Eyefinity or Surround Build

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Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:45 am

Hi all, I am getting ready to put a new build together and was hoping to get some recommendations. I am really interested in putting a system together that can handle general system use, photoshop and gaming on an eyefinity or nvidia surround 3 monitor setup. I have a budget of $2,500 but no more than $3,000 and will be starting from scratch, so new monitors, keyboard, mouse, case and components.

- I don't have any specific preference towards AMD/NVIDIA but I am looking at pushing 3 1920x1080 monitors, so whichever you all think is best for scaling in crossfire/sli.

- I don't have a preference between AMD/Intel (although Sandy is the current champ imo, and Sandy E is coming out soon,, but what about bulldozer, lol... regardless, something new will come out 2 days after any new build, so whatever you all currently recommend)

- Primary use is gaming, and photo editing. I am not concerned with using top tier NEC monitors or IPS panels, due to the cost. I've managed to do pretty well with standard screens and havnt had any complaints regarding color accuracy, and everything gets color corrected at my lab anyways, so although I understand the benefits of IPS panels, it isnt a concern and I'd rather put the money into a higher capacity SSD or better set of GPU's.

- I don't plan on doing anything 3D.

- I've never overclocked but I would like the option.

- As far as gaming I only really play FPS

- I live in the states and would prefer to buy from newegg or any equally reputable retailer.

-- Ideally I would love to be able to play Crysis 2, B'OPS, etc on high settings with AA/AF on a 3 monitor eyefinity/surround setup with playable framerates.

I would greatly appreciate any help you all may be able to give regarding build recommendations, and I'm sorry if I missed any of the common questions that I should have answered in advance.
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:47 am

I would recommend avoiding Eyefinity/3D Surround (I like to call it frankenscreen), they are expensive gimmicks that don't make sense for gaming. The genres that would take advantage of it (driving, flight/space sims) are pracitcally dead. You can replicate most of the benefits of Eyefinity/3D Surround by increasing FOV in your FPS and having a wide enough screen. Just stick with a single 580/6970 (both can effortlessly handle 2Megapixel gaming with AA/AF) and be done with it, unless you want to wait for next-generation GPUs.

I would allocate the system budget towards having more memory and a faster I/O because you want to do photo editing. Photo-editing benefits from having tons of memory espeically with today's prices (16GB of DDR3 is very affordable) and throw in some decent performance SSDs (128-256GB models) and a seperate NAS box as a data back-up solution.

Intel is the better buy if performance is the consideration, AMD only makes sense if budget is a serious concern ($2,000-$2,500 isn't there).
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:13 am

@Krogoth, thank you for the reply, and I really do appreciate your input. One of the other reasons I was interested in the eyefinity/surround was because I am interested in the additional real estate. I've done multi monitor setups before, but never in a combined resolution. I actually really enjoyed having such a large resolution. I assume the "frankenscreen" comment, is due to the annoyance of the bezel's, however, most people that do the setup (that i've read atleast), say that they get used to it in just a couple minutes.

I'm not trying to blow off your suggestion at all, and I really do appreciate the input Krogoth. I agree with you on the RAM and Intel. As for NAS, I currently back everything up onto 2 seperate externals, and on a DVD (not the cheapest apprach, but certainly redundent enough for my purposes). However, I'm still sold on the eyefinity/surround idea and would like to pursue it.

-- If you were going to do an eyefinity/surround build would you stick with 3 standard monitors (23'ish inches each), x3 42" tv's (yes, i know this would kill my vision pretty quickly), or x3 smaller 120Hz tv's?
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:43 am

adammtp wrote:@Kragoth, thank you for the reply, and I really do appreciate your input. One of the other reasons I was interested in the eyefinity/surround was because I am interested in the additional real estate. I've done multi monitor setups before, but never in a combined resolution. I actually really enjoyed having such a large resolution. I assume the "frankenscreen" comment, is due to the annoyance of the bezel's, however, most people that do the setup (that i've read atleast), say that they get used to it in just a couple minutes.

I'm not trying to blow off your suggestion at all, and I really do appreciate the input Krogoth. I agree with you on the RAM and Intel. As for NAS, I currently back everything up onto 2 seperate externals, and on a DVD (not the cheapest apprach, but certainly redundent enough for my purposes). However, I'm still sold on the eyefinity/surround idea and would like to pursue it.

-- If you were going to do an eyefinity/surround build would you stick with 3 standard monitors (23'ish inches each), x3 42" tv's (yes, i know this would kill my vision pretty quickly), or x3 smaller 120Hz tv's?


If you are serious about looking into Eyefinity and 3D vision, I would recommend getting at least a 580 SLI/6970 CF setup if you can afford it. Neither option is cheap, but Eyefinity and 3D Vision with AA/AF is very demanding. 570 SLI/6950 2GB CF setup would be more affordable, but I doubt it could handle Eyefinity and 3D Vision with AA/AF on some newer games without cutting back.

For which Intel platform to choose from, if you need more capacity, PCIE lanes and bandwidth. The only option is X58, but motherboard and chips for it aren't cheap, unless you OC an i7-920, which you don't want to do. I suppose you could wait for Sandy-Bridge-E refresh. Sandy Bridge is more senesible, as it yields nearly as much performance as their Gulftown counterparts for a fraction of the cost. The only catch is that the SB platform has less memory slots and PCIe lane, which may limit your options.
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 5:38 am

Ok as far as eyfinity and NV surround,with the nvidia solution to get best results you would need 3 identical monitors since on nv setups its hard to get the surround correctly aligned with mismatched monitors,As for ati/amd eyefinity setups they are much easier to setup then NVs solution Plus you can have up to six displays,surround on a 5 montor setup in portrait is pretty kewl,but 3 is great to really feel immersed in a game and for work type stuff you will have plenty of real estate.Just one more thing you will need a sli NV setup to get 3 monitor output recomend 570s,ATI you can get away with one but i would rec 6950s/70s in crossfire,or a 6990 but they are so damn noisey and i think u get more performance out of a pair of 6950s for cheaper.
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:02 am

For my Eyefinity setup I ended up going with 1680x1050 panels... It was not an easy decision but I'm very glad to have made it. It's funny, I always thought I would only ever go up in resolution but when I was starting at 2048x1280 (FW900) there wasn't very far to go and my first LCD ended up being 1920x1200... When I decided to make the jump to Eyefinity (which started as SoftTH w/ 2x8800GTX) I was looking at a world where the only reasonably priced 1920 panels were 1080 pixels high... Giving up those 120 pixels caused me to lose sleep at night but the extra 30 pixels to drop down to 1050 didn't seem so bad after taking the cost save and the fact that 1680 vs. 1920 would save me 720x30 pixels of rendering overhead when there was already more than enough FOV to go around...

Currently I run a 2600k and a pair of 5870s and I'm super please with the setup. :)
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:15 am

If the vertical resolution bothers you, why not go to portrait orientation with your Eyefinity monitors? 3ea 1080 x 1920 = 3240 x 1920.
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:55 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:If the vertical resolution bothers you, why not go to portrait orientation with your Eyefinity monitors? 3ea 1080 x 1920 = 3240 x 1920.


Seconded.
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 7:18 am

wow, thanks everybody for so much feedback :) good group of people here at TR

@Krogoth --> Sandy-E "should" be out Sept time frame'ish right? If so, would it offer the same PCIe lanes that the x58's currently offer, and sorry for my lack of knowledge, but if it does open up the PCIe lanes on each card to be x16 x16 (vs x8 x8), would the same cards then perform twice as fast (or atleast more throughput then the current option of x8 x8)?

@Vargis14 --> I would plan on getting the same monitors, although i'm still deciding on which route would be best (smaller 23"'ish computer monitors, larger 42"ish tv's, or faster 120Hz monitors). I only plan on doing a 3 monitor setup, and plan on doing a sli/crossfire depending on whichever you all think would scale better.

@drfish --> I havent looked into 1680x1050 pricing, i'll be sure to check out some of the offerings.

@JustAnEngineer --> I am curious if 3 monitors in portrait orientation would cause the crosshair in most FPS games to be on the center monitors left bezel. Although the resolution does sound pretty great.

@Airmantharp --> Thanks

Thanks again for all of the recommendations and opinions, I really do appreciate it.
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 7:53 am

Adam,

I would go with a 6950 crossfire setup. Would save you $100 on both video cards, and its very simple to unlock shader's and oc the core/memory to get 6970 speeds. There are tons of correct threads on overclock.net and even some here I believe on the best way to do so. Even if you don't want to flash the bios, the MSI Twin frozr 6950 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127588 is a great overclocker out of the box. At such a resolution 5970x1080 or the portrait variant the speed and gpu memory comes into play. The stock 6950 is about 10% slower than the 6970 at those resolutions.

I have 2x6950's ref. flashed with 6970 bios running at 900/1400 @ 5970x1080. I also have them water cooled and they don't go above 55c under full load for hours. The twin frozr cooler from MSI will be around 60-65 depending on the ambient. Very good as well and not noisy. I average 65 fps in bc2 all on high with 2xaa/8xaf. COD4/5 all high 4xaa/16xaf i average 85fps. And in black ops its about 75, same settings as above. BO isn't very well optimized. Powered with a i7 950 @ 4.2 - 6GB ddr3 1600mhz.

Intel would be the only choice I would go with at this moment right now. Honestly there is no point in waiting for the next cpu. There's always going to be a new cpu right around the corner. Sandy bridge should work fine and is a great OC as well. You may sacrifice a handful of fps with 8x/8x say 2-3, but it really wont be noticeable. You can always make them up with overclocking the cpu and gpu.

If I was you, I would grab these monitors http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824005234, best of both worlds for work/play. Having a entry level IPS which has a bit better color accuracy than regular TN panels and a decent response time. I wouldn't go with TV's as monitors. They just don't have a good enough pixel pitch or clarity for use within 2-3ft from the screen. TV's are best viewed from a distance.

Anyway that's my quick 2 cents, you have a great budget to work with. So good luck!



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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 7:56 am

1680x1050 pricing isn't going to be as different now as it was a year or so ago. 3xPortrait, to me, defeats the purpose of surround gaming... It doesn't give you the FOV advantage that running the monitors in landscape does but to each his own I guess. The cross-hair thing won't be an issue.
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:26 am

@adamwzl --> I had heard alot about the 6950 to 6970 unlock, but I also heard that there were some issues with the recent revisions of the cards with doing it. I really do appreciate the fps info for the games. The IPS you mentioned sounds nice, but I'd prefer to put the extra $ into a faster response time or larger screen. Thanks again for all the spec's and referenced info adam.

@drfish --> I agree that there really is not much of a price difference atleast the ones I was checking out. I'm pretty much set on keeping the monitors in landscape orientation.


Thanks for the help all.
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:39 am

I have been reviewing products for ages, but only this summer did I actually get Eyefinity running: http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Editorial/ ... Technology

Seeing as the HD 6970s are just not available, the HD 6950s are a good choice. I flashed mine to 6970s, and have been very happy with how they have performed. Now I just need to find more time to actually game.

As a side note, I use all three monitors for productivity work. Far more than I do for gaming...

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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:26 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:If the vertical resolution bothers you, why not go to portrait orientation with your Eyefinity monitors? 3ea 1080 x 1920 = 3240 x 1920.

3rded or my previously stated 5 panel portrait eyefinity
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:46 am

@JoshMST --> That was a great article, very well written. Thank you for sharing it. I read alot of the other comments that your fans had commented on the article and It had a "ahhhhhhhhh, the lights turned on" effect for me. I think it would be an extremely beneficial option for the productivity side of the house (as it is for you while your writing your articles), and as it would be for me while photo editing... However, as most people (just about everyone actually lol) have already stated, It might not be exactly ideal for FPS gaming.

Thanks all for your help. and thanks again for the article Josh.
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:50 pm

adammtp wrote: However, as most people (just about everyone actually lol) have already stated, It might not be exactly ideal for FPS gaming.

Thanks all for your help. and thanks again for the article Josh.


You won't understand how it us until you've used it yourself. Everyone has their personal preference as to why they like eyefinity/surround. I actually enjoy fps games in eyefinity gives me more immersion. Some others may not. Also for productivity wise, 3 monitors is great. Even if you don't like eyefinity, having 3 monitors on the desktop just makes life much easier. Don't always judge and take into account what other people think as it may certainly may not apply to you.

Also these reviews you have found about the 6950 is just normal for tech products. The reason why you are hearing about them is because either that person doesn't know how to properly flash a card, the card was a bad egg, overclocking way to high and frying the card, and also driver/game/punkbuster issues. All are just normal problems with any card you get. You should not flash over a non referenced 6950 with due to changes in the production, but unlock the shaders is safe, as long as it was done correctly and the BIOS you used did not change any voltage/timings for the card. If you get a popular 6950 chances are someone already has a BIOS rom hosted somewhere on the net you can use. Techpowerup also has a all stock bios and some modified ones as well.
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:26 pm

productivity wise, eyefinity is not so nice - I like it more when my 3 screens are separate. Also, the difference in productivity between 1 & 2 screens is huge, but it's only a small advantage going to 3 screens.

Eyefinity is nice, but depends on the game you play - for racing, it's superb and adds to the experience, fps'es also but less. Most of the times, you don't even look at the 2 other screens.

You'll need a beefy setup. For eyefinity, the amount of gfx ram is also important.

Personally, if I were you, i'd get 3 of the new 2412's from dell, and a 6970 to run it/ or 2*6950. I'm running a single 5870 and that's perhaps a bit underpowered for the full setup. Anyway, your budget is high enough to spend approx half on screens and the rest on a fairly decent pc.
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:37 pm

I would go with a 6970 and call it good. I don't see a whole lot of reason to crossfire, either. Going with an nvidia solution (I think) would require SLI. For the games you play, the 6970 should be fine in a 3 monitor configuration. As long as it is in a 2GiB flavor, that is. Have a 3x1680x1050 in potrait and you should be great.

I believe you could even find a bezel-less monitor now, but you will pay more for it. Didn't xfx come out with a 3-monitor stand?
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:26 am

TheEmrys wrote:I would go with a 6970 and call it good. I don't see a whole lot of reason to crossfire, either. Going with an nvidia solution (I think) would require SLI. For the games you play, the 6970 should be fine in a 3 monitor configuration. As long as it is in a 2GiB flavor, that is. Have a 3x1680x1050 in potrait and you should be great.

I believe you could even find a bezel-less monitor now, but you will pay more for it. Didn't xfx come out with a 3-monitor stand?


He could definitely try it, but I've already found that my HD6950 2GB Crossfire setup can't max out the 4MP on my HP ZR30w. The setup you're suggesting is 5.3MP. I would say though, that it would be worth it to try just one and see, and add a second only if the first was inadequate.
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Re: Eyefinity or Surround Build

Postposted on Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:42 am

@adamwzl --> I agree that everyone has their own preference, and I really do think it would be an awesome way to really get immersed into the game. Thanks

@ozymandias --> I've done a multi monitor (non-surround/eyefinity) setup before and I did really enjoy it. I was just looking into the other side of the house. I've also heard most people agree that it requires much more powerfull setup. Thanks

@TheEmrys --> I know samsung was making some very small bezel monitors but they are fairly expensive. XFX did come out with a very futuristic (alien'ish) monitor stand. It looks really neat and reviewed well. Thanks

@Airmantharp --> Thanks for the feedback

I did look at alot more reviews and I was curious what you all thought about just going with the Asus 3D/Nvidia setup. It sells for about $450'ish and reviewed well. Would 3D provide the same immersion in your opinion that the eyefinity does? I know the side effects of possible eye strain, etc.. But just on the immersion side of the house, would you recommend it? I think it would be less of a struggle getting it to work with multiple games, not having to SLI/X-Fire would keep from having the scaling issue's, etc... Any body had good experience with 3D gaming?

(side note -- I would still keep my other monitor as well for the photo editing, since alot of people say color accuracy is an issue with that Asus monitor)

Thanks again everybody for all your help.
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