Gaming Across Three Screens: GTX 460, GTX 480, And Quad-SLI

Display spanning is quickly becoming the high-mark for serious gaming machines of all budgets, with more powerful cards allowing higher resolutions. Yet, as panel resolutions higher than 1080p become harder to find, do we really need more than two cards?

AMD calls it Eyefinity. Nvidia calls it Surround. Whatever you call it, spanning a game across three displays sets the PC industry up as the champion of realism years after naysayers pointed to the lower cost of gaming consoles. You can keep your four-year-old platform. This is all about pushing the high-end; that's something consoles, by design, simply cannot do toward the end of their protracted lives.

It turns out that people really can see more than what’s in front of them, and those who are able to see things sneaking up from the side have a huge advantage over those who cannot.

Everyone who can afford a decent gaming PC can supposedly get in on this action, thanks to huge advances in GPU technology that have made mid-market cards a viable solution for ultra-wide resolutions. The biggest question is how much quality you’ll need to sacrifice to get a smooth frame rate. 

Nvidia has its own requirements to satisfy, since two cards are required to connect three screens, but two midrange cards like the GeForce GTX 460 can certainly stand up to any high-end model.

Seeking the highest graphics detail levels in our games, we started out with a pair of GeForce GTX 480s for today’s test. GeForce GTX 460 cards were added to address mid-budget concerns, and we even added a second pair of GeForce GTX 480s to address those seeking the highest possible resolutions. With so many configurations at our disposal, we’re ready to answer the question “How much GPU do you really need to game across multiple displays?”

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    Top Comments
  • amk09
    sweet jesus, quad sli uses enough watts to power a small town
    24
  • Bluescreendeath
    GTX480 Quad SLI - Yes, it can play Crysis. Maxed out at 5760x1080 too! :D
    19
  • damasvara
    BluescreendeathGTX480 Quad SLI - Yes, it can play Crysis. Maxed out at 5760x1080 too!

    It's so hot, it can also make steak BBQ for you! Watch out for anti-terrorist bust over the Fermi thermal suspicion though... :lol:
    16
  • Other Comments
  • amk09
    sweet jesus, quad sli uses enough watts to power a small town
    24
  • Bluescreendeath
    GTX480 Quad SLI - Yes, it can play Crysis. Maxed out at 5760x1080 too! :D
    19
  • duk3
    Sapphire’s 700 MHz cards
    They look like sparkle cards to me.
    EDIT: Now fixed, I thought it was funny that sapphire made gtx460s
    -2
  • damasvara
    BluescreendeathGTX480 Quad SLI - Yes, it can play Crysis. Maxed out at 5760x1080 too!

    It's so hot, it can also make steak BBQ for you! Watch out for anti-terrorist bust over the Fermi thermal suspicion though... :lol:
    16
  • Anonymous
    Now i am curious to see a performance difference between tri and quad sli in triple 30" 2500x1600 monitors (7500x1600 resolution).
    7
  • hurt74
    @duk3

    Isnt it nice to know that sappire tech now makes NVIDIA cards because the last time i know they are an ATI exclusive. Good job toms
    -6
  • vicskyline96
    cool, so the drivers support quad 480s now? i wonder if they support tri SLI 200 series cards, i'm sure theres still people out there who want to try this on their older generation cards
    -6
  • joytech22
    Wow, that power usage is insane! it's hard to believe that these 480's use so much power.. you'd need like a thermaltake toughpower 1500w or something, or maybe 2 PSU's!
    8
  • andrern2000
    4 GTX 480s are a gig. But how much price is it is totally another matter. I prefer to 2-way SLI GTX 480.
    1
  • vicskyline96
    cool, so the drivers support quad 480s now? i wonder if they support tri SLI 200 series cards, i'm sure theres still people out there who want to try this on their older generation cards
    -8
  • taso11
    Has anyone ever seen and article or test that compared gaming success/kills/scores at 1920X1200 versus 1280X720? I do understand that playing at native resolution will give best image quality versus forcing a lower resolution will be blockier image quality wise cause of blended pixels. The reason I ask is because when I'm normally playing a first person shooter im not looking at how nice the grass or pavement is rendered. I'm trying to locate a threat and avoid being shot. Are threats easier to locate high detail and smaller size or low detail and bigger size on the same size monitor?
    0
  • taso11
    @vicskyline96

    I am currently running 3 GTX 260's in triple sli on three monitors in surround mode on Windows 7 Professional 64 bit. It works great!
    2
  • cscott_it
    I think you guys should do an article comparing multi-display and 3d vision between AMD & Nvidia.

    Considering the next gen (The enthusiast cards like Cayman, not the Bart XT cards) will support Eyefinity5 and 3DHD (unsure of the names).

    I'm more interested in the multi-monitor gaming aspect, but it would be nice to see an apples to apples comparison of the platforms. To see where Nvidia's implementation stands against the more mature eyefinity platform and Nvidia's more mature 3D platform against AMD's new platform.
    4
  • silversurfernhs
    Why no 2 way in the lineup!? sheesh - most common of the sli setups... you guys left that out though it woulda been simple to add. Why no Eyfinity in their for comparison purposes either??
    -8
  • silversurfernhs
    My bad - i just found it (must be late for me) Still, wheres the Eyefinity for comparison?
    0
  • cangelini
    wasabiman123What's wrong with gaming on one bigger screen instead, more than one screen for gaming is overrated IMO, I do think however that Nvidia's 3D vision is a really cool idea and has great potential in the future.


    The short answer is cost. Three small displays offer more "real estate" for less cost vs. a single 30" monitor capable of 2560x1600.
    2
  • gaborbarla
    wasabiman123What's wrong with gaming on one bigger screen instead, more than one screen for gaming is overrated IMO, I do think however that Nvidia's 3D vision is a really cool idea and has great potential in the future.


    I think the great merit of Eyefinity/Surround is the fact that your Field of vision becomes huge. Vistas are rolling by in simulators and in multiplayer FPSs you can see the little bugger hiding in the bush in the corner of your eye.
    5
  • gaborbarla
    Why is there no single or double 5870/5850 thrown in there for good measure? I know there was one or two reviews of eyeFinity but it would be good to see in reference for the ton of us that have those cards as opposed to the few that have 480SLI setups.
    16
  • Gin Fushicho
    Quote:
    The good news for mid-budget gamers is that spanning across three 720p displays


    "Mid-budget"
    I think anyone who can afford three monitors is going to be rich enough to buy four GTX480's. There is no "Mid-budget" for three monitors, just "costs too much you rich jerks".
    -6
  • SpadeM
    You can always purchase 3 Samsung 2343BW LCD monitors and go with the portrait route .. that gives you 3456 x 2048 resolution ... better for fps.
    2