Dual Display Gaming Bigs Up


Without a doubt, "SurroundGaming" is not just a fun feature but also creates a new level of atmospheric immersion in games. If you're already using two monitors for your everyday computer work, you're only a step and some manual configuration work away from multi-display gaming - provided you have a graphics card using a Matrox or NVIDIA chip. Since ATi's processors don't support horizontal span mode, the list of games that will run in dual-monitor configurations on a Radeon board is short. Actually, the only title we know of that can do this is Microsoft's Flight Simulator 9.

Unfortunately, many games also require a lot of manual configuration before multi-display modes will work correctly. Therefore, we would like to see presets and better options for this purpose in future titles. In many cases, the 3D engine is capable of multi-display output anyway, so adding the relevant menu settings shouldn't be a problem and would be completely sufficient. Of course, it's just as important that the user is familiar with the dual-display menus of his or her card and knows how to use them. Otherwise, switching between the different configurations can quickly become quite a chore. Once you've created the necessary profiles in NVIDIA's nView desktop manager, though, switching between the modes (H-span and Dual-View) is a breeze. Matrox' Apptimizer tool is even easier to use, which selects the correct settings for the desktop and games automatically.

Of course, SurroundGaming is the most fun when used in a triple-monitor setup - if you have the budget for it, that is. And desktop real estate could also quickly become an issue. Unfortunately, only Matrox currently offers such a solution, and its 3D performance is insufficient for modern games. We hope that multi-display gaming will get a lot easier with the introduction of the PCI-Express interface, as it allows the use of several graphics adapters. Maybe then we will see games that actually really use the additional screen-space available to them. Until then, having a monitor devoted solely to the map and chat windows in Battlefield 1942 will remain a dream. But who knows - maybe NVIDIA will hear the call of gamers, see the potential of multi-display games and exert some influence on game developers through its TWIMTBP program... Well, we can always hope.