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Suggestions for a good graphics card(s) for multi monitor setup?

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  • Suggestions for a good graphics card(s) for multi monitor setup?

    Hello,

    Im going to build a couple of workstations that will be running Debian. The workstations will also have between 2 and 4 screens with a resolution of 3840x2160.

    Is AMD or Nvidia the recommended platform to use today? Im primarily concerned about ease of driver installation, and driver upgrades when upgrading the kernel. (Its been a few years since I worked with anything but Intel graphics, but back then the installation steps included waiting until the right moon face, and then sacrificing a goat. Perhaps the situation have improved since then?)

    Is it possible to use two graphics card in the same computer to bypass the cards limit of how many screens it supports? Or will that require me to run multiple instances of Xorg? (Making it impossible to do things such as move Windows between the monitors?)

    Are there any performance considerations I should make, or will all modern graphics cards be fast enough to support multiple high resolution monitors? We will not be doing anything more advanced than spreadsheets, web browsing and an occasional youtube video.

    Any suggestions for a specific card or chip to look closer at would be highly appreciated.


  • #2
    Choosing a graphics card that supports 4 display outputs is the easier route. Ensure that they are DisplayPort 1.2 or HDMI 2.0. Two graphics cards will work, as will a combination of integrated and discrete graphics, but additional configuration of Prime is needed. So I recommend to avoid this.

    On Debian, you need to install proprietary firmware (for AMD) or proprietary drivers (for NVidia) in order to use acceleration. Other distributions like Ubuntu or Fedora typically come with proprietary firmware already, so will work out of the box with AMD.

    Do note that for accelerated 4K video, you need a sufficiently modern GPU (Maxwell for NVidia, GCN Gen3 for AMD). Any GTX 1050 or RX 470 or higher with 4 DP or HDMI outputs would be my suggestion.

    Last edited by chithanh; 06-16-2017, 05:43 AM.

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    • #3
      Hello,

      and thank you! That is really useful information!

      if I understood you correctly, there are no major differences between Nvidia and ATI any longer, and driver installations and kernel updates is a strictly vegan process without any goat sacrifices?

      Would it be feasible to use GT 1030 cards, and simply install two of those in the machines that require 3+ screens? Or are those cards too old or slow to be useful?

      I did some searching for specific cards, and it seems like there doesn't exist any 1050 cards that have 3+ display port and/or hdmi outputs. 1060 do seem to have 4 outputs though.

      If I go for the route of using two 1030 cards, is there any extra maintenance work once everything is set up?

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      • #4
        GT 1030 is a no-go for you. You need to look at the 6GB 1060 or higher or get a multi-DP 1.2/1.4 Quadro card. For what you are doing, Windows would really be the better choice for 4K and ease of use, as so many things are broken on Linux right now, including video acceleration.

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        • #5
          Thank you for the response. Why is the 1030 a no-go? What feature is it missing?

          Why would 6GB of RAM be of importance? It was a long time ago since I did any calculations on ram sizes of graphics cards, but from my understanding, 100MB per screen is enough, even for any type of acceleration. Have this changed somehow?

          Unfortunately, its not possible for us to use Windows as many of the tools we require in our business only runs on Linux systems.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Johanmlg View Post
            Thank you for the response. Why is the 1030 a no-go? What feature is it missing?

            Why would 6GB of RAM be of importance? It was a long time ago since I did any calculations on ram sizes of graphics cards, but from my understanding, 100MB per screen is enough, even for any type of acceleration. Have this changed somehow?

            Unfortunately, its not possible for us to use Windows as many of the tools we require in our business only runs on Linux systems.
            The 1030 is a low-end garbage card for single-screen usage and it doesn't do any of the things that you want it to do. The cards that support multiple 4K displays are all high-end/mid-range cards and for accelerated processes with multi-monitor setups, you have to have a good card, which is why the 1060 with 6GB is where you should be looking. It checks all the boxes, though you will be limited to three monitors on Linux.

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