UltraHD 4K monitors are extreme overkill for gamers at this point in time because not only are they expensive, they also require a lot of nice hardware to run games at a playable level.
But what if you had three AMD Radeon HD7970 graphics cards and not one, but three Ultra HD 4K monitors?
That’s what the Extreme Windows Blog managed to get their hands on yesterday. Blogger Gavin Gear took time with all that hardware and some help from AMD to test what things would be like at such an extreme and somewhat absurd level. AMD provided a special prototype driver to Gear to test out an Eyefinity setup and was watching closely to see his results.
Gavin set up the three monitors using Displayport 1.2 connectors, and could only run the setup in an Eyefinity group at 30Hz refresh rates. The reason for this is that the panel is treated as a normal display, but cannot accelerate the pixel transitions fast enough to facilitate a 60Hz refresh rate.
Using it this way, the monitor can be attached with either HDMI or a Displayport cable and monitors that only support 30Hz frame rates are inherently cheaper.
Gavin’s first test was with DiRT 3 running at the native Eyefinity resolution – 11520 x 2160 pixels. The three Radeons were only barely able to keep up with the massive resolution, running Dirt 3 with a mixture of medium and high settings for an average frame rate of about 35fps.
The prototype driver also included optimisations to fix Crossfire stuttering and Gavin reported no dropped frames or too much screen tearing.
Extreme monitors for an extreme price
UltraHD 4K monitors are still a luxury for even rich PC gamers, with proper panels that can run at 60Hz selling with an asking price of around US $3,500 in the case of the ASUS PQ321.
Such a display also requires special beta drivers if you’re running a Geforce graphics card, as Nvidia doesn’t currently support all 4K monitors at their native resolutions.
Support from AMD, on the other hand, merely requires that you use a HD7000 series card with a Displayport output, a Displayport 1.2 cable and either Windows 7 or Windows 8 (or more preferably, 8.1). Setting up a single 4K 60Hz monitor requires a few clicks in the Catalyst drivers and it works from then on without a hitch.
Sadly, Ultra HD 4K monitors aren’t cheap in South Africa and it may be a while before they are approved for import and there’s a sufficient market for them. Support for this incredible resolution is still mounting up in the computer and gaming industry and it will be a while before it becomes as ubiquitous as 1080p.