You’d figure me coming out of the woodwork after a while of not blogging I’d having something positive to say. Sorry to disappoint.  I felt compelled to post about how ridiculous and irritating running a “top of the line” setup actually is. I’m running a quad crossfire setup with 4x 5870’s the 2gb versions. Installation as far as the hardware is concerned is pretty straight forward, plug them in, and give them plenty of juice 1 kilowatt, although I prefer 1.2 kilowatts or more. I am also running three Dell 30″ the 3007fwp models. That means that they are hooked up via the DVI mini display port adaptor (which also plugs into a USB port).

Setting up a “group” is quirky at best via the Catalyst control center. It just plain sucks and If I were one of those people to get seizures from flickering, I’d surely be dead or swallowing my tongue on the floor. The thing is, in order to run an app or game across all three, you need to set up a “group”. Windows 7 desktop composition settings can often throw a wrench, no a fucking lightpole sized chunk of steel, into your whole process. So if your reading this and have a ton of problems playing games, or running apps such as CS4 or CS5, DISABLE windows desktop composition. Yes it makes it very “un-pretty”, and yes you can’t flip through your 3d windows by Win-Tab anymore with it disabled, but at least your shit will work right? Well sorta.

So let’s say you actually have made it to get three monitors setup but you don’t plan on gaming, you just want three displays spanning, each its own display. This should be simple right? Nope. No matter how you configure the stupid display properties you’ll be extremely fortunate to actually have your lcd’s in the supposed correct order of display 1, display 2, and display 3. Mine are currently 3-1-2, enabling and disabling them to swap them around makes me feel like I am playing a difficult puzzle game. Swapping the DVI mini ports doesn’t help either. The most annoying part of this is that CCC reports LCD 1 as being LCD 3 or 2, I’ll upload an image later to elaborate this, but you’ll see that when I click IDENTIFY, that they are in fact not the corresponding number to LCD, which again, makes setting them up a royal pain in the ass.

Let’s say you do have it all working nicely, you have your monitors all grand a perfect. Now a ATI / AMD driver update comes out. Should be as simple as downloading, double clicking and updating right? WRONG. In my scenario with quad cards, and triple monitors, if I do not disable all but one LCD, then when updating it will flicker all three of the LCDs until I get a blue screen. Niiiiiiiiiice.

ATI / AMD one other thing. Why the hell do you still have shitty low resolutions like 640 x 480 as the DEFAULT resolution after a driver update. On my 30″ lcd, I can’t see the “Apply” button or the “OK” button, I’m just tabbing through and clicking shit randomly until it accepts my 2560×1600 setting.

So how about performance?

Well this is a 50/50 call here. In intensive apps like CS5 where in After Effects, you can designate it to render off your GPU’s, this really does scream through “on the fly” rendering. However when performing your final render (render que), using the multiple cards to render always causes major glitches in the final .mov or .avi .

Gaming, eeeeerrrrghh. I game on a sinlge LCD, the middle one, because getting triple LCD support to work nicely with games was no easy task. Honestly I don’t notice a difference between 2x 5870’s and 4x 5870’s. Seriously. Even with all settings maxed at 2560×1600. Games like Metro 2033 with Direct X 11 on, forget about it, not happening this generation.

So after way to many blue screens, and random reboots, and resolution problems, I got it to work as long as each LCD is it’s own independant lcd, without the “group”.

Calling ATI was the biggest joke, some call center indian guy gave me the third degree about how my Asus Rampage Extreme III was a sub par motherboard. I asked him to suggest a better one, which he never answered. He said ATI would contact me in a couple weeks, right…that never happened.

If I was a curious buyer, and was thinking about getting quad crossfire, I’d tell, no I’d beg you to not do it. It’s not worth the headache or the money. It’s so frustrating, I even am thinking of going quad FERMI…

Ill upload some pics of some of the fiasco going on after lunch…


  1. Joshua says:

    I’m pretty sure this is why you can search for and find so many hundreds of videos of guys living in their mom’s basements that show off their triple-monitor/quad GTX 480 setup. But do the same search for guys showing off a triple monitor, eyefinity rig with quad 5870’s, you get nothing but an echo in an empty youtube warehouse.

    I was debating between quad 480’s and dual 5970’s, but I’ve recently begun to consider dropping ATI out of my current decision making processes. Not to mention the buff of PhysX and fermi’s tessellation.

    • Joshua says:

      Edit: looks like tri sli is best, though a few have attempted quad. Reaching some high res on tri with 3-monitor setups though. Makes you wonder wth the fourth card even does, besides muck things up.

  2. Exempt says:

    I agree Joshua, dual or triple Nvidia is (at the moment) the better way to go. Possibly when the 6970’s come out , dual or triple may be a really nice combination, but if I could swap at this moment, I’d rather be using nuclear heat generating 480’s (or now 580’s). 🙂

    And I agree to many kids living in basements and with parents with videos on YouTube, I could never find relative reviews on quad card setups

    • Joshua says:

      Yeah, heat and power issues there are the only concern. However, it seems that the dual 5970 (quad xfire) setup doesn’t seem to give folks any issues with triple monitor eyefinity. Not to mention it’s a bit more powerful than a 3x 480 setup (and probably a 2- or 3- way 580) for about the same price-tag (if that matters to anyone running this setup). The cooling and power efficiency of the 5970’s, however, make me want to keep ATI on the table still, at least for that card alone. Have you heard of any issues with eyefinity on dual 5970’s?

      And the research will continue (for quite some time).

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