc. this approach is doable.
!