The Crosshair Problem

With my wall of panels constructed it was time to plug them all in and begin the easy part. At POST and while starting Windows, only two of the panels actually display anything. Installing the driver and going through the Eyefinity setup process is the same as for a lesser number of displays. I will say that driver interactions involving creating/manipulating the six displays are sluggish. You just get the feeling that there's a lot going on under the hood. I've included a video below that shows a complete driver setup of a 6 display Eyefinity system so you can see for yourself. Pay attention to how long it takes for each display to activate at some points during the install.

With the software configured I had a single large display that appeared to Windows as a 5760 x 2160 monitor.  And here is where I ran into my first problem using an Eyefinity 6 setup.  Dialog boxes normally appear in the middle of your display, which in my case was at the joining of two monitor bezels. Here's an example of a dialog box appearing on an Eyefinity 6 setup without bezel correction:

Note how the dialog box is actually stretched across both panels. It's even worse in games, but luckily as of Catalyst 10.3 AMD has enabled bezel correction in the driver to avoid the stretching problem. While bezel correction makes things look more correct in games, it does cause a problem for anything appearing behind the bezel:

Half the time I didn't even notice when a little window had popped up asking me to do something because it was hidden by my bezels. This happens a lot during software installs where the installer is asking you a question while you're off paying attention to something else on one of your 6 displays. 

In my previous coverage on Eyefinity I mentioned that the thickness of the bezels wasn't an issue for gaming. In a three display setup I still stand by that. However with six monitors, particularly because of this occluded center point problem, bezel thickness is a major issue. 

It's an even bigger issue in certain games, particularly first person shooters because there's usually a crosshair in the middle of your screen. Take a look at what aiming in Battlefield Bad Company 2 looks like with an Eyefinity 6 setup:

Somewhere behind that bezel is an enemy on a vehicle. You simply can't play an FPS seriously on an E6 setup, you have to guess at where you're aiming if you're shooting at anything directly ahead of you. Here's another example in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat:

Eyefinity 6 was just not made for FPSes. The ideal setup for an FPS would actually be a 5x1 portrait mode, which is currently not supported in AMD's drivers. AMD is well aware of the limitation and is working on enabling 5x1 at some point in the future.

Racing, flight sims or other person titles are much better suited to this 6-display configuration. I recorded a video of our DiRT 2 benchmark as an example:

The experience in these sorts of games is much more immersive, although it is frustrating to only really be able to use a subsection of titles on such an expensive display setup. You may find that it's more affordable/immersive/useful to just take the resolution hit and get a good 720p or 1080p projector to hook up to your gaming PC instead.

The aspect ratio issues that are present with a 3x1 landscape setup aren't as prevalent in a 3x2 configuration. At 5760 x 2160 you're much closer to 16:9 than you would be at 5760 x 1080. Far more games stretch well to this resolution, although there's still a lack of good compatibility with the majority of games out there.

AMD claims it is working with developers on enabling proper FOV and aspect ratio adjustments for Eyefinity setups, but it's not always easy. AMD is also working on alternatives to deal with the crosshair problem - for example by making the games aware of bezel correction and shifting the position of the crosshair for Eyefinity users. The AMD Display Library SDK update includes resources for developers to use when developing for Eyefinity platforms.

Given the secrecy surrounding Eyefinity's creation it's not surprising that most developers haven't had the opportunity to include support for it in current titles. Going forward we should see more native support however. Some developers are viewing technologies like Eyefinity as a way of differentiating and promoting PC versions of console titles to help boost sales.

Completing the Eyefinity 6 Build More Games & Productivity
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  • Zstream - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Hmm, wonder if they have a snap to grid function in Windows 7 for each LCD. That would be nice... Reply
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Those of us with 6 or more screens have been using multiple low-end video cards (including PCI where necessary) for many years now. It's still much cheaper than this. Reply
  • Guspaz - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Perhaps because such solutions have been available for non-gaming uses for VERY many years. You could grab Matrox graphics cards (still hanging around in the business world), or use two GXM products to get six displays on a standard ATI/nVidia graphics card.

    There are also other solutions from other companies, or just the possibility of sticking three dual-head graphics cards in a system, which can be pretty cheap if you don't need powerful 3D performance.

    In short, for productivity, this is old news; Eyefinity is really only of note for gaming, and it doesn't look very useful or practical for that either. Triple-head gaming has merit since it avoids many of the problems, and that can be done fairly easily (some graphics cards support three outputs, or you can use a GXM product).
    Reply
  • lwatcdr - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    I could see this being used for Simulators and military systems as well.
    Reply
  • Maroon - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    I hope AMD didn't spend a lot of time on this because this is an unbelievably niche market they are after with this card.

    What needs to be done (if possible) is take the monitors apart and just piece together the screens and somehow relocate the hardware all behind everything.

    Reply
  • sparkuss - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Anand wrote:

    The larger frame buffer did help raise minimum frame rates, but not enough to positively impact the average frame rates in our tests.

    I thought there had been review comments before about the 5870 being memory limited in some tests. Does this mean that the added 1GB doesn't solve any of that without further hardware/software changes from ATI?

    The 2GB cards, standard not eyefinity, are starting to list at manufactures sites. I was going to wait for them but maybe not worth it after all? I'm not interested in eyefinity, just CF for 1920 +above gaming.

    Do you have any of the base 2GB cards planned for review shortly?


    And P.S. the new comments system lose all adv editing?
    Reply
  • poohbear - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    6 monitor support is good and all, but seriously how much demand is there for a card that can support 6 monitors? its a niche product, not sure what all the hoopla is about.:p Reply
  • notty22 - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    From Review "It's worth mentioning that these power numbers were obtained in a benchmark that showed no real advantage to the extra 1GB of frame buffer. It is possible that under a more memory intensive workload (say for example, driving 6 displays) the 5870 E6 would draw much more power than a hypothetical 6-display 1GB 5870."

    I think a tester should run Furmark when in 3 way or 6 way eyefinity. I have a sinking feeling, this would break the card. The tests prove out that you need crossfire grunt of two 5870's to do any gaming. So the extra cost of this card , trying to do it all in one is a failure.
    Reply
  • catalysts17TX - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    i have a 4870, great card but runs hot and sucks up a lot of wattage at idle power both the 5850 and 5870 due much better in heat and wattage, but at load the 5870 uses more wattage than my 4870 does. the 5870 card is NICE with the eyefinity 6 edition. MY question is will there be a 5850 Eyefinity 6 Edition? dont care about price just performance and wattage

    Reply
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Will Displayport ever start catching on as a monitor connector? The majority of displays still don't include a DP input and if it hasn't started by now, I wonder if it ever will... Reply

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