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Posted on February 25th, 2010 by Mike Jennings

ATI Eyefinity on six screens: first look review

ATI Eyefinty Our previous encounter with Eyefinity came courtesy of a Chillblast machine which came with three monitors and enough gaming grunt to stretch the latest titles across its 5,760 x 1,080 native resolution.

ATI’s much-rumoured Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition boasts six DisplayPort outputs – although it’s a standard HD 5870 under the hood – and ATI visited the PC Pro Lab yesterday to demonstrate gaming at a mighty resolution of 5,760 x 2,160.

ATI Eyefinity

We were pleased to see the addition of three monitors didn’t complicate the setup procedure; as before, it’s a case of loading up Catalyst Control Centre, telling the program that you’d like to use Eyefinity, and telling the driver how your panels are positioned.

Once that’s done, you’re ready to go – and the initial effect is still very impressive. The amount of desktop space on offer is truly vast, and the main game we’ve tested on Eyefinity 6 – Race Driver: GRID –looked fantastic. The peripheral vision afforded by the increased space both horizontally and vertically meant for a far more immersive experience – we could see our side windows getting damaged, for instance – and the card was more than powerful enough to run the game on its highest settings across the huge resolution.

Eyefinity, though, still isn’t without problems – and, in some cases, the increased number of monitors actually makes things worse.

ATI Eyefinity

Take ATI’s bezel correction, which has recently been introduced in the Eyefinity driver and works by rendering the image that should be behind the bezels before blocking it out. The setup process is charmingly old-school – triangles appear across two monitors and we used an A4 sheet of paper and some on-screen arrows to line the shape up across the two panels – but, in practise, the feature returned mix results.

In-game action was the main beneficiary, with GRID’s various cars and circuits matching up perfectly across the system’s six screens. When compared to our previous encounter with Eyefinity – where objects were uncomfortably skewed across multiple screens – it’s a vast improvement.

ATI Eyefinity

The bezel correction tweak also improves the position of several HUD elements. One of our major qualms of the original setup was that maps, objectives and speedometers were position at the far edges of the screens, which made them near-impossible to view amid a busy Crysis firefight or slick Burnout: Paradise race. Now, though, HUD elements are kept closer to the centre of the image and were able to be seen without physically turning our heads.

This new feature doesn’t handle text, tables and menus particularly well, however. Even before the game was booted, we’d spotted problems: every Windows dialogue box, GRID’s installation wizard and the Steam login screen appeared directly in the middle of the image and, consequently, had to be dragged out of the way before they could be used.

These problems were more serious in-game. As our photographs illustrate, the bezels cut off half of the lap counter and numerous menu screens: we couldn’t properly view our race results, points allocations or many of GRID’s navigation screens. The bezels themselves also ran straight across the horizon, which proved more off-putting than the three-screen system and will surely prove off-putting in most games.

ATI Eyefinity

There’s no doubt that Eyefinity is an exciting and potentially superb technology: transforming six screens into one giant monitor opens up huge resolutions and could make virtually every game more immersive and, in some cases, easier to play.

At the moment, though, the impressive initial effect is marred by practical problems. Once the bezel correction is perfected and monitors with thinner bezels are available then it could, conceivably, be worth the cash. Until then, a three-screen Eyefinity rig – or a projector – are both more viable.

Posted in: Hardware, Just in

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31 Responses to “ ATI Eyefinity on six screens: first look review ”

  1. piphil Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Are there any screens in which the bezel is removable? Otherwise, I can’t see this taking off. If people want such big screens, they’ll probably buy them 1-piece, although I’m assuming 6 smaller monitors offer a much greater resolution at a lower price. Are there any companies working on pre-made bezel-less solutions?

     
  2. Fr3d Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    What monitor stand is that?

     
  3. olivier Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    dream of the day oled screen are mainstream with 1mm border

     
  4. Michael Barnett Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Here are some thin bezels.

    http://www.samsung.com/ca/consumer/office/professional-displays/large-format-lcd/LH46MVTLBB/ZA/index.idx?pagetype=prd_detail

     
  5. upright Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    It looks like the horizontal bezel are more of a problem than the vertical one.
    Can anybody try 3 or 4 screens, in portrait mode ?

     
  6. Spathi Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    @Michael Barnett:

    Those thin bezels cost $6000 each

     
  7. mukestar Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    @Michael Barnett & @ Spathi
    Them thin bezel monitors are 46′. I doubt if your sitting in front of a 46′ monitor your going to need 6 of them to be immersed.

     
  8. MjrNuT Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Why not just take 3 widescreens, rotate them 90° to vertical. Side by side?!

    No more horizon bezel blockage issue, no more horizontal for that matter….

    ;)

     
  9. JimmyTehBanana Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Hypothetically you could modify your own bezels and just provide corner support, but you will still run into spacing problems. Even removing the LCD display from the housing will still have approx .5cm of metal holding the LCD together. One could shave the existing housing down to match the metal but you will still run into structural problems for supporting the actual screen. If you were to use epoxy then you run the problem of inability to repair the screen when the bulb blows.

     
  10. Michael B Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Bezel solution I saw a few years ago: there’s a massive piece of plastic that sits between you and the monitors. Magically (prisms?) it removed the bezels

     
  11. Jacob Pederson Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Forget bezels! This tech is used best with projectors . . . not monitors.

     
  12. Bob Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    I have one of my computers on a 49″ lcd tv, seems to be about the same size as 6 little monitors but way easier…

     
  13. Nathan Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Jacob has the right idea. Any number of projectors would be far superior for this. In fact, it’s not that different, conceptually, from the projection systems used in CAVE applications.

     
  14. Billybob Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Might look better with 6 wide monitors across. You would see what would be like a large window forward, with bezel from top to bottom. Can the card drive 6 monitors that way, like this IIIIIII

     
  15. Jared Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Wow looks like they invented a big screen with small monitors; why buy 50″ 1080P screen when you can by 6 smaller screens and make it more complicated!

     
  16. RustyBadger Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Michael B: it was likely a large fresnel lens, like they use in projection TVs. I have seen this done with multiple monitors before as well- it’s just not as pretty as a naked LCD, though.
    Speaking of naked LCDs, I have also seen people who removed the cases from screens and mounted them together, resulting in a division of only a couple millimetres between screens. Very effective, but a lot of work!

     
  17. Steve Cassidy Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    just use 6 projectors. Bingo, no bezel.

     
  18. JohnF Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Projectors would limit the use of this to low-light situations. If your mom walks into your room without knocking, you won’t be able to see crap while the door is open. And while a 49″ screen is nice, it’s not 5,760 pixels across, so the resolution won’t be there. Go sit 18 inches from your 46″ screen and see how good it looks compared to a 19″ monitor.

     
  19. honeymak Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 4:49 am

    borderless monitors pls

     
  20. Dave Duke Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 8:23 am

    For those people responding with “Why not just buy one 50″ monitor/TV and save the headaches” What you’re missing is that with a 19″ screen or a 50″ screen you are seeing the exact same image just stretched larger on the bigger screen and looking worse becasue they have the same resolution probably a measly 1920X1080.
    The multi screen setup that eyefinity affords allows for massive resoltions and a much larger field of view, you actually see way more of the game in these type setups. The only bad thing that ATI have done is to make us use Displayport monitors which for one are hard to find and another, more expensive.
    For a better understanding check out http://www.widescreengamingforum.com/wiki/TH2Go_FAQ
    This is based on the older Matrox Triple Head setup but explains why this solution will always be better than one massive screen.
    nVidia are also adopting this tech in their next card releases and hopefully it’ll be backwards compatible thru drivers for current GF2 series card users.

     
  21. Sven Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Are the individual connectors synchronized? I.e. does the vertical blank occur at the same moment on all connectors? This would mean this card can drive a IBM T221 monitor.

     
  22. Kureng Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 11:18 am

    How about using Projectors instead of Monitors? I know one company that can merge multiple screens with seamless borders. If you have the budget, try lookup for http://www.iworks.my

     
  23. rew Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    If you have a game where you can “look around”, you can also look around the bezels. People are good at filling in the blanks if they can move around to see “around” a tree or something like that. Take a photo, and you suddenly notice that in real life that fence or tree didn’t bother that much.

    Anyway, for a racing game, with certain controls/instruments behind the bezels that’s irritating. A doom like game would be playable.

     
  24. Henrik Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I want to do this with only one card and larger resolutions than what a TH2Go can handle:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q17PCnCcIyA

    /H

     
  25. Paul Ockenden Says:
    March 1st, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Is it just me?

    Instead of 6 screens some distance across your desk, why not just have a single screen a bit closer. Same field of view.

    I don’t think resolution is an argument – I doubt the human eye can resolve single pixel detail on the screens shown in the pic with this blog post.

    Is it just me who thinks there’s a slight amount of emperor’s new clothes here?

     
  26. Josefov Says:
    March 2nd, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Mr Ockenden, would you like to change a resolution of whatever you’re sitting in front of now to 600×480 and come back to us with your observations? :)

     
  27. Neal Says:
    March 3rd, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Six screens is no longer very wow for me.

    I saw this today:

    http://www.comp.leeds.ac.uk/vvr/images/JH00005.jpg

     
  28. Gindylow Says:
    March 8th, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    @Neal

    LoL I’d like to see gamers trying to shoe horn one of those into their spare bedroom (without being spotted by the wife…)

     
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    May 3rd, 2010 at 3:19 pm

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    gsm signal jammer

     
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