Way back in 2009 (or, by computing standards, long before the advent of color television and running water), AMD unleashed its Radeon HD 5000-series graphics cards. Those cards were the first to feature AMD's Eyefinity multi-display technology, which enables gaming across as many as six monitors. Triple-display Eyefinity configs are, of course, just as feasible and quite a bit more practical to boot.
Adjusting a trio of monitors for optimal gaming goodness is best achieved using a triple-display stand. Unfortunately, gamers have faced an uphill battle to source stands capable of coping with the physical heft of triple gaming monitors, all the while satisfying their adjustability needs. Companies like Ergotron have been offering multi-monitor desk stand solutions since the dawn of time, but those tend to be targeted at professional users with smaller panels. Thankfully, however, the winds of change appear to be picking up.
As something of a multi-monitor aficionado, I jumped at the opportunity to check out a new triple-display monitor stand from XFX. To date, my multi-monitor experiences have consisted of strictly business, home-brewed mounting schemes without much regard for aesthetics. What XFX brings to the table is a professional stand targeted at the Eyefinity panoramic gaming community. The extra screen real estate can certainly be enlisted for more productive uses, but the aggressive angular styling of the base gives a not-so-subtle clue as to the target market.
Pricing and specifications
The XFX Triple Display Monitor Stand should soon show up at your friendly local e-tailer with an asking price of $379. For this cash outlay, you get a stand capable of holding up to three 24" LCD monitors on fully adjustable mounts that can be tweaked for height, tilt angle, and landscape or portrait rotation. The mounts are compatible with both 75-mm and 100-mm VESA standards. Most monitors should support one of those mounting arrangements, but it's always in your best interest to double-check before taking the plunge.
The stand's base includes a two-port USB 2.0 hub, headphone and microphone jacks, cable-management clips, and a hidden compartment for stashing the included Allen wrenches when you're done adjusting your displays. The bold styling of the base is perhaps the defining feature of this product. You would be forgiven if you mistook it for the flightless offspring of a F-117 Nighthawk and a Cylon Raider. Tipping the scales at about 12 pounds, the base is also quite hefty. That's a good thing, because it contributes to the stability of a fully assembled triple-display setup.
Assembly and installation
Setting up the stand is a relatively straightforward affair. Testing out the different monitor configurations and adjusting the mounts to your liking does take a little time, but a well-illustrated installation guide walks you through each step of the process. I do have a couple of first-hand tips to offer, however.
Once the main pole is inserted into the base, it must be twisted clockwise and tightened down. This design is meant to ensure a snug fit, and while I was able to manhandle the post into place, it is essentially stuck now. A quick dab of lubricant on the threads will probably save you some headaches and prevent bodily harm during future disassembly.
You will also want to verify that the horizontal monitor arm is not installed upside-down before putting the plastic sealing cap on the top of the mounting post. This cap has a tear-drop-shaped cable-management hook intended for webcam or microphone cords, but it also prevents the monitor arm from being removed. The cap was such a tight fit that I cracked the plastic hook while attempting to pry it off. Ultimately, I shaved off the tear-drop section with a pocket knife to avoid completely destroying the cap.
Several clip-on cable-management hooks can be attached after you've securely fastened the pole and monitor arm. The kit also includes a USB 2.0 cable and two audio cords for connecting the base's headphone and microphone jacks to your computer. On my PC, attaching the headphone cable to the top/front panel headphone connector shuts off the speakers, even when no headphones are plugged into the base. That's an issue with my computer and not the monitor stand itself, but it's something worth considering if your PC happens to behave similarly. To a certain extent, you can control the behavior of your front audio jack through Windows' Sound control panel, but you may still have compromise, like by having to turn off your speakers manually when using headphones.
To mount your displays, simply attach the included VESA mounting brackets to the back of each monitor using the provided screws and clip them onto each arm. A spring-loaded pin located in each mount pops down into a groove, preventing the monitors from falling off and getting damaged. To reposition a monitor on the arm, simply lift the security pin, slide your monitor to a new position, and release the pin again. I was impressed with the ease of installation and robustness of the XFX mounts.
With your displays in place, the mounts allow you to control the tilt, height, and rotation angle. My favorite adjustment mechanism is the height knob found on the side-display arms. This knob is connected to a large screw that will raise or lower the side displays depending on which direction you turn, making alignment of the edges of the panels very quick, accurate, and easy. It should be mentioned that the middle display mount does not have a height adjuster—only tilt and rotation controls. To raise or lower the middle screen, you must loosen the entire monitor arm and slide it up or down the vertical post as desired. If your monitors are already attached, I would recommend enlisting a second person to help, because the added weight can make that an awkward and dangerous undertaking.
You can arrange your displays in any combination of landscape or portrait mode layouts. Everybody has their own preferences in this regard, but after some quality time fiddling with the orientation options, I found that my favorite arrangement was simply having all monitors in landscape mode. That configuration provides the best panoramic gaming experience, as well. The rotation mechanisms were a little too loose out of the box, which meant that a slight bump would throw the monitors off-level. The rotation friction is adjustable, but you can't get to the tightening bolt without removing the installed monitor.
Adjusting the alignment and angles of the displays is very much a trial-and-error process. A bubble level and a ruler are extremely useful tools to have on hand during this adventure.
|Today's Steam deals include Saints Row IV, The Walking Dead||0|
|IHS: 2014 was a good year for the semiconductor industry||0|
|S.T.A.L.K.E.R studio re-opens, plans new project||11|
|New HP Chromebook combines Tegra K1, 1080p touch screen||17|
|Friday night topic: what are you giving for Christmas?||116|
|Notes from TR's next-gen storage testing||30|
|Today's Steam deals include AC Unity, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel||32|
|Deal of the week: A Radeon R9 290X for $280, a 960GB SSD for $339, and more||2|