Quad-monitor setup with consumer video cards? Possible?

BlueWeasel

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Feb 27, 2006
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We're looking to upgrade a workstation here from a dual monitor setup to a quad-monitor setup running 4 x 22" LCDs. The current system in question is a 939 4200+ (Neo-F Platinum) with a 7300GS running 2x19 LCD monitors.

From a CPU/video standpoint, the system is still adequate and the 7300GS runs 2 monitors just fine. We're a small engineering company who runs basic AutoCAD 2D, lightweight design programs, Word, Excel. etc. Certainly nothing that requires high-end graphics.

However, we're looking to upgrade the monitors to 4x22" LCDs each running native at 1650x1080. This would require an additional PCI-e 1x or PCI video card. The MB has a PCI-e 16x, 4x, and 1x slot.

Looking at PCI-e 1x cards, all I'm seeing is the Quadro series. Ultimately, I'll probably upgrade the primary 16x card to the Quadro FX370 and use the NVS290 in the 1x slot as the secondary card. Probably somewhat overkill and it's an additional $300 cost.

1) Would it be possible to power monitors 3 and 4 at 1650x1080 with a PCI card?

2) Could a 16x PCI-e card be used in the 4x slot? I've read that the open-ended 4x slot on the Neo-F can support a 16x, but at a lower bandwidth.

3) Ultimately, I'd like to use 2 consumer-level cards. ATI or Nvidia -- doesn't really matter. Is this possible?
 

Red Falcon

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What about these?

This:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133260

This: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133258

and this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814195040

All three can display up to 4 screens w/ DVI or VGA.


1) Yes, but it would run VERY badly as the PCI bus becomes very overloaded even w/ 2 displays at 1440x900, even with basic 2D.

2) Yes, a 16x card will work in a 1x/4x/8x slot, but at those reduced bus speeds.

3) Yes, but again, you would want to use the PCI-E slots, not the PCI for what you are doing.
 
Last edited:

criccio

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None of those links work Red Falcon.

I would get one really good card and hook up a Matrox TripleHead2Go to one DVI port (that will give you 3 monitors), and a single LCD to the second DVI port.

If you use a TripleHead2Go, the three displays you hook up to it are recognized in Windows as one single display, so keep that in mind if you wanted the ability to move them around.
 

evilsofa

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The 4850X2 would be the thing because it is a single card that can run four monitors, BUT it is the biggest, longest card on the market today, and is 11.25 inches long. Make sure your computer case can take a card that long - it's very possible that it won't.

Whether you get two cards or the 4850X2, the power supply unit (PSU) in the computer may be a concern. If it's an old one that's less than 400W, it may not be adequate for either job.
 

BlueWeasel

Limp Gawd
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Thanks for the replies, guys...much appreciated.

The majority of our design work is in AutoCAD, and we find ourselves having to take info from other drawings to incorporate into ours. This involves multiple instances of AutoCAD running, and the boss/owner has decided that he wants 4 monitors instead of 2. What the boss wants, he gets. :)

Ideally, he wants either 4x19" @ 1280x1024 each or 4x22" @ 1650x1080 each stacked using a multi-monitor frame similar to this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824994004

Would the Triplehead2Go limit to using the monitors in a single row?

Both from a cost standpoint and ease of use, the 4850x2 seems the way to go. I do understand that it would likely trigger a PSU upgrade.

What I had thought about was picking up 2 9400GT and running one in the 4x slot.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127396

Granted, I know about the reduced bandwidth, but surely the 9400GT in the 4x could power 2 monitors at 1650x1080 each, right? Again no gaming or heavy 3D -- just 2D CAD.
 

evilsofa

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I did a quick search on newegg for video cards with four DVI ports, and found these:

Consumer video cards:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...escription=&Ntk=&SpeTabStoreType=&srchInDesc=
Yup, just the 4850X2 1GB and 4850X2 2GB, in the $260 range.

Workstation cards:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...escription=&Ntk=&SpeTabStoreType=&srchInDesc=
ATI FireMV 2400 128MB for $370 (I'm not sure what "4 DVI via VHDCI Cable" means)
nVidia PNY Quadro4 NVS420 512MB (256MB per GPU) for $445, apparently also achieving 4 DVI displays by adapters with VHDCI

I know very little about workstation cards so I have no idea whether or not those are appropriate for your needs.
 

Red Falcon

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Workstation cards:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...escription=&Ntk=&SpeTabStoreType=&srchInDesc=
ATI FireMV 2400 128MB for $370 (I'm not sure what "4 DVI via VHDCI Cable" means)
nVidia PNY Quadro4 NVS420 512MB (256MB per GPU) for $445, apparently also achieving 4 DVI displays by adapters with VHDCI

I know very little about workstation cards so I have no idea whether or not those are appropriate for your needs.

LOL

Those are the three cards I found!

If I were him, I'd get the HD4850X2's, they're cheaper and have WAY more power for any applications.
 
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