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I have a new nVidia GTX 560 based card and an older GTX 260 card. I have a single 2560x1600 monitor on the 560 (center of my desk) and two 2560x1600 monitors on the 260. (to the left and right of the main monitor) The 560 monitor is marked as the main display. This gives a single desktop of 7680 x 1600 using normal (2-D) desktop applications.

I see pictures of gamers running a single game across two or more monitors. How can I enable this? Right now I just use the center monitor. The works fine most of the time, but I'd like to try running games at the full 7680 x 1600 as a test.

EDIT: I am not running SLI due to the limit of only two monitors. From the SLI FAQ:

With GeForce R180 drivers (or later), standard SLI configurations for 2-way, 3-Way, and quad SLI support a maximum of two monitors. Additional monitors (up to 6 monitors total enabled) may be enabled by using either a motherboard GPU and/or a PhysX capable graphics card (GeForce 8 series or higher with at least 256MB of memory) that does not have the same GPU as those that are SLI enabled.

I'd be willing to get another GTX 560 and set up SLI, but it doesn't sound like this would help my desired setup of 2560 x 1600 (x3) - unless I'm misunderstanding the FAQ.

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Updating my own question: I've since upgraded to a GTX 780Ti, which runs triple 2560x1600 monitors fine. Racing games in particular work well in 7680x1600 surround mode. – David Chappelle Mar 9 '14 at 17:20
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The first place to check is Nvidia's System Requirements for 3D Vision. Without using SLI (which would require two or more of the same cards), you can't do what you're asking. This is just due to the way it works - rendering such a large image, and then sending it to another discrete video card before displaying it would be such a performance hit it wouldn't be worth it.

While this uses the 3D Vision technology, you don't have to run games in 3D mode - you can run them in 2D mode as well. In this mode, you also don't have three desktops, but rather one triple-wide desktop (at the desktop level). See this thread for more details.

Do note that the game must also support the 3D Vision Surround Technology. Note that using three monitors on the desktop level is a completely different story (if you want discrete desktops as opposed to a triple-wide one), and you can see details for this below.

Additional information: As you already know, you need to use an additional video card to get the triple monitor setup working. Additionally, if you wanted to use SLI/Crossfire in this setup, you would have to check Nvidia's website to see if triple monitors are supported (e.g. I had 2 x 8800 GT's in SLI, and had to disable SLI to get triple monitors to work - this does work with some newer Nvidia cards however). See this page for more details.

Using two video cards in non-SLI is a completely different story, and quite possible with any combination of cards. My recommendation is to use your one center monitor as your "main" monitor (and have the 560 be that monitor's hardware acceleration), and plug the other two monitors into the 260. That way, 3D applications that output to your main display won't take a performance hit (those running on the additional monitors will - you might want to put one of them back on the main 560 if you need something else hardware accelerated).

The core requirement from Nvidia's website to use an additional video card to drive an additional monitor is:

Additional monitors (up to 6 monitors total enabled) may be enabled by using either a motherboard GPU and/or a PhysX capable graphics card (GeForce 8 series or higher with at least 256MB of memory) that does not have the same GPU as those that are SLI enabled. More information regarding multi-monitor in SLI can be found here.

Long story short: With the hardware you have, it's impossible. If you got another GTX 560, then it would be possible.

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Excellent post. Pumping an image into both graphics cards at the same time presents some synchronization serious challenges, none of which I assume Nvidia wants to bother with. What makes it even worse is if you try to support it between different chipsets. SLI is already a pain as is to code from what I hear. – surfasb Jul 26 '11 at 7:43
Thanks for your detailed response. I updated the question to address SLI. – David Chappelle Jul 26 '11 at 18:11
@David Chappelle, you need to use the Nvidia Surround Technology as detailed in that first link. While it uses the 3D Vision software, you don't need to actually enable 3D (again, see that first link I posted), but you do need the software to use it for tri-monitor gaming. I'm not sure if this will continue to the desktop level or not, but without it, you can't use triple monitors without disabling SLI. – Breakthrough Jul 26 '11 at 18:18
Also, answer updated with more details. – Breakthrough Jul 26 '11 at 18:23
I looked at the 3D Vision stuff before posting, but I just assumed it was about wearing 3D glasses, like those obnoxious theatrical movies that I avoid. I will look at this further, thanks! – David Chappelle Jul 26 '11 at 19:28

As an alternative, I've also discovered SoftTH which is a software alternative to SLI. It works pretty well on older games like Team Fortress 2.

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Almost two years later...

I got another GTX 260 and set up SLI for a tri-monitor setup.

Well, it's kind of fun as a demo, but it's not really practical to play games on a bank of monitors 6-7 feet across when you are sitting at a desk.

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