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Best card for dual monitor video editing&graphics?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
May 13, 2005 7:20:29 PM

I'm planning to build a new workstation running Windows XP Professional for video editing (Avid Xpress DV) and graphics (Adobe Photoshop) work. Here are some of the desired features:

- PCI-Express x16 Interface
- 128 MB Video Memory
- Dual DVI Outputs- Extended 2048x768 desktop

Note: When I say extended desktop, I'm referring to having a 2048x768 desktop area that's split across two displays, such that the left half is displayed on one 1024x768 monitor and the right half is displayed on a second 1024x768 monitor.

Now here's the kicker:
<b>I need a card that allows me to assign different color profiles to each monitor independently while running in extended desktop mode.</b>

Explanation: Because of the graphics work I do, the color match between the monitors is mission-critical. I currently have a dual monitor setup, but even though I have two monitors of the same model, the color between the displays does not match.

Several products are available to fix this, such as Monaco Optix PRO and Gretag Eye-One. These products calibrate both monitors to render the widest gamut that both displays can reproduce, effectively matching the color between them. However, this requires the ability to assign one ICC profile to the left display and another to the right display. Most cards, when running extended desktop, allow you to assign only one profile for both.

I'm told that with many of the ATI cards you can assign separate profiles to each half of the desktop. For example, one user reports the following about his ATI 9800 Pro:

My 9800 shows up in the device manager and display properties as two seperate adapters. One is "Radeon 9800 Pro" and the other is "Radeon 9800 Pro - secondary". This is why I am able to assign a different profile to each one.

It only has a single GPU but it has two DACs (digital analog converters) which is responsible for sending the image to the monitor. Remember it's a single image split across two screens thus a single GPU. An adapter with only one DAC but two outputs (like most laptops) will only be able to display the same image on both monitors. The other part of the equation is the Lookup table which is what is actually altered by your profile (I believe). There needs to be two of them in order to be able to profile two monitors. This is just a guess but I'm assuming that two DACs will have two lookup tables.

I have heard similar reports from ATI about a FireGL 9700, a dual GPU card. But I would really prefer an nVidia-based solution.

Any suggestions are GREATLY appreciated!!
May 13, 2005 7:56:06 PM

If you're working with digital video/editing, your requirements are image quality and extended desktop functionality. 3d game performance is useless to you.

If you aren't playing games with this machine, Matrox would be the way to go.

If you do plan to do some gaming, an Ati card would might be ideal, as Ati has excellent display quality (although Nvidia is catching up in this respect).

But I'm not sure why you have a brand preference here as it sounds like it comes down to dual-view functionality in the drivers that will make or break the deal for you.

My colleagues have more experience with multi-monitor setups so I defer to them. Fellowes?

<b>Geforce <font color=red>6800 Ultra</b></font color=red>
<b>AthlonXP <font color=red>~3300+</b></font color=red> <i>(Barton 2500+ o/c 412 FSB @ 2266 Mhz)</i>
<b>3dMark05: <font color=red>5,275</b>
May 15, 2005 4:30:22 AM

I agree completely that 3D performance means very little in my application, although video editing systems like to have lots of graphics bandwidth. Nevertheless, if my aging Matrox G450 can handle it, any current model PCI-Express x16 should do the trick.

I've had good experience with Matrox, but nobody seems to know how to implement a dual-head system with separate color profiles on each display. See, for example, these threads on the Matrox forums:

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So, I'm starting to lean toward ATI and friends, just because they're the only ones where I'm getting somewhat reliable reports of being able to assign dual profiles. For example, I have this report from a ATI user:

My 9800 shows up in the device manager and display properties as two seperate adapters. One is "Radeon 9800 Pro" and the other is "Radeon 9800 Pro - secondary". This is why I am able to assign a different profile to each one.

I've heard the same about a FireGL 9700 from an ATI Technician. Of course, the 9800 has a VGA and a DVI out (I'd like dual DVI) and the 9700 is like $500. So the hunt continues.

One card I'm considering is the PowerColor Bravo X700. It's a new card with dual DVI, 256MB, and since it's built on the Radeon X700, I'm guessing it will do the dual profiles. Also, it's passively cooled, which is a plus because I'm trying to make the new rig as quiet as possible. Nothing worse than mixing audio over fan noise!! And at under $145 at NewEgg, the price is right!

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If anyone has seen this card or any of its brethren, I'd like to hear any report you might have. Thanks!