Six-display Eyefinity rig lands in Damage Labs

As we mentioned in our Radeon HD 5830 review, the six-monitor-capable Eyefinity6 edition of the Radeon HD 5870 is coming soon.  We, dear reader, have the arduous but necessary task ahead of us of reviewing this unusual beast.  We will, for the good of science, strap ourselves into a chair in front of a six-display rig and play games for hours on end.  Not just anyone would endure this ordeal for your benefit, but we resolved to meet this challenge.

To that end, AMD dispatched a pair of agents into the bowels of Damage Labs yesterday to assemble an Eyefinity6 demo rig.  This formidable setup includes a Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity6 2GB graphics card, no less than six Dell P2210H 1080p monitors, and a pair of stands for the monitors.  Putting it together properly and aligning the displays is no trivial matter, although Shane and Bijan from AMD were admirably efficient.

In this shot, you can see the donut-ring mounts protruding up from the back of four monitors.  These are mounted on ball joints to provide fine-grained control of display alignments, along with maximum frustration potential when things are ever-so-slightly off.

When the threading of pipes and snaking of cables is complete, the four-display primary mount is pretty slick.  All of the cables are routed into a bunch, and the next step required is an incredibly geeky version of a barn raising.

Once four monitors were lifted upright and the second stand (for two more displays) was assembled, it was time for final alignment of the displays into as perfect and flush a wall of pixels as possible.  Here, Bijan employs a very high tech tool he brought from AMD to maintain the alignment: high-tensile connective fabric.  (Yep, sticky tape.)

We simply installed the Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity6 into our usual open-air graphics test rig.  You can see six Mini DisplayPort adapters fanning out from the back of the card.  These plug into full-sized DisplayPort cables that run to the monitors.

When the setup was complete, we had 12 glorious megapixels forming a massive, illuminated rectangle.  Effective resolution: 5760x2160.

Pictured above is Jr. Damage playing HAWX on the setup.  The single 5870 card is able to run HAWX fluidly in DirectX 10 mode across all six displays.  Another great game for this setup is DiRT 2, which also runs plenty fast at high quality.  We've had nice results with Dawn of War II and Sacred 2, too, although you'll want to enable mouse acceleration for a display surface this enormous.

I probably most enjoyed playing Street Fighter IV last night on this display wall.  It worked perfectly, and the ridiculous fun of it all had me laughing out loud.  I remember, as a kid, arguing with other kids about whether the version of Pac-Man on my Atari 800 was as good as the arcade one, and whether the Atari or Commodore versions of various games were superior.  Watching a two-foot-tall Ryu battle it out with Blanka kinda puts things into perspective.

By which I mean: I win, suckas!

Once the setup was complete, we recorded a quick podcast segment with Shane.  We discussed some of the ins and outs of a setup like this one, along with the steps AMD is taking—both in its drivers and by working with game developers—to make Eyefinity arrays easier to manage.

Not every game runs perfectly, and there's obviously still work to be done in the drivers for six-panel configurations.  Still, your rods and cones will have few virtual experiences quite like this one.

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