December 2, 2010

Eyefinity Reveiw and Setup Instructions


So this Black Fri­day I decid­ed to hang around newegg and I found myself 2 x Hanns·G HZ251HPB Black 25″ in addi­tion to my Hannspree HF289H 28″ mon­i­tor.  I decid­ed to do this because I already owned a Sap­phire 5850 1GB and I had nev­er messed around with mul­ti mon­i­tor dis­plays.  I’ll cov­er my results and the parts required to make it work.  I searched the inter­net far and wide for instruc­tions on how to set this up and make it work and I final­ly got it all fig­ured out and I’ll cov­er it below. 
So lets start with my build.  I’m run­ning on a Giga­byte moth­er­board, with 8gb of DDR3 CL7, AMD Phe­nom II 965 and a Sap­phire 5850 1gb and the mon­i­tors list­ed above.
To do an eye­fin­i­ty set­up you need 3 mon­i­tors and a ATI card cape­able of doing eye­fin­i­ty.  I believe all Direc­tX 11 Radeon cards are cape­able of doing eye­fin­i­ty.  I would rec­om­mend at least a 5850 to do an eye­fin­i­ty set­up oth­er­wise you will run into some per­for­mance hits.  One of your mon­i­tors needs to have a Dis­play Port Adapter shown here on the right.  If your mon­i­tor does not have one of these Dis­play Port Adapters on it you need to pur­chase a ACTIVE dis­play port adapter.  My mon­i­tors did not have Dis­play Port Adapters so I had to pur­chase one seper­ate­ly.  I pur­chased a Pow­er­cool­er Dis­play Port Adapter.  If you don’t pur­chase an ACTIVE dis­play port adap­tor then it will not work. 
Once you have all your parts in hand all you need to do is hook them up.  Con­nect one of the mon­tiors to the dis­play port adap­tor and hook it up to the dis­play port on the video card.  Hook the oth­er two up to the DVI ports on your video card.  Now you have to enable enable eye­fin­i­ty.  Once you have them all hooked up open your ATI Cat­a­lyst Con­trol Cen­ter -> Desk­top Dis­plays.  You should see three mon­i­tors under that tab.  Dis­able two of the mon­i­tors *you have to dis­able them to do this fol­low­ing step*.  Once you have dis­abled the two mon­i­tors right click on one of the dis­plays and click cre­ate group.  It should let you choose sev­er­al con­fig­u­ra­tions 1x3, 3x1, 2x1, etc.  We are going to assume you have three mon­i­tors and choose 3x1 con­fig­u­ra­tion.  Final­ly it’s going to ask if you if the mon­i­tors are con­fig­ured cor­rect­ly.  If you can move your mouse from the far left mon­i­tor all the way over right mon­i­tor then they are con­fig­ure right if you can then click no and it will let you choose the lay­out. 
Thats it… eye­fin­i­ty is enabled.  If you want to use eye­fin­i­ty with­in a game all you have to do is go to the video set­tings and choose the prop­er video set­tings.  If you have 1080p mon­i­tors then you would choose 5760x1080.  Now lets cov­er our thoughts on eye­fin­i­ty. 
Pro:  I tried Bad Com­pa­ny 2 first with eye­fin­i­ty set and it looks sim­ply stun­ning.  The immer­sion fac­tor with 3 mon­tiors is amaz­ing and breath­tak­ing.  You real­ly feel like you are in the game and with that said it makes the game that much more enjoy­able.  I also enjoyed the periph­e­r­i­al vision effect.  While some may argue that it is use­less I sub­mit that it actu­al­ly gives you quite the advan­tage when play­ing in FPS games as it allows you to see a great deal more then every­one else who does­n’t have it.  Some will dis­agree with me in this but I am proud to say that you don’t real­ly notice the bezels or lines inbe­tween the screens.  I have a good 2 inch gap between my cen­ter mon­i­tor and the two side mon­i­tors and after play­ing for about five min­utes I bare­ly noticed it any­more.  It’s also easy to set games up to play eye­fin­i­ty.  I even got Nev­er­win­ter Nights run­ning on eye­fin­i­ty with no issues at all and all I had to do was switch the res­o­lu­tion.  Eye­fin­i­ty does give you an advan­tage and as I men­tioned pre­vi­ous­ly you real­ly do see a great deal more on the screen.  You can see peo­ple who are beside who you would­n’t of been able to see before.
Cons: Cost vs per­for­mance is a big issue here.  Run­ning Eye­fin­i­ty will put a mas­sive strain on your video card.  I was able to max Bad Com­pa­ny 2 at 1920 x 1200 before I installed my addi­tion­al mon­i­tors.  Once I had installed the mon­i­tors and changed to the Eye­fin­i­ty the game was unplayable and I had to turn down to medi­um qual­i­ty set­tings.  Once I had turned the set­tings down the game played extrem­ly smooth­ly.  Hav­ing said all that you can set­up Eye­fin­i­ty to work with cheap­er mod­els of the 5xxx cards but you will loose over­all graph­i­cal qual­i­ty.  I would sug­gest if you are doing an Eye­fin­i­ty set­up to at least get a Radeon 5870 or above. 
The sec­ond issue I ran into was dri­vers.  I ini­tial­ly start­ed on the cat­a­lyst 10.3 dri­vers and then upgrad­ed to the 10.11 dri­vers.  Onc I upgrad­ed I had sev­er­al major and annoy­ing prob­lems the most promi­nant of which was scren flick­er­ing and tear­ing.  It was so bad I tried rein­stalling it and still ahd the same issue.  After sev­er­al rein­stalls and sev­er­al frus­trat­ing attempts to fix the issue I unin­stalled the 10.11 dri­vers and rein­stalled the 10.3 dri­vers.  Not every­one may have this issue but it was a painful one for me.  I would like to see in the future, more sta­ble dri­vers and sup­port for this prod­uct and some bet­ter sup­port and for the love of God add an Eye­fin­i­ty tab to the Cat­a­lyst Con­trol Cen­ter so it’s eas­i­er to set­up. 
Screen dis­tor­tion of the side mon­i­tors is anoth­er thing i did­n’t expect when I set this up.  The res­o­lu­tion on the side mon­i­tors can appear dis­tort­ed or stretched.  This is appar­ent­ly nor­mal for the Eye­fin­i­ty set­up and appar­ent­ly it should­n’t be of con­cern.  I how­ev­er did not know this and I spent sev­er­al hours try­ing to fig­ure out why it looked the way it did. 
Final­ly, the biggest issue I had was­n’t with the prod­uct itself but with the infor­ma­tion out there about how to actu­al­ly set it up.  I had to search far and wide for infor­ma­tion on set­ting up this prod­uct, buy­ing the parts and the dif­fer­ence between active and pas­sive dis­play adap­tors.  None of this infor­ma­tion appears to be eas­i­ly or read­i­ly acces­si­ble from AMD and it would be nice to see some tuto­ri­als on how to use and pre­pare for buy­ing an eye­fin­i­ty set­up.  If it had­n’t been for me casu­al­ly men­tion­ing my desire to pur­chase an eye­fin­i­ty set­up to one of my friends I would of pur­chased a Pas­sive Adapter instead of a Active one. 
Con­clu­sion:  When I first heard of Eye­fin­i­ty the first thing I said was “this is stu­pid and won’t make a dif­fer­ence” and “the breaks in between the screens will make for a ter­ri­ble expe­ri­ence”.  I am here to say that I was com­plete­ly wrong.  After play­ing Team Fortress 2, Counter strike, Left 4 Dead 2 and Bad Com­pa­ny 2 for sev­er­al hours now using my eye­fin­i­ty set­up I am going to say that I am nev­er going back.  I am a com­plete believ­er now in mul­ti mon­i­tor gam­ing.  After play­ing for about 10 min­utes I did­n’t even notice the breaks between the screens and the addi­tion of the mon­i­tors helped add to my over­all aware­ness of the maps I was play­ing on.  Over­all, even through it’s faults, Eye­fin­i­ty is a fan­tas­tic tech­nol­o­gy and I look for­ward to see­ing it devel­oped and per­fect­ed over the next cou­ple of years.  I hope some­one out there finds this review use­ful.  Below I have some pic­tures of my set­up and parts and I’ve also got a video of Eye­fin­i­ty in action.

9 comments

  1. ScrotusKilmystr - December 2, 2010 8:55 pm

    I was going to ask why did­n’t you get anoth­er card and set­up cross­fire with eye­fin­i­ty but then I remem­bered that cross­fire and eye­fin­i­ty don’t mix!? the mul­ti mon­i­tor option for the card is real­ly cool but not sure about tak­ing the leap until I see ATI do a bet­ter job at sup­port this fea­ture and adding cross­fire com­pat­i­b­li­ty!

    Reply
  2. adam - December 4, 2010 12:04 am

    The set­up looks pret­ty bad ass man. Mak­ing me do some think­ing about what I want in my PC in a year or two 🙂

    Reply
  3. thsoundman - December 4, 2010 10:07 am

    I guess the biggest prob­lem with doing this type of set­up is the cost. While I will admit there are some ben­e­fits out­side of gam­ing that this set­up pro­vides such as hav­ing the abil­i­ty to do 3 dif­fer­ent things at once. For exam­ple I can watch net­flix in one screen. Do research for my mas­ters on anoth­er and do my paper on the third. This actu­al­ly does help increase my pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and I was doing this from the first day that it was installed.
    The price is pro­hi­ba­tive though. For exam­ple the mon­i­tors nor­mal­ly cost $200+ each and if you look care­ful­ly on ebay you might fight your­self a 5870 for under 250. Assum­ing you can find one you are look­ing at just short of $1000 to get a good eye­fin­i­ty set­up. You will want to get at least 23 — 25″ mon­i­tors. The only rea­son I decid­ed to get my set­up was the Black Fri­day spe­cials where I was able to get my mon­i­tors for $160 each. Oth­er­wise I would­n’t of done it.

    Reply
  4. Bartholomew P. Skibbenheims III - December 4, 2010 10:20 am

    Looks very cool, but like thsound­man said the thing keep­ing this kin­da tech from going main­stream is the cost. Much like the nVidia 3D set­up I have. But if you can afford it why not shake ya ass a lit­tle bit! Knowha­timean­man!

    Reply
  5. T8 - December 4, 2010 1:54 pm

    I have a hard time going back to 2 mon­i­tors since ive been on my eyefinity/matrox solu­tion for so long.

    Reply
  6. ScrotusKilmystr - December 4, 2010 2:17 pm

    If I had the coin I would go all out but for now I’ll stick to using my 42″ 1080p hd flat screen for now
    would run­ning 2 mon­i­tors be kind of annoy­ing with gam­ing being that you would need the cen­ter of the screen for aim­ing or what not or would the sec­ondary screen be for menu options and misc use?

    Reply
  7. ScrotusKilmystr - December 4, 2010 2:21 pm

    ran­dom thought.… so using eye­fin­i­ty I could get 3 32″+ tvs/montors and rock eye­fin­i­ty? would the pic­ture degrade at all using a mon­ster mon­i­tor set­up?

    Reply
  8. T8 - December 4, 2010 3:40 pm

    no it would not degrade if you got an active DP to DVI adapter and you had pow­er­ful enough vid card(s) to push the realestate.

    Reply
  9. zero_19 - December 6, 2010 7:56 am

    I am actu­al­ly plan­ning on doing this with my next PC build.…whenever I hap­pen to have mon­ey for that…stupid tires.

    Reply

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