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AMD's Eyefinity Technology Explained

Gaming

Tom’s Hardware readers should need no introduction to the idea of multi-monitor gaming. Whether you’re a racer, general, assassin, or anything else: the more you can see, the better you’ll play.

“You’re seeing more of the game,” says AMD’s Parfitt. “It renders to a wider field of view. Like in driving games, the center monitor is what you normally see, but with Eyefinity, the side monitors become like your side windows. In flying games, you don’t get as disoriented because you can see more of the ground. In strategy games, you can see more ground to see your enemy and what’s going on in other parts of the map. In FPSes, like Left 4 Dead, you now have peripheral vision. In almost every kind of game, it’s a new experience.”

We tend to be partial to FPS titles, and one of the inherent downsides in any shooter is the never-ending need to keep turning left and right to check what should otherwise be your peripheral vision. But with one monitor you’re essentially stuck with wearing blinders. Enemy AI can see you perfectly, but unless you’re looking right at your foe, you really don’t know what you’re dealing with. The ultra-wide field of view made possible by Eyefinity restores much of that lost peripheral vision.

“In Left 4 Dead 2,” says Parfitt, “it’s very co-op, so if you leave your pack of four, you don’t have a chance because zombies will swarm you from everywhere. You have to know where everybody is in order to survive. Having that peripheral vision is a huge advantage. In Call of Duty, if someone is trying to sneak up on you from the side, it’s easy to just turn and melee attack him. It’s almost an unfair advantage in multi-player.”

Admittedly, not every game is designed to handle Eyefinity at its finest. Games from smaller developers will sometimes stretch to fill all of that extra resolution, so content side monitors can look skewed and distorted. But games have to deal with small and jumbo panels alike, so developers have increasingly shifted to computing a complete 3D world and then render the content for however much of that world can be displayed in the established resolution. This has become the norm in major titles, which is why most games now look optimized for Eyefinity right off the bat.

  • Sykar
    The problem I see with Eyefinity are the black borders between displays...
    Reply
  • dertechie
    Second page mentions a Radeon 5890, I presume you mean either the 5870 or 5970.
    Reply
  • mooch37
    @sykar My thoughts exactly. It has to be an odd number of monitors, otherwise you'll get the crosshair right in the middle. That would bug the crap out of me.
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  • xaira
    there was talk of a few companies making bezel less monitors
    Reply
  • drowned
    "In assessing single- versus dual-monitor (18" LCDs) usage in everyday work environment applications"

    The key word in your statement is DUAL monitors. I recall another study that tested how much people prefer 3 or 4 monitors over 2, and it was a very small percent (~10%). For a lot of tasks outside of gaming, you don't want your entire vision filled with pixels. You don't want to get dizzy constantly from moving your head back and forth. Of course eyefinity is great if you want to blow a ton of money for a wall of monitors and your career is a stock trader, CERN mission controller, etc, but I'd rather stick with 3 physical and use virtual desktops for 3+.
    Reply
  • Trueno07
    It all made sense to me, until I saw the picture of the kid playing a Racing game on that 6 monitor set up. It looked ridiculous. Why not just play on a big TV that has no lines and only requires 1 output?
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  • Chris_TC
    Trueno07It all made sense to me, until I saw the picture of the kid playing a Racing game on that 6 monitor set up. It looked ridiculous. Why not just play on a big TV that has no lines and only requires 1 output?Absolutely, this one is quite ridiculous. Multiple displays only make sense for games if you sit closely and angle them. But the borders would still annoy the hell out of me.

    This may be a nice gimmick for some, but ultimately we'll be moving to curved screens.
    Reply
  • hackmule
    I used to use two monitors but since I went to three CRT monitors 5+ yrs ago I can't go back to two. This bezel in the middle is aggravating. I use three monitors for work - presentations/writing/graphics and the extra real estate is very valuable there. For play, I have been waiting for the hardware to improve to the point where 3 monitor frame rates are good enough and this eyefinity article has got me thinking that the new ATI cards might be worth a try. I think the next generation will be the game changer when three monitor play frame rates are over 50 for the games we like to play. I would be surprised if there are many who once they get used to three monitors would willingly go back to two.
    Reply
  • falchard
    Big TV lacks the same resolution. Bezeless is hard to manufacture. I don't see the point in using Eye-finity in the method specified with multiple monitors in the front. I would rather setup like the Cave and Stereoscopic display. Borders wouldn't be much of an issue then. 4 x 55" display, 1 front, 1 on each side, and 1 above.
    Reply
  • SmarterChoice
    Eyefinity is amazing with three screens, you don't notice the bezels at all in most games.
    Reply