Sunday, June 06, 2010

To Eyefinity And Beyond

The idea is nuts.  The experience is grand.  The cost is a tad overboard.  But when it all comes together, the description is mind boggling.  There isn't much to be said when people speak of Eyefinity. Sure it's a wild idea and the caveat is a bit disappointing to say the least.  Yet what you gained is probably something you won't be able to live without.

When ATI unveiled the concept of connecting 6 displays from a single card, it was done at the request of those in the laptop business.  *ahem* Excuse me, what I meant was "netbook."  They wanted to be able to output a secondary or third display so that it can be used in presentations and such.  So the design was implemented during the development of their flagship GPU chip, which went later on to become the 5870 and 5850.  That implementation soon trickle down to slower models.  But there is a bit of a catch, since introducing the 5870 and 5850.  You need a monitor with a DisplayPort port or you spend about $100 more for an appropriate (and working) adapter.  Therein lies the complications.  Of course, there are cheaper alternatives.  But you trade video quality for affordability.  I'm not willing to subjugate myself to that kind of experience.

Spotting a deal on SlickDeals, which has more often than not, been the cause of a few financial pains.  I adapted it a bit, because I had a small problem.  My setup at the time was a dual Dell 2007FPW monitors with a native resolution of 1680x1050.  The deal was for 1920x1080 monitors.  Do I go with that which uses eIPS panels which has superior color reproduction than TN panels yet potentially run into setup problems for Eyefinity?  Or do I trade in that quality and go with a TN panel that has a DisplayPort functionality and a matching 1680x1050 resolution?  I contemplated for a while, wondering if the trade-off was going to be worth it.  I eventually decided to go for the matching resolution.

After a week, the monitor arrived and I had to clear space to make room for it.  It didn't take long to do that and I was able to have it up and running in a couple of hours.  Powering it on, I checked to see if there were any pixel flaw.  Everything appear to be functioning and I eagerly fired up Burnout Paradise to give the new setup a quick spin.

Akin to how I said earlier, nothing can really described just how beautiful it was to have additional peripheral view.  Driving is no exception.  While others may try to imagine gaming w/ 3 monitors, imagining can only take you so far.  The experience is a completely different level altogether.  The magnitude is pretty much beyond one's imagination.

"Well I can just hook up 3 monitors using two video cards or two computers."  True, but in most normal instances, you're still limited to a single display when gaming.  And that becomes part of the dilemma.  On Windows, you have a primary desktop display and an extended desktop display.  This method only creates an extension that can be arbitrary of the output resolution.  The primary display still becomes a single isolated display that cannot span, despite that in Windows it does expand.

People have been using triple-monitor setups since Matrox created their TripleHead2Go device.  It was a marvelous piece of invention that enabled people to truly create a singular large desktop that spans all 3 monitors.  And with it, the possibility of gaming on all 3 (or 2) becomes a reality.  Now with ATI's Eyefinity technology, which removes the TripleHead2Go from the equation both financially and technologically, it's possible to extend the display and truly make it possible to game on every monitors.

Since DisplayPort is a new technology and connectivity, it will be a while before more monitor manufacturers start including this in their latest models.  Hopefully, that won't be long.  But for Eyefinity, I hope improvements to the overall technology is coming on the next series of ATI products.

Oh, and what about nvidia?  Well... their implementation is not up to par just yet, requiring two video cards in order to make triple-screen gaming possible.

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