Budget Multi-Monitor Gaming: Cheap, Workable And Satisfying
Hardcore PC gamers might assume that budget-oriented graphics hardware is not capable of driving three screens with acceptable performance. After thorough testing, though, I can confidently say that this assumption simply isn't true.
When I set out to write this article, my goal wasn't to pit GeForce against Radeon, but to prove that both are worthy of consideration if you have multiple monitors sitting side-by-side. Both AMD and Nvidia sell cards that can handle triple-display gaming for less than 150 bucks. It wasn't so long ago that a single 19” LCD cost more than three cheap 1080p monitors today, so this is definitely one of those cases where technology improves and gets cheaper over time, putting what was once an ultra-high-end configuration in reach of cost-conscious gamers.
Not only can three displays enhance your gaming experience, but they also improve day to day productivity as well. For example, photo editing is easier than ever before. As I type this article, I have a Web browser open on my left, word processing software in the middle and music/photos/notes open on the right. No more shrinking and expanding windows; I can leave them all open.
In the end, I would call this experiment a definite success. Of course, budget-oriented graphics hardware isn't going to let you enjoy the highest detail settings or resolutions in new and demanding titles, but you definitely have the option to immerse yourself in PC games at a whole new level.
I know that 4K is here, and it's great that Ultra HD displays keep getting more affordable. But in my mind, those extra pixels don't compare to being surrounded. In addition, many games (particularly older titles) don't have a scalable user interface (UI), and are essentially unplayable at 4K because the player's vital information is displayed impractically small. On the other hand, a widescreen 5760x1080 setup allows for a standard-sized UI and fewer pixels to push, resulting in playable performance on budget hardware.
Once you actually experience three monitors in action, you probably won't give them up anytime soon. While I struggled with the decision, now that I've tried it I am never going back. Hopefully I've removed some of the mystique surrounding a multi-monitor setup, and I recommend it without hesitation.