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Author Topic: Needful of opinions on graphics cards/drivers ...  (Read 4789 times)
barney
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« on: November 28, 2009, 02:48:14 PM »

Not certain this is the right place, but don't see anything obvious for hardware issues.  If this needs to be moved - it prolly does - no problem.

I've found myself in a position such that I need a 3rd monitor.  (Don't ask, it's a long story  Sad.)

Currently have an nVidia 7300 GS card, with two outputs, been working fine, even with the switch to Windows 7.

However, while searching for video cards with 4-8 outputs (3-4 would be ideal), I cannot seem to find any legitimate reviews, performance analyses, & the like.

So, anyone have experience, a preference, in regard to such cards?  The leader, at least in find frequency, seems to be Matrox, with ATI next, but w/o valid reviews, it's awkward to decide.

Not a game player, so don't need WoW capability or the like, but this may involve a lot of graphic/video work.  Running Win7, 32-bit, at least until I get a newer system.  2.8G Intel dual-core CPU, 3G RAM.  Suppose the card should have a pretty strong GPU, but that'll have to be balanced against price/performance, I'd think.  It'll need at least 1920x1200 resolution & 3 - heads? - outputs, and I'd really like to keep it as far under $1,000 as possible.

I don't mind spending the coin, but at the prices I've seen, don't think I can afford to experiment very much.

'Preciate any feedback.
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mouser
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2009, 03:32:05 PM »

there is a brand new video card with 8 outputs, can't remember the name+make currently.
however, you should know that for up to 4 monitors, the most common solution is 2 video cards.
that's what i use and it works without a hitch.
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Shades
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2009, 03:45:59 PM »

ATI cards:
Get one that support Eyefinity (definitely HD Radeon 5000 range only, likely the 5900).
Will set you back some 600 US dollars.
Specs are probably overkill and at this time hard to get.

Matrox cards:
Their latest model supports a lot of monitors but it comes at a very high price, 800+ more dollars. Slashdotters were not that positive about the price/performance ratio.

Is it not smarter to get 2 rather simple cards, each having 2 outputs and use them in CrossFire (ATI) or SLI (NVidia)? Check if your motherboard supports either one or both of those systems. Seems to me the solution that is easiest to implement.  
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barney
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2009, 05:51:03 PM »

Yep,

Yer both right ... however, being correct does not put appropriate slots on my motherboard embarassed.  And, indeed, I'd much prefer the dual card option for several reasons not related to price, but - alas - that is not to be.  Likewise, it'll be a while yet before I can get a 64-bit machine  Sad.

So I'm pretty much stuck with a single card, and it'll have to fit the slot of the current one at that ... guess I should open the box to see what kind of slot it's using.

I'm budgeted for up to $1K, so the ATI you mentioned is definitely worth checking.  My problem so far has been getting user reviews, not the price.  Time was that I'd go for the high dollar unit on the assumption that it would be the best performer, but I've been disabused of that concept for decades ... seems life was so much simpler when I was so much younger  Cry.
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mouser
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2009, 06:16:07 PM »

Quote
being correct does not put appropriate slots on my motherboard.. I'm budgeted for up to $1K
perhaps you should consider whether it might not be smarter to upgrade to a motherboard with dual pci-e graphics card slots?

i mean if you need more than 4 monitors, then yes it may make sense to get one of these new crazy graphics cards which can drive 8 monitors with one card.. but if 4 is good then i would change my motherboard and get one that supports 2 cards.
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barney
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« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2009, 07:04:45 PM »

Yeah,

What you say is good.  Unfortunately, that's not a viable option at this time.  When I get a new box, these are considerations that will be borne in mind.  However, at this time, while I can do the graphics card, I cannot afford the down time to install, test, configure a new motherboard/system.  I'll likely be hard put just to get the graphics/monitor setup configured in time to start fulfilling the requirement(s) that necessitate the card, as is.

The ATI card that Shades mentioned is a likely prospect, but if something goes wrong, I can always put the current nVidia back in - not quite so simple or easy if I go the motherboard route - and still manage, to a degree, to do what needs must be done.

'Twas my intent - still is, in fact - that my next desktop machine be home-built.  I really want to get a game-capable board, then do as much as I can to make it a monster, even though I'm not involved in the gaming arena, under the concept that if it'll handle games of today's flavour, cad & video will be fairly easy, and normal day-to-day tasks should be a snap.  'Course, may be wrong about that, too, but at least it'll be fun.

That said, my current need, while not immediately pressing, i.e., doesn't have to be ready tomorrow, denies the leisure of DIY solutions.  Maybe OK for a hard-core hardware guy, but I just don't yet have the requisite skill set to accomplish the goal in a timely manner  ohmy.

So, regardless the merit(s) of your suggestion, I must forgo it and opt for the somewhat galling quick fix  Angry.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2009, 07:52:56 PM »

How important is it that the 3rd monitor be on a fast card? You could think about a PCI-based graphics card just for that 3rd display. Wink

- Oshyan
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barney
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« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2009, 09:40:30 PM »

I would love to have that capability, but slots are full, and there's nothing than can be discarded  embarassed.  Life would be beautiful if I had just one more slot  Sad.
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Innuendo
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« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2009, 10:54:15 PM »

Then in your case I'd go for the ATI solution. Matrox is a very eccentric company & has very eccentric drivers.

At least with an ATI solution you are going to get access to the Catalyst drivers which release an WHQL set of drivers every month.
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Lashiec
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« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2009, 10:15:02 AM »

If you opt for the ATI solution, be sure to get a Radeon 5750. It can drive up to three monitors (you have to use a DisplayPort-DVI/VGA converter to use the third), but it's significantly cheaper than a 5900, which is extremely overkill, even more if are not a gamer. Maybe even you will be able to use a 5600, which is even cheaper, but I don't know if this model can officially cope up with three monitors.
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barney
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« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2009, 08:34:21 PM »

OK, I'm back, with a variation on the question.

Got the new monitor today, and thought I might be able to connect it to the graphics adapter on the motherboard.  Unfortunately, the system seems no longer to recognize that connection/adapter.  Did a quick search - I'll do more tomorrow - but didn't find anything viable.

The dual-head card I have is an nVidia 7300 GS, and the box is a Gateway GT5064 - don't know the motherboard, offhand.  I had to disable the onboard video when In installed the GeForce card, and I don't know how to re-enable it, or even if that is possible.

While I'd like to have an enhanced video card, I'd also like to be able, for the nonce, to use what's here.  So, the question is, "Is there a way to re-enable the motherboard video, to have it coexist with the nVidia card?"
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Shades
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« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2009, 09:37:11 PM »

You can get adapters to convert one type of graphic connector into another.

Likely one of the outputs from your video card is from the type: DVI  and you have a second monitor with a VGA connector. An adapter that solves this situation shall put you back 2 maybe 3 dollars in a computer store.

With that adapter you don't need the onboard video from your mainboard (good riddance to that RAM polluter, I would say). Besides that, your new videocard is a lot more capable and only one set of graphic drivers will be required/maintained. Save yourself the headache and get one of those adapters.
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barney
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« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2009, 10:30:14 PM »

'Preciate the return.

I'm kinda dim (read damned ignorant) when it comes to video hardware ... what happens when I put this splitter (?) on the two monitors (of three)?  How much control will I have on the two displays?  Or will that depend upon the OS?  Sorry to be so dumb, but as mentioned, graphics hardware is not my forte (knew I should have taken up gaming <sigh />).
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4wd
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« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2009, 10:38:09 PM »

The dual-head card I have is an nVidia 7300 GS, and the box is a Gateway GT5064 - don't know the motherboard, offhand.  I had to disable the onboard video when In installed the GeForce card, and I don't know how to re-enable it, or even if that is possible.

The drivers available for that computer suggest it's using Intel integrated graphics on the motherboard.  This basically means it's a case of one or the other, (motherboard or PCIe), but not both.

If it had been an nVidia based board then you may have got away with it.

There are USB->DVI adapters available, (see here), however they all max out at 1600x1200.  But it would give you one more output if it's not necessary for any really gfx intensive output, (eg. Desktop sans Aero).
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barney
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« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2009, 10:58:14 PM »

Sorry to be so dumb about this, but if I put a splitter (?) on one of the nVidia heads, will that work?  I'm really lost on the hardware side of graphics.  I've accepted that I cannot use the card and the motherboard hardware at the same time, but it'll be a week or two before I'll receive the new graphics card, and I'd really like to get this working, if possible.
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4wd
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« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2009, 11:34:34 PM »

Sorry to be so dumb about this, but if I put a splitter (?) on one of the nVidia heads, will that work?

AFAIK, a single DVI port can only display the same output on all monitors connected to it.

I haven't read through all the previous posts thoroughly but I don't think you've mentioned exactly how the displays are going to be configured, (hit me with a smiley if I'm wrong).

eg. All display the same thing, two the same and one something different or all different.

EDIT: I'm also not sure if by 'splitter' you mean 'adapter', which is what Shades was referring to.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2009, 11:37:51 PM by 4wd » Logged

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