Guide to Triple Monitor Setup for Immersive Widescreen Gaming, Part 1
A decade ago, using two monitors side-by-side for a dual monitor setup is considered to be luxury, as only those with big budget for PC building can afford. In the past few years however, we have seen massive development in computer monitor industry; and more and more brands introduce cheaper options, while a few new brands emerge in the market, stirring the competition even better. Today, we have large, high-resolution displays, with affordable price tags. The same also happened to other aspects of PC building, especially those used for gaming such as graphics card. Building a triple monitor gaming setup is easier, and cheaper than ever before. If you’re considering this upgrade, then this entry from Dual Monitors Guide is for you.
(image from Tom’s Hardware)
Imagine playing your favorite MMO, FPS, strategy, or racing game in a larger view of game field. Three glorious displays sitting side-by-side-by-side for a full field of vision. I can’t think of any immersive setup than that (except of course, adding more displays, but that’s a whole new discussion that needs a separate article). Even better is if you have built or purchased a gaming rig (in the past year or so) with the video card that supports this kind of setup. Obviously, gaming with three monitors requires major graphics power, thus, even if your card can support three monitor, gaming setup is a whole new ball game.
Here’s a simple walk through on what you need to know about triple monitor gaming setup, and the step by step guide to do it.
Do Your Homework: Make Sure the Games You Want to Play Support Triple Monitor Setup
Before you splurge your money on getting the best monitors out there, make sure if the games you wish to play support triple-monitor gaming. Some games out there work straight out of the box, while other will only use your primary display and ignore the other monitors. Games like Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Battlefield 4, Elite: Dangerous, GRID Autosport , all work nicely on three monitor setup, with some additional configurations (more into this later). Check Wide Screen Gaming forum for the list of games that supports triple monitor before you go buy your second and third monitor.
Also, even if your game is not included in the list, it doesn’t mean it won’t work. Obviously, the website only lists those games verified to work on multiple displays. Newly released games may not be included just yet. Some games that may require third-party tweaks or FOV (field of view) hacks may not show up either. So do your homework, research and make sure the games you wish play in triple monitor setup actually supports three displays. Also, there are countless of other games out there to choose from.
Check Whether Your Graphics Card Support Triple Monitor Setup
EVGA GeForce GTX 970 Super Clocked ACX 2.0 4GB GDDR5 Graphics Card (image from Amazon)
The quickest way to check whether your current graphics card can support triple monitor display is take a look at the rear side of your CPU tower and see how many outputs the graphics card has. Mid-to-upper tier cards in the past five years, usually comes with a DisplayPort output, DVI and an HDMI output (possibly a couple or more of each). If your card has at least three outputs (or even one DisplayPort 1.2 output, you can easily daisy-chain it with compatible monitors), then you can definitely do a triple display.
Plugable USB 3.0 to VGA / DVI / HDMI Video Graphics Adapter for Multiple Monitors (image from Amazon)
If your CPU tower only has two, then don’t fret, as all is not lost. Some video cards with limited I/O ports still support multiple displays through single output with the help of a video splitter. This may work general computing and everyday use, but sadly, not for gaming. To be sure, try ‘Googling’ your graphics card’s model and include the term ‘mulitple monitors’ and ‘splitter’ simultaneously, before you go out and buy a video splitter.
Likewise, mixing graphics card output can be quite tricky. Some video cards may work with any connection combinations, while other requires specific ports. Also, some may support “passive” adapters (i.e. can connect a dongle to convert a DVI port to a DisplayPort). Again, you can look around the web for this; research your card’s model number and add “active” and “passive” or “3 monitor” to your search phrase and see if others have successfully used triple monitor setup for it. If you think you’re getting conflicting information, and you have considered upgrading your graphics card before, then you are better off upgrading.
Conventionally, people use AMD cards for triple (or more) monitor gaming setup, thanks to AMD’s Eyefinity technology for seamlessly spanning games across multiple displays, even give users options to make up for monitor’s bezel width or use different resolutions for better viewing experience. NVIDIA also has its NVIDIA Surround, a feature dedicated for multiple monitor gaming. It can support up to five monitors and even offer 4K resolutions (with the help of high end graphics card, of course). AMD has a long history of convenient and efficient triple monitor gaming setup, but for die-hard Nvidia fans, you can always live with your favorite card.
Should you decide to upgrade, then you will be pleased to know that this generation’s graphics card brings more ‘bang for your buck’, as most, if not all, can support three (or more) monitors. All of AMD’s GPU support Eyefinity, you can also check their list of Eyefinity-compatible adapters here. Nvidia also has its list of Surround-supported GPUs here. In the same way, the experts from Tom’s Hardware have a long list of gaming graphics card from all price points.
Of course, before you shell out money, make sure you do enough research and see how many people have actually used the graphics card you want for triple monitor setup, and how it worked for them. Some cards may require splitters or share outputs through different connectors (DVI port to DisplayPort actually have the same output). Do your homework and avoid the hassles of incompatible ports.