Graphics card for five monitors and a demanding program

By Emmc15
Jun 16, 2012
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  1. I am helping my uncle built a computer and looking for a gpu which can handle 5 monitors and still have enough power to run a 3d modelling program (dont know the name of it) any ideas?
  2. Leeky

    Leeky TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +97

    Running five displays in 2D isn't really demanding at all, its just a case of connectivity. For example, a HD6870 should handle six displays (at least mine does), but dependant on the 3D modelling performance required it changes things dramatically.

    You need to consider several things:

    1. The connections the displays will actually use, as you'll be using DisplayPort connectors if your adding that many, so converters will need to be considered if the displays don't natively run them.
    2. The exact usage of the computer. If its just 3D, and only that, commerical grade (workstation) FirePro GPUs are more than likely a better alternative.
    3. Whether you want to run two GPUs in SLI/CF in order to achieve the required capacity to run these displays.
    4. An important one...Budget!

    It used to be the case (if I remember correctly) that Nvidia GPUs were better optimised for the sort of work your uncle would be using them for. Not sure if its the case now.

    Workstation GPUs will have drivers specifically optimised for 3D modelling work, and will be better supported. These are bloody expensive though.

    If you want a good all-round GPU with serious horsepower for 3D modelling I'd go with something like a GTX580, or the new GTX680. One problem though, they're both limited to four displays (580 might be three only), so to run five, you'd need a second one in SLI.

    Either that, or ditch the fifth display and just run four with a GTX680.
  3. Emmc15

    Emmc15 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 19

    thanks for that I think even think a gtx 420 would handle the program with ease it isnt that demanding I found I just to need to find now a gpu which support 5 displays, does your hd 6870 handle any games or graphic using program with ease with the 5 displays cos I think nvidia dont allow 5 displays to be used where ati do
  4. TechGamer

    TechGamer TechSpot Booster Posts: 402   +31

    as posted before if there is any problem with the monitor to handle 5 there is always the option of using sli but that would cost you more
  5. Leeky

    Leeky TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +97

    My HD6870 is a AMD card, and yes it will work pretty well with most games, even current titles at 1080p. It will also support six displays, it says it right on the box -- that's assuming you can use all of the available connectors of course.

    Edit: I only tend to enjoy games at full 1080p, and high settings, and while it will play most games at these fine, it does struggle with newer games like Battlefield 3. I had to settle with that at 1680x1050 and medium settings, although I found the game enjoyable still. For a midrange GPU it was a brilliant purchase, but its now been overtaken with the likes of the HD7870. I've no idea how it would perform with purely 3D-based rendering applications though.

    I think I need to further highlight my point with multiple displays and 2D usage, e.g. when your just using the computer for web browsing, emails etc. Having more than one display does not tax the GPU in 2D usage scenarios. e.g. the load would be no different whether I had one display, or six displays running off of the GPU.

    It makes a difference when you start asking it to perform 3D tasks like 3D modelling and rendering, and gaming. You have to remember (assuming 1080p, but even lower resolutions still add up and that's the point) that 5x 1920x1080 equals 9600 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high. That's an awful lot of screen real estate to render at once, and that's why it then becomes taxing for gaming and 3D work.

    That's also why you need to be a bit clearer with the exact requirements, because if your uncle intends to render images across multiple screens it will tax the GPU in the same way gaming would. A GTX420, in this scenario, even if it had the connectivity criteria would wet itself and in most likelihood fundamentally collapse if asked to render 3D work across nearly 10,000 pixels of screen width.

    I'll stand by my previous comments of a GTX580 or better. No point building a five display machine for 3D rendering and then shoehorning a GPU most wouldn't even fit in a media computer in there. I'll also add that RAM and the PSU are both equally important.
  6. Razer

    Razer TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 123   +9

    I'm not expert about this, so correct me if I'm wrong..
    As far as I know, there is difference GPU for gaming and GPU for 3D rendering (CAD and digital content creation).
    For gaming, most game software widely using Direct3D application programming interface (API).
    For CAD and digital content creation such 3D rendering, modelliing (3Dmax, Maya) widely using OpenGL API.

    That's why both nvidia and AMD offer different product for gaming and CAD/digital content nvidia offer GeForce for gaming, and Quadro for CAD AMD offer Radeon for gaming, and AMD firePro for CAD Both Quadro and AMD FirePro are spesifically used by professional for CAD/digital content such 3D rendering, modelling, etc by 3D artists for making 3D animation like James Cameron's Avatar or Kungfu Panda for instance. This kind of GPU also called as workstation GPU and it cost far more expensive than GPU for gaming. If your uncle intended to work with 3D or use it only for purely CAD and 3D work content, then use this kind of product.

    But, after I read all of your post before, I think you want a gaming GPU that still can do CAD/3D rendering work, correct? Based on my older brother's experience (he is a 3D artist) he using the computer for gaming and for 3D work too (like rendering, modelling, compositing, etc), at first, he is using nVidia GeForce 8800, when he running 3D modelling program, sometimes the program show some kind of bugs or glitch (it is likely not supported for this kind of work), then after he upgrade his GPU with AMD 5850, all of his 3D modeling programs (such 3Dmax) seems running smoothly.. this is because AMD Radeon card is far more supported for OpenGL (you can see this logo at the box)
    Since 3D modelling is using openGL, I recommend that you using a GPU that is also support for OpenGL. I don't know if the current nVidia GeForce product lineup is better supported for OpenGL too as AMD Radeon has (as you can see this written on the box: support OpenGL).

    Maybe you could use AMD Radeon, (based on experience) because it still have capability for 3D modelling (I don't know if current GeForce is also better supported for OpenGL like Radeon has), and Radeon has feature that can support up to 6 displays
  7. Razer

    Razer TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 123   +9

    ah sorry, I mistaken for naming AMD Radeon 5850, it still ATI Radeon that time.. I want to edit my previous post, but somehow edit button disappear..
  8. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,925   +170

    You need to be far more specific regarding what "3D modelling" you actually do. There's no such thing as a GTX 420 but if you're saying that you can run your program using a low end gaming card then it doesn't sound like you're keen on a Quadro or FirePro card.

    If you just want a cheap card that supports 5 displays then get a Radeon 5000 or 6000 series. Geforce cards only support 2 monitors (up to GTX 500 series) and 4 monitors (GTX 600 series). It's also pretty important to know what inputs your monitors have, would be much easier if they had DisplayPort.
  9. Leeky

    Leeky TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +97

    Aye, you are correct. To clarify, the point I was making was both gaming and 3D work are taxing on a GPU. I didn't mean they work in exactly the same way, just that they need plenty of graphics processing power -- dependant on the application or game of course.
  10. Razer

    Razer TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 123   +9

    Yes, I agree with you :)


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