AMD Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition: One Card, Six Screens

Cutting Loose With Eyefinity 6

With the list of “gotchas” out of the way, I can (in good conscience) break from my usual cynicism, kick back, and just enjoy some new technology.

Maybe this is just an automotive enthusiast thing, but have you ever owned a car you thought was so attractive that you caught yourself turning around to look at it every so often as you walked away? Six LCDs sitting on your desk has the same effect. I used four side-by-side displays for years, thinking nothing of it. I had to use a passively-cooled 2D only board to make it happen, and I had a second machine on my desk wired into one of the monitor’s secondary inputs for when I wanted to game.

The elegance of Eyefinity compared to my old multi-monitor setup continues to impress me. With one card, I’m able to realize desktop real estate that simply wasn’t possible before, and I’ve consolidated two PCs into one.

Now, there’s only so much we can tell about AMD’s 2GB Radeon HD 5870 from benchmarks. In fact, a majority of what’s worth reporting here has to come from qualitative analysis, rather than hard numbers. Gaming on the Eyefinity 6 Edition card is what tells the tale. And the genre of game you’re playing will unquestionably determine how much enjoyment you derive from a six-screen array.

Getting Some Face Time

First things first. First-person shooters are almost definitely out. With crosshairs, scopes, and gun sights centering in the middle of your screen, by default, you’ll almost always lose the ability to aim with bezel compensation turned on. With the feature turned off, you’re still facing an awkward screen division.

Third-person shooters are conceivably-easier to navigate, since your avatar generally populates the bottom of the screen. You still risk losing accuracy for aiming and shooting, though.

Real-time strategy and simulator games are probably the most plausible titles to spread across six screens. I had good luck with DiRT 2, and I’ve seen H.A.W.X. splashed across six screens more times than I’d care to admit. When the focus of what appears in the game doesn’t necessarily gravitate toward the middle of your display surface, you stand the best chance of enjoying it on a 3x2 config. Otherwise, you’re probably going to bang your head against a wall when you realize you spent somewhere around three grand to not be able to play the latest action titles. Again, I'll reiterate my anticipation of LCDs with smaller bezels.

Who says you can't work and play at the same time?

With that said, AMD’s enabling of multiple display groups makes it possible to play across the bottom three monitors as your top three keep you tuned in to Twitter, Facebook, Skype, or whatever applications you need to keep an eye on to make it look like you’re actually getting work done on that hexa-display monster.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • phantomtrooper
    I would hate playing with that much black area between screens. I will stick with my 1080p monitor thank you.
  • megamanx00
    :O They got two of those cards!! Lucky punks.
  • megamanx00
    Glad they compared the 1GB and 2GB cards in a 3x1 setup. Glad I got my 5870 instead of waiting for a 2GB card :D. Even so, I want some thin bezel monitors before I hook up three of them. The bezel on my HP LCD is just to think so I'm not keen on buying another two.
  • duk3
    Immediate availability? Yes.
    Even in stock! (When linked :P )
  • magicbullet
    wow......i feel so poor.
  • Should have just made the 5970 the eyefinity edition
  • ltcommander_data
    So I guess Apple's miniDP connector is quite useful after-all and is now seeing adoption outside of Macs.

    It's too bad you didn't test GTA IV like you used to do. I believe GTA IV at max settings exceeds 1GB of VRAM usage so perhaps 2GB graphics cards may be of some use assuming the game isn't still CPU limited despite 12 threads with the Core i7 980X. At the very least, I'm guessing Liberty City at 6048x2276 would be amazing.
  • mtyermom
    This begs the question: how long until we have zero-bezel displays?
  • oldscotch
    Obviously, the best solution is a 3x3 grid of displays to make sure your centre focus is not interfered with.

    Lesse, that'd be 5760 x 3240.
    No sweat ;)
  • So, I guess if you already have a 1GB 5870 and 3x1 Eyefinity setup, the only advantage of the 2GB version is being able to pile on the AA/AF effects and still have a playable frame rate.