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Windows 7: Best triple monitor solution?

23 Jul 2010   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 
Best triple monitor solution?

I'm new here, so hi everyone! I'd really appreciate some advice on setting up multiple monitors under Windows 7 and this seems the best place to ask Sorry for the long post.

I'm currently running a dual monitor setup under windows 7 home premium 64-bit using a Radeon HD4770 card (PCI-E). I got hold of a third monitor (so I potentially have a primary 24" widescreen DVI monitor (1920x1080) plus 2 matching 19" VGA side monitors (1280x1024)) and was wondering what the best approach to setting it up would be. I should stress that this is NOT to achieve any triple-monitor gaming, that just isn't realistic on my budget, although I would hope for the best possible gaming performance on just the primary monitor I could get with my hardware. There would be nothing more taxing on the secondary monitors than maybe watching live tv from my standard-def pci tv card, or watching a DVD or video file through media player. I would hope aero stuff would work across all three.

From reading older posts here, and on other forums, there seem to be 3 approaches open to me that may work. All would cost roughly the same here in the UK, around 50 ($80 ish).

1. Install a PCI graphics card to run the third monitor. Only decent one I can find readily available here is the GeForce 8400GS for around 45. Would mean mixing ATI and Nvidia display drivers.

2. Replace the 512Mb Radeon HD4770 with a 1Gb Radeon 5670 + passive DisplayPort-VGA adaptor to run all 3 from the same PCI-E card. Overall cost would be somewhere around 50-60 if I also sold the HD4770 on ebay.

3. Replace my current motherboard and use my current HD4770 card along with an onboard HD4200 chipset in 'ATI SurroundView'. Sell the old motherboard. Overall cost 45-55.

So not much difference in cost, so the performance/compatibility problems are of more concern. Any ideas anyone?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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23 Jul 2010   #2

Main - Windows 7 Pro SP1 64-Bit; 2nd - Windows Server 2008 R2
 
 

My roommate just went the three-monitor route and found it simplest to just add a 5770 to the 4870 she already had. By the time you track down Display Port adapters and whatnot it turned out to be cheaper, too. It was also a lot easier than swapping out a motherboard would have been. There is the added benefit of being to upgrade one video card at a time if there is ever a need for it.

I know some people run mixed drivers (ATi/nVidia) with no problem, but I think that doing that doubles (or maybe squares) your chances of trouble.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jul 2010   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by profdlp View Post
My roommate just went the three-monitor route and found it simplest to just add a 5770 to the 4870 she already had. By the time you track down Display Port adapters and whatnot it turned out to be cheaper, too. It was also a lot easier than swapping out a motherboard would have been. There is the added benefit of being to upgrade one video card at a time if there is ever a need for it.

I know some people run mixed drivers (ATi/nVidia) with no problem, but I think that doing that doubles (or maybe squares) your chances of trouble.
Ahh, OK, thanks, my fault but I should have mentioned that my motherboard only has one PCI-E x16 slot. So my options for a second discrete card are limited to a PCI-E x1 slot, or an old-style PCI slot. Hence the idea of swapping out the motherboard for something else. To be fair, once every six months I basically pull the PC to bits to clean out all the dust and crap anyway, so fitting a new motherboard isn't technically a big deal to me.

Cheers for the advice anyway
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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23 Jul 2010   #4

Main - Windows 7 Pro SP1 64-Bit; 2nd - Windows Server 2008 R2
 
 

Given that, I'd prefer your options in reverse order if it were my system. They all have their points, though.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jul 2010   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by profdlp View Post
Given that, I'd prefer your options in reverse order if it were my system. They all have their points, though.
Sorry, I was busy messing about with my user profile! I get sidetracked very easily. Yes, I listed the options in order of least effort to most. But if the results are there, I'm happy to put the work in. The trouble is, if I go down the new motherboard route I'll end up looking for one that might help me unlock the Phenom II X3 705e processor's 4th core. As I said, easily sidetracked
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jul 2010   #6
Microsoft MVP

Win 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Going the motherboard route might be the most inconvenient method as far as changing hardware but for what you are looking to do, the easiest in the end. I can tell you that the Surround View works and works very well, as I have used it on mine from time to time (connect the onboard to my 32 "LCD TV, and leave my 2 monitors connected to the 4830).

Haven't really looked much into the new 800 series chipsets so can't say how they are for unlocking cores (from what I have seen is that they changed the name of it and how it works), but any 785G or 790GX with the SB710 or SB750 on them will allow for unlocking. Then it is just a matter of whether your x3 is capable of unlocking the 4th core and being stable that way.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jul 2010   #7

Main - Windows 7 Pro SP1 64-Bit; 2nd - Windows Server 2008 R2
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by stormy13 View Post
...it is just a matter of whether your x3 is capable of unlocking the 4th core and being stable that way.
Great point.

This might be of interest if you go the new MB route:

MSI offers BIOS-free Windows core unlocking software
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jul 2010   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by stormy13 View Post
Going the motherboard route might be the most inconvenient method as far as changing hardware but for what you are looking to do, the easiest in the end. I can tell you that the Surround View works and works very well, as I have used it on mine from time to time (connect the onboard to my 32 "LCD TV, and leave my 2 monitors connected to the 4830).

Haven't really looked much into the new 800 series chipsets so can't say how they are for unlocking cores (from what I have seen is that they changed the name of it and how it works), but any 785G or 790GX with the SB710 or SB750 on them will allow for unlocking. Then it is just a matter of whether your x3 is capable of unlocking the 4th core and being stable that way.
That's really great info, thanks. The board I was already looking at was an Asus 785G/SB710 so it would be a nice bonus if I could give the unlocking a go. If it doesn't work, then meh, it'll still do the triple monitor. Starting to look like a no-brainer now. Cheers!

And to profdlp - thanks again!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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