Project: Adding extra monitors for more immersive gaming.
Why you’d attempt it: Because three-monitor gaming is awesome.
Difficulty factor: Easy
Now PCs have supported multiple monitors forever, and pretty much every graphics card on the
market has multiple video outputs. Two monitor setups have become pretty common, and they
work well for productivity applications. They’re very easy to set up for general Windows use, too;
generally you just plug the monitors into the graphics card and go to the Windows display settings to configure how you want them to work.
Gaming, however, is a whole other issue. A few years back ATI introduced Eyefinity, which allowed for multiple monitors to act as a single large screen. Nvidia later caught up with its 2D and 3D Surround system, which also supports a single large surface display. Playing 3D games with multiple monitors gives you a real panoramic view of the playfield and helps you feel like you’re really there.
But you need three monitors and the right graphics hardware to make it work well. Two monitors
means that the screen is likely split down the middle, which is annoying. Three, however, gives you a centre/main and left and right views.
If you’re interested in a multi-monitor gaming configuration here’s some things to keep in mind:
1. Ideally you want to have monitors of the same size and brand. If you’ve got existing monitors that you want to use then look for additional monitors of the same brand first: they’re most likely to match the stand height and bezel size of your current monitors. Hopefully they’re also a good colour match. The monitors have to have the same display aspect, otherwise the images will be distorted across the screens.
2. Monitors with minimal bezel are the way to go. You want to minimise the gap between the screens.
3. You need a decent graphics card, preferably one with multiple GPUs on board. You’re effectively driving a massively high resolution display when you play across three monitors.
4. If you’re buying a new graphics card, look first to ATI. It’s still well ahead when it comes to multi-monitor gaming. As of the Radeon 5000 series, it supports up to six displays off a single GPU and doesn’t suffer from some of Nvidia’s painful restrictions about having monitors of the same model or using the same type of display connector. ATI doesn’t need multiple GPUs like Nvidia. Depending on your Nvidia card, you may need to use SLI (that is, multiple graphics cards) to achieve Surround – see here
for more details.