View Full Version : Newbie - Suggestions on systems with multiple monitors
02-05-2004, 09:21 AM
Forgive me if I sound a bit goofy.
I really need to build a new system just for playing Flight Sim '04. My old system is a 900 mhz PIII. I have run in to so many thoughts and opinions that it's overwhelming so I thought I would post a question here.
I want a system that can run '04 without and problems and can support multiple monitors (I have no idea how to accomplish this). I don't mind spending $ but I don't want to be stupid about it either. Do I need AMD or Intel? What motherboard is best? What video card is best for this? Do I need multiple video cards in this system? Again, please forgive my ignorance.
Any idea / suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
02-05-2004, 10:29 AM
There are lots of choices out there and it depends what brands you favor most. I don't recommend you go with the latest and greatest that is due to come out soon, you will be paying top money and will be experiencing all the issues that come with new technology. So, let me move on to the details. Intel and AMD processors are solid, the difference is in performance and again end user's taste. I tend to be an Intel guy and will most likely stick with them for years to come. I used AMD in the early days and found it to be a bit of an issue with their boards and processors. However, things have changed since then and many here can tell you that they have come up to par with Intel.
I would not spend money on a 64-bit processor, complete waste in today's world. There is nothing out there to take advantage of such platform so why even invest in it. Besides, something so new is bound to change as the technology becomes more mainstream. I also read an interesting article which stated that today's prescott processors might be 64-bit ready to a certain degree but Intel is refusing to confirm or admit that.
Moving on to the Motherboard world, I prefer two brands Asus and Abit. Asus is great and their boards are solid, however, they tend to be a bit slow on the customer service/support side of the house. Abit boards are also solid and their customer service/support side of the house is much better. Intel boards are another option and many here will tell you that they love them. However, my experience with their boards in the past has shown me that they are a bit slower than Abit and Asus but still very good quality.
As for video cards, there are several options out there. First of all you have NVidia and ATI, both good card manufacturers. I personally like NVidia better since my past experience with ATI was a painful one. Like AMD, ATI has cleaned up their act and have moved up in the world to take the #2 spot away from NVidia. Some say that ATI might be better prepared to handle DX9 in the future but I say NVidia is just as prepared going forward. If you are thinking about the middle market then go for a GeForce FX 5900XT or 5900SE (Same Cards). This model will outperform the 9600XT since it has a 256-bit memory interface compared to the 128-bit interface on the 9600XT. Don't get caught up on the AA/AF train, yes, ATI does offer higher settings but the overall quality of both cards are just as good. In other words, this is not a good reason to rule out NVidia. I don't recommend wasting a ton of money on a video card nor on video cards with 256MB. The additional memory will not be used by any of today's games, spend it somewhere else. As for the high end cards, yes, they are nice but if you are not extremely picky then spend the additional money on other parts of your system in order to round it out nicely. Remember, the video card is not the deciding factor in FPS (Frames Per Second). Many users think that a good video card will solve all problems but that is not the case. A high end system with a middle of the market video card will give you nice performance and with settings on the high side of the house. FS2004 is not the most efficient game and even on high end systems, users here complain about performance. So don't throw your wallet out the door thinking that it will address the problem. It's all about fine tunning and finding what works for you.
One final note, Intel is going to be slashing prices late this month or early March, so I would wait for that. Remember not to jump on the bandwagon of PCI Express and BTX until all kinks are worked out, you will hear a lot of horror stories once these pieces of technology begin to hit the market. Its best to give them 6 months to a year before taking the plunge. I also read an article where they state that the current Prescott processors run on all 865 and 875 chipsets but they have to have an FMB 1.5 revision or higher, so ask about this once you go for a board. If you later decide to go with a higher processor based on the Prescott desgin, you will be set and won't have to swap your Motherboard.
So to finalize my comments here, I would recommend the following:
* Intel 3.0Ghz Processor w/Hyper Threading
* Asus P4C800 - E Deluxe or an Abit IC7-G (875 Chipset A Must)
* 512MB DDR400 Ram (Minimum), 1 Gig would be ideal and you must buy in pairs.
* Antec Case (400 Watt P/S), make sure to get extra fans
* Creative Labs Audigy2
* Plextor Burner, either CR-R/CD-RW or DVD-RW
* Sony DVD Rom as your CD-ROM or A Plain CD-Rom will do as well.
* 3.5 Floppy since they are relatively cheap
* Western Digital Raptor 36Gig(2) or 74Gig Serial ATA(These drives spin at 10,000 RPMs and are built using the same quality/performance that SCSI drives give you. They also come with a 5 year warranty, so you can't go wrong with them).
* NVidia 5900XT (MSI or E-VGA)as a minimum or ATI 9800 or 9800 Pro
* Windows XP Pro SP1
02-05-2004, 11:47 AM
WOW! Thanks for the great information!! I really appreciate it!
It was interesting to read about the video cards relating to memory. I thought the the amount of memory on the video card was the main issue with the games, especially Flight Sim. Any suggestions on how to add more monitors to a system. I've seen a few articles on systems that had 3 monitors but I've been unable to get the specifics on how to set this up.
I had been told that the asus motherboards were great. I'll check in to it immediately.
Thanks again for the great response!
02-05-2004, 01:23 PM
I've not used this configuration under FS2004, however, the cards I recommended to you support dual monitors and should provide this functionality. If anyone on the forum has this setup, please post your recommendations. I believe if you want to run with more than two monitors the answer is going to be that you will need two video cards, or a video card per every two monitors. I believe the OS (Windows XP) supports up to eight cards running at the same time or something along those lines, again, have not had a need for this type of configuration. I recommend you look into it either at the MS Knowledge Base or Technet. Your first concern is getting the cards to work with the OS and then with FS. It should be straight forward though so don't get too concern, as far as the OS. My concern would be with FS2004, how does it split the screens or how would you define the view for each of the monitors.
02-06-2004, 09:53 AM
>WOW! Thanks for the great information!! I really
>It was interesting to read about the video cards relating to
>memory. I thought the the amount of memory on the video
>card was the main issue with the games, especially Flight
When you're talking modern day flight sims all the old wisdom concerning hardware can go right out the window.
It's no longer "Brand X is more processor dependent", and "Brand Y is more videocard dependent".
The modern day sims are EVERYTHING dependent.
Meaning, if you build a system, and decide to skimp on a certain component (relative to the rest) because you've heard this or that counts more, you're going to feel the bottleneck.
It's much more important these days to have a balanced system than to have a blistering videocard while you "economized" on your processor, or vice versa. At least as far as flight simulators are concerned.
But I'll differ with Flightman on the subject of 256meg videocards.
I remember hearing that exact line when videocards went from 8 to 16, to 32, to 64, and to 128.
That particular statement is true as of today, as far as I know.
But a good question is - true for how long?
And like Flightman says - we have PCI-X around the corner, and it's going to replace AGP, no doubt.
But IN how long?
A lot of people are saying Nvidia and ATI won't be making AGP cards after 2004.
What a lot of them might not know is that BTX form factor will not allow for an AGP slot on a motherboard with PCI-X slots.
Which means - you guessed it - that for at LEAST the next 4 years there's still going to be thousands and thousands of computers floating around peoples houses with AGP slots in them, and there will still be people willing to upgrade videocards in those systems until the systems themselves are completely obsolete.
PCI-X will kill AGP off, but I don't see it happening for at least 2 more years.
A 256meg card, right this second, is overkill.
Again though, the good question is - for how long?
If you build a system this month, and plan on running for the next 3 years, is it overkill then?
02-06-2004, 10:44 AM
Your concern is valid to a certain degree but not valid enough to make an investment at this very point in time. First of all, tomorrow's games will not be written for today's hardware. With that said, the 256MB statement has just been written off the table in regards to an AGP card.
Yes, in the future you might end up going with a 256MB card but it will be under PCI-Express and not AGP. Hence, my recommendation not to spend the additional money on a 256MB video card. There is not a single game out there today that takes advantage of this. The only reason you see it in the market and in very selective models, is to make that particular model more appealing to the buyer.
How many times have you read posts here about mediocre video cards with 256MB instead of 128MB for $20 more. They go ahead and buy it, then they come back to the forum and post, the card is terrible. Will the 256MB make a difference? Again, the answer is no not in today's world. Yes, 2 years from now with graphic intense video games, definitely. But by then, you will have a BTX system and a PCI-Express video card with double or triple the bandwith of today's AGP cards. As technology advances, video games are going to become more and more realistic. At the same time, the demand or requirements on the hardware side of the house is going to jump significantly. The next release of FS will probably not run on any of the mid-market hardware we have today.
You have to be crazy to spend a ton on money on a system today, reason being, is all about to change. You also don't want to go out and by the new stuff since it is still considered experimental and as with anything that is new, issues come with it. Now, if you get a decent system for a reasonable amount of money, later on you will have extra cash to make another jump to newer technology.
02-06-2004, 10:58 AM
So, what actually effects the fram rates in FS? Is it the system memory and processor mainly? I had no idea that the memory on the video card wasn't used if it has 256.
02-06-2004, 11:48 AM
Its a combination of things but the most deciding factor is the processor and you should get a card with 128MB, no less. At this stage of the game, 256MB video cards are not really used that much unless you like running at super high resolutions which most people don't. So focus on a good board, processor, and system memory. Followed by a good Mid-Range card and you will be all set.
02-06-2004, 01:01 PM
>So, what actually effects the fram rates in FS? Is it the
>system memory and processor mainly? I had no idea that the
>memory on the video card wasn't used if it has 256.
The videocard memory is still used. Just not the whole 256 megs.
Not for most users anyway.
I think a 128 meg card could possibly be exceeded by running 1600 x 1200 x 32, something like Megascenery, and maybe a plane with some really big photoreal textures. I'm pretty sure I have physically done this.
What would happen then is AGP would come into play.
AGP just allows the videocard to use the main system memory if it needs more.
AGP was a great thing when it came out, but nowadays RAM is so fast the AGP port itself is a bottleneck.
It's like the videocard equivalent of virtual memory.
Can you say microstutter?
So, most users would never even come close to exceeding a 128meg videocard, in terms of memory.
But cross that 128meg threshold, even just to 130, and you're now moving data through that AGP slot.
Unless you're running older RAM, that'll almost always equal instant microstutter.
If the system RAM is already well filled up at the time, it'll equal instant REAL stutter.
Flightman, you keep referring to how no games are going to use 256 megs of RAM any time soon.
It's the ones that will use 140, etc, that I see a more near term use for a 256 meg card... and we're not far at all from games that'll use that...
Remember that the AGP slot itself is now a bottleneck in newer systems. Having to USE the AGP nowadays is not the great thing that it was a few years ago...
02-06-2004, 01:35 PM
Ugh, almost lost track of the purpose of all this lol - this guy is considering going multiple monitor.
If you do that with a single video card you'll DEFINITELY want the most RAM and horsepower you can get.
I don't know which videocards offer that as an option though. Only one I remember offhand was that triple header Matrox, but you wouldn't want that.
02-06-2004, 03:19 PM
I assume it's not hard to have multiple monitors but I'm not sure...
Thanks everybody for the great advice! I sure do appreciate it!
03-11-2004, 12:20 PM
On the video card issue its pretty easy. I use 2 Nvidea cards. On a fx 5600 AGP with 128 megs and the other a basic 64 meg pci........using the 5600 as primary monitor. Try to keep both cards from the same manufacturer so the software will support both. The 5600 has dual outputs but i get a lower frame rate by linking the second monitor to it so I prefer the dual card route.
I then set up the AGP as primary display in the bios........not really important. Boot windows XP and it finds both. Right click the screen to show display properties and extend your screen onto monitor 2. Then set up res etc. Also click " change settings without shutting down windows" so you can see the results without rebooting. Then, if you have NvIDEA software loadedyou can fiddle around untill you get the setup you want.............buy i never bother. Getting maxed settings and a frame rate of 28 on the ground and silly numbers above 2000 feet.Thats with an AMD 2.8 chip on a solteck board and 512 megs ram.
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