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Need advice on six-monitor setup

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 24, 2012 9:12:16 PM

I am planning to upgrade my work/gaming rig to a six monitor setup and I could use some advice. I have been an nvidia guy for a while now and have been using evga cards. I've been doing some research for this upgrade and I think I probably want to go with a couple Radeon cards this time.

I want to make this system as flexible as possible and the eyefinity stuff appears to be the way to go. I don't necessarily see myself using all six monitors for gaming. More likely I'll want to use 1-3 monitors for game display with browsers, chat, stream viewing on the other three. (This will be a 3x2 configuration.) I'm hoping either the Radeon experts can help me with card selection or someone can convince me that nvidia will work better for what I want to do. I'm obviously willing to spend some money here. I've been looking at the 79xx series of cards. I hear some troubling things about the drivers for these. These negative reports can get overblown so I'd like to hear from some experienced builders/gamers on this. If there are issues with the 79xx cards, is there another model that has decent performance and better stability?

Also looking for advice on manufacturer. XFX and Sapphire seem to be well recommended. What about ASUS?

I don't play shooters on the pc, so I won't need to worry about being able to support BF3 on six screens or anything. I play some MMOs (SWTOR, LOTRO), Fallout 3&NV, and plan to pick up skyrim sometime soon. I've also been dipping a toe into EVE online and I can forsee wanting to run 2-3 EVE clients on various screen combinations. I could see it working out something like this for EVE:

|4|5|6|
|1|2|3|

Screens 1&2 main eve client
Screen 3 second client
Screen 4 video/stream/tvshow, etc
Screen 5 browser, irc, vent, misc
Screen 6 third eve client
Just an example of the kind of thing I'm thinking about. Trying to emphasize that I am not doing this to have a single game stretched across all six screens.

With flexibility in mind I've been looking at these monitors that have HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort connections: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'm not decided on monitor supports yet. I'm leaning towards three stands that hold two monitors vertically. (Flexibility again.)

I know there's probably not to many people who have worked on a setup like this but any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

I would also love to hear any general thoughts on the 3x2 setup, especially from someone who's running one. Is there something about it that you don't like, etc.

More about : advice monitor setup

a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
April 24, 2012 9:40:09 PM

Wow, good luck with that. You're going to need a pretty hefty system for all that, running 3 instances of a game (you're going to have to run them in windowed mode, if that's possible, to stop them using the entire desktop), streaming video, browsing, vent & misc apps all at the same time. You may want to consider getting rotatable monitors (landscape/portrait). Also, if you're planning on going 3d at some point in the future, you may want to look at 120Hz monitors.
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a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
April 24, 2012 10:12:08 PM

calicojackrackam said:
I am planning to upgrade my work/gaming rig to a six monitor setup and I could use some advice. I have been an nvidia guy for a while now and have been using evga cards. I've been doing some research for this upgrade and I think I probably want to go with a couple Radeon cards this time.

I want to make this system as flexible as possible and the eyefinity stuff appears to be the way to go. I don't necessarily see myself using all six monitors for gaming. More likely I'll want to use 1-3 monitors for game display with browsers, chat, stream viewing on the other three. (This will be a 3x2 configuration.) I'm hoping either the Radeon experts can help me with card selection or someone can convince me that nvidia will work better for what I want to do. I'm obviously willing to spend some money here. I've been looking at the 79xx series of cards. I hear some troubling things about the drivers for these. These negative reports can get overblown so I'd like to hear from some experienced builders/gamers on this. If there are issues with the 79xx cards, is there another model that has decent performance and better stability?

Also looking for advice on manufacturer. XFX and Sapphire seem to be well recommended. What about ASUS?

I don't play shooters on the pc, so I won't need to worry about being able to support BF3 on six screens or anything. I play some MMOs (SWTOR, LOTRO), Fallout 3&NV, and plan to pick up skyrim sometime soon. I've also been dipping a toe into EVE online and I can forsee wanting to run 2-3 EVE clients on various screen combinations. I could see it working out something like this for EVE:

|4|5|6|
|1|2|3|

Screens 1&2 main eve client
Screen 3 second client
Screen 4 video/stream/tvshow, etc
Screen 5 browser, irc, vent, misc
Screen 6 third eve client
Just an example of the kind of thing I'm thinking about. Trying to emphasize that I am not doing this to have a single game stretched across all six screens.

With flexibility in mind I've been looking at these monitors that have HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort connections: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'm not decided on monitor supports yet. I'm leaning towards three stands that hold two monitors vertically. (Flexibility again.)

I know there's probably not to many people who have worked on a setup like this but any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

I would also love to hear any general thoughts on the 3x2 setup, especially from someone who's running one. Is there something about it that you don't like, etc.



To make a good recommendation on what you need to do we need to know the specs of your current system, or what you are looking at upgrading to.

With that many monitors your limited to a handful of cards really.

This one will run 5 monitors on a single card, but you need active DP adapters:

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

This one will run almost anything you throw at at, and all six monitors with active adapters (4), but it also costs $520.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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Related resources
April 24, 2012 10:38:02 PM

I haven't fully mapped out what the rest of the machine is going to end up looking like. I predict it will be a quad core (maye six core?) intel processor and a minimum of 8GB of RAM but I'm sort of starting with the dispalys and working my way downward.

Eve is the only game I'm thinking of running multiple clients with and it's not a terribly resource intensive game. I've played around with this a little by having a buddy fire up two accounts plus my one account on the same machine running a Q9450, 8GB and GTX285 and didn't have any issues. But that machine only has one display.

I was assuming I would need at least two cards for this. From my research so far it looks to me like if I'm not running them in SLI or Crossfire then I'd only need to have three displays connected to each card. (Remember I'm not looking to span any games over more than 3 displays.) Is there something I'm not thinking about? A lot of these cards have a combination of DVI and displayport or hdmi and the monitors I'm looking at support all three connection types.

If this is going to take two $500 cards ... that's fine at least I know what I'm up against. I didn't think this project was going to be cheap. If it starts looking like it will be way to hard to pull this off on one machine then maybe I need to think about adding a second one to this mix. (Although that is going to be painful to think about.)


Also, I don't have a whole lot of interest in going 3D.
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a c 229 U Graphics card
a c 220 4 Gaming
a c 78 C Monitor
April 24, 2012 10:42:34 PM

1. I can't see building a system to power 6 monitors with just one GFX card.

2. Accepted wisdom is that CF is best left to no more than 2 cards

http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-7950-crossfire-...

3. With that kinda system, I'd definitely be looking at 3D w/ 120 Hz monitors. Here;s an article comparing Eyefinity and 3D Surround

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

4. I'd not even think about what you are doing with anything less than twin 680's



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a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
April 24, 2012 10:56:52 PM

I agree with 1, 2 and 4.

I don't care much for 3D as it stands at the moment.

I would say for you, best bet would be to grab two $500 cards (7970 or GTX 680), if nothing else but for some future-proofing. Also, would not buy right now with the impending release of the GTX 690 and 780.
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April 24, 2012 11:02:20 PM

Yeah that's just my luck. Whenever I decide to undertake a project like this it seems to always be right before the release of the "next big thing" and I end up having to wait a few months for everything to settle down.

Also as stated above I never dreamed of doing this on a single card. (Of course if amd wanted to release a new eyefinity-6 card that might make things a lot easier.) Appreciate the link on the 2-way vs. 3-way crossfire.
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April 24, 2012 11:02:30 PM

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but if you are not looking to do 6 screen eyefinity (i.e. one game spread over all 6 screens), I believe you could use two radeon cards in a non-crossfire configuration. As Eve isn't a very resource hungry game, you should able to do a setup like this with less expensive cards. Each Radeon card can drive up to 4 monitors. I built a 6-screen stock trading station for my dad like this. You can definitely get 6 screens this way.

I think you should be able to use eyefinity across any of the screens that are attached to the same card (Im not 100% sure, havent tried it...someone please correct me if I'm wrong). This way you could Eyefinity screens 1+2 as you described above, for a setup like:

Card 1 drives monitors 1, 2 and 3
Card 2 drives monitors 4, 5 and 6

[4][5][6]
[1+2][3]

Or
[4][5][6]
[1+2+3]

Or
[4][5+6]
[1+2][3]

Etc...
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April 24, 2012 11:08:11 PM

Stza said:
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but if you are not looking to do 6 screen eyefinity (i.e. one game spread over all 6 screens), I believe you could use two radeon cards in a non-crossfire configuration. Each card can drive up to 4 monitors. I built a 6-screen stock trading station for my dad like this. You can definitely get 6 screens this way.

I think you should be able to use eyefinity across any of the screens that are attached to the same card (Im not 100% sure, havent tried it...someone please correct me if I'm wrong). This way you could Eyefinity screens 1+2 as you described above, for a setup like:

Card 1 drives monitors 1, 2 and 3
Card 2 drives monitors 4, 5 and 6

[4][5][6]
[1+2][3]

Or
[4][5][6]
[1+2+3]

Or
[4][5+6]
[1+2][3]

Etc...


This is pretty much exactly what I'm looking to do. If I could get some confirmation that this scenario will work then I would be a happy camper. Also anyone know if a similar set-up could work the same way with nvidia cards?
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a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
April 25, 2012 12:10:16 AM

The problem with nVidia cards is that the majority of them only have two, possibly three outputs. The first card I linked can be had for relatively little money, and can run about 5 displays natively, a second one will add 5 more for a total of 10, should you choose to go that way.

You do not have to Crossfire the two cards, I run two 5450's at work in a non-Crossfire configuration to drive 4 Cinema displays.
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April 25, 2012 2:36:52 PM

The monitors I'm looking at have displayport inputs ... so I'm wondering why I would need adapters?
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a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
April 25, 2012 6:10:22 PM

Shouldn't need to worry if you have DP, it's more for those that don't.
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a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
April 25, 2012 8:25:38 PM

MSI is very good, PowerColor is a tier down.
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April 25, 2012 8:51:52 PM

I kinda figured. I hadn't even heard of powercolor before, or maybe I had just dismissed them as an "off-brand."

Haven't found the MSI actually in stock anywhere yet. There are some of those ASUS boards out there. Going to have to wait a little while to see if prices are going to move anyway.
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