ATI Eyefinity graphics cards are gaming graphics cards which tend to have a high number of monitor outputs on the back of them.
This leads many people to believe they are a good choice for a professional multi-screen or trading computer, unfortunately this is wrong.
At Multiple Monitors our livelihood depends on us being experts in multi-screen systems, and as such we have to stay on top of all the latest hardware on the market.
Pretty obviously when we first got wind of these new Eyefinity cards we were pretty excited to see them, in theory they should have been a perfect match for our computer systems however in practice we are unable to recommend them.
The Problems With Them
You have to remember that the technology was built to serve a gaming market not a professional one, all Eyefinity cards are optimised for throwing 3D graphics around multiple screens.
They do achieve this feat in a far more successful way to previous cards however this technology path has quite a few downsides for the professional user.
High Noise Levels
Firstly the cards tend to be very noisy, this is because they need large cooling fans on them to ensure they don’t overheat, you find pretty much all gaming graphics cards, Eyefinity or not, suffer from this.
Now for a gamer who has their sound turned up loud then the noise becomes less of an issue, however for a user sat in front of the machine for long periods of time, having a sound equivalent of a jet engine running continuously under your desk is not a great situation to find yourself in.
High Power Consumption
To power these cards you generally need to build a system with a larger power supply which has direct power feeds for each Eyefinity card, this adds to both the initial system build cost and the on-going cost of operating of the PC.
More power equals more heat build-up which results in extra cooling requirements. You will often find system builders ignoring this fact which means that heat builds up continuously inside a PC which reduces the life of surrounding components.
Bad Software & Drivers
All PC components require software called drivers to function correctly, these drivers essentially tell the operating system (Windows) how to use the device.
Ask anybody who plays high end gaming about graphics card drivers and they will tell you what a nightmare they can be, manufacturers are constantly releasing new drivers which more often than not introduce more bugs than they solve.
This basically means that system crashes and lockups can become quite frequent.
In our experience Eyefinity suffers more than normal in this department.
On all of our test systems (of which there has been many over the past 2 years!) the drivers have been extremely poor.
In real world terms this meant that sometimes we would reboot the computer and lose all the display settings for no apparent reason, this resulted in each screen having to be reset up.
Compounding this problem, Eyefinity actually changes how Windows interacts with multiple monitors meaning that setting up screens takes phenomenally longer than it would normally take.
Our standard PC’s take around 1 – 2 minutes maximum to configure the screens, Eyefinity systems took our experts around 20 – 30 minutes each and every time the settings were lost.
As you can probably gather we do not recommend anybody who needs a reliable PC to use Eyefinity cards.
You can tell if a system has Eyefinity as the graphics cards will generally be ATI ones.
PC builders often recommend them as they seem an easy option to achieve a high number of screen outputs but trust us, you will pay for it in the long run with all the hassle that they entail.
Our method of using multiple dual monitor capable graphics cards is by far and away the most stable way of achieving a reliable and powerful multi-screen PC system, and this is why you will not see any Eyefinity based graphics cards offered by us.
Written by Darren @ Multiple Monitors
Last Updated: April, 2012