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Purchasing a new video card for multiple monitors

By ajross
Jul 28, 2012
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  1. Hello all,

    I've been interested in upgrading my work station (also gaming station) by investing in multiple monitors. I'm not looking for more than 3 monitors, but I would like to have at least 20' monitors. I currently have a 21' monitor that I have plugged into a graphics card that hasn't let me down, yet. Its connection to the monitor is DVI, but I'd like all new monitors to use HDMI cables. My computer (from Dell) is an XPS 9100, I believe. Core i7 3.20GHz, 8GB RAM, Win 7 64-bit, ATI Radeon HD 5700. Money is only part of an issue -- I'm open to suggestions on higher-end (and lower-end) products.

    My questions for you all are:
    • What kind of graphics card should I be looking for (and should I look into a card that can support multiple monitors) and should I use my old one?
    • Will there be any conflicts I will need to be aware of while proceeding through this process?
    • What would you all recommend for monitor setup?
    • What is the best setup for gaming with clear, smooth screens?
    • Do I need to upgrade any other hardware parts to make this all work together?

    Thank you all in advance!
    A.
  2. Ranger12

    Ranger12 TS Guru Posts: 636   +117

    The Radeon 5700 series should support up to 5 monitors. I have not personally used a multi monitor setup for gaming however from what I hear a lot games either arent designed for multimonitor setups or they dont work very well. However, there are some games that are really nice with a multi monitor setup. So you should probably ask yourself what games you are going to be playing and see if those work well with a multi monitor setup. Also, Multi monitor setups require a large display resolution so your videocard will be working overtime. I dont think a 5700 series card will have the oomph to really makes games run smoothly at larger resolutions. So, I dont know what your budget is but I would guess you may have to upgrade your card to something more recent, say a 7800 or 7900 series. I cant comment on Nvidia cards as I am not as familiar with them.
    As far as compatibility goes you may need a display port adapter for the third monitor. These are relatively cheap. Also at 525 Watts your power supply barely meets the system requirements for a new card so depending on what else is pulling power in your system you may or may not need a new power supply.

    Maybe someone else can chime in with some Nvidia options.
  3. ajross

    ajross TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 53

    Thank you, Ranger12, for the suggestion. I will look into both a new power supply and graphics card.
    Apparently I was wrong; I thought a good many games were made for several monitor setup. Now that you've put some things into perspective, I may re-think my budget a little. Thank you!
  4. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,925   +170

    Given you're on a budget I wouldn't recommend getting a multi monitor setup for gaming because:
    • You need 3 screens for a decent gaming experience, 2 screens means you'll have a massive black bezel in the middle of your view.
    • a GPU to drive 3 screens needs to be 3x as powerful, so you'll need a Radeon 7950/7970 or GTX 670/680 at the very least.
    • Triple screen configurations usually have the side 2 screens angled in towards you, and because of the crappy viewing angles of TN screens you'll want IPS monitors which are more expensive, especially when you're buying 3 of them.
    It will cost in the region of £1000 (or equivalent in your country) for a decent setup, probably more if you include a PSU upgrade. Rhe experience is amazing though, most modern games support multi monitor setups (some might need a bit of tweaking). Once you've played BF3 and Dirt on 3 screens you can never go back to just a single screen :)

    Getting a second monitor for productivity purposes will be much cheaper because you won't have to change your GPU or PSU. You can then run games on one screen and have another screen for your other stuff.
  5. DELL-Zohaib R

    DELL-Zohaib R TS Rookie

    Hi ajross,

    I have read your post and also the help from others. Nice posts from Ranger12 and slh28. To add to the help provided by the others I have a few suggestions for you. You can choose from one of the following graphics cards and still use Multiple Displays without upgrading the power supply to higher wattage:

    1. AMD Radeon 6950
    2. AMD Radeon 6870

    Also you can find a detailed guide from the following link on using Multiple Displays with these cards:

    http://www.amd.com/US/PRODUCTS/TECHNOLOGIES/AMD-EYEFINITY-TECHNOLOGY/HOW-TO/Pages/faqs.aspx

    Please keep me posted if you need any further help.

    Thanks & Regards
    Dell_Zohaib_R
    Dell Social Media Responder
  6. Ranger12

    Ranger12 TS Guru Posts: 636   +117

    Well look at that! Dell itself hath spoken. How about that. Didnt know y'all did that kind of stuff. Nice.
  7. ajross

    ajross TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 53

    Thank you, Dell-Zohaib R, for that suggestion. I will most definitely look into that!
    Ranger12: That is too funny.
  8. leader-of-men

    leader-of-men TS Rookie

    I have a GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 550 Ti, and it is fast and cheap. It can only support 2 monitors per card, but if you were to get a second one and SLI them up, you could have up to 4 monitors! To see if you can do this, check two things:
    1. Open your case, and look at your motherboard. Do you have two PCIe slots? They should look like this (http://goo.gl/IwRZe) and there should be two of them.
    2. Now look at your power supply. Try to find the wattage. (Should look something like this: http://I.imgur.com/Kuevg.jpg) For an SLI setup, this number should be 800w or more for the best performance.
    If your system meets these two conditions, you can buy two of these cards and run them via SLI. Then you can have 4 monitors!


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