Trying to upgrade to triple screen

I have been trying to figure out what all in my computer I need to upgrade so that I can upgrade to triple screen gaming, but I can't find anything enlightening enough to satisfy me. So I figured the GWJ community would be able to help me out Here's what all I have from when I built the computer about a year ago:

Case: Cooler Master RC-430-KWN1 Elite 430 Mid Tower ATX Case
Motherboard: MSI 970A-G45 9 Series AM3+ Motherboard
Processor: AMD HDT35TWFGRBOX Phenom II X6 1035T Processor
RAM: Corsair CMZ4GX3M1A1600C9B Vengeance Desktop Memory Module - 4GB
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 01G-P3-1556-KR Video Card
Power Supply: Cooler Master Elite Series Power Supply - 460 Watts, ATX
Hard Drive: Seagate ST1000DM003 Barracuda 1TB Hard Drive
Optical Drive: Sony Optiarc AD7280S-OB 24x DVDRW Drive

The only upgrade I have made to it is adding 8gb of RAM to bring the total to 12gb; no overclocking or anything

The only thing I can think of is that I probably need another Motherboard because I screwed up and got one that doesn't support SLI and I'll have to get another video card. I assume that's all I need but I want to make sure. I'll probably try to run 3 24" monitors.

All help is appreciated!

Yeah, with Nvidia cards, you need to use 2 in SLI to do Surround. While I like Nvidia drivers better, I would just get one AMD card to do Eyefinity. That power supply probably wouldn't be enough for SLI, but I haven't checked a PSU calculator. It does take a lot of horsepower to push 6020x1080 or so. What games are you wanting surround for?

Any reason for going with the A6? I haven't checked price/performance recently. The current i5 should be much more powerful.

I want to say that processor only ran me like $100 or so. I used a website I found for a recommended build and that was the setup it had so I just went with it. I looked around at Intel stuff, but at the time I built, a setup close to the same was twice as much between the motherboard and processor.

I play just about evreything, so it would need to be able to run pretty much everything. I've started doing more and more PC gaming now that I have that computer and moving further away from consoles. The main reason I want a triple screen setup is for iRacing, that way I can have the windshield view out of the middle monitor and the side monitors have the view out each window. All others games would just be icing on the cake, since every game I'm used to playing I play on one screen.

Yeah, racing games are cool across 3 screens. I used to do it but with NVidia cards it's kind of a pain to switch back and forth, so I kept the 2 side monitors and upgraded my center monitor to 2560x1440. With AMD cards, you can switch back and forth between 3 1920x1080 screens and 1 6020 (or so)x1080 screen by hitting the windows key plus p. There is also some other hotkeys you can set up for specific display configurations. It's really fast. There wasn't a hotkey option for Nvidia last time I checked. Also, you have to reset the bezel correction every freaking time you go back and forth between 3 1920x1080 screens and 1 6020x1080 screen. It takes 25 seconds or so to switch.

Sounds like you did your research on the processor. There may be issues where your CPU could limit the system at that high of a resolution. I haven't looked into it recently, but it might be worth checking if you are gonna go with a budget processor. I think that may be a thing of the past, though.

How much is your total GPU budget then?

Edit: How about $300 for an AMD 7950? They are doing a promo right now to get Bioshock Infinite and/or Crysis 3. The 3 GB of memory will help with Eyefinity.

Well my plan was to just get another one of the same video card I already have, just because I have read that that is the best way to go. My biggest expense will be getting the monitors, since I want to have all three of those be the same as well. The tricky part (maybe, I haven't looked much into it) will be finding another motherboard that is compatible with SLI and my processor.

Any recommendations?

EDIT: Nevermind, that was easy. My motherboard was just one digit off from being the exact same thing, with the addition of being SLI & CrossfireX ready instead of just CrossfireX ready....
grrrrrr......

MountaineerWR27 wrote:
Well my plan was to just get another one of the same video card I already have, just because I have read that that is the best way to go. My biggest expense will be getting the monitors, since I want to have all three of those be the same as well. The tricky part (maybe, I haven't looked much into it) will be finding another motherboard that is compatible with SLI and my processor.

Any recommendations?

I see. I skimmed way too much. Sorry about that. So, you just need to get 3 monitors, a new motherboard that would support SLI, another GPU, and an SLI connector. You might check a power supply calculator just to make sure that PSU can handle an extra GPU. There are 2 GB of memory on the 550 Ti, correct? It may really not have enough horsepower to turn everything up, but it may work and be a minimal investment.

You should be able to find a motherboard. I'll try looking for one. You may even be able to go refurb to really save some money if you are up for it. I did that recently.

It's only 1gb. Ideally, I'd like to have as much eye candy as I can get under $1,000 for everything.

MountaineerWR27 wrote:
It's only 1gb. Ideally, I'd like to have as much eye candy as I can get under $1,000 for everything.

Yeah, that card in SLI really isn't going to be good for it. I was running 2 1 GB 5870s and those could do it, but they tanked in a lot of games. That being said, if you have a budget of under $1000, you could do it. Get a 7950 for $300, 3 $170 monitors for $510. You would really have to go cheap with the monitors, but they'll work. When I did it, I just got 2 cheapo Samsung 21.5" monitors for $150 apiece. Getting the 7950 means that you wouldn't need a new motherboard! You would need a couple adapters for the card. I think it looked like you need 1 Display Port to DVI and one mini display port to DVI.

That doesn't leave enough money for a 3 monitor mount, but you don't need that and could always get it later.

Edit: Actually, you might be able to swing a monoprice mount. Or you could just get a bit nicer monitors.

I have an Obutto R3volution, and I can get a triple monitor mount through them for like 125.

MountaineerWR27 wrote:
I have an Obutto R3volution, and I can get a triple monitor mount through them for like 125.

That would be a sweet setup.

I love it. I was having to move all my stuff around depending on whether I wanted to race or play something else and it was annoying. Now it's great!

I guess that's what I'll aim for. Hopefully I can find a good deal on the card.

Driving three screens is very hard work, so for best framerates, you want to buy as much video card as you can afford. This is one of the cases where a 7970 or a GTX 680 would probably be worth the extra coin, if you can swing it.

A GTX 680 won't work because you need 2 in SLI to do Nvidia Surround. A 7970 would work but probably not within the required budget. That's why I suggested going with a 7950. Some setting will need to get turned down, but it should be a solid and budget friendly choice.

A GTX 680 won't work because you need 2 in SLI to do Nvidia Surround.

Are you sure? I was just reading that the 680 will support 3 screens. One has to connect to the DisplayPort, and two have to connect via DVI.

I'm also certain I saw triple-monitor benchmarks for it, when it first shipped.

I think to do 3D in a 3 monitor solution it requires SLI.

You can definitely run 3 monitors (possibly even 4 IIRC) off of 1 card, you just can't do Surround. I remember noticing that when I set up my 2 680s and thinking -- whoa, it's a good thing I happened to get two because I had no idea that was the case. They call the technology 3D Vision Surround, but whether or not you're running 3D monitors, SLI is a requirement.

Edit: Crap, that was some bad research. It looks like at least the 680 can do 2d Surround and it was one of the first cards that allowed it.

I must have missed a feature when looking at driver settings.

Wait, do we mean accelerated 3D requires 2 cards, or do we mean that physical 3D with interlaced images requires 2 cards?

Malor wrote:
Wait, do we mean accelerated 3D requires 2 cards, or do we mean that physical 3D with interlaced images requires 2 cards?

It's the physical version that requires it if you are to do Surround. Physical 2D Surround does not need it as you and Game Guru corrected me on. It's Nvidia's stupid branding that confused me. If you go to their website, they don't even have 2D surround branded, so when I went to see what was required, I went to the only thing branded which was Nvidia 3D Vision Surround. That requires SLI. That combined with some old pre-GTX 680 forum posts that came up first when I googled the requirements had me confused.

Okay, so just to make sure I have this correct, because I'm still a little confused:

1. If I want to have 3 monitors, all displaying 3D accelerated images, I can do that with one card.
2. If I want to have 3 monitors, all running at 120Hz, and displaying "real" 3D for shutter glasses, I need two cards.

Is that right?

Malor wrote:
Okay, so just to make sure I have this correct, because I'm still a little confused:

1. If I want to have 3 monitors, all displaying 3D accelerated images, I can do that with one card.
2. If I want to have 3 monitors, all running at 120Hz, and displaying "real" 3D for shutter glasses, I need two cards.

Is that right?

Yes! I'm going to blame my ineptitude at explaining it on Nvidia's branding and terrible implementation of gaming across three monitors compared to Eyefinity. If you go to Nvidia's website, there's no way to figure that out. They just brand the 120 Hz 3D across three screens as Nvidia 3D Vision Surround. However, you can find reviews where they benchmark a single GTX 680 doing Nvidia Surround without the 120 Hz 3D. That is the one thing that AMD does better than Nvidia driver-wise. My recommendation of the 7950 still stands as a budget, gaming-across-three-screens card. For any single gaming display setup, I would go Nvidia because of their better drivers which offer more consistent framerates.

I apologize for causing the confusion.

No, it's fine, it's just inherently confusing when we're talking about two different kinds of 3D acceleration, but we're forced to use the same words for both things.

Plus, it was pretty common in earlier card generations for only one screen to be hardware accelerated. In later generations, I know you could explicitly disable acceleration on some screens, to save power for others. So your assumption was perfectly logical; if they said you needed two cards to accelerate multiple screens, you figured you needed two cards to accelerate multiple screens, not realizing that they meant super-duper 120Hz acceleration.

I dunno how you would avoid confusion, honestly.

Malor wrote:
Okay, so just to make sure I have this correct, because I'm still a little confused:

1. If I want to have 3 monitors, all displaying 3D accelerated images, I can do that with one card.
2. If I want to have 3 monitors, all running at 120Hz, and displaying "real" 3D for shutter glasses, I need two cards.

Is that right?

With a minor correction since you are 100% right.. you can probably do 120hz in "2D - 3D" with 3 screens without needing SLI.. it would run at like 15fps even with a Titan but I think its doable... Its just once you turn on 3D with the Glasses do you need SLI in a 3 Monitor scenario.

Ok so I've started looking at the Radeon 7970 to upgrade to, since I think that will give me the best performance, and I see where Tiger Direct is giving free copies of Crysis 3 and Bioshock Infinite with them, but I don't really know which of these three to pick. What the hell is the difference?

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1817062&Sku=V261-7970

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3242918&Sku=P450-7976

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1823334&Sku=P450-7972

MountaineerWR27 wrote:
Ok so I've started looking at the Radeon 7970 to upgrade to, since I think that will give me the best performance, and I see where Tiger Direct is giving free copies of Crysis 3 and Bioshock Infinite with them, but I don't really know which of these three to pick. What the hell is the difference?

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1817062&Sku=V261-7970

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3242918&Sku=P450-7976

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1823334&Sku=P450-7972

The first one is just the "reference design" copied exactly from the way ATI designed the card and cooler. The second two are from XFX and they have replaced AMD's cooler with one of their own custom design which may be a little quieter. At the moment the $30 MIR from XFX has brought down the cost on their two cards a bit.

Additionally, the first and third support the PCIe 3.0 while the middle one only supports PCIe 2.0 (aka 16x). This means the interface between the graphics card and motherboard would be a good deal faster with the more expensive ones, but we haven't quite reached the point where the bandwidth of PCIe 2.0 has become a bottleneck so the performance benefits of spending more on that are likely slim to none.

Bonus: ALCOA represent

So I'm best off going with the cheapest one? I don't necessarily want to pay more, but I will if the performance is leaps and bounds better.

psoplayer wrote:
Bonus: ALCOA represent

You're from Alcoa??

Not quite. I grew up in the Farragut area with family and friends spread throughout the area.

And yes, I would probably go with the cheapest of the three, but would try to get a second opinion from a genuine expert over in the main PC building thread.

The third choice is clocked a bit faster than the 2nd. So, if you want a little bit better performance, you could go for the third choice instead of the second. It's not going to make a huge difference, though. Also, you could probably overclock the 2nd option to the level of the 3rd if you really wanted. It might run a bit louder, though.

I'd just grab the 2nd option since it is quite a bit cheaper. Remember that you'll probably need a display port adapter if your monitors don't have display port inputs.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:
The third choice is clocked a bit faster than the 2nd. So, if you want a little bit better performance, you could go for the third choice instead of the second. It's not going to make a huge difference, though. Also, you could probably overclock the 2nd option to the level of the 3rd if you really wanted. It might run a bit louder, though.

I'd just grab the 2nd option since it is quite a bit cheaper. Remember that you'll probably need a display port adapter if your monitors don't have display port inputs.

I'll be getting new monitors, so I'll be able to make sure I get monitors that will support the inputs that the card has. The monitor I have now is the same size as my laptop screen and it's quite a pain in the arse. It's not widescreen or HD either; it came with an eMachines computer about 6 years ago.

Don't be afraid to get monitors with just DVI inputs if there is a good deal or something. Display port inputs tend to come on more expensive monitors. You can do 2 with DVI and the third using a $20-30 DP to DVI adapter.

Looks like with the 7970 I'm looking at around 420W. Should I take the safe route and get a bigger PSU?

I checked with this power supply calculator, upped the voltage and overclocked that CPU to 3.8 GHz (no idea if that's possible), added in a bunch of drives and whatnot. The minimum wattage required ended up being 506 W and the recommended ended up being 556.

So, I would suggest going through that calculator yourself and if your recommended comes in at over 460W, you might upgrade to a nice Corsair or Seasonic power supply. Definitely don't buy anything overpowered, though. Just go for a quality PSU that hits the recommended requirement.