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I currently am running a setup of 1920 x 1080 on two monitors. I'm running a singular 8800 gts video card and am looking to upgrade. Where the 8800 used to be sufficient when my resolution was significantly lower it is now becomming a tad bit choppy when i try to run multiple 3d games at a time.

If i get two cards can i dedicate 1 to each monitor? Also would i be better off with 1 awesome card or two mediocre cards? Specifically: 2x9800Gt or 1x285gtx (Ati isn't an option since I've not been very happy with their linux driver support)

Thanks in advance

Edit: Everything will be run in windowed mode. Edit, For clarifiaction: Although i understand one rocking card works, and my card is inadequate... Is one card Better than two lesser cards? Can i allocate one card to each monitor?

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2 things: 1) MULTIPLE 3D games at one time? Impressive, I guess, but how exactly does that work? 2) Tagged windows, but linux driver support is an issue? Might want to add a linux tag... –  tnorthcutt Sep 4 '09 at 13:19
    
I run linux for work on occassion when i need to vpn in. It's doesn't so much affect the solution, as it does limit my card choices. One game on each monitor. –  Highstead Sep 4 '09 at 13:25
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Why would you want to run multiple 3D games at once? Surly one can keep your attention. –  David Basarab Sep 4 '09 at 14:39
    
MMOs. Lots of people have multiple copies of an MMO running (generally needing more than one account). One being the 'main' character doing something active and attention grabbing, the second one doing something time consuming that doesn't need nearly as much attention. –  GAThrawn Sep 12 '09 at 23:46

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Two cards for two monitors is quite possible. This box has two cards driving 3 monitors and I've been doing the same thing for years. 80% of the office machines are running two monitors on two cards.

Experiences:

Last I knew you couldn't mix ATI and NVidia cards--the drivers got in a fight. It's quite possible this has been fixed since the last time I looked into it.

As a general rule, two cards that use the same driver will coexist happily although I have seen odd-brand ones that won't.

Installation can be tricky--sometimes the drivers have to be installed in a certain order to work. If you're having trouble try every permutation you can think of. One old config at the office was Driver A, Driver B, Driver A. Close everything and enable the second monitor, when the machine hard-locked hit the reset button. If the new state got written to disk before it locked you're good to go. If not, maybe you can try again, maybe you have to rip out the drivers and start over.

The automated installation programs often can't handle a second monitor. I've had much better luck using downloaded drivers and installing the driver from the control panel--a few drivers won't work that way, we've not had much success ever getting those cards to work.

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One thing I noticed when I played a game on my dual-monitor system was how the game reduced my screen resolution and worse: it didn't allow my mouse to go to the second screen. After some fooling around, I did manage to move the mouse to the second screen but the game minimized to the task bar and went into "Pause" mode. If you want to play two games at the same time, it's easier to buy a second computer and perhaps a KVM switch. It would be easier to just play a dual-monitor game like Supreme Commander which is actually quite cool on a dual-monitor system. (I have two Samsungs, the T240 and the T260HD, both at 1920x1200.) Then again, I also have an awesome NVidea card with 1 GB of graphic memory.

But my graphics card also has two monitor ports and supports dual-monitor configurations by default! So you could buy one good dual-monitor card instead of two crappy cards.

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Do you know if you can allocate one monitor to each video card? –  Highstead Sep 4 '09 at 15:34

I have two mediocre NvIdia cards that drive my 3 monitors. One exceptional thing I had to buy is SLI motherboard that could host 2 cards at the same time.

Try for them to be exactly the same. There are issues if ther aren't, but it still is working.

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So you're definitely running an inadequate video card for the set-up you're currently using. Unfortunately, I am not sure if you can run two cards rendering two monitors. However, running an SLI configuration accomplishes the same thing essentially and may even be able to accomodate that automatically.

Without an idea of your budget or the specific games you're trying to run, I'll go ahead and list some of your best options in descending order including options where money is no issue:

Quad-SLI

2x Nvidia GeForce 295 GTX

Dual-SLI

2x Nvidia GeForce 285 GTX

2x Nvidia GeForce 280 GTX

1x Nvidia GeForce 295 GTX

2x Nvidia GeForce 275 GTX

2x Nvidia GeForce 260 Core-216 GTX

2x Nvidia GeForce 250 GTX

2x Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX+

I wouldn't recommend anything below this "line".

Hope this helps! =)

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