Authour: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: March 31st, 2010
DisplayPort Link Failure - time to power cycle the display
During our testing time, we saw a few bugs and sub-optimal situations. These primarily revolved around DisplayPort link failures - the display link between the card and the panel isn't working. Sometimes this is easy to resolve, just reapply whichever setting you just changed. And that's all well and good, if it wasn't the display you had the controls open on. If you're left hunting in the dark, then a Ctrl+ Alt-Del to open the Windows Security Screen, which will usually reset the links and give you back full vision. Fortunately this circumstance is very infrequent. I experienced it randomly when trying out various different display groups and switching between compensated and uncompensated modes, without closing CCC between applications. Even then, it was not reproducible consistently, and sometimes could be traced back to a loose DisplayPort cable. Power cycling the display most often fixed the issue, getting you back to a working environment, even if sometimes this involves powering off all but one panel.
Picking the right display stands and monitors requires a little research. The supplied Visidec stands (a stacked 2 display model, and a 2x2 model) we had work well, but required tweaking every few days to keep their alignment. Using some doubled side tape and taking time to do a setup dry-run will definitely pay off. Having the displays perfectly aligned proved less important than we thought, even with a back light to show the gaps, the gaming experience was great. Using twisted nematic (TN) based displays didn't hurt either, with no viewing angle issues. Looking at the setup, you have to treat it like a 60" HDTV - you wouldn't camp out two feet from a TV that big. Despite the far smaller pixel size, games and movies still look better with a little distance from the screen, something to take into account when designing your setup.
Display Stands - use a flat surface and sticky tape!
So, what's missing from Eyefinity 6? Well, not a lot to be honest. As a standalone card, it's a corker. The extra power input means more potential for overclocking, and the full width heatsink exhaust helps move more air out of the heatsink and shroud. DisplayPort technology is quite nifty, easy to plug in and a nice improvement over HDMI with matching audio capabilities plus latched connector, and scalable uses. DisplayPort is also royalty free, unlike HDMI. 3DStereo over HDMI should just pass through a passive DisplayPort adapter. Using the HD 5870 2GB Eyefinity6 as a single display gaming card, the extra VRAM definitely pays off and it's a great addition to the Radeon HD 5000 Enthusiast range, priced quite aggressively against the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480. The strength of its display output scalability is immense, allowing you to grow your Eyefinity display over time and take advantage of newer technologies piece by piece instead of all-or-nothing; or at least in an initial 3 display chunk.
Future improvements include a 5x1 portrait mode - a single row of five displays, rotated. This is very exciting as it gives the best of single display height configurations with the added vertical resolution of dual height display configurations. This will also only require stands to be purchased if your monitor stand doesn't swivel. I'd also like a hotkey to send a DisplayPort link reset, either to all panels or just one panel, so you don't get stuck having to log off or restart your PC to get back to a working full display; even if this is an unlikely occurrence.
CCC Profiles including Eyefinity display groups are a little fresh, with moving between grouped and ungrouped displays not working smoothly all the time. AMD are working on the issue, and if the recent pace of fixes, improvements and quality is any guide, it'll be sooner rather than later. If you're considering investing in Eyefinity6 and going for the full Monty, you might want to budget for two cards if you want your insanely high resolution gaming to be anti-aliased and maxed in the newest titles. For 3x1 Eyefinity a HD 5970 with 2GB per GPU would be a better proposition if it wasn't a lot more expensive - possibly also as rare as rocking horse poo - but you lose any further expandability as you can't add more displays.
AMD ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity6
Final verdict? When the zombies come, you'll find me, bloodied club in hand, in front of my six displays and HD 5870 Eyefinity 6. What's that? Defending the Cavewoman and Cavekids? They're long gone, left when I set up Eyefinity 6 on the dining room table. I kid, I kid. As a good friend of mine said, "Your wife is very patient and understanding. If I'd set that up on my dining room table, I'd have been served papers the next day. Even on a Sunday."
AMD ATI Eyefinity - so easy a Caveman can do it. Recommended!
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