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1 large monitor vs triple screen

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by driver74, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. I really like this website, and where it is going, so I figured I'd take some time to contribute to a topic which seems the concern of many as of lately. I came across this dilemma recently myself, and figured I would share my views in an unbiased manner. I am very happy with the setup I eventually chose.

    Ok, so you have $1500 in your pocket, that came out of nowhere. If you live in the U.S., perhaps its tax returns. You want to update your rig. You have a good wheel and pedals already, and that little 20" LCD is just not cutting it anymore. You decide to put together your dream simulator monitor setup. In this price range, you have several choices on monitors. Ultimately you can either go with 1 large screen, such as a dlp, projector or LCD, or a triple LED or LCD screen setup. I'm not going to get into specifics of brands and technologies here. In this price range, you could even go 3-D, if you decide to go with the single monitor.

    I'm sharing a compilation of the overall generic advantages and disadvantages I have read about (and some I have noticed myself, through my own research.) Please feel free to expand and add your own opinions per advantages/ disadvantages.

    I hope this will give some insight to people who are furthering into the hobby and contemplating which monitor setup they ultimately would like to run.

    Triple screen setup advantages:

    -no need for head tracking, ability to look into corners before taking them; more natural
    -greater sense of speed and immersion due to more peripheral vision
    -can create a much wider field of view, even by using smaller monitors
    -cool factor
    -expansive multi-tasking desktop possibilities when not racing

    For 3-D:
    -Three Monitors in 3-D is the mecca of the sim-racing enthusiast.

    Triple screen disadvantages:

    -Can be $$$ for good a monitor x3
    -poor compatibility with some games; as some games will not run 3 monitor resolution
    -processing power required, sli or crossfire pretty much mandatory & THTG / Eyefinity
    -setup can be complex; computer skills a must
    -wife may b!tch about the space and cost
    -overlapping bezels of adjacent monitors
    -less portable
    -desk size required
    -extra mounting hardware required, if not sitting on a desk
    -if one monitor breaks, you'll want to find the same or comparable one, possibly a year or more later

    For 3-D:

    -price: anyone who can afford a triple screen 3-D setup, and a computer that can run it well, is likely not reading this in the first place.
    -only a small amount of LCD's are currently 3-D compatible, and they are expensive in comparison (x3)

    Single large screen advantages:

    -compatible with everything, at native resolution
    -cheaper to run with 3-D
    -less processor/video-card power required, you can run off the same computer you ran your smaller monitor from
    -works great with head tracking
    -placed strategically, one big screen can double quite well as a home theater (this is a good excuse to give the wife, too)
    -more portable, in some cases
    -with a big enough screen/monitor, your car and environment can appear real life-sized
    -more headroom to adjust FOV settings

    For 3-D:

    -better for 3-D, if using dlp (ie: less ghosting, and many 2011 models are still generic nVidia compatible)
    -polarized 3-D glasses possible (if using dual wall projectors)
    -a large dlp screen in 3-D is much more immersive than a smaller, 3-D compatible LCD

    Single large screen disadvantages:

    -wife may still likely b!tch about the cost
    -lower clarity due to larger pixels and current projection technology (dlp)
    -lacking that peripheral vision (sense of speed) found with 3 monitors
    -bulky (if using a monitor)
    -effort required to make a good screen surface, and mounting (if using a projector)
    -desk size, in some cases
    -dlp monitors cannot be hang mounted like LCD's and LED's can
    -having to change bulbs every few years (dlp)
    -eyestrain when using as a primary desktop monitor (especially when sitting close)

    For 3-D:
    -dlp is not quite as bright as LED/LCD, and will be even darker under shutter glasses
  2. Hi :)

    I went through this process a few months back and came up with what I considered was a very good compromise :)

    I went the Eyfinity 3 LCD route. I purchased an XFX 6970 card (Plenty of power and no need to XFire) and I then used 3x 17" 4:3 monitors. I used the older non widescreen LCD's for a few good reasions....

    1) Cost, I managed to get 3 nice quality Dell monitors for under £100 Second hand in great condition :)

    2) Resolution, running 3 monitors @1280x1040 is PLENTY high enough resolution, but is infact quite a drop in pixels overall compared to widescreen and gives a good FPS boost!

    3) Size, 3x17" 4:3 still gives a LARGE viewing area without getting very silly in the size department, PLUS it stops the overall screen from getting too thin and narrow.

    The whole thing cost around £450 with all cables/dongles/GFX Card/monitor etc. I see 200 fps in rFactor (min), over 100 fps in iRacing (min) and stupidly high FPS well over 250fps (min) NKPro 1.3 These figures are with the games MAXXED out I.E. full AA/full detail etc

    Compatability is very good with the majority of games, plus a great many people have published freeware plugins to many games to make them multi monitor / eyefinity compatable. Overall I am extreemly happy with this budget set up and would NEVER go back to single monitor gaming again :)

    Hope this helps to prove you can do this on a reasionable budget with GREAT results :)
  3. First, thanks to driver74 and Brian for providing this information, especially in an easy to digest format. :cool:

    One question regarding PC hardware that I have for both of you, especially Brian...what cpu are you using to get the results you've seen, and is the cpu as important as having the necessary graphics hardware? I haven't looked into a triple-head configuration for several years, back when the Matrox (I think) Triple Head To Go was probably the only solution within the reach of gamers, and there was no way I could afford it at the time.
  4. +1 to Brian's comments

    I've developed three triple screen setups for a sim project.

    First an ATI triple screen setup with a HD 5770 GPU (£150) and active Displayport adapter (£60). 3.2Ghz Phenom CPU PC, three Acer 23" displays, mounting bracketry, 5.1 audio, keyboard and mouse, even a desk. Price? £1700. Performance? 50fps plus on medium graphics most titles, very happy with the results. Build list available if of interest.

    For 3D, for another few weeks at least Acer's 24" is the largest supported and my preferred choice for NVidia 3D Surround Vision. Change out of £800 for the set of three. Pair of GTX480s (recommend Gelid aftermarket cooling) for £700.

    @ David

    CPU's and RAM don't have to be top drawer, multi core CPU's are not of benefit to most titles so a single or dual core 3Ghz AMD CPU best balance for cost. DDR2 RAM can work fine but if you are buying new get DDR3.

    GPU is where you need to spend. A pair a GTX480s in SLI run three screen 3D up to 100fps with the correct graphics settings, typically low AA and filtering. If you have the budget go for the GTX580s without doubt.

  5. @David: Yes to some degree the CPU power has an effect on the abilities of your system when it comes to graphics. Even though some games don't support multi CPU's, the graphics card still uses the other cores to process information. If you spend money to get one of the best graphics cards and don't spend the money to get a decent CPU to go along with it, you will be hugely disappointed in the end. Tests have been run using high end graphics cards and varying CPU's and they do conclusively show that the CPU will cause a bottleneck on the graphics performance if the CPU isn't at least moderately decent in performance.
  6. @David

    I opted for the 1 large monitor setup, because 3-D was more important to me, so I cannot answer on specific requirements for 3 screens. It sounds like Brian has found a really nice way of making that work. Typically more screens= more GPU.

    I am running an overclocked dual core E8500 (4.2) and an nVidia GTX 470 OC edition on a 60" DLP. In rFactor & Simbin titles, I get consistently over 60 FPS with every eye candy setting maxed out and in 3-D. In iRacing, I have to turn down shadows when in 3-D to get the same performance.

    As far as the CPU being as important, that depends entirely on the software. Most of the older titles were written back before all of this newer technology, so they rely more heavily on the CPU for graphics, while newer, more efficient games utilize the video card more, as well as multi-core processors. My logic was to go with a dual core because this gives me excellent performance with many of those older games, yet it is still fast enough for the newer games coming out that are relying more on my video card and using both CPU cores.

    Dual core CPU's themselves are a little older, thus cheaper. They're more overclock friendly & run the coolest, IMO.

    When all is said and done, I always end up spending more $$ on GPU's. I have typically gone thru 2 GPU upgrades per 1 CPU upgrade. I never buy the newest GPU; I usually save a chunk of $$ by buying one thats a high performance version, but at least a generation older.

    Lots of good CPU/GPU performance comparisons here; I research this database heavily whenever I do an upgrade:

  7. Right :)

    My system is due a major revamp soon (see overclocking lmao)

    But current specs are : Intel Q8200 quad core CPU @2.33 Ghz (has been overclocked to 3Ghz, but due to a crappy MoBo is back at stock for the figs I gave above) so nothing special at all.

    4Gigs DDR2 Ram (again nothing special at all)

    XFX 6970 2gig gddr5 Eyefinity gfx card (Yes a bit special, top end card)

    To be honest, my CPU @2.33 Ghz is slowing things down, so looking for a better MoBo soon as I have had it clocked to 3ghz plus :) but due to some volt drop issues with the mother board and having to o/c the PCI-e port waaaaay to much to solve the prob I'm stock 2.33 again atm.

    Bottom line is BALANCE, get the best GPU you can afford, but the rest of your system must be able to keep up with it or you wont get the results. My CPU/Ram isnt making the most of the GPU atm, but that said, its still performing well :)

    Hope that helps :)
  8. Nice piece, but damn, for that price you could buy a sweet motion rig and just deal with the bezels.
  9. Kris Vickers

    Kris Vickers
    Hardware Staff

    Absolutely. $6500?? No way lol.

    Alot cheaper to buy 3 decent sized monitors and wrap them around you. May not look as pretty, but gets the job done.
  10. Did you guys notice one of the images on that site? They had 3 of their curved monitors setup in a triple head setup that pretty much wrapped the monitors around to the sides completely.
  11. why are you sticking to the 3d so much

    3d s not really that as i wanted 3d to be, so i thnk for the comng 3 years 3d will be not really a big deal.
    and how about 3d feelng when running 3 monitor sure its flat survace but better to look at for long time. f you had a 2 our race i think you will die with those cglasses :D or being really f***ed up afterwards.

    think best play for the coming (at least) 2 years is triple monitor
  12. I am perfectly content with 3-D. I have no issues with eyestrain, even after several hours. If it is set up right, it works phenomenally. It did take a while to get used to, but now I refuse to race without it; everything just looks WAY too flat without it.

    I wouldn't call 3-D an alternative to triple monitors, as much as I would call using a head-tracking system an alternative to triple monitors. I think ultimately it's a matter of preference.
  13. I'm going to enter this discussion because I want to. So there! :tongue:

    I've recently bought a 32" Widescreen Full HD LG TV (supports up to 1920x1080 resolution). Now, since I am connecting this up to a laptop, which has a 130M graphics card, I am seeing maybe 30fps in rFactor. I have got fed up of having to run a lower resolution (completely defying the point - you should never run less than native unless you have to) and lowest settings in order to get the fps up to around 70 tops. So, I went out and ordered a new computer.

    The specs?

    CPU: i7-960 @ 3.60GHz (overclocked) cooled by a Titan Fenrir EVO
    Motherboard: P6X58D-E
    GPU: Nvidia GTX560Ti
    RAM: 6GB DDR3 @1600MHz (3x2GB kit)
    PSU: 850W Corsair TX850
    HDD: 600GB @10,000rpm

    I can't wait to hook it up to my TV and surround sound system, should be close to perfection for driving. The price for that system? ~£900-£1000 depending on extras. What finally set the ball rolling was the fact that I've started to have to put my laptop in my fridge in order to stop it shutting down thanks to overheating, coupled with the fact that at Laguna Seca in the next WTM round, I'll have to run everything on low settings and the resolution down at something stupid like 800x450 just to make it playable...
  14. I had 100 plus people try the triple screen 3D setup at an event. The Nvidia solution allows us to adjust the depth perception, in the beginning I could only handle 20% for an hour without taking a break, after a week I had it at 60% for 3-4 hours fine. Other people could pick up and play at 80% and still see a single image.

    What's clear is we are all different!

    3D is a no brainer for me, if you can do it, do!
  15. Having not seen any game in 3D let alone play, all I can say is what I would prefer based on my thoughts and not my experiences. The idea of a large to huge monitor to use for my computer may well come one day so I can see the bloody thing, but for now the thought of using triple monitors would be more to what I would like to have setup. The reasoning is that I would like to have the video wrapped around me a bit so that I can look to the side and see out the side of the car. In my opinion if you want immersion, then there is nothing like being able to look to the right so you can see out the right side mirror to be sure you have room without changing what you see in front of you :)
  16. If you have the space go for Projector with shifthing lense. I did and that was my best decision.
    Look at my video: