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Monitor question

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Hi All,


I read recently (Don't ask me where...) that a single monitor doesn't show as much as a multi-monitor setup. In other words If I use a single large monitor the standard screen picture will just stretch to fill the single screen whereas a multi setup will extend the edges of the picture giving you a wider vista. Is this correct?





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Hello from just down the road in Cwmbran.


You are correct-ish. There is no stretching. The screen, if set up correctly with the sim will just display its native screen space. So you are looking at the sim world through a window, if you like, and changing the monitor will change the size and the number of windows you have to view into the simulator. Make sense?


It depends on many things such as what screens are you talking about. A single super ultra wide 32:9 3840x1080 will show more natively than a single 1080p hd screen. The window will be bigger. That is to say that after using the 32:9 going back to a 1080p will feel like you're looking at the sim world through a letterbox.


If using one screen you will only see directly in front of you. If you add another 2 you can see in front and left and right as an example. Depending on how you set them up. I used to use 3 screens for racing on iRacing because with one 1080p screen all you can see is out in front and through the windscreen. That's all you need I hear you say but you're wrong. On some tracks, it is flat out impossible to see the apex of some corners because you are turning in blind and the apex is further left than a single screen can show. My window was too small. Consequently, it was impossible to compete. COTA being an obvious example. Being able to naturally look left or right to the apex as you would in reality made a huge difference. It also made all the difference in spatial awareness as I knew exactly where a car was alongside me from just my peripheral vision. It just felt like driving my car. It felt like I was sat in a car. Without the screen to my left and right, I literally had no idea where they were. Pure guesswork. Having 3 screens meant I had 3 windows. If I had to drive my real car with only one window, the windscreen, it would be a real disadvantage.


The same applies to flight sim. Three monitors mean 3 times the screen space displaying cockpit and what's going on outside the window. It is just more immersive and realistic.


However, this immersion comes at a cost. You need PC power to drive all those extra pixels and that means spending big on a graphics card to drive the extra monitors convincingly. The higher the resolution of the monitors you pick the more power you need. 3 1080p screens are easier to drive than 3 1440p.


Some will say that you can get more on one screen by changing the Field of View and this is true, sort of, but it completely kills the point of the simulation. You end up with a fisheye lens effect and the feeling that you are going 200mph when travelling 30. In flight sim, an unrealistic FOV makes for difficult reading of guages and a puke inducing optical effect that I simply cannot stand. It's one of the things that make me wince when I see a flight sim video or simracing vid with a silly FOV. It's just wrong. Mathematically there is only ever ONE correct FOV setting for you and your setup and that depends on many factors such as monitor size, width, distance from your eyes etc.


It's worth saying that to get the benefit of three monitors on flight sim and racing 2 of them need to be angled so they are like walls down the side of your head like the side windows of a car or aircraft. Not at right angles to the front screen but they need to come to where your eyes are, really. To have all 3 laid flat in front of you like a single ultra-wide means the sides of the plane or car are in front of you which looks absolutely stupid, weird and really defeats the point of doing it in the first place.


3 27 inch screens are nice for the job and if running at 1080p is not overly demanding on today's graphics cards. But 3 27inch 1440p high refresh rate screens are beautiful. But now your beginning to spend big on both screens and cards. If you have room and money bigger screens are nicer again but you must remember that to do this correctly you will be sat close to all the screens so will start seeing pixels quite easily if using 3 40inch 1080p screens for example. The bigger the screens the higher the resolution required to prevent it from looking poor in my opinion. Frankly, I wouldn't bother going beyond 27 inch screens at 1440p. The expense beyond that is silly and the returns not great enough.


Hope that helps.

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Thanks for that Jazz, it helps enormously. Now I just need to figure out how to get three 27 inch monitors into a wardrobe!


:D Just bolt one to each door and chuck the other on the back panel ;)


On a serious note, to do this properly you need to consider building a cockpit. I don't mean millions of quid on panels and switches I mean a metal rig to sit in that has a seat and a stand for the screens. These are normally made from aluminium extrusion and built to last a lifetime. Google sim-lab to get an idea of what I mean. And should that tickle your fancy consider that you will need to get rudder pedals in the foot well;) Another option is to have a large corner desk that wraps around you so you can get those side screens to be exactly that. Side screens.


This can all be as expensive as you want it to be. If all you ever do is flight sim then high refresh rate screens are not that critical and at 1080p not really all that expensive. I would recommend IPS panels for their far more generous viewing angles and better colour representation.


As you pointed out, the biggest problem most seem to face when considering this kind of setup is space. I don't have it anymore for precisely that reason. Although, I have been cooking up a plan in my mind that involves me cutting my own corner desk out of solid wood that goes halfway around the room ;) Unless your wardrobe leads to Narnia and you have a supplier you could hook me up with?

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