Triple Threat – Triple Monitors

A quick post here, but one that I’d like to share.  I’ve bought a new computer, building it from new components purchased from my favorite online store,  My motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-UD4H.  I wanted to have 3 monitors, so I bought a dual-DVI video card (Powercolor 4870 PCI Express) but I was not sure how to connect the third monitor without buying a second video card.

The motherboard does have onboard video, but the documentation was a bit vague about whether I could run the onboard video in addition to the add-on video card.  This is one area that was pretty sparse with online help too.  It turns out that this motherboard has something called ATI Hybrid CrossfireX, which simply put allows both onboard video and add-on video to work at the same time as a team.  Thus, it was possible to have 3 monitors running at once.

The solution isn’t as nice as having 2 identical high-powered PCI Express cards in true crossfire mode, but it is perfect if you just want to put a spare monitor to work for simple tasks.  Since it isn’t very well documented in the manual I took this opportunity to put it out on the net.

So what do I use 3 monitors for?

Primary (center 22″ widescreen) monitor : Graphics and HTML editing, email management, movies

Right Flank (17″) : web browsing

Left Flank (17″) : IM windows, status indicators, Winamp, low-fi movies while doing other work on the big screen

Talking point:

Does this hybrid mode in any way tie the onboard video with the performance of the primary card?  I’d say no, because Crysis plays just fine with high video settings before and after I went to 3 monitors.  I can’t be certain there isn’t a downside somewhere though.

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