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Old 01-13-2011, 05:23 AM   #1
aviat72
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Default Best Setup to drive 4+ Monitors for Non-Gaming Applications

I am a stranger to the world of crossfire, SLI and Eyefinity and am trying to learn.

Most multi-head workstation cards cost a lot and I feel that the best bang for the buck is in the consumer grade cards.

1. This is a new 2600K + Asus Pro P67 based build. Board supports 2x PCI-EX at 8 lanes each or 16x if only one slot is occupied.

2. Have 6+ monitors which are a combination of 4x24" and 2x23". Four of them have display ports. Two of them have HDMI also. I am looking for a way to drive 4,5 or even 6 monitors. There will be more than one PC driving the grid so if I go with a 4 monitor solution, the other monitors will be driven by another PC.

3. Gaming performance is not important. This is for workstation type workload. Almost all applications are 2D. 24x7 stability is important.

4. One way is to use 2 cards, with each driving 3 monitors. Other option is to use a single card driving 4 or 5 monitors. The single card 6 monitor solutions are a bit beyond what I would like to spend.

5. I have looked at the eye-infinity 5 card from PowerColor HD5770 around $220. But it seems to be oriented towards gamers with OCs etc. So I am not sure how stable it is going to be 24x7.

-----------------------------------------------
1. What are good 4 or 5 monitor per single card solutions?

2. What is a good inexpensive 2 card solution (2x3)?

The advantage of #2 of course is that I could in future do the SLI/Crossfire thingy and finally play some games. However it takes up 2 PCI-EX slots and also downgrades them to 8x, which may be an issue with multiple monitors, even if it is not an issue with 1 or 2 monitors.

Also does NVidia have an Eyefinity equivalent (or is it even relevant in non-gaming applications?)

Last edited by aviat72; 01-13-2011 at 05:27 AM.
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Old 01-13-2011, 07:01 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aviat72 View Post
1. What are good 4 or 5 monitor per single card solutions?
A single 6850 should be able to drive 4 monitors. You should be able to do 2 Displayport + 2 DVI, or 2 Displayport + 2 HDMI, or 2 Displayport + 1 HDMI + 1 DVI from a single card. If you want to drive more than four displays then just stick a cheap card, like an HD5450, in the other PCI slot.

A single 6850 can theoretically drive more than four monitors, but that requires an MST hub which as of now is really no where to be found. But if they pop up then in the future you have the option to drive more monitors.

The HD 6870 and HD 6900 cards also have this ability.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aviat72 View Post
2. What is a good inexpensive 2 card solution (2x3)?
The Eyefinity-capable HD 5000 series cards, with DisplayPort, are the ones that can drive three monitors. Most every other option can only drive two monitors. The 5670, 5750, and 5770 are the cheaper cards to look for here.

If you think you'll only be driving four monitors (max) from one computer, then just get two cheap cards like the 5450.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aviat72 View Post
The advantage of #2 of course is that I could in future do the SLI/Crossfire thingy and finally play some games. However it takes up 2 PCI-EX slots and also downgrades them to 8x, which may be an issue with multiple monitors, even if it is not an issue with 1 or 2 monitors.
Well you would have to get capable cards with option 2. Two HD 5450s won't be doing any serious gaming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aviat72 View Post
Also does NVidia have an Eyefinity equivalent (or is it even relevant in non-gaming applications?)
They have SurroundView, but it's for gaming and requires SLI. They don't have an Eyefinity equivalent for non-gaming.
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:24 AM   #3
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I had a sli/xfire mobo before, i had a 4850
Driving 2 monitors and threw in a old 6600 gt to drive the third. Desktop in win7 easily displayed yhree and possibly could.have had four no prob.

Softth can be used in some situations to add video mlti monitor in a situation like that
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:36 AM   #4
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I thought I would throw this option out there... They also have it a bit cheaper in the B-stock section.
http://www.evga.com/products/prodlist.asp?switch=10

But if you have (4) displayport monitors I would really just recommend spending the extra cash on the Quadro NVS with (4) Displayport outputs. (VCQ450NVS-X16-PB)
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:36 AM   #5
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the sapphire eyefinity 6 5870 is on sale for 279 AR right now.

Its a 5870 with an extra GB of ram, and the ability to drive 6(obviously) outputs.


and I wouldnt worry about 8x/8x dogging you, it won't...
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:41 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by aviat72 View Post

5. I have looked at the eye-infinity 5 card from PowerColor HD5770 around $220. But it seems to be oriented towards gamers with OCs etc. So I am not sure how stable it is going to be 24x7.
Unless you are actually going to be gaming 24/7, you shouldn't worry about this point. The card will be in a lower power state when it's not actually running any games, and not always be overclocked.

However, as with any card, you will have an increased power draw while driving more then 1 display.
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Old 01-13-2011, 09:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Zargon View Post
the sapphire eyefinity 6 5870 is on sale for 279 AR right now.
Its a 5870 with an extra GB of ram, and the ability to drive 6(obviously) outputs.
and I wouldnt worry about 8x/8x dogging you, it won't...
Could you refer me to the source please? Google is not showing much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by artvscommerce View Post
I thought I would throw this option out there... They also have it a bit cheaper in the B-stock section.
http://www.evga.com/products/prodlist.asp?switch=10

But if you have (4) displayport monitors I would really just recommend spending the extra cash on the Quadro NVS with (4) Displayport outputs. (VCQ450NVS-X16-PB)
NVS450 is too expensive for what it offers IMHO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jionix View Post
Unless you are actually going to be gaming 24/7, you shouldn't worry about this point. The card will be in a lower power state when it's not actually running any games, and not always be overclocked.

However, as with any card, you will have an increased power draw while driving more then 1 display.
Thanks. That helps.

Last edited by aviat72; 01-13-2011 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 01-13-2011, 09:42 AM   #8
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Eh? This isn't for gaming and you want to keep costs down. Use multiple cards, it's not the end of the world, you save money and reduce power consumption. Don't listen to anyone trying to advise you to purchase some mid-range or high-end card. You want productivity... not wasted power and money.

$40 - 2x HDMI, 1x Displayport and 1x VGA right here - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814125358

C'mon Anand. Fix up.
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsv View Post
Eh? This isn't for gaming and you want to keep costs down. Use multiple cards, it's not the end of the world, you save money and reduce power consumption. Don't listen to anyone trying to advise you to purchase some mid-range or high-end card. You want productivity... not wasted power and money.

$40 - 2x HDMI, 1x Displayport and 1x VGA right here - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814125358

C'mon Anand. Fix up.
LSV:
This one has four ports, but it does not state how many monitors it can drive simultaneously. Any clues?
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aviat72 View Post
LSV:
This one has four ports, but it does not state how many monitors it can drive simultaneously. Any clues?
HD5xxx series can drive 3 monitors with one of them connected through DisplayPort. So for the Gigabyte HD5450:

1. HDMI+HDMI+DP
2. HDMI+VGA+DP

There are no other choices. You can't use HDMI+HDMI+VGA for sure.

HD6xxx series can drive more monitors, but only thanks to DisplayPort 1.2. Those cards are still bound to using:

1. DVI+DVI+(up to DPx4 with a special splitter, not available yet)
2. DVI+HDMI+(up to DPx4 with a special splitter, not available yet)

The Gigabyte card most likely can use both HDMI ports at the same time (otherwise there would be no sense in putting them there together...).

EDIT: HD4xxx supports up to 2 monitors.
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aviat72 View Post
LSV:
This one has four ports, but it does not state how many monitors it can drive simultaneously. Any clues?
For the most part consumer cards like the 5450 can do 3 monitors, the DVI and VGA are switchable but not at the same time. So 2x HDMI + 1 DVI/VGA. 2 of those should do 6 monitors.

edit - Really, just email ATI. They're pretty fast.
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aviat72 View Post
24x7 stability is important.
If 24x7 stability is important, I'd go with a fanless Quadro. An NVS 450 + an NVS 295 will meet your stated needs.

Also, if you need 24x7 stability, go with a pre-built workstation.
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Old 01-13-2011, 02:00 PM   #13
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Buy 2 video cards. If your not gaming they don't need to be a high number series card.

Put in another 5850 and u got 4 monitors. GL and GB

Or you can go TRI monitors with a single card if you have 3 inputs. Good luck,

Then another card for 6 monitors. Good Luck and gb
A 5850? What the hell, that offers OP zero except added expense, power draw, and heat output.

OP, you will be fine with a pair of 5450, 5570, 5650/etc. Depending on your monitors, you can use DVI/HDMI adapters to use pretty much any of these cards for that purpose.
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Old 01-13-2011, 02:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
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If 24x7 stability is important, I'd go with a fanless Quadro. An NVS 450 + an NVS 295 will meet your stated needs.

Also, if you need 24x7 stability, go with a pre-built workstation.
Thought about that but it is just not the fun. This is my first build after years of Dells. Got a Lian Li case on clearance from MicroCenter

That NVS combo costs almost as much as the rest of the build. They are essentially the same GPUs but have more stable drivers. Even with regular graphic cards, the drivers stabilize after some time so a card which is one or two generations old should be as stable as the NVS.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Everyone else, thank you for verifying the 3 monitors per card capabilities. QBah, special thanks for the details.
How does Eyefinity differ from a regular 3 monitor setup (is it the bezel correction etc)?

Last edited by aviat72; 01-13-2011 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:00 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by aviat72 View Post
Thought about that but it is just not the fun. This is my first build after years of Dells. Got a Lian Li case on clearance from MicroCenter

That NVS combo costs almost as much as the rest of the build. They are essentially the same GPUs but have more stable drivers. Even with regular graphic cards, the drivers stabilize after some time so a card which is one or two generations old should be as stable as the NVS.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Everyone else, thank you for verifying the 3 monitors per card capabilities. QBah, special thanks for the details.
How does Eyefinity differ from a regular 3 monitor setup (is it the bezel correction etc)?
Imho Eyefinity probably would be more burden than benefit with workstation apps. What it enables is fusing several displays together so that the app and windows see it as one screen, if that makes any sense. Most common is using it with three screens wide, so the game sees one screen as 5760x1080 for example, when actually it's three 1080p screens. In-game, you would select 5760x1080, and the action would seamlessly stream across all of the screens. Cool, but the bezels and incredible burden on the GPUs makes this pretty much for the hardcore gamer crowd.

AMD's marketing mumbo-jumbo on the subject pretty much glosses over this, and the benefits of using a standard multi-display setup are functionally identical unless you want one single app bloating over two screens. With the bezels between them, this would just irritate me. For things like Photoshop/etc, you can already drag portions of your work to different panels anyway.
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:06 PM   #16
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2x 5450's is my answer
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:23 PM   #17
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This gtx460 card can do 3 display ports and a DVI in one card. 4 connections per card.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814500174
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:41 PM   #18
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This gtx460 card can do 3 display ports and a DVI in one card. 4 connections per card.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814500174
That's a nifty card, but notably pricier than two cheap dual-output cards. I really am non-plussed about having three major digital display standards now lol. DVI, HDMI, and Displayport. Argh. At least all can be adapted fairly easily so you can pretty much connect any port to any connector you want.
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:56 PM   #19
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The 5870 with 6 ports is on sale now! 269$ at newegg.

Jump on that!
http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2134950
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:02 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happy medium View Post
The 5870 with 6 ports is on sale now! 269$ at newegg.

Jump on that!
http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2134950
CA Sales Tax WTF. Wish others matched it but many of these rebates are NewEgg exclusive. And NewEgg raised the price $50 when they got the $100 discount and then all other sites like Amazon also raised their price!

I also went though the review and it is clear I do not need the EyeFinity feature. I do not want Windows to treat the monitors as a single large monitor.
http://www.anandtech.com/show/3621/a...ition-reviewed

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Old 01-13-2011, 04:16 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happy medium View Post
The 5870 with 6 ports is on sale now! 269$ at newegg.

Jump on that!
http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2134950
Why would OP need a nearly $300 gaming video card? For non-gaming/cad/3d, it's gonna be the same end result as a couple of 5450/5570/etc, but need more power, cost more money, and put out more heat. If OP needs 6 screens, then 2 5670s would do the trick for $160, each can run three screens.
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:23 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by happy medium View Post
This gtx460 card can do 3 display ports and a DVI in one card. 4 connections per card.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814500174
Ok... really? This post is too suspicious. I'm not sure why you would suggest this specific card when there are better options for him that everyone else has already covered.

In fact this card may not even work at all. Look at the specifications:
http://www.zotacusa.com/zotac-geforc...40407-10p.html
Quote:
Max Resolution 1x DVI (2560x1600), 3x DisplayPort (1600x1200 each port), 4 Monitor combined display (6400x1200)
And it's more expensive than a better option for a card to drive 4+ monitors, the 6850 and 6870, or some dual card solution.
--------------------------------------------------------

The two best solutions have already been mentioned.

1. Two lower end HD 5000 series cards (the 5670) to get a max display output of 2x3 = 6. These cards have to have Displayport on them (along with two DVI/HDMI ports), otherwise each card can only output to 2 monitors.

2. A single 6800/6900 card can at this time drive 4 monitors, and theoretically more than that when MST hubs show up.

3. Two cheap cards for four displays.
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Old 01-13-2011, 05:07 PM   #23
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Ok... really? This post is too suspicious. I'm not sure why you would suggest this specific card when there are better options for him that everyone else has already covered.

In fact this card may not even work at all. Look at the specifications:
http://www.zotacusa.com/zotac-geforc...40407-10p.html


And it's more expensive than a better option for a card to drive 4+ monitors, the 6850 and 6870, or some dual card solution.
--------------------------------------------------------

The two best solutions have already been mentioned.

1. Two lower end HD 5000 series cards (the 5670) to get a max display output of 2x3 = 6. These cards have to have Displayport on them (along with two DVI/HDMI ports), otherwise each card can only output to 2 monitors.

2. A single 6800/6900 card can at this time drive 4 monitors, and theoretically more than that when MST hubs show up.

3. Two cheap cards for four displays.
There's a third solution, 2x ultra cheap PCIE cards driving 2 monitors, and an ultra cheap PCI card driving another 2 monitors. 3 Cards FTW ?

OP do this, it's easy. Don't listen to the others suggesting you waste your money on some eyefinity card.
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Old 01-13-2011, 05:56 PM   #24
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XFX and Saphire 5670 based cards

Will these two cards work together? Can not buy two of the same because of the mail in rebate issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigystyle View Post
2x 5450's is my answer
Would prefer digital ports and all these cards have a VGA port.
http://www.amd.com/us/products/deskt...verview.aspx#2
I can not find a card without the VGA port and a DP in place. Everything is DVI/HDMI/VGA.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am a bit curious about how the gaming performance of 5xxx compares with the 6port Radeon on sale? I have ample space on this chasis, and could dedicate a completely independent OS install for "FUN" on the weekend.

Last edited by aviat72; 01-13-2011 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 01-13-2011, 09:22 PM   #25
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compari...ergreen_series

Was comparing the 5750/5770 and the 5870 Eyefinity editions.

The 5870 is about 2x of what the 5770 does in almost all stats. So in theory 2 5770s have the same power as a 5870 Eyefinity.

I wanted to get a sense of how the amount of RAM on the graphic card affects performance (512MB v 1024MB on the 57xx).
Found this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...0,2428-10.html

And how does Double Precision Floating Point help? My guess is that DPFP will be useful in engineering/3D type applications where more precise calculations and make things smoother.

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