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I've read all about AMD's EyeFinity technology that is available on their 6xxx series graphics cards. But I'm clearly missing the thing that makes this technology so incredible and desirable for users.

So it allows me to run multiple (three) monitors on a single graphics card. That's great and all, but why should I care? More specifically, why is EyeFinity superior to multiple, discrete graphics cards? Lots of people seem to heartily recommend it, but I can't figure out why they're recommending EyeFinity rather than simply recommending multiple monitors, something that I'm already quite sold on.

I can accomplish the same thing by installing separate graphics cards and plugging a different monitor into each of them. I've done this several times before, including on my current system. With such a configuration, I still have three monitors, but they'll each be powered by their own graphics card, rather than all being powered by the same graphics card. Why should that subtlety matter to me as a user, especially if I'm not a gamer and don't need or want to spend the money on a top-of-the-line card?

The only thing I can figure out is that it allows people with only one PCI Extreme slot to have multiple monitors. But almost all common motherboards seem to have at least two of these slots.

I can actually save money buying two lower-end graphics cards and using them to drive 1 or 2 monitors each, rather than buying one EyeFinity card and using it to drive all 3 monitors. If I choose to go that route, what amazing things am I missing out on?

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The power consumption of 3/4 cards driving the monitors will make you go bonkers. Also, Eyefinity makes multiple monitors look like one big screen - something which I don't think is possible using other solutions –  Sathya Jul 29 '11 at 6:55
    
@Sathya: Hmm, I'm not that worried about power consumption, and I actually like having separate workspaces on each monitor so that I can do things like maximize windows. Are those the only advantages? (i.e., why didn't you post that as an answer?) –  Cody Gray Jul 29 '11 at 7:15
    
The comment was the gist, expanded it. –  Sathya Jul 29 '11 at 7:16

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If I choose to go that route, what amazing things am I missing out on?

From your question - I see that you treat Eyefinity as a technology for driving multiple monitors. What you haven't considered - is that Eyefinity makes multiple monitors look like one big screen.

This is quite different from extended desktops on multiple discrete GPUs - with Eyefinity & ATi drivers for all practical purposes it's one big desktop, one big surface - no weird funky multi-resolution mix-matching.

Another thing to consider - space & power consumption. Yes, modern motherboards will have 2 (or more) PCI-E slots but these will be a single PCI-E 16x

  • PCI-E 8x
  • PCI-E 4x

Or combinations of those - the discrete GPUs probably will not be getting the bandwidth required from these slots to function well. There's also layout problems - not all motherboards are well designed and more often than one a single GPU will end up blocking the other slots.

Then there's the power consumption factor - having multiple discrete GPUs will require a a beefy PSU and your electricity meters will be running faster than your car can go zero to sixty (OK, exaggeration, but you get the point).

Heat dissipation is other factor - the silent/green GPUs are wimpy and won't be able to power the multi-GPU solution and the decent ones will have relatively noisy fans - the whine of the fans is likely to drive you nuts.

And to dissipate heat adequately from these GPUs you will also need a cabinet good enough & spacious enough for the heat to be dissipated from within the cabinet.


AMD touts Eyefinity as "SurroundVision" - if you need multiple workspaces and multiple maximized screens on different monitors - Eyefinity is not for you!

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Thanks, this is a great answer. My little BMW can go zero to sixy pretty fast ;-) but the slot/bandwidth availability is concerning to me; I do remember reading that about my motherboard. So if I do decide to go with an Eyefinity card, can I opt not to use the SurroundVision business and treat each monitor as an individual workspace? –  Cody Gray Jul 29 '11 at 7:50
    
@CodyGray yes, you can use the traditional extended desktop mode as well as the SLS (Single Large Surface - the "SurroundVision" mode) –  Sathya Jul 29 '11 at 14:52
    
Awesome, thank you so much. –  Cody Gray Jul 29 '11 at 21:36

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