Once you’ve got all the hardware setup, the software side is fairly easy. ATI has setup a fairly nifty wizard in the desktops and displays section for setting up a wide range of Eyefinity monitor configurations. The card automatically detects all the displays connected to it, and provides a range of monitor groups (3x2, 3x1 etc) based on your current configuration.
You won’t need to physically move monitors or reach around the back of your case to swap mini-DP ports from one output to another, everything you need can be adjusted via ATI’s Catalyst Control Center software. For instance, when configuring a 3x1 group, CCC will black out all but one monitor, which will be left with an all blue screen. Simply highlight which monitor is active, and voila you’re done. With the latest Catalyst drivers, there’s even built-in support for bezel correction:
While the Eyefinity 6 Edition board can technically drive six 2560x1600 displays, ATI officially recommends using six 1920x1200 displays for the 5870 Eyefinity 6. Running six displays at higher resolutions like 2560x1600 would obviously be a challenge for one Radeon 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition card, although CrossFire is of course an option if you have the funds to afford two boards. With two Eyefinity cards running in CrossFire you could conceivably run up to eight displays with the two added monitors would run in extended mode.
After you’ve got your monitor groups setup, your desktop resolution is automatically adjusted to your bezel-corrected resolution (if you choose to enable bezel correction that is) and from there it’s available as a selectable video resolution from within games.
Gaming with Eyefinity 6
Unfortunately, it’s here where things begin to go downhill, at least if you’re a fan of shooters.
Unfortunately displays with thin bezels have yet to hit the market, and as a result, the bezels on the Dell P2210H LCDs do get in the way of the gameplay experience with FPS titles. With the crosshair located dead center of the screen in first-person shooters, it’s hidden right between the bezels of the Dell LCDs.
As a result, aiming becomes a difficult affair, as you’re literally guesstimating about where the crosshair should be.
This is a problem in all of the first-person shooters we tested: Bad Company 2, Modern Warfare 2, and Aliens vs Predator, all of which are Eyefinity certified games. Another issue with MW2 is that it lacks support for aspect ratios beyond 16:9, so everything appears as if it’s stretched. It’s not as big of a deal as the crosshair, but it is annoying nonetheless.
Until LCDs with thin bezels are introduced, fortunately you can set up two 3x1 groups: one for FPS gaming, and the second for running Windows apps:
With its third-person perspective, running six displays with Batman: Arkham Asylum was a ton of fun. The bezels were certainly still a distraction, but it wasn’t a frustrating distraction like the lack of a true crosshair in FPS games.
Ditto for HAWX and DiRT 2.
We have more video footage of the games in-action that we’re hoping to get uploaded later today, but we did record the following frame rates with the Eyefinity 6 board on a Core i7-920 rig:
As you can see, enabling Eyefinity comes with a substantial performance hit. However, the 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition board is still capable of delivering playable frame rates in Batman (without AA), HAWX and DiRT 2 (with DX11).
In our case with Aliens vs Predator DX11 and surprisingly enough, Modern Warfare 2, you may want to turn down the settings a notch or two depending on your preferences when it comes to frame rates. As you can see sometimes in MW2 the action gets pretty hot – especially when multiple RPGs are flying at you, and the frame rate can chug from time to time as a result.
We’ve got a lot more testing yet to do with the Eyefinity 6 board. We still need to boot up Supreme Commander 2 and see how it runs, and we may dabble a bit with Relic’s Dawn of War 2 as well.
The lack of crosshairs in first-person shooters is a really big deal in our opinion though. Until LCDs with thin bezels hit the market, anyone willing to fork over the cash for a 6 display Eyefinity setup will probably want to play FPS’ with a 3x1 configuration. Honestly though, we’d probably recommend waiting to see how well the thin bezels work out in actual games before forking over the cash on an Eyefinity board.
In a lot of ways, today’s Eyefinity 6 launch reminds us of NVIDIA’s 3D Vision in 2009. Like NVIDIA was a year ago, ATI’s waiting on the infrastructure to catch up to their hardware, and until that happens we think Eyefinity 6 is going to be a niche product. It also doesn’t help that active DisplayPort adapters are still way too expensive and are hard to find, making it hard for gamers with multiple DVI-equipped monitors to take the plunge on Eyefinity.
Until these issues can get sorted out, it’s going to be hard for gamers to justify spending $1,000 or more on the monitors needed + $479 graphics card. By the time the monitor manufacturers and dongle/adapter makers have their products in the channel in large quantities, ATI may have a faster GPU on the market.
Still, if you do have the money and you aren’t a huge fan of FPS titles, it doesn’t get much better than gaming across 6 displays. 3x1 is obviously going to be the price/performance sweet spot though.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Hear that? It's the sound of the largest computer chip manufacturer in the world churning out new processors to power your gaming rig. This week, Intel is launching their next generation of Core CPUs, code-named Ivy Bridge. Like last year's Sandy Bridge chips, they're low-power, quad-core powerhouses that also feature integrated graphics processors. Want to find out more? Maybe check out a whole bunch of performance benchmarks on both the CPU and graphics sides of things? Well you can, in today's review!
Intel Z77 Chipset & DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Overview
Looking forward to those new Ivy Bridge CPUs? In anticipation of their release later this month, Intel has already unveiled the new Series 7 chipsets designed especially to take advantage of what will be the 3rd-generation of Core processors. In today's article, we take a look at the architecture of the enthusiast variant, the Z77, and how it's used in the Intel Desktop Extreme DZ77GA-70K motherboard. Even if you're not particularly interested in the motherboard itself, you'll probably want to see some of the new features that come along with it, so read on!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!