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Gaming on 3 monitors

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by glight, Apr 9, 2011.

  1. TL;DR: From my experience, gaming on 3 monitors (5020x900 or 6024x1080) requires a high end setup. An i5 2500k@4.5GHz, 4GB RAM and a 6950 CF setup is what gets me to avg 60fps on High settings @ 6024x1080 in all games.

    These past months I took my first steps into gaming on PC, using eyefinity and making upgrades. I've learned a lot about what is really required to play with this setup so I thought I would share what I've been through.

    My 4 year old PC was made of a core2quad q6600 2.4GHz, 2GB ram and a 8600GTS. I thought I could get away with swapping the 8600 for a 6950 (my only option for 3 screens since I only had 1 PCIe16x slot on the mobo), an extra 2GB ram and a Hyper 212+ cooler to overclock my CPU to 3GHz.

    While this was sufficient to get playable performance with eyefinity in games like dead space 2 and fallout new vegas it certainly wasn't enough for f1 2010. All games worked very well on one screen (1920x1080) though. After trying to get a bit more performance out of my 6950 by unlocking the shaders and overclocking a bit I decided to do some benchmarking to see what was going on.

    New Vegas and Dead Space seemed to get a bit of improvement from my overclocking and changing the settings showed obvious improvements in framerate as I turned resolutions and settings down. But F1 2010 still struggled; no matter what the settings were, I couldn't get above a minimum of 24fps but with low settings it was kind of playable.

    I obviously needed more power so this week I have put in a new mobo, i5 2500k and another 6950. The result is that without overclocking the i5 I got almost triple the framerates I was getting with my q6600/6950 setup. I had believed that the q6600 was still great for gaming but now my opinion is that even with a single 6950 there was a cpu bottleneck.

    Overclocking the i5 2500k to 4.5GHz has gotten me an extra 15-20% performance on minimum fps (about 4-8fps extra). I had heard that a cpu can hinder crossfire or SLI performance but this I had no idea to this extent.
  2. This is why setting up a gaming PC is a matter of compromise or balancing :) You found out through trial and error as well a large bit of research I am sure what was going to be required to do what you wanted. There are a lot of folks out there that have the misconception that the games push everything they can through the GPU and don't bother the CPU so they don't invest in a better motherboard and CPU. This you have seen is not really the case as the CPU is still the director in this play and will be required to interact with more than 1 player very frequently.

    The newer technology being used to create the newer processors makes a difference as well as the raw horsepower of each core. What I am talking about is how the newer processors handle hyper-threading and how they manage their cache as well as the size of the on processor cache.

    A general rule of thumb is that if you are going to get a mid ranged GPU you should make sure you have a mid range CPU. High for high and low for low also. Any other combination and you are banging your head against a wall trying to get the frame rates out of the games. Some folks have spent a lot of money on the high end cards like you did and use their old CPU and think they have done a good job when they would have been just as well off spending less on the GPU and upgrading the processor and ram at the same time to get the most out of their money.
  3. Hi

    I too have recently gone this path and found similar results. I upgraded to an XFX6970 a few months back to run eyefinity triple screens, whilst I saw a great leap in FPS it was appent early on that my ageing Q8200 2.33Ghz quad core CPU was a big bottle neck as well as the early PCI-e 16 slot against the newer PCI-e v2.0 (larger bandwidth) and the slower DDR2 ram. I Consulted the 'Guru' Dave Stephenson lol and we decided the best bang for buck for me personally was to buy a top end Asus xfire ready O/C board along with a top end Meglahalems air cooler and some quality fast 4Gig Dominator DDR3 ram from Corsair. The Asus board (with its v2.1 PCI-e slots), faster DDR3 ram and a healthy O/Clock from 2.33 to 3.3 Ghz has shown a HUGE leap in performance. I am now seeing some EPIC FPS rate on all games with all settings maxxed.

    The same as engine tuning, a good balance of components nets the best results and if your Over Clocking, buy the best Mobo you can afford. My 1Ghz O/C was painless and simple with this mobo and the setup will deffinatly go further, but to be honest, there is no point atm and its at a safe and happy place with temps never going above 50 degs even under 100% load running Prime 95 for 4 hours! and utterly stable, plus I have the option to O/C the cpu further (3.5+ is deffinatly an option) and I can Xfire upto two more 69XX cards too......happy days :) (Thx Dave :))
  4. Just a small note about overclocking. Everyone's results vary as the CPU's are all different and fail at different points. Where one person may see 4.0 gig from a processor, another person with the same type of processor might only see 3.0 gig.
  5. Wow Brian, that sounds like a killer gaming machine..One question: how much did it cost you ?
  6. Well, the 6970 was £300, ram £50, Mobo was a bargain Re-manufactured item at £100, the rest was in the kit box apart from the cooler, secondhand from Dave £20. a few fans £20, a second 1TB HDD £35, Active cooling HDD Bay £20. Not cheap, but cheap for the powaa :) Cooling is important, apart from the Megahalems MONSTA cooler, Im running 4x 120mm fans plus a high output 80mm. Care must be taken tho, as too many or badly placed fans can disrupt air flow enough to go backwards!

    @ Jim, deffo, O/Clocking is very much diffrent, cpu from cpu, but the best MoBo you can afford is the key :)
  7. OK thanks Brian, gives me an idea of what I might have to spend. Man that Corsair memory was pretty cheap ! Will be carefull with the fans too, great advice, thanks !
  8. Very informative post, thanks for that.:D

    I guess I'll now have to can my hopes of one day using eyefinity with my 6870! Sound like it'll be too weak:frown: Guess I'll have to crossfire it or something...
  9. Paul, your 6870 is a good card and will run eyefinity fine :) There are quite afew people on here that use lower cards than that to run eyefinity. You may have to turn the settings down a little, but it should still work fine and look good :)
  10. Thanks Brian:D I probably sound like a cry baby :tongue:, but what this post makes me realize is the difference between reality and what the manufacturer says you can do. It seems like, from this post, eyefinity is really taxing on the whole system, even with a pretty high endish setup (mine is not high endish).
    I'm sure you can "run" eyefinity with a 6870, but I have a hard time giving up resolution and turning off AA and then seeing everything in huge and all jaggy. Ok so I am a little bit of a cry baby! lol
  11. For Eyefinity and for what ever nVidia calls theirs, you have to realize that you are requiring triple the output from the graphics card. The only way this would not be the case would be if you purchased several 15" 1024X768 monitors for your Eyefinity setup. Even then you are still looking at a picture that is going to be 3072 X 768 so it won't be light on the card. The more pixels you add, the more horsepower you need to make it look pretty.
  12. A 6870 is not enough for eyefinity, especially not F1 2010 since I had trouble with a single 6950 at 5020x900 (3x 1600x900) on Low settings. Keep in mind the 6950 has double the memory (2GB instead of 1GB) while at the same time being a much faster GPU. Even the GTX570 SLI has problems with F1 2010 in eyefinity due to a memory bottleneck (1.28GB is not enough).

    Modern games need 2 cards to run on 3 monitors and all the memory they can get (two 580's seem to be OK with 1.5GB of memory). Older, less demanding games are a different story. I would wager that rFactor and iRacing with eyefinity on a 6870 are not out of the question but I don't play those games so I can't comment for sure.

    As I've found out, another requirement for modern games besides an SLI/CF setup is a fast CPU so IMO the only choices are the 2500k or 2600k right now. Eyefinity is not out of place on the 6850/6870/single 6950 since it is capable of running some games while having to turn the res. and settings down (mileage varies), however in reality it seems kind of silly to boast 3 displays off of 1 card when you need 2 gpu's to power those 3 displays (at full res/settings).
  13. Sorry for resurrecting a dead thread but I had to add my 2 cents, a 6870 is plenty for eyefinity, I currently run F1 2010 on High settings on a single 5870 at a resolution of 5760x1080 with no noticeable frame rate issues. You also dont "need" a 2500k-2600k an AMD quad or 6 core or Intel i7 9xx will suit you just fine. It has more to do with the balance, having enough CPU to support your GPU and vice versa.

    A 5870 or even a 5850 will run eyefinity just fine, they are at their limit for sure but they will, we forget because a new generation of card has come out that the old generation used to to do the same thing, in fact it was designed to, and was what the technology was introduced on.

    Also, at a resolution as high at 1920x1080 or the triple version 5760x1080 AA is almost a null factor, the resolution is high enough that "jaggies" which used to torment us on lower res screens dont even exist, dont believe me, turn your AA off and tell me if you can notice a difference without a magnifying glass.

    I apologize but it bothers me when people getting panicked into buying more than they need, same thing with power supplies, everyone wastes money buying twice the wattage than their rig actually utilizes

  14. I'll second your comments, I ran a triple screen setup a couple of years ago, it handled plenty of high graphics games, and I didn't have anything special at all.

    To get my 3 monitors plugged in, I had an SLi setup using Nvidia 8600 chipset cards, SofTH was the software of choice for setting it up, I was on a P4 (3.6Ghz) with 4GB ram. The only expensive items in the machine was the Asus gaming motherboard (P5N-T deluxe I think) and the Nivida RAM.

    I never had 1 issue when playing games at max settings on my screens, even COD 4 played really well at max settings when it came out. So why bother spending 2 or 3 grand when you can get the same result for 800 quid ;)
  15. I will add mine too, single 5850 4gb ram and an AMD quad phenom@3.7 runs eyfinity great on 3 22inch monitors, we ran the whole of the RDLMS on that setup, I cant remember the res numbers (I only have 1 monitor my team mate brings his down for events) we had 8xaa and 16xani, ten minutes ago I ordered another 5850 though, found some brand new for £120, you can never have enough power imo :D

    That was on rFactor, I dont know about F12010 I only play sims :D :wink:
  16. If you can't run eyefinity, there is always softth. I use Softth and I've never had an issue when using 3 screens. I don't really have any high end hardware at all, been running a P4 3.0Ghz, 2x 2GB OCZ Nvidia Sli RAM, 2x 8600GT-S and an Asus P5N32-E SLi Deluxe. It runs mint without even overclocking. Although I haven't tried F1 2010, or Crisis, but I will tell you it will run netKar pro, rFactor, LFS, Project Reality and BF2142 on max settings. The only update I actually need is a multi core processor for running CS5, and thats it.
  17. And with that upgrade comes the need for a new motherboard and likely ram as well :)
  18. Nah, the motherboard will take a 775 Core 2 quad, All I gotta do is buy one and whack it in. It'll then last until I start looking at motion rigs lol.