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Old Mar 26, 2013, 06:42 PM   #1
sarthak
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Which Nvidia Card for Quad Monitor Setup?

I am looking to downgrade from my GTX670 to a lower end card since I no longer do media intensive work on the machine. I currently use 4x 24" Monitors in Portrait. I am going to be moving to 2x2 grid configuration and need to drive these 4x 1080p displays. They all have DVI connections and are currently hooked up like this:

M1: DVI
M2: DVI
M3: HDMI TO DVI CABLE
M4: DISPLAYPORT TO DVI CABLE

What are my options for a cost effective card (NVIDIA) that can drive 4 displays but can still run games on high on a single 1080p display. Otherwise, I do have a GT120 that can drive two of these displays, would getting another GT120 be a good idea or should I just go for something like a GTX650Ti Boost?

Last edited by sarthak; Apr 4, 2013 at 11:59 AM.
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Old Mar 26, 2013, 07:46 PM   #2
ActionableMango
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I don't understand your purpose for downgrading. Gaming if anything is probably more intensive than what you were doing before and will certainly benefit from the GTX670. Also, older Nvidia cards only do two monitors so that's another reason to stick with your card.
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Old Mar 26, 2013, 07:52 PM   #3
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I don't understand your purpose for downgrading. Gaming if anything is probably more intensive than what you were doing before and will certainly benefit from the GTX670. Also, older Nvidia cards only do two monitors so that's another reason to stick with your card.
I currently have 4X Portrait and use 3 of them to drive games. I will be switching to 2X2 Landscape Grid which is ideal for my work purposes. It is not ideal for gaming unless you play on a single display which I am fine with. I think the GTX670 is "overkill" since I'm only going to be working with lots of documents from now on.

If I omit gaming from the picture, I currently have a GT120 that is not being used so I can pick up another GT120 and use all 4 displays with the two GT120's.

I could do some light gaming on a single monitor if I get a lower end card like maybe the GTX650 Ti Boost that was just released. For the sake of downgrading, let's just omit gaming from the picture. What card would let me drive 4 displays or should I just get another GT120 and use two of those.
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Old Mar 26, 2013, 08:01 PM   #4
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GT120s are dogs. Don't go that way unless you are just doing web browsing and word processing. MHO.
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Old Mar 26, 2013, 08:02 PM   #5
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How about two 8800GT cards? Or even two 7300GT ones...

The 8800GT handles all games (that I've tried) at 1080p.

I think the 7300GT's are about $35ea these days and the 8800GT is like $100 or so.
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Old Mar 26, 2013, 08:04 PM   #6
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GT120s are dogs. Don't go that way unless you are just doing web browsing and word processing. MHO.
That is actually what I am going to be doing. Lots of documents. In my experience the GT120 has been quite smooth UI driving a single 27" 2560x1440 panel and hopefully driving two 1920x1080 monitors of a single GT120 should be equally as smooth. I can get a GT120 for about $100.


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Originally Posted by Tesselator View Post
How about two 8800GT cards? Or even two 7300GT ones...

The 8800GT handles all games (that I've tried) at 1080p.

I think the 7300GT's are about $35ea these days and the 8800GT is like $100 or so.
I'm using a 2009 Mac Pro, do those work? I'm in Canada and can't seem to find those older cards for that low. I'd prefer to stick with Apple branded cards with EFI rather than modified ones a lot of people are selling on eBay.
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Old Mar 26, 2013, 08:38 PM   #7
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Why not drive the new config with the existing card? The existing 670 meets your criteria.
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Old Mar 26, 2013, 08:56 PM   #8
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Why not drive the new config with the existing card? The existing 670 meets your criteria.
It does but it's also overkill if I'm going to be working with documents, the card won't be utilized. It also doesn't have EFI, which bothers me slightly. I'll take the cash and run.
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Old Mar 26, 2013, 10:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tesselator View Post
How about two 8800GT cards? Or even two 7300GT ones...

The 8800GT handles all games (that I've tried) at 1080p.

I think the 7300GT's are about $35ea these days and the 8800GT is like $100 or so.
Have you played The Witcher 2, for example? 8800GTs are terrible for modern games at anything approaching decent quality settings. I'd be curious to know what games you're playing and what settings you are using for an 8800GT to be acceptable.

Edit: FWIW I'm currently playing the new StarCraft 2 campaign on my GTX 680 at 2560x1600 at Ultra/Extreme settings, and it is really quite beautiful. I have a really hard time believing a 8800GT could match the performance of a GTX 680 in even that game, for example.
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Old Mar 26, 2013, 10:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Asgorath View Post
Have you played The Witcher 2, for example? 8800GTs are terrible for modern games at anything approaching decent quality settings. I'd be curious to know what games you're playing and what settings you are using for an 8800GT to be acceptable.

Edit: FWIW I'm currently playing the new StarCraft 2 campaign on my GTX 680 at 2560x1600 at Ultra/Extreme settings, and it is really quite beautiful. I have a really hard time believing a 8800GT could match the performance of a GTX 680 in even that game, for example.
Nope, haven't tried "The Witcher 2"... I actually haven't ever even heard of it till now. But COD BlackOPs and Modern Warfare play as smoothly as a DVD video or better at 1080. StarCraft II is also the same. All three games set to their highest setting in 1080 are as smooth as anyone could ask for - in both multi/online and single player modes.

I'm sure the 8800 would probably choke on 2560x1600 but my monitor only goes to 1080 anyway so... And that's what the OP says he's using as well.

I will give Witcher 2 a try and see how it plays. So far I think Borderlands 2 is probably the heaviest game I've tried. When set to all the extreme settings in 1080 it still never drops below 30 to 35 FPS however and is completely smooth.

Last edited by Tesselator; Mar 26, 2013 at 11:32 PM.
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Old Mar 26, 2013, 11:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asgorath View Post
Have you played The Witcher 2, for example? 8800GTs are terrible for modern games at anything approaching decent quality settings. I'd be curious to know what games you're playing and what settings you are using for an 8800GT to be acceptable.

Edit: FWIW I'm currently playing the new StarCraft 2 campaign on my GTX 680 at 2560x1600 at Ultra/Extreme settings, and it is really quite beautiful. I have a really hard time believing a 8800GT could match the performance of a GTX 680 in even that game, for example.
8800GTs can't even handle Starcraft 2 well on high settings. Dumped mine for a 5870 a while ago.
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Old Mar 27, 2013, 08:11 AM   #12
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Why is everyone going on about games? The OP already said that's of no concern.
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Old Mar 27, 2013, 09:17 AM   #13
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Something interim and interesting to talk about I guess.

--
I Tried Witcher 2 (Enhanced) BTW,

Oh my goodness that's a slow-arse game. It doesn't seem to be doing much, it's just really poorly written! But excuses aside, yeah, I had to lower it down two presets from extreme and also go to 720p before it was even slightly playable.

I think even at those low settings I was only getting around 10 or 15FPS in the tutorial task and fight activities.

At full (highest custom) settings in 1080 I was getting 1 frame every 3 to 5 seconds.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Asgorath View Post
Edit: FWIW I'm currently playing the new StarCraft 2 campaign...
Pretty nice game huh? I dig it. It's like animated and expanded chess for geeks. (Oops, that's me. )



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Originally Posted by goMac View Post
8800GTs can't even handle Starcraft 2 well on high settings. Dumped mine for a 5870 a while ago.
If that's "high settings" at 1080p it sure can. Hundreds of little dudes, tanks, floating craft, large monster-bugs, all doing ferocious battle in heavily built up zones = no slow down or lag at all. (I guess it never drops below 25FPS with the average being more like 35FPS). All set to the highest settings in 1080p.

Beautiful and fun game!

Last edited by Tesselator; Mar 27, 2013 at 09:34 AM.
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Old Mar 27, 2013, 10:00 AM   #14
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All set to the highest settings in 1080p.

Beautiful and fun game!
I've gone through several custom built gaming rigs in the past and have always played the latest titles in absolute Maximum settings with frame rates anywhere from 30 to 100+ spanned across multiple monitors...

Ever since I stuck a GTX670 in my Mac Pro, I've been playing games in Windows like BF3, NFS Series, Dirt 3, Dirt Showdown etc... In OS X I've played F1 2012, Dirt 2, Batman Arkham City and many other titles published by Feral Interactive. They all run on at least 3 displays (For OS X you have to launch it in windowed, then resize to fit 3 displays or change the resolution in the configuration file using TextEdit) and on maximum settings.

I'm going to be using this machine for work purposes from now on and so I would like to downgrade. Either it's "No Gaming" with GT120 cards or it's a card that can handle these titles on high settings with 24-30fps on a single 1080p monitor in OS X.
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Old Mar 27, 2013, 10:34 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tesselator View Post
Something interim and interesting to talk about I guess.

--
I Tried Witcher 2 (Enhanced) BTW,

Oh my goodness that's a slow-arse game. It doesn't seem to be doing much, it's just really poorly written! But excuses aside, yeah, I had to lower it down two presets from extreme and also go to 720p before it was even slightly playable.

I think even at those low settings I was only getting around 10 or 15FPS in the tutorial task and fight activities.

At full (highest custom) settings in 1080 I was getting 1 frame every 3 to 5 seconds.
No, this is just an example of the next generation of games that we should expect to see coming to Mac over the coming months and years. It's no longer a simple DX9/console engine port using decade-old technology, it has a fairly advanced rendering engine from what I've seen (i.e. lots of shader-heavy effects). This game runs just fine on my GTX 680, and it's a fair bet that things will trend towards The Witcher 2's end of the spectrum going forward. The 8800GT was released in 2007, so it's 6 years old at this point and 5 whole GPU generations behind the current state-of-the-art as well.
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Old Mar 27, 2013, 11:23 AM   #16
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Older Nvidia cards only do two monitors at a time regardless of how many ports they have. So yes, if you want to stick with Nvidia, you'll need two cards for four monitors.

Omitting games, I'd go with two GT120s. These are fine for the task and will provide you with your EFI boot screens if they are Apple cards. I don't know if you can get away with a PC card for the second card or not (and still have boot screens from the first card being Apple). Maybe someone else can weigh in on that. If you can, that would save some money.

I wouldn't go with the 8800GT as these are notorious for failing due to bad soldiering. Apple went so far as to recall them outside of warranty.
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Old Apr 2, 2013, 05:59 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by ActionableMango View Post
Older Nvidia cards only do two monitors at a time regardless of how many ports they have. So yes, if you want to stick with Nvidia, you'll need two cards for four monitors.

Omitting games, I'd go with two GT120s. These are fine for the task and will provide you with your EFI boot screens if they are Apple cards. I don't know if you can get away with a PC card for the second card or not (and still have boot screens from the first card being Apple). Maybe someone else can weigh in on that. If you can, that would save some money.

I wouldn't go with the 8800GT as these are notorious for failing due to bad soldiering. Apple went so far as to recall them outside of warranty.
UPDATE: I removed the GTX670 from my Mac Pro and installed two GT120 cards. They do run like dogs as previously mentioned by someone.

The only issue is that in 10.8.x and up, portrait mode is broken on 3 monitors or more with multiple GT120 cards. This is well documented on Apple Support Communities and still hasn't been fixed. We all hoped that 10.8.1 will fix the issue, then 10.8.2 then 10.8.3 and it's still not fixed. Perhaps, 10.8.4 or even 10.9?

The only "FIX" for the 3rd and 4th monitor being completely blank (except for cursor) is to downgrade to Snow Leopard or Lion. So I removed the SSD from my Mac Pro, keeping Mountain Lion and all apps in tact. Then I put in a spare hard drive and installed Lion onto it. All 4 displays will work just fine in Portrait orientation with Lion up to 10.7.4. Upgrading to 10.7.5+ or 10.8+ will cause it to break again.

Source: https://discussions.apple.com/thread...rt=75&tstart=0
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Old Apr 2, 2013, 06:10 PM   #18
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This is well documented on Apple Support Communities and still hasn't been fixed. We all hoped that 10.8.1 will fix the issue, then 10.8.2 then 10.8.3 and it's still not fixed.

Source: https://discussions.apple.com/thread...rt=75&tstart=0
On page 5 of that thread there are several success stories for 10.8.3, including one system with 3xGT120 and 6xPortrait.
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Old Apr 2, 2013, 06:12 PM   #19
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I was also surprised when I read that but the person followed up saying

Quote:
this did NOT solve my problem... I responded too soon.

Yes I am able to have 6 monitors in portrait mode with 3 Nvidia Geoforce GT 120 512MB graphics cards but as of yesterday, my whole system shuts down and reboots. This happened 3 times in the span of about an hour.
Other users have also followed up, 10.8.3 was more like a temporary fix that worked and then blew up in a matter of minutes. It's Portrait mode with 3+ monitors on the GT120 (and other older gen. NVIDIA) cards that is broken.

Last edited by sarthak; Apr 4, 2013 at 12:06 PM.
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