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3 monitor setups


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So after flying for a while on a laptop, I've decided now that I want to build a decent a triple widescreen monitor system for X-Plane, to get decent peripheral vision.  Now I am wondering what the best route is to achieve this.  I'm going to run Windows or Linux, Macs are too pricey.

Ideally I'd like to be able to switch one of the screens to show an instructors station / outside view / map, or I could get a fourth monitor for that.

From various forums I have found four possible routes:

1. Buy a high-end graphics card (e.g. GTX285) plus Matrox TripleHead2Go and connect 3 monitors to the Matrox using one card output.

Pros: It just works.

Cons: This is expensive and limits me to 3 monitors plus max 1650x1050 resolution on each.

2. Put two medium-range graphics cards in each with 2 outputs and connect 3/4 monitors, one to each output.

Pros: Cheaper than (1) and more flexible.

Cons: Will this actually work?  I hear reports that you can only get a 2x2 matrix this way, and some OSes don't support it at all.

3. Use multiple PCs together and network them, each one running a copy of X-Plane.

Pros: Most flexible solution of all and splits the loads.  Definitely works.

Cons: Complicated and most expensive, fiddly to operate and upgrade.

4. Buy two high-end graphics cards and run two copies of X-Plane simulatenously, configuring them to network via the loopback adapter.

Pros: Cheaper than 3 and simpler to administer.

Cons: May not even work (?) and could choke on CPU anyway.

I'm thinking that (1) might be the best bet.  What have others done and do you have any advice?

Can't wait to get it sorted, though I'll have to save my pennies first.

Many thanks,


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  • 1 month later...

To respond to the first post-er:

Here's the deal with the Matrox TripleHead2Go (TH2G)...It's cool as heck BUT (and a big but) the way it works is by "tricking" the computer into thinking it has one HUGE, WIDE monitor. The box then divides the signal into 2 or 3 outputs, and spreads it across the monitors. This raises the following issues: First, your graphics card needs to support very big resolutions. They are listed on Matrox's website. Second, if your card will support the proper resolutions, the next thing you have to consider is that GPU demand and thus CPU demand increases significantly the higher resolution you go. To get to the point, you're going to need a whopper of a Gfx card to pull this off (nothing insane, OEM stuff won't likely cut it). So, by the time you're finished, you've dropped $150 on the (TH2G), plus an additional $350-$400 on an intense Gfx card...here's the kicker: Most aftermarket GFX cards have outputs for at least 2 monitors. So, here's what you could do: Go on newegg.com (or whatever your favorite computer parts retailer is) and buy two $150, middle of the road GFX cards. Not only do you end up with more power for the money, you have the option of having FOUR monitors VS three.

Annnd for the second post-er:

If, for some reason, you are against the idea of having two 19-21 inch monitors (which would be silly as I find it easier when working to have, for example, data on one monitor and a spreadsheet on the other), then I would go with the 24 inchers as they seem to be significantly less expensive than their 2 inches larger brethren. On the other hand, if you have the outputs for two monitors, and you don't mind having two, then just go that route as it will likely be less expensive.

PS: When posting system specs...please post more than your OS...can't tell much from that.


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