I want to put two AMD/ATI V3700 into a HP 8200 Desktop to get 4x DVI outputs for 4 separate screens. Can anyone see any flaws in my plan?

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    You may be better off getting 1 FirePro that is higher end than 2x lower end ones. The higher end ones will push your PCIE bus to its limits as well as giving you room to add another for higher GPU calculations down the road. A v8800 and a better PSU and you'd be set. – kobaltz Oct 24 '11 at 22:15
  • I would agree with you, @kobaltz, but see nhinkle's answer where the OP clarifies that he's not doing anything GPU intensive at all. For a lot of people you're spot on. – Shinrai Oct 24 '11 at 22:21
  • V3700 isn't really THAT high end, anyway. – Shinrai Oct 24 '11 at 22:26
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    tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/… A better choice? @nhinkle – Tom O'Connor Oct 24 '11 at 22:45
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    @TomO'Connor you know what your needs are better than I do, and we're generally not in the business of giving specific product recommendations here, but that looks to me like it would work for what you're doing, and be easier to set up than two cards. – nhinkle Oct 25 '11 at 16:24

First of all, take a moment to think hard about whether you really want to deal with the hassle of dual video vards. A few things to consider, based on a coddinghorror blog post about it.

  • Power consumption: two GPUs will keep your PSU working very hard, and possibly cause it to overheat. Your PSU may not even have enough power to run two cards at once
  • Instability: running two GPUs at once is at best a stable as running a single GPU. In reality, dual-GPU setups introduce a lot of issues. It's a very inexact science.
  • No overclocking! The GPUs have to run at the exact same configuration, and should be left in their default config. The CPU should also not be overclocked.

Instead of using 2 cards to power 3 monitors, you should be looking at a single card which can support 4 displays. It'll be expensive, but less expensive than two cards + a new power supply. AMD/ATI makes several high-end cards which support up to 6 displays. Remember that you can only use up to 2 DVI, HDMI, and/or VGA outputs on a single card; anything above that must be DisplayPort. Get a card with at least 2 DP and at least 2 DVI (or with 4 DP), and you'll be able to run 4 monitors from 1 card with less power consumption, more stably.

  • I should add, they're not doing gaming, they're doing just plain old chrome and firefox and the hint of IPTV type stuff. It's for a finance-like trading desk. – Tom O'Connor Oct 24 '11 at 22:13
  • Good points, but if it's just charts and graphs type stuff, this is a good setup for that sort of thing. I've run six V3700s in a single machine with no problems (but I probably have more expertise with this than the average bear). Especially if you wanted MORE than four monitors, you'd almost certainly need multiple GPUs unless you wanted a high powered 3D card. – Shinrai Oct 24 '11 at 22:20
  • Basically, there's a big difference between adding cards because you want more performance and adding cards just because you're trying to get more outputs (and the performance of the extra outputs isn't really that important). – Shinrai Oct 24 '11 at 22:23
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    I used to work for the company I'm now contracting to, and we used to get 4 outputs with a Matrox Triplehead2Go Digital. Those are a lot more expensive than a pair of graphics cards. – Tom O'Connor Oct 24 '11 at 22:30
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    The coding horror post is about adding an additional video card for additional performance, not for additional monitors. The rules about them needing to be identical and clocked the same also only applies when used this way. When using multiple video cards to drive additional monitors, none of those rules apply. – David Schwartz Oct 24 '11 at 23:01

the power supply in the system is underpowered. You could run 1 card ok, but two would be pushing it.

  • This. These two cards are a GREAT pair, we ship them in multiples all the time (although we've started using more 2270s instead) but that power supply might be a bit scant. (Also, they might potentially be a bit loud in that chassis - I don't know the acoustics of it.) – Shinrai Oct 24 '11 at 22:18

This was already answered but I want to add some more details:

  1. If you are going for gaming performance:
    One fast card is better than to separate cards. Two cards tied in crossfire or SLI have lots of additional contraints, such as similar or identical GPU's, only the graphics out output from one single card active, etc etc.

    Given the last this is not what the OP is asking. Two cards in crossfire would only serve 2 displays. Not 4.

  2. For just more displays and not more performance:

    Two cards will work just fine. It is easiest (from a driver point of view) to have two cards of the same brand, but you should be able to mix and match any pair of cards.

  3. The card you listed are workstation graphics cards. Both AMD and Nvidia have these. They do not perform any better than regular consumer cards. They are often slower. They are a lot more expensive.

    They do have advantages in some case though: E.g. better tested drivers. Build for max stability. Often much better performance when used in calculations on on the GPU (not the rendering calculation, but OpenCL and friends).

So in the OP's case:

  • If you need warranty and have a big purse: Yes, buy a pair of these.
  • Alternatively buy a cheap consumer card to connect the third and fourth display to.
  • Or buy a single card with support for 4 or more displays (I know both AMD and Matrox have cards like this. Other brands possible to though I did not check this).

One more note: Graphics cards can be power hungry. If you do not need performance but you are limited by the amount of (+12v) power from the power suply, try to get a lower end card. For office work these still work fine.

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