When AMD announced Eyefinity, we were somewhat skeptical. At first blush, six displays seemed excessive, both in terms of cost and sheer physical space. After setting up and running a six-panel Eyefinity setup, we’re now a little less skeptical – cost turns out to be less of an issue than we imagined. But setup time and physical space requirements are still a bit beyond the pale.
Today, we’ll walk through what it took to get a six display rig going with just one graphics card and one high end PC. It turned out to be a tale full of twisty passages, no two of which were alike (apologies to Underground Kingdom.)
When AMD launched the Radeon HD 5830 , they also announced the Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity edition. This latest variant of the HD 5870 includes 2GB of video memory and six (yes, six ) mini-DisplayPort adapters.
It’s still pretty early in the DisplayPort adoption cycle, so boxed versions of the Eyefinity board will ship with five adapters:
While we laud AMD for thinking about user needs, this set of adapters doesn’t actually support six displays. Even if all your monitors are DisplayPort capable, you’ll still need additional mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapters, which cost around $24 each. (Note that should you happen to have six Apple 24-inch LED Cinema Displays, you’re good to go, as each Apple monitor comes with a mini-DisplayPort cable.) Should you have more than two DVI-equipped monitors, you’ll need
DisplayPort to DVI adapters, which currently cost over $100.
If you have a older 30-inch, 2560x1600 monitors, which connect via dual-link DVI, you’ll need additional adapters, since the included passive mini-DisplayPort to DVI adapters are single link. The price of glory is not insubstantial.
How're we going to set all this up? Read on to find out.
Since we’re using specialty stands, that requires a little more assembly than just unpacking the box, popping the panel onto its stand, plugging in a couple of cables and firing up the system. Just assembling the stands takes a good hour or more.
We installed AMD’s reference Eyefinity edition HD 5870 in our graphics test system. Once the monitors were attached to the stands and somewhat aligned, we attached the six DisplayPort cables, each with a mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter, to the card. Most systems will only “see” the first two displays when the system POSTs.