AMD Radeon HD 6870 CrossFire with 5x1 Eyefinity

Article Index:   

Way back in September of ’09, AMD launched the Radeon HD 5800 series, and along with it officially unveiled its Eyefinity multi-display technology, which now pervades all Radeon HD 5000 and 6000 series cards in one form or another. Leading up to the release of the 5800 series, AMD tried to keep Eyefinity a close guarded secret, so its arrival was a pleasant surprise for most consumers and a not so pleasant one for rival NVIDIA perhaps. Dual and multi-screen gaming wasn’t new per say, just ask die-hard Flight Simulator fans who have been doing it for years.  However, AMD’s implementation was much more elegant than any of hacks or other solutions available in the past. And on higher-end cards, it allowed for easy integration of up to six monitors, which was unheard of at the time.

Since its initial introduction, AMD has continued to refine and optimize Eyefinity, while also working with game developers to ensure proper support in a multitude of titles. CrossFire support, which was available at launch, came a while back as well. DisplayPort-enabled monitors have gotten more affordable, cheap DP-to-DVI adapters have been made available, and the performance of more mainstream graphics cards has gotten good enough to push multiple displays with decent framerates, making the cost of entry somewhat palatable for even an extreme three or six monitor setup.

Available AMD Eyefinity Configurations 

Part of the allure of AMD Eyefinity is its flexibility. There are many different screen configurations that can be supported, some of which are represented above. Depending on your needs, and desk real estate, monitors can be arranged in a multitude of different ways, with a mix of extended or mirrored desktops. In addition, and this is what set Eyefinity apart from legacy solutions, screens can also be combined in a what AMD calls a Display Group and they’ll act as a single large surface (AMD actually calls the underlying software that’s part of the Catalyst Control Center SLS).


Samsung's Sexy Six Screen Setup...

The single large surface can span up to six monitors, resulting in a huge expanse of screens with a massive number of pixels in play. A typical six screen setup, for example, comprised of relatively affordable 22” LCDs with native resolutions of 1920x1080, setup in a 3x2 arrangement, would have a combined resolution 5760x2160; that’s a boatload of pixels.

One of the more recent display group configurations to be supported by AMD is a 5x1 portrait arrangement. This king of setup is interesting because it’s more appealing to gamers than a six-screen 3x2 setup. With six screens in a 3x2 arrangement, the center of the SLS surface falls on the monitor bezels, which is not ideal for FPS games in particular. With a 5x1 setup, the center of the SLS surface is a full monitor, ideally centered on the gamer, and the remaining four screens extend outward, offering an unparalleled field of view.


 

 
PowerColor Radeon HD 6870 2GB Eyefinity 6 Edition

With the performance of more mainstream cards on the rise, monitor prices on a downward slide, and support for 5x1 Eyefinity available (sort of—more on that later), we decided to see what a pair of Radeon HD 6870 cards running in CrossFire mode could do with a quintet of screens out in front.

The cleanest way to pull off a 5x1 Eyefinity configuration, without using an array of adapters is with a card that has at least five, similar outputs, connected to matching monitors. To that end, we got our hands on a pair of PowerColor Radeon HD 6870 2GB Eyefinity 6 Edition cards, which have six mini-DP outputs. These cards sport 900MHz GPU clocks, with 2GB of GDDR5 memory running at 1050MHz (4.2Gbps effective), so they’ll perform right on part with reference Radeon HD 6870 cards, which have the same clocks, in most scenarios. The PowerColor card’s 2GB frame buffer, however, will give the card the breathing room necessary to support the ultra-high effective resolution of five screens linked together. We’re seeing 1GB graphics cards choke on some of today’s games when a single 30” monitor with a 2560x1600 resolution is used; at 5760x2160 1GB isn’t going to cut it with newer titles.

Image gallery

Related content

Comments

Comments
LBowen 3 years ago

Going to check this awesomeness out right now, Thanks :)

LBowen 3 years ago

That review was enlightening to say the least.  I thought Eyefinity sounded amazing but after seeing the amount of display configurations offered, I have come to the conclusion that I have no words to describe the technology that gives it justice.  5400x1920 = Tears of Joy Crying

A quality set of headphones combined with those screens and most would be completely immersed in the game.  Imagine playing Penumbra, Amnesia or even Dead Space with that kind of setup.  I am not ashamed to admit I would probably scream both in fright and delight.

rrplay 3 years ago

[quote user="LBowen"]

That review was enlightening to say the least.  ...

...Imagine playing Penumbra, Amnesia or even Dead Space with that kind of setup.  I am not ashamed to admit I would probably scream both in fright and delight.

[/quote]

Wow is all I can say about this review .The highlight was seeing the 5 screen setup and the videos Marco made with the explanation of the settings  and frame rates.

Those vidclips definitely give us an idea as to how amazing all of this is .and being able to actually see the results Like a picture the clips are worth a thousand words.Thank you Marco for taking  the time to make and post them along in this review..

@LBowen I know I would be freaked out a bit in the Penumbra series myself with a setup like this .

pwrntspd 3 years ago

Nice article. I didnt realize that Eyefinity supported so many different configurations, and im am still impressed with how well AMD improved the crossfire scaling on these cards. A monitor setup like this is more of a pipe dream for me, but im surprised a pair of 6870s can drive that many pixels. Maybe ill do a 3 monitor setup instead...

OptimusPrimeTime 3 years ago

"That setup is pretty wicked and so is this article. AMD's crossfire performance is expectacular. I'm honestly not to wild about the spacing between the monitors or more specific ,the bezel thickness, but if they were bigger, say 5 x 40 Inch TV's, I surely would not be complaining. "

"I have two questions, when in Crossfire and 5x1 mode, did you have all five monitors connected to one card?, and if so, "Theoretically", would having three monitors connected to one card, and two to the other work, and would it perform better because the processing is distributed more equal"

-Optimus 

AKwyn 3 years ago

[quote user="OptimusPrimeTime"]"Theoretically", would having three monitors connected to one card, and two to the other work, and would it perform better because the processing is distributed more equal"[/quote]

I'm guessing you could do it either way but neither will offer an advantage. The processing wound not be distributed evenly due to the obvious reason that just running a monitor doesn't use processing power itself. The processing power will be used once you run a game and if you have a Crossfire card then it'll be spread out evenly between the two cards for an additional performance increase. But there is no performance difference if you plug in two monitors to the other card.

OptimusPrimeTime 3 years ago

"Hey thanks for the reply Taylor, would also have liked to get a response from the reviewer. I still think that the review set up in nice, but I'm not will about the division and bezel thickness. My type of Eyefinity is 3x1 landscape with three big TV's like this one from Maingear."

-Optimus

marco c 3 years ago

@Optimus - Yes, all of the monitors were connected to a single card. And no, performance wouldn't change if the monitors were distrubuted amongst the two cards. CrossFire was enabled for the tests, so the perf. was alread being enhanced by the second GPU.

And I'm with you on the bezel thickness. Thin-bezeled monitors or some of those new thin bezel TV's would be awesome. Unfortunately, I don't have the room or resources to set up a configuration like that--yet! :) heh.

OptimusPrimeTime 3 years ago

"Thanks for the reply. Yeah, Its a gamers dream to have something like that in your living room. One more question though, unlike Nvidia's GTX 460, which only support Sli, with the 6870 , can you do triple crossfire ?"

-Optimus

marco c 3 years ago

@Optimus - No. With Radeons that have only a single CrossFire connector, two cards is the maximum.

OptimusPrimeTime 3 years ago

"Ok, I was a bit confused , thought that you can, thanks for the reply and for clearing that up, I'm sure, hopefully, that I'm not the only one that thought you can go triple or quadruple crossfire with 6870's. Confused."

-Optimus

realneil 3 years ago

[quote user="OptimusPrimeTime"]hopefully, that I'm not the only one that thought you can go triple or quadruple crossfire with 6870's[/quote]

Really though,.....two of them would be a rockin'-azz setup,.....I say this because my single XFX Radeon HD6870 has some damn respectable performance.

OptimusPrimeTime 3 years ago

[quote user="realneil"]

[quote user="OptimusPrimeTime"]hopefully, that I'm not the only one that thought you can go triple or quadruple crossfire with 6870's[/quote]

Really though,.....two of them would be a rockin'-azz setup,.....I say this because my single XFX Radeon HD6870 has some damn respectable performance.

[/quote]

"Yeah, the 6870 does put up very respectable frame rates, and in crossfire even better, almost twice the performance, plus its affordable, just saw for $165 + a free game at newegg via LogicBuy.Com http://www.logicbuy.com/deals/xfx-radeon-hd-6870-video-card/32165.aspx , there's no reason anyone can't have a formidable gaming system and graphics card these days."

-Optimus

 

NathanLeininger one year ago

I have two MSI Twin Frozr III HAWK Edition Cards and I love the performance I get from them! The look very cool and stay cool compared to alot of 6870. For around 300 and something, you can't beat the performance for that amount of money! 

DeanTalboys one year ago

On the subject of doubling-up on 6870's, does Eyefinity overcome any restrictions of the original cards to provide a 5x1 profile? I have a single Gigabyte 6870 at present with a limit of 4 monitors to be connected at the same time and an Eyefinity limitation of 3x1. If I add another 6870 with crossfire should I be able to create the 5x1 array? There is very little explanation anywhere on the AMD website. Thx.

omegadraco 3 years ago

That is absolutely incredible. Most of us could only dream about a setup like this. It almost would seem that you really need to have the dual cards to be able to drive something this huge at really good framerates. Thanks for the great review I love the videos of actual gameplay that give us a sense of how well this setup really works.

inspector 3 years ago

Aww you guys get all the fun. BTW you guys need some better monitors for multiscreening :P. Like the crossfire bench :)

ThunderBird 3 years ago

I just cannot get around the bezel from one monitor to the next. If they can figure out a way to squeeze them closer together this would be great.

AKwyn 3 years ago

Well at least it's comforting to know that dual 6870's can power AvP just fine on a 6870.

I'd like to thank PowerColor for releasing this card out into the public; with the declining monitor prices in tow; anybody can have a 5x1 setup now that they think about it. And the 2GBs of memory just makes this card into so much more.

dadodgeson 3 years ago

how would you be able to buy the monitors we need a sweet deal on a few!!!

jkhoui 3 years ago

awesome just awesome thats all i can say, sick layout!! 

LBowen 3 years ago

rrplay, I played Amnesia in a dark house by myself with headphones for about twelve minutes. I promptly decided to turn on all the lights, grab my samurai sword and watch some Biggest Loser with full view of the door just in case. I imagine if I had that monitor setup the cops would come knocking at my door because of the screaming.

rrplay 3 years ago

LBowen, yep those Penumbra series of games can be quite the experience . They can easily mess with you head a bit .

Come to think of there's already a thread in HH about some of the Penumbra series of games here

http://hothardware.com/cs/forums/p/52592/380547.aspx#380547

shared a bit of the free demo downloads [which are  pretty good] around Halloween time last year with a few folks. some thanked me and others ..

well let's say I never heard from them again ..  [kiddiin of course]

"Feast on Him Brothers !"   MUUUAAAAHHH !

animatortom 3 years ago

So do yall drive a car with a linebackers football helmet on?

Those bars would BTS outta me! This setup is great for working, when you need the extra real estate. But with the cost of multiple screens and then the mounts for a six way setup? You are waaaay better of going with a projector if you want a large format gaming option!

Alien looked cool and it makes you feel like you are at E3 being wowed by the demo, but to get into the game?.....Nah:P there are many projectors in the 1K range that are 1080p and even some 3D ones that would give you a larger space.

Lamar Kropf 3 years ago

Enough! I am now going to spend the next 2 days trying to figure out how to get a job at Hot Hardware! It just ain't fair for Marco to have so much fun, and I only get to read about it. :P

OSunday 3 years ago

The Grads and Dad's give away will be able to run that 5x1 Eyefinity set up like a charm!

Perfect review to release around the same time of the give away,

Nvidia might have 3D locked down at the moment, but AMD's dominating the multiple screen configurations through eyefinity

realneil 3 years ago

This is a nice setup, but I don't have the resources for it either. Maybe one day I will, and maybe they'll come up with an edge to edge screen without any bezels to hinder the view.

gibbersome 3 years ago

It's an exciting technology and I agree that there need to be better displays to make full use of eyefinity. In the meantime, I'm very excited to see the new generation of video cards chew up any game in their path. The hardware is a generation ahead of the software.

detnight 3 years ago

I neck starts to hurt after a few hours of BF3 on my 40in. I would be in traction if I had something like Optimus has up there. Plus I would need another room

AKwyn 3 years ago

[quote user="detnight"]I neck starts to hurt after a few hours of BF3 on my 40in.[/quote]

Wait, you got a beta version of BF3?

realneil 3 years ago

[quote user="TaylorKarras"]Wait, you got a beta version of BF3?[/quote]

You noticed that too?

Post a Comment
or Register to comment