Thursday, January 8, 2009

ASUS P5AB-Deluxe with DUAL nVidia 7300 Graphics Cards (Quad Monitor)

Okay, that was hell.

I've been running dual monitors for some time now, both on my work PC and my home PC. I am leaning towards nVidia for multi-displays these days, as I'm finding the ATI drivers to be really cumbersome, and their multi-monitor stuff isn't as simple and efficient as the nVidia stuff. Maybe if you want the options for virtual desktops, ATI is your thing, but I don't - it's why I got multiple monitors in the first place.

Anyway - I have a few extra LCD's kicking around, and some spare PCIe cards, so I thought I'd go for 4 monitors. I could really use the extra space when I'm monitoring and working on multiple servers at the same time. My current 7300 LE has 2 displays on it, and that works quite well.

I thought I'd just plug in the second card and away I'd go. Not so. Once you jump to more than 2 monitors, it gets tricky.

I won't go through all the permutations and combinations I had to run. I'll just jump to the end;

- Doesn't matter if you use ATI or nVidia on a crossfire, SLI, or regular board, if you're just looking for multiple displays without speed enhancement. My P5B is a Crossfire board, and I'm running two nVidia 7300's (without SLI of course).

- I didn't have to change any of the defaults on my ASUS P5B board - they are all good.

- I don't have a perfect match with my cards. One ASUS EN7300LE 512M, one knockoff unknown 7300 GS with 256M.

- You WILL have to uninstall ALL of your graphic drivers.

- You WILL have to hook up all the monitors and make sure they are powered up before you start the machine.

- Once you've dropped all your video drivers, Windows should detect both cards. Make sure to point it to your latest drivers (which you have handy someplace). Don't worry about errors and such, just make sure you install both before you reboot.

-On reboot, you may have to activate the extra monitors under Display Settings. My two other monitors were turned off by Windows by default.

- Give it a few reboots before you scream. Some reboots may hang. Mine did. I reset, and it kept trucking the next time.

- Have some older versions of drivers handy for install - maybe the latest won't do it for you.

Any mixup of cards should work, but you're going to have the best results with the same bus (all PCIe, all PCI, etc), and the same card chipsets. I've heard it's bad news to mix cards that use different Direct X versions, so if you have a DX10 and a DX9 card, it may be rough going.

I also heard that Vista doesn't like different video cards - this is something that only works under XP and maybe 2003.

This is waaaayyy cheaper than a $450 nVidia NVS 400 Quad-Monitor card. Old spare 7300's and 6600's can be picked up for $20 used.

No comments:

Post a Comment