Pyramid Chassis Build Day 1-3

Day 1

I am currently building a completely new chassis from the ground up. This chassis will be able to house all of my computer components including the water cooling while at the same time have some class with it.

This has been one of the most difficult builds I have had ever tried to build. Mainly because of the unique specifications/design I am currently trying to achieve with this particular chassis build. I have tried building this chassis 3 other times prior to, and came with less then stellar results. but not this time, this time I will get it the way I want it.

here is a drawing of the chassis.

The motherboard, video cards etc. will be installed on the upper part of the chassis itself, while the storage devices and PSU etc. items will be installed in the bottom portion.
One of the biggest areas that I have had issues in the past with, was the side support braces build. They are not 90° but instead a different angle all together, and requires me to make them from scratch. But since this is a all wooden Chassis build makes that job loads easier on building this chassis.


Here is a piece of 90° Aluminum angle cut with a 30° Pitch. I am using my burnt out CPU to show you that the inner sides of the angle do not fully match up to the 90° corner of the CPU. this was my biggest hurdle to overcome on this particular part of the build.


After chewing through a few pieces of 2×2’s (Solid) I finally figured out what the angle is required for me to make the side support braces meet up properly to the center support. That angle that I need is 98°. As we can see in the above image now the 2 inner sides of the support fully contact the 90° corners of the CPU. While using a 30° pitch on the support braces.

I am making 98° angle support side braces out of 2×2 pieces of wood, this will give me more room inside the chassis while at the same time reduce the overall weight of the chassis. As this chassis is 22.5″ across (center portion) and is going to stand over 27″ once it is completed.

Since i used up most of my 2×2’s trying to figure out that damn angle I now need to wait till I go to SLC (VA appointment) and get some more 2×2’s so I can finish this build one and for all. For some odd reason all 3 lumber yards here in price Utah do not know what a 2×2 is. I will post more pictures once I resume the build. So stay tuned

Tid bit about the wood and how I am going to be finishing this chassis.

I am using red wood currently, as I can get this type of wood cheaper then I can oak. I can get a bundle of 9 2×2 42″ long red wood for 27 USD vs the 7 USD per piece for a 2×2 48″ long of oak. Also the reason for choosing the softer wood for this first build is that I wont go through more bits/blades during the build and the loss of wood wouldn’t sting as much.

As far as finishing, I plan on using a Red Oak stain and then apply polyurethane.

Day 2

Ok came back from SLC from my dentist appointment and I was greeted with a 30° Router bit I will be using on my chassis build. So today i started building the main center portion of the chassis.


The router bit I am using.


Here is myself and my roommate routering the 30° angle into the 2×2 piece of wood.


This is just a test piece we were using to see how the router bit was cutting prior to us actually making the center support brace itself. The side support braces will be mounted to the outside of this support, why I needed it to have an 30° angle on it. Since the upper/lower portion of the chassis uses a 30° pitch I needed to make the center support have a dual 30° angle on it.


Me cutting the center support pieces into the proper lengths.


The final gluing of the center support brace.

Day 3

Well after the main center support brace was all dried, it was time for me to start assembling the lower portion of the side support braces. As I quickly found out, the angle of the wood was again wrong. If it is not one thing, it is going to be something else. So after a lot of trial an error, we finally gotten the angle for which the side support braces needed to be at. That angle was not the 98° as I initially thought it was going to be, but instead a 103° angle. Needless to say it has been an interesting day, but in the end I got the lower portion of the chassis built today.


Since I need to start all over, I need to grab a new piece of 2×2.


Now I had to cut one side of the 2×2 @ a 77° to make the 103° total angle (this is from the 90° angle of the blade). Then I had to make an internal cut that will allow me to make the angle 1/4″ thick.


Time for me to set the blade on the table saw to a 90° and then cut to opposite side to finish off the angled side.


As always use a pusher block to make sure your fingers/hands stay away from the moving blade of the table saw. I had to modify the fencing on the table saw because to original just plain sucked, so I used a peice of 1/8″ 2″x1.5″ rectangular piece of steel to make a sturdy fence.


So far everything is going exactly the way I want it to. One side is slightly longer the other side I will fix this in a minute.


It may look my fingers are really close to the blade, I ensure that they stayed far enough away to keep them from getting chewed up. I am cutting the excess wood from the longest side to make sure both sides are even.


Perfect, I will clean out the inner part of the angled wood I just made in a bit.


Since 42″ is a bit to long for the bottom portion of the chassis, I need to cut them down to a 9″ length. Another little angle I found out that was going to be different was the side supports. They are not actually going to be 30° like I thought, but instead use a 40° angle. When you look at the chassis dead on it will still be 30° but the sides will not be that. Interesting…….


The time I have been waiting for, assembly. myself and my roommate pre-drilled each side support before gluing and nailing them to the main center support. This is so we wont accidentally split the side support.


The nails I am using are ribbed, (and, no not for your pleasure either, LOL) but to make sure they don’t work themselves out.


The side supports fully mounted to the main center support.


I am getting ready to cut the bottom 3/4″ ply wood that will be used for the bottom of this chassis. I chose this for the base because it is strong enough to handle all of the bottom components, and it is flat enough. trying to find a piece of redwood that is 3/4″ thick and is 14+ inches longer and not be warped is a bit of a challenge.


The lower portion of the chassis all assembled.


Looking at the lower part of the chassis from the front. Yes, that is my amplifier I use on my computer.


A quick mock up of the lower part of this chassis. I just wanted to get an idea on how I am going to be placing my computer components into the chassis. As we can see, this chassis makes the components look rather small. The bottom plywood is also cut @ a 30° angle to inset inside of the lower side support braces.

I will be adding updates from time to time so please stay tuned.

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MSI Afterburner

Unlike our motherboards where we overclock them by entering the BIOS and making certain adjusts and wala overclocked goodness. Video cards are a bit different, we can overclock them by backing up the BIOS that is being used, then use a BIOS editor to modify the BIOS; then, reflash the video card with the modified BIOS (not advisable for anyone new to overclocking). Or we can take a much simpler approach to overclocking our video cards ;). This easier way overclocking our video cards is by using software programs inside our Windows OS (Operating System) to make adjustments to the GPU clock frequencies, the memory frequencies, and if the video card or the software program supports it we can adjust the voltage to the GPU to get an even higher frequency.

I am not going to go through all of the programs out there that we can use to overclock our video cards. Instead I will show you how use MSI Afterburner, as I like the overall usage of this program over the others because I am giving a lot of flexibility on my adjustments, and this program supports a wide variety of different video cards and manufacturers. I should mention that MSI Afterburner is also based off a very popular program that we used years ago, RivaTuner (which makes sense why I like MSI Afterburner).

We at the DGC do not take any responsibility for your actions regarding overclocking your video card. Read this guide thoroughly prior to making any adjustments, and get your self familiar with MSI Afterburner. And most importantly TAKE YOUR TIME.

Before we get started on the usage of MSI Afterburner we need to download it and get it installed. You can download it HERE. Once you got it downloaded go ahead and install it and run it. There will be a short cut located on your desktop.

This guide is based on using a 6970 video card, you can still apply this technique to any video card on the market today, that includes all of Nvidia and ATI/AMD based video cards.

Overview and Getting to know MSI Afterburner

This is what you should have up on your desktop. It might be a bit smaller looking but it is still the same thing, I will show you where you can change the colors, and the size a little later. As you can see there are a lot of settings for you to overclock your video cards. AMD/ATI video cards will use the Core Clock adjustment. For Nvidia video cards you will either have both of the Core Clock and Shader Clock sliders available. The window to the right is where you can monitor your video cards temperature and usage etc. etc.That window is detachable. If you click on the Detach button it will detach it self from MSI Afterburner.

Just showing you that it can be detached and placed anywhere on the desktop. To reattach it to MSI Afterburner, just close it.

Now time for me to go over the internal adjustments of MSI Afterburner. to access the internal settings click the Settings button.

You will be presented with this window. This window will list any video cards you have installed on the computer up in the first drop down menu. If you are running multiple video cards (SLI or Crossfire) you can synchronize the cards clock frequencies together, so all you have to do is set one and your done. The little boxes you see is where you can set MSI to start with windows, and have it minimized to the task bar upon startup, and where you can unlock the voltage control if it applies to your video card. Check all of the little boxes.)Like so.

The tab over is where you can set the % of the fan at varying temperature ranges. Just click on the little box.

To make an adjustment to the fan, just click on one of the squares and move it to a desired % of fan speed.

Moving on to the monitoring tab of MSI Afterburner. This is where you can dictate what you want to monitor or do not want to monitor. To turn something on or off, just check or uncheck that specific monitoring portion. Similar to Riva Tuner, we can also monitor our framerates. Each setting can either be monitored by OSD (On Scren Display) or by the tray Icon, the Show in Logitech keyboard only applies to those who have a Logitech keyboard with a built in LCD.

The On Screen Display tab gives you a few more options for toggling the OSD. Turn it on or off while in game, without having to exit game and turn on or off the OSD. I never tried this portion of MSI Afterburner, as by using the OSD will reduce your frame rates by a few FPS.The Screenshots tab is where you can set up the screenshot capability of MSI Afterburner. I could never get this to work right.

The Video capture tab allows you to set up the video capturing capability of MSI Afterburner. Never tried this part.

Profiles tab is where you can set up each profile (up to 5) to a hot key for quick switching.

This is where we can change the look of MSI afterburner (in case the compact MSI Afterburner Green is annoying). Also you can turn off the “tips” when you move your mouse over the monitoring window of MSI Afterburner (also gets really annoying).Typically if you make any major changes you will have to restart MSI Afterburner.

Overclocking With MSI Afterburner

WARNING: If your video while at a default clock frequency is idling at 55C, or Full load is at the 85/90C THEN DO NOT OVERCLOCK YOUR CARD.

If you noticed from my first screen shots of MSI afterburner I did not have a voltage control available. By entering the first Settings window and by checking the box for voltage control will give this capability. NOTE: Not all video cards allow for voltage control, also even if you do have voltage control (like shown here) may not always work. My 6970’s do not allow the voltage control, this is because of a driver/BIOS limitation of these types of cards (AMD’s PowerPlay is what causing this issue.To overclock your video card, start with the Core Clock adjuster. Then by small increments move the slider up 3 then test your video card by running a benchmark, ie. 3dMark 06/Vantage/10 , Unigine Heaven, Lost planet, anything that will allow you to test your video card. During the benchmark watch the screen and make sure you do not have any artifacting  or experiencing lock ups, or if you reached to high of temperatures (read below). For every 15 numbers you go up, run a long set of benchmarks back to back again watch for artifacting or lock ups, or if you reached to high of temperatures (read below). once you experience artifactng, lock ups, or temperature is reaching above 85/90C reduce clocks by 5-10 or back to default settings (depends on how far you gotten).

Temperature wise since video cards vary from one to the next, I will say anything over 85/90C is bad at a full load. I personally set my temperature to no higher then 75C on my video cards.

Overclocking the memory clock frequencies. Is pretty much identical to how you overclock the core of the video card. Just you do not have any temperature monitoring for the memory. Up by 3, run tests, every 15 run a slew of testing. If artifacting or lock up happens drop by 10.

Now after you have reached your theoretical clock speeds of your video card. Does not mean it is 100% stable, the only way to determine that is by playing games for long periods of time. If you experience any problems while playing your games reduce clock speeds by 5 till it is stable or your temperatures are below 85/90C. Or stop until you reached the default clock frequencies of your video card which ever comes first.

If you noticed in the last few screenshots of MSI Afterburner, the fan adjustment was greyed out but the fan speed is at 53% now instead of the 24% it originally was set at. This is because of the fan tweaking I did in the Fan tab of the settings portion of MSI Afterburner.

Just showing you how to set the profiles of MSI Afterburner. Pretty simple, after you made all of your adjustments you wanted to make, just click on save then what ever profile you want it saved to 1-5. In case you forgot the Default clock speeds of the video card because of either you gone to far, or you are troubleshooting then just hit the rest button. If you want your clock speeds to automatically start up with the settings you want, check the Apply overclocking at system Start up (located right directly below the Profiles) also make sure you turn on the Start with Windows, and the Start minimized in the settings General tab.
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Asus EFI BIOS, AI Suite II, & DIGI+VRM TPU/EPU

Asus EFI BIOS

Please note this post is based off of the new Asus P67 socket 1155 based Sandy Bridge CPU’s.

Every once in a while a computer manufacturer will bring something entirely new to us computer users. Lately we have been seeing a lot of newer technologies come out like, SATA 6BG/s SSDs/HDDs, USB 3 capabilities, newer CPUs, etc. etc.. Even though computer motherboard manufacturers have been giving us newer capabilities on their motherboards, these motherboard companies still used the everyday standard basic and boring BIOS (Basic Input Output System) for us computer users to interact with that companies motherboard. I will have to say this about the basic BIOS interfacing, that no matter what motherboard manufacturer we used for our computers, it had a similar basic BIOS layout that became extremely familiar with us computer users; until now.

Unlike the older basic BIOS, we users could not use a mouse to navigate through the BIOS itself. We were stuck with only using the keyboard. The Newer EFI BIOS (Extensible Firmware Interface Basic Input Output System) completely changed the way we computer users interacted with our motherboards. No longer are we stuck with just the keyboard to navigate through the BIOS, we now can use a mouse for our navigation. Anther unique little trick we can do is we can take actual screen shots of our EFI BIOS settings with out the need of setting up a camera. All we need is a USB FLASH drive plugged into an available USB port, be inside the EFI BIOS, press the F12 button, and it will take a screenshot of that screen we are currently on, then save that image to your plugged in USB Flash drive for you to share with others.

When we first start our computers for the first time after we have installed one of the new motherboards from Asus, we will be greeted with the EFI BIOS EZ configuration. This has a pretty simple layout for just about anyone to use. We are given the absolute basics of adjustments and monitoring of our motherboards. We can easily monitor our temperatures (CPU and motherboard), our Voltages from the PSU (Power Supply Unit), also we can monitor our fan speeds that we have hooked up to the motherboard itself. Then, for those who get overwhelmed by the BIOS, or not quite comfortable using it just yet, but still want to have an “Overclocked System” ,you can easily click on one of the three middle buttons of the Asus EFI BIOS and it will configure itself for a simple but effective overclock for you. The very bottom portion of the EZ EFI BIOS interface, is where you can configure the boot order of your devices (HDDs, CD/DVD ROMS Drives etc. etc.) simply by clicking on that item and hold that click then drag it right or left for the boot order. The Boot menu (F8) is for those of you who want to just bypass the boot sequencing on the motherboard for that time only.

For those of us who actually feel comfortable inside of the more advanced EFI BIOS settings all we need to do is click on the Exit button, and scroll to the Advanced mode.

Advanced EFI BIOS

Please feel free to look at each one of these EFI BIOS screen shots to get your self familiar on how Asus designed their version of this BIOS type.

For most of us overclockers, this is the meat and potatoes of the motherboard. This is where we can make all kinds of different adjustments, pertaining to our motherboard. As we can see the new EFI BIOS is fairly easy to navigate through. Like the EZ portion of the EFI BIOS, we can use the mouse to navigate through the BIOS, or we can use the keyboard, or both. I particularly like the overall layout of the EFI BIOS myself, I found it pleasing to look at, and extremely easy for me to make my fine tuning motherboard adjustments.

To navigate through the Asus EFI BIOS, we have several different options we can do to make our adjustments. One of the ways we can navigate through the EFI BIOS, for some of those hard core computer users (power users), we can stick with our keyboard arrows, numbers, and enter keys to navigate through this type of BIOS. Another way we can navigate through the Asus EFI BIOS, is by our mouse we can either use the mouse wheel to scroll through each pages of options, or we can click our way through the EFI BIOS. Unfortunately, you cannot move from one page to the next with just the mouse wheel, you will have to use either the arrow keys on the motherboard, or physically click (with the mouse) on each individual page. For us to make an adjustment in the EFI BIOS, just highlight that specific setting you want to change, then with either the keyboard +/- keys scroll through the available options for that specific setting, you can press the enter button on the keyboard to bring up the list of options for that setting, or you can click on the highlighted setting to bring up the available options and then click on the option you want to use. I know it seems confusing the way I am putting it, but really it is not. Now unfortunately, I will have to mention that if you do plan on overclocking, or fine tuning your memory CPU settings, you will have to use the keyboard and the mouse becomes useless for these adjustments. But again it is not hard to make these type of adjustments, similar to the basic BIOS we used in the past, we can use the +/- keys to scroll through the available options, or just type in a specific number we want to use.

AI Suite II

AI Suite II brings to us overclockers a completely newer way of being able to make motherboard adjustments while we are in Windows. Unlike other software overclocking tools that are out there today, AI Suite II does not require us overclockers/computer users the need to reboot our computers every time we make an adjustment pertaining to our motherboard.

 

This is what the new Asus AI Suite II looks like opened up on our desktop. It is pretty easy for us to navigate through the menus, and find out where the specific settings are hidden inside of the AI Suite II. Now AI Suite II does have an easy overclocking utility built into the software, for anyone who is either new to overclocking, or if you just do not want to fiddle around inside of the EFI BIOS itself. In order for AI Suite II to work, you will need to do install it, and then start up the AI Suite II program (it will be located on your taskbar icons to the bottom right hand of your screen), then locate the Auto Tune button and click on it and wait a few minutes for this program to overclock your CPU. Now I will have to say this again, the Asus AI Suite II program, does not require us to reboot our computer once a setting is made, we just make an adjustment, then go on with our daily computing needs.
For us “Power Users”, we can use the AI Suite II to fine tune our computer while we are in windows. One of the biggest set backs to overclocking is we are constantly having to reboot our computer, enter BIOS, locate that specific setting we want to change, change that setting, save and exit BIOS,and hope (Pray) that it holds true. Well since AI Suite II does not require us to reboot the computer every time we make an adjustment, we “Power Users” can make adjustments on the fly, and check to see if that setting will hold true and never leave our desktop. We can adjust the CPU’s Turbo multiplier, up the BCLK (in 0.1 increments), adjust voltages, tweak the Digi+VRM frequencies, tweak the Digi+VRM output voltages, to finally being able to adjust how we want the Digi+VRM to be monitored (ie either by temperature (default), or by actual output current). The only thing I cannot see in the Asus AI Suite II is memory timing adjustments, but we got everything else.

Digi+VRM TPU/EPU

What exactly is DIGI+VRM? Also what is TPU/EPU? We can’t look at one with discussing the other, as all 3 of these capabilities tie into one another. The DIGI+VRM (VRM=Voltage Regulation Module) gives the motherboard a capability of being able to properly load balance the current that our CPU’s require to properly operate. As we use our computers, we do not always use the full capabilities of the CPU all the time. When we are typing a letter, surfing the internet, watching our favorite movies on our DVD/Blue ray player, the CPU does not need to be running at full tilt. So Intel put in a convenient capability into the Chipset/CPU to shut off cores, down clock itself, or both to conserve power usage during these times of light computer duty. Now once we start up a heavy CPU intensive program (gaming, video editing etc.) on our computer the CPU starts demanding more power so it can run at its optimal performance. As we move from a single core (thread) usage to a dual core (thread) all the ay up to a quad core (or a full 8 threaded) application requirements, we need to have our CPU phased power distribution to react quickly enough and intelligently as we move from a light CPU application to a heavy CPU application, also back again, and everything in between. This is where the DIGI+VRM comes into play, as we move up and down the CPU requirements of our computer this feature will intelligently adjust the amount of CPU phased power that the CPU requires at that time. As I mentioned earlier we do not always need the full use of our CPU’s all the time. We also do not need to use the entire phased power distribution when we only are using a couple of CPU cores for a specific application task. Another great capability of the DIGI+VRM is that as we are using our computers, and we are starting to heat up a few of our CPU phased power VRMs, the DIGI+VRM will start spreading the load across multiple phases to ensure that we don’t fry the VRMs; therefore, rendering the motherboard useless, or even worse torching our CPUs in the process.

In the past I have normally turned off any energy saving portion of the CPU/BIOS/Windows. Mainly because in the past I had nothing but issues regarding these types of power saving features. If I did enable them, and since I like to seriously overclock my computer, my computer would normally crash my applications, lock up, not fully load Windows when restarting the computer, hesitate, or studder constantly. Basically my computer was constantly running at full tilt, balls to the walls, whether I was browsing the internet, or playing a game; which, is not very energy efficient. It did not matter what type of CPU/motherboard I used in the past, from my Socket 1366 Core i7 970, to my Socket 1156 Core i5 750 CPU I was plagued with this problem. After playing on this motherboard, the Asus P67 based motherboards paired off with my Core i7 2600K CPU, I can actually use all of the power saving features of the motherboard/CPU and not have any issues, while being seriously overclocked at the same time.


EPU Switch

This switch initializes an under volt mechanism which will supply less voltage to the CPU helping to extending the lifespan and produce slightly lower temperatures. This is recommended for stock operation. (the voltage reduction is approx 30 to 70mv ). This translates to about 5 to 10 watts power savings.

Basically by turning on this little switch will help reduce the overall power requirements that our computer uses. By dropping the CPU voltage down a couple of notches, also this switch helps reduce other motherboard components voltages down as well like the PCI-E/PCI/PCH/PCI. Now it does not drop the overall voltage that much to effect stability with our computer, it will reduce our carbon footprint a little bit more. Every little bit helps. Please note: this switch is meant for those who are running these motherboards stock/default speeds, not for when you are overclocked.

TPU Switch

This switch initializes a quick OC. This is focused at first time builders or builders with no OC knowledge. All the user needs to do is flip the switch and it will overclock the CPU. A 2500K will approx reach 4.3GHz and a 2600K will approx reach 4.4GHz. This OC is designed to be used with the stock cooler or aftermarket heastinks. In addition it maintains using offset voltage option for voltage delivery ensuring an efficient way of supplying voltage under an overclock configuration.

This little switch is more geared for those who do not know how to overclock their computers, or those who just want to get their overclocking done quick fast and in a hurry; with out having to fumble around the EFI BIOS. We just flip this switch on and poof instant overclock. Pretty simple, I did not use this switch during my testing this motherboard as I felt the “Oc Tuning” that is located in the EFI BIOS would give me similar results as the TPU switch. Asus just ensures that all different types of users can overclock their motherboards quickly and easily without needing to know all there is to know about computers.

Water Cooling Video Cards

Keeping our gaming systems cool is just as, if not more important, than actually playing on them. Lets face the facts, how can we gamers play on a system that overheats everytime we play on our gaming system? An overheating gaming system can and will do one of the following or all of them; it can cause lock ups due to throttling (when our components down clock themselves in order to keep them from frying themselves), slow downs due to component throttling (not as drastic as lock ups but just as annoying), rebooting, crashing, artifacting (when we gamers start to see rather unusual lines, black triangles, or odd colors being displayed on our screens), to finally having complete and total system failure (this is when a component completely dies or gets fried). Water cooling has been around for just as long as there have been computers, and today we gamers can choose from a variety of different manufacturers, models, and makes for whatever we may need a water block for. Not to mention there are so many different ways we can run our water cooling loops, it is not even funny.

With the ability of us users to add even more and more video cards to our gaming systems (PC Only), adding even more heat inside of our gaming systems that can cause problems to happen more frequently (listed above) just from this extra heat we added. In a lot of cases the use of an air cooler is not an option, because some motherboards do not have the correct spacing to allow for the larger newer video card air coolers out today. The only option we have as gamers is water cooling.  Now here comes the real question: what if you do decide on running water cooling on your gaming system, on multiple video cards, how do you run them? Well there are only 3 different ways we can run our water cooled multiple video cards, these are in Series (or daisy chaining), in Parallel, or we can run each video card water blocks in their own separate loops (sometimes this is not an option). In this article I am going to demonstrate two of the most common ways we can run our multiple video card water blocks, that is, in Series, and in Parallel configurations only.  Now before I just jump right into the “results of my testing”, I need to show you what is the difference between running water blocks in Series, and in Parallel configurations.

The Different Configurations

These next few images are for references purposes only. I know, I should not give up my day job, because as an artist, I will be going awfully hungry.

This is a typical single water block configuration. Water enters the water block (blue) then goes through the water block (Green) then exits the water block (red) on its way to the radiator.

This is a Series configuration (or Daisy Chaining the water blocks). Water enters the first water block (Blue), goes through that water block (Green), exits the first water block and then enters the second water block (Purple), goes through that water block (Green Again), then exits that water block on its way to the radiator (Red). This configuration will give us the most restriction on our flow rates, because it gets reduced by the first water block, and then gets reduced again by the second water block.

This is a Parallel configuration. Water enters the blocks, then gets distributed across both water blocks evenly (Blue), goes through both water blocks (Green), and it exits the two water blocks evenly (Red) on its way to the radiator. This should technically keep our flow rate the same as if we were only using one water block because this configuration evenly distributes the water across both water blocks.

Time for me to put these three types of configurations into practice. The Water Blocks I am going to use are Koolance 697 for AMD’s 6970 reference video cards. The interconnects I am going to use to tie the two video cards together are none other then Bitspower Crossfire/SLI water block interconnects.

Testing with Two AMD Radeon 6970’s with Koolance 697 Water Blocks.

This portion of the article is me demonstrating on the two major configurations when we decide to run our multiple video card water blocks. I will be showing my “Base Line” configuration of just one video card water block. This is so I have an idea of any changes that running the water blocks in Series and in Parallel will have. All testing was performed with out a radiator, as always, your results may vary greatly from my own.


This is how I measured the flow rate of each specific water block configuration.  I used a 300 GPH (Gallons Per Hour) pump and measured its actual flow rate by pumping 1 gallon thru it by using a stop watch. I did this three times and took the average of the three runs per configuration.  There will be a small margin of error, typically this was roughly 0.03 seconds (or three hundredths of a second). The bucket you see here is a 3 gallon bucket, from line 2 to line 1 is exactly 1 gallon of water, from line 1 to the bottom of the bucket is another gallon of water. This extra gallon of water is to keep the pump from sucking in air during my “Highly Scientific” (well not really) testing.

Here is the “Base Line” configuration, this is just one video card water block being run.

What the water flow looks like coming out of the water block, as we can see, there is a bit of restriction from the Koolance 697 water block.

Now before I just jump right into the dual video card configurations ,I felt I should share a little water cooling tip. I opted to use the newer Bitspower water block interconnects for the two video card water blocks. This part is not an absolute need, but it does allow easier assembly of the video cards. I removed the two rubber O-rings from the threaded portion of the interconnect, then used some silicone heatsink paste and smeared it over the O-rings to keep these from drying out prematurely, and also it makes the plastic interconnect tubes slide in a lot easier. Then I put the rubber O-rings back in their respective spots of the threaded portion of the interconnects.

Time for me to look at how the flow rate would be once I hooked up two video cards in a Series configuration.

Lets see what the flow rate looks like. Wow, talk about adding a lot more restriction to the water cooling loop. Just by adding a second video card water block in a Series configuration has seriously hindered the overall flow rate of the water.

Turning our attention to a Parallel configuration with our water blocks. This time instead of entering one water block, then coming out of the second water block, we are coming in and out of the same water block. the restriction from the first water block will cause the water to enter the second water block and then it distributes the flow rate evenly over the two video cards. As we can see all I needed to add was an extra Bitspower interconnect to my configuration.

This is the end result of me running the water blocks in a Parallel configuration. It appears that my flow rate is about the same as I had when I ran just a single video card, and my flow rate is double that of when I ran the two video card water blocks in a Series configuration.

The Results

Flow Rate

All testing was performed with black PVC 1/2″ ID x 5/8″ OD tubing.

Up first with our testing is the flow rate. This is the amount of seconds it took to pump 1 gallon of water through each one of the above listed items, or configurations. The lower the time it took to pump 1 gallon of water, the better the result. The pump testing was performed with just the pump itself, with a 2.5 foot of 1/2″ ID 5/8″ OD hose. It only took the pump about 16 seconds to pump 1 gallon of water. By hooking up 1 single video card water block to the loop, we can see that it seriously hindered the overall flow rate of the water cooling loop. Looking at the 2 video card water blocks  in a Series configuration, really brought the flow rate of the water to its knees. Now the Parallel testing gave me a rather interesting result, I was expecting to have the exact same flow rate as I did with just one video card water block, but instead it increased the overall flow rate. Now I did run this particular configuration a few more times (full tear down and rebuilt it) to ensure my results were accurate, I kept getting the same result each time.

Now to get our gallons per minute we take how many seconds there is in one minute (60) then divide that by the amount of time it took took to pump one gallon of water (the key here is we have to use seconds). The configuration with the lowest time will naturally have the best GPM flow rate. Out of the three different types of configurations,  we can tell the Parallel configuration gave us the best GPM out of the other two configurations of running just 1 water block, and while running the water blocks in Series.

This is here for chits and giggles, and for my amusement, all I did was take the GPM and then multiplied those numbers by 60 (how many minutes there is an hour).

Temperature

These tests were performed with two Seriously overclocked 6970’s, the clock speeds used are 950/1450. These are the results of using a separate loop for the two video cards while having a Swiftech Triple 120mm radiator.

These are the results of my testing with the 6970 water cooled video cards. The ambient temperature was hovering on or around the 16C range (outside temperature of my room, typically ambient temperature is 21C) I like it a bit colder so your results will vary greatly. GPU1 is the primary video card that all three monitors are hooked to, as we can see each of the configurations performed nearly identical to one another. GPU 2 is the slave video card, for the single video card water block configuration, I did not have a slave card, so I could not include it. Now as we can see, while I ran the video cards in a Series configuration,  my temperature increased by a couple of degrees.  Normally I would not think anything of this slight increase. But When we look at the Parallel configuration, my GPU 2 video card was colder, this is the result of AMD’s power play feature that brings the slave video card to its lowest clock frequencies in full effect. The video card with all of the monitors hooked up will naturally be the hottest video card while we are in an Idle State, as it is still being in an active state. (Idle state meaning just operating within Windows 7)

Lets see how things fare now once I bring the two video cards to a full load state for 30 minutes using MSI’s Kombustor. MSI’s Kombustor is just as brutal to our video cards as Fur Mark, so your actual temperatures while gaming will be significantly lower. The configuration i am more concerned with is the Series setup, as we can see after running MSI’s Kombustor for 30 minutes. GPU 2 on the Series configuration is significantly higher than it is on GPU1, the reason for this is because the water is getting heated from the first GPU (GPU 1), then that heat gets transferred directly to the next video card (or GPU 2), warming it faster the more we work the two video cards. The temperature from the Parallel configuration gave me a lot better controlled temperature for each video card and kept the temperatures close to one another. Because now I am splitting the water evenly across both video cards, I am not transferring any heat from one video card to the other video card (GPU1 to GPU2).

Ending Thoughts

We can have low temperatures while keeping our multiple video cards at their lowest possible temperature without the need of adding more radiators or loops to our computers. When it comes to water cooling, the biggest thing we all need to be aware of at all times (and cost), is our flow rates, if it drops too low, it can spell certain disaster for our gaming systems. Having too low of a flow rate, your components will produce more heat than what your cooling system can keep up with, even though you may have more than “enough radiator” to handle it. So by increasing the overall flow rate of our water cooling system, our radiator will be able to dissipate the heat each component produces in a more efficient way.

Intel CPU Mayham

Gone are the days of old when using shear raw frequency (core speed) on just one CPU core, when we can share the load over multiple cores; therefore, getting our computing needs done even faster. These last couple of years we have seen an proverbial explosion of CPU types hit the market. AMD and Intel have been producing CPU’s (Central Processing Unit) that have more cores and or more threads available on these CPU’s. Now the question remains for us gamers that use computers, “What is the difference between a quad core CPU to a hex core, and is there any real differences between these CPU’s?” And the final question that a lot of us PC gamers ask ourselves, ” What CPU will give me the most bang for my buck?” In this article I will be comparing three CPU’s to one another and answer those very same questions. The CPU’s I chose for this tasking is a Core i5 750 socket 1156 Quad Core CPU, A Core i7 930 Quad Core with Hyper threading (8 total CPU threads available and turned on) socket 1366 CPU, to finally the mighty Hex (Six) Core CPU the Core i7 970 socket 1366 CPU. The video cards I will be using is none other then my paired up AMD/ATI Water Cooled 6970’s in Crossfire.

The Ground Rules

Like all articles there has to be some ground rules in place for me to do a proper comparison.

Since I wanted to know if there truly was a difference between each of the tested CPU’s I needed to set my first rule of, all CPU’s will use the same exact frequency. The CPU that determined the bare minimum frequency was the Core i5 750 CPU, running at a 2.66 GHz frequency. The settings used for “Default” CPU core speed was a BCLK of 133 x 20 on the motherboard, and memory was set at 1066 MHz BCLK of 133 memory divider set at 8, this “Default” setting was applied to all CPU’s tested. This will give a base line performance and allow me to do a Clock to Clock comparison only allowing the individual CPU’s capabilities to have any advantage ie. Hyper Threading, PCI-E lanes available etc. etc. For the overclocking portion of this testing all CPU’s used again the same exact settings. The BCLK was set to a 215 and the CPU utilized a 19 multiplier giving me roughly a frequency of 4.1 GHz. The memory had a the same multiplier of 8 giving me a 1720 MHz overall frequency, on all CPU’s tested.

I did not use any power saving features, or any turbo settings during my testing.

The below listed items were used in all three of the CPU’s tested, and their exact configuration.

HDD’s : 4 x 320 Gig Seagate Momentus in Raid 0, 1 Western Digital 1 TB Green HDD as a back up

CD/DVD Drive : Lite On Blu-Ray DVD burner combo drive

PSU : PC Power and Cooling 950 Watt

Sound Card/ Sound System : Creative X-FI Fatality Pro, Logic tech 5.1 Surround speakers with Eagle Tech 2.1 Speakers combined for a 7.1 surround system.

Keyboard : Hewlett Packard Wireless Elite

Mouse : Razer Imperator

Memory : Crucial Ballistx 1333 MHz used for both as Triple Channel memory configurations socket 1366 CPU’s (6 gigabytes), and ran in dual Channel mode on the socket 1156 CPU (4 gigabytes).

Video Cards : Sapphire 6970’s used in Crossfire configuration

Monitors : 2 x Asus ML248 LED LCD monitors, and 1 Asus VW246 CCFL LCD monitor 1920 x 1080 per monitor, combined resolution with Eyefinity enabled resolution 5760 x 1080

Cooling : Loop 1 300 GPH pump with a Heatkiller CPU water block with a XSPC Quad 120mm radiator, Loop 2 300 GPH pump with 2 Koolance 697 video card water blocks ran in parallel with a triple 120mm radiator, both in a 14 cup shared stainless steel reservoir

Fans : 7 120mm 80 CFM fans for cooling the radiators

As we can see I kept a lot of the components the same on all three CPU’s, the only thing I changed was the Motherboard and or CPU’s. What I used as far as hardware for each CPU will be listed below.

Core i7 930/970 CPU’s : I performed the testing on a Asus Rampage II Extreme motherboard with the latest updated BIOS

Core i5 750 CPU : Test was performed on a Gigabyte P55A-UD4P

A fresh install of Windows 7 64 bit was performed on all three of the CPU’s tested, and I also used at the time the latest drivers/updates available. Catalyst 11.2 drivers were used on the video cards. Since this is a “gaming” comparison on how CPU’s influence our games I will only be using two resolutions, one of these resolutions I will be using is 1920 x 1080 (or better known as 1080i), the final resolution I will be using is my Eyefinity combined resolution of 5760 x 1080. The below games and or benchmarks will have there settings used during testing. No AA was applied during testing, to keep things as simple as possible for myself. These results are based on an “average” of three runs per benchmark or games on both single monitor resolution of 1920 x 1080, and on Eyefinity combined resolution of 5760 x 1080. Your results may vary greatly from my own.

The Games/Benchmarks Used

3DMark11 : Performance setting was used

3DMark Vantage : Performance setting used

3DMark06 : Performance setting used (there are still a lot of people using this ancient benchmark)

Unigine Heaven 2.1 : No AA/AF, tessellation setting used was normal, shader setting was set to high

Dirt 2 : No AA/AF, all other graphical settings was set to high

Aliens Versus Predators : There are no settings available on this benchmark. So standard settings used.

Darkest Of Days : No AA/AF, graphics set to max or High, CPU physx set to low (no Ageia supported hardware)

Bad Company 2 : No AA/AF, maxed out graphical settings (Fraps tested on level 2 with me blowing the hell out of anything and everything in sight with a grenade launcher for maximum carnage and debris)

Dead Space 2 : No AA/AF, maxed graphical settings (Fraps tested on level 9)

Lost Planet 2 : Maxed graphical settings, No AA/AF

The Results

I will be breaking this category into two sub categories, Default CPU speed of 2.66 GHz and then Overclocked CPU speeds of 4.1GHz.

Default CPU speed of 2.66 GHz

Starting off on the oldest benchmarks that is being used today. During the 3DMark06 testing we can see that the Core i7 970 CPU was preferred over the other 2 CPU’s.

Making our way over to 3DMark Vantage, again we see that the Core i7 970 CPU was preferred over both of the Core i5 750, and the Core i7 930.

Now once we turn our attention over to 3DMark11 we start to see a whole different story. Looking at the GPU portion of testing, the Core i7 930 had the best overall GPU performance out of the three CPU’s. But the Core i7 970 had the best performance in CPU, and combined tests that it takes the overall win. The Core i5 750 CPU even did well enough to keep up with the Core i7 930, telling me that the CPU influence was at a minimal.

This on is a hard one, we can see the Core i7 970 takes the lead on this benchmark but it is not by a significant amount. the only real large gap we get between the three CPU’s tested was when I ran this benchmark at a resolution of 1920 x 1080  on the average frame rates.

Dirt 2, when comparing both of the Core i7 socket 1366 CPU’s (930, 970) we can see that these CPU’s are pretty well matched to one another. The Core i5 750, is somewhat limiting our frame rates. This is the difference between having hyper threading (core i7 CPU’s 930/970) and not having hyper threading (Core i5 750)

On Alien Versus Predator, the CPU does very little on influencing this game title. There is small increase’s of frame rates from one CPU to the next, this is not enough of a gain to clearly see a major difference.

Darkest of Days got my rather scratching me head on these results. The CPU that performed the best was the Core i7 970, and the Core i7 930 plus the Core i5 750 performed nearly identical.

Bad Company 2 is one of them games that uses a lot of particle physx, so the more we blow apart buildings, bodies, and throw smoke grenades the more work we put on the CPU itself. I ran around on the second level with my grenade launcher blowing apart buildings, fences, people, and generally everything that got in my way. Trying to put as much work as I can possibly think of onto the CPU. As we can see with BC2, that having more cores or threads available to us made our game more pleasant.

Dead Space during chapter 9 is the best place I thought to test these three CPU’s out on because there are multiple aliens and a lot of chances of watching physx in action as we blow apart aliens. On the minimum frame rates we don’t see much a difference between each CPU. On the average frame rates the CPU that had the best performance was the Core i7 970 CPU.

Lost Planet 2 gave us some rather interesting results. the only time we seen a major difference between the 3 CPU’s tested was on the 1920 x 1080 resolution. Once I cranked the resolution to 5760 x 1080, I can not see any major differences between the 3 CPU’s tested.

Overclocked CPU speed of 4.1GHz

Time for me to start cranking the frequencies on these three CPU’s and see how things fair then. A reminder these CPU’s are all overclocked identical, same BCLK of 215, the same CPU multiplier of 19, with having the exact same memory frequency of 1720MHz.

Unlike in our first testing of 3DMark06 when using a default CPU speed of 2.66GHz, overclocking these CPU’s Starts changing on how the CPU’s influence our results. This time the Core i5 750 CPU was able to keep up with both of the Core i7 930/970 CPU’s on the SM2, and the SM3 tests (GPU testing).

In our 3DMark Vantage testing on the GPU portion of testing the three CPU’s tested made very little influencing.

The Core i7 930 and the Core i5 750 CPU topples the mighty Core i7 970 on the GPU portion of testing with 3DMark11.

Similar to the default portion of testing these CPU’s of 2.66GHz, I can not see any real major differences. the Core i7 970 did manage a slight lead on the average on the resolution of 1920 x 1080.

With Dirt 2 testing the top two CPU’s to have for this game is the Core i7 930/970. But having a minimum frame rates of 98.6 at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and frame rate of 49 at the extreme resolution of 5760 x 1080 while using the Core i5 750 CPU is nothing to be sneezing at and is very respectable.

On the 1920 x 1080 resolution we don’t really see any differences between the three CPU’s. Once expanding the resolution to 5760 x 1080 the Core i7 930/970 performed the best.

I think i am going to have to call a tie on this game.

Bad Company 2 still shows that it prefers the Core i7 930/970 CPU over its smaller brother the Core i5 750. I would not say minimum frame rates of 91 (1920 x 1080) and 46 (5760 x 1080) is bad, this is still showing very much playable frame rates.

Dead Space 2 still prefers to have a lot of threads available to it, but at the same time the little Core i5 750 does really well on putting up some respectable frame rates.

I am calling this one way to close to declare a winner, so they are all tied.

Ending Thoughts

Looking at all of these results, brings us back to our original question. “What is the difference between a quad core CPU to a hex core, and is there any real differences between these CPU’s?” The answer is a pretty simple one, when it pertains to just gaming, None. Granted we had a slight performance increase when comparing the Core i5 750 to the Core i7 930/970 CPU’s, but it was not enough a major difference to offset the added cost of the socket 1366 CPU’s. Well unless you are a “Benchmarking Whore” (one who has to have the biggest and highest score out of everyone) then these types of people naturally going to want to have the Core i7 970/980 Hex core CPU’s in their rigs. the next question I am going to answer is, ” What CPU will give me the most bang for my buck?” Quite frankly the Core i5 750 (or similar variant CPU the Core i5 2300) will give you the most bang for your buck as far as overall gaming performance. Even when I attempted to bottleneck the Core i5 750 CPU with a pair of AMD/ATI 6970 video cards on a limited 16 x ( Split into a 8×8 configuration on the Core i5 750) PCI-E lanes, compared the Core i7 930/970 32 PCI-E lanes (Utilizing a full 16 x 16 PCI-E lane configuration) could not truly bring the Core i5 750 CPU to its knees. So really and truly we do not need to spend an exorbitant amount of money (when I speak Exorbitant amount I mean 1500+ USD) on a computer to make it current game playable, like it has been thought. I will add this though, if you are doing more then “Just Playing Games”, like video, audio, picture editing then you going to want the Core i7 930 CPU or bigger, the added threads will make short work on whatever your computing needs are.

Multi Monitor Gaming

The Basics

What exactly is Multi-monitor gaming, is it just the ability of being able to combine three identical monitors into one large desktop, or is there something more to multi-monitor gaming? What multi-monitor gaming is a culmination of a couple major things, of coarse the first one is being able to combine two or more monitors into one large monitor, but the other side that very few people even look at is just as important that is being able to manipulate the ratio of our games to whatever we see fit. In reality that is what our games truly use to configure on what we see and what we don’t see. I know most of us have heard of 16:9 (standard HDTV, and now standard computer monitor) 16:10 (standard wide screen Computer monitor), to finally the ever ancient 4:3 CRT monitors we all know and love to hate. Even our resolution is tied to ratios, it would not work properly if it did not.

Now before I just jump right into all of how multi-monitor tweaks our ratios/resolutions, we need to have a basic understanding on how ratios and resolutions tie into one another. Lets look at the most common resolutions that are used on the most common ratios. We can treat ratios similar to how we deal with fractions or division, we take the divisor (lower or last number) and divide that into the numerator (upper or first number). Example 7:2 ratio can be used like this 7/2, be dividing 7 by 2 we will get 3.5, this number will now by used to a 1 ratio. So for every 3.5 parts we need 1 part added, or for every 3.5 inches horizontal, we go 1 inch vertically.

Up first is the CRT ratio of 4:3 (for every 4 inches horizontally, we go up 3 inches vertically, it is actually pretty simple to understand) 4/3 we get 1.33 (rounded up).

The common resolutions used for a 4:3 monitor is 1024:768> 1024/768=1.33, for 1280:1024> 1280/1024=1.25 (this is the only resolution that does not follow the monitors actual ratio), then finally 1600:1200> 1600/1200=1.33.

Up next we look at the 16:9 ratio HDTV/Monitor. 16/9=1.78 (again rounded up). Now lets look at some common resolutions for this ratio.
1280:720> 1280/720=1.78, 1920:1080> 1920/1080=1.78

Finally we look at the ratio of 16:10> 16/10=1.6 common resolutions are:
1440:900> 1440/900=1.6, 1680:1050>1680/1050=1.6, 1920:1200> 1920/1200=1.6, 2560:1600> 2560/1600=1.6

As we looked at each “Ratio” monitor or TV supported and then looked at each of the supporting resolutions (with the exception of the 1280:1024) we can say that each resolution giving with in a specific ratio is correct. Keep this in mind because things will get very interesting later on as I seriously tweak the ratios. (insert Evil Dragon Laugh, Bwhahahaha)

Introduction to Multi-Monitor Configurations

Currently there are so many different multi-monitor configurations it is not even funny. So to make things as simple as possible (mostly for myself that is), I will list the most common multi-monitor configurations. Nvidia and AMD/ATI both fully support multi-monitor gaming, each GPU manufacturer has their own specific requirements in order to run a Multi-Monitor configuration, please visit each GPU manufacturers website for more information. For Nvidia please visit this link HERE, for more information on what GPU’s support multi-monitor can be located HERE. For AMD/ATI multi-monitor configurations can be found HERE, almost all of the current HD5xxx-6xxx based GPUs from AMD can support a multi-monitor gaming platform.

the most common multi-monitor configurations that are used more widely are

Landscape modes

Please refer to the images for more information.This is how most people play their games on. A single standard everyday monitor.

3×1 landscape mode, where we place our monitors side by side.

1×3 landscape mode, where we can stack our monitors on top of each other.

2×1 landscape mode, similar to a 3×1 configuration but only using two monitors.

1×2 landscape mode, again similar to a 3×1 configuration but only using 2 monitors.

Portrait mode (this is where we can turn the monitors on to their side)

Please refer to each image for more information.

3×1 portrait mode, where we place our monitors side by side.

1×3 portrait mode, where we can stack our monitors on top of each other.

2×1 portrait mode, similar to a 3×1 configuration but only using two monitors.

1×2 portrait mode, again similar to a 3×1 configuration but only using 2 monitors.

By looking at each of the basic styles of multi-monitor configurations we can get a better idea on what multi-monitor looks like. The multi-monitor configuration that gives us the most Field Of View (FOV) or the widest aspect ratio is a 3×1 configuration in a landscape mode. Now again each GPU manufacturer has its own specifications on what is required to run a multi-monitor gaming platform, so I highly recommend that you visit their appropriate (listed above) for more information. It is unfortunately our console brethren cannot and also do not have the hardware capability of running a multi-monitor gaming platform right out of the box. This is only a PC specific capability.

Like everything we own there are certain requirements that need to be met while using a multi-monitor configuration, these requirements are pretty much standard across both GPU manufacturers. First thing we need to ensure of is that each monitor used needs to be the exact same size, ie. 24″, another area the monitors have to match is resolution ie. 1920 x 1080. Refresh rate of the monitors have to match ie. 60Hz (for 3D capabilities look at Nvidia and AMD’s specific monitor(s) requirements for this type of configuration), last but not least the ratio has to be matched ie 16:9. For standard 2D configurations all we need to have each monitor match (listed above) they do not need to be of the same manufacturer. it be best if all matched model # and manufacturer but it is not needed. I have played with both Nvidia’s 3D Vision Surround as well as AMD’s Eyefinity and had anywhere from 2 to three different manufactured monitors (but they all matched to the above listed requirements).

Tweaking the Ratio

This is where multi-monitor gaming starts showing its strengths. It is not just the ability of increasing our overall resolution, but allowing us the ability to configure our ratio on the fly. Since I showed you the most common multi-monitor configurations lets look at how these configuration tweaks the ratio.

To keep things a simple as possible I am going to keep this portion to a minimum. Because the possibilities are endless.

The best way to keep track of your specific ratio or resolution is to use a common standard. this common standard will always be width:height, again remember this. This portion is extremely important to on how can manipulate the ratios while using a multi-monitor configuration.

Common Ratios our monitors use are 4:3, 16:9, and 16:10. The common resolutions used per type of monitor are 1024:768, 1600:1200 for the 4:3 aspect ratio, 1280:720, 1920:1080 for the 16:9 aspect ratio, then we have 1440:900, 1920:1200 for the 16:10 aspect ratio. Lets start the combining.


Landscape mode 3×1 monitor configuration. (better known as spanning)
4:3 aspect ratio
When we use 3 monitors side by side our ratios change, for the 4:3 aspect ratio gets changed to a 12:3 or a 4:1 aspect ratio (keep in mind I am only adding to the sides, I am not adding any monitors going up). 4/1 = 4, lets see if the resolution match the new aspect ratio. Our resolution been changed from 1024:768 to 3072:768 (again I did not add any monitors upwards just to the sides only). 3072/768 = 4 so our first resolution checks out with our new actual combined ratio. lets up the resolution to 1600:1200 to 4800:1200, 4800/1600 = 4 again this reaffirms that our resolution matches our actual combined ratio.

16:9 aspect ratio
moving to a slightly larger aspect ratio of 16:9 and then combine three of these to a spanned configuration our ratio changes to a 48:9 aspect ratio. 48/9 = 5.33 (rounding up) new combined aspect ratio. Lets see if our new resolutions matches the new aspect ratio. We increased from a 1280:720 to a 3840:720 combined resolution (again all I added was monitors to the side and did not add any monitors up) 3840:740 = 5.33. Lets use another standard resolution of 1920:1080 then combine that to a 5760:1080 (my current multi-monitor configuration). 5760/1080 = 5.33. So again our combined resolution matches our new combined aspect ratio for the 16:9 monitors.

16:10 aspect ratio
Moving on to our final aspect ratio of 16:10 now lets combine 3 of these monitors in a spanned configuration. Our new combined aspect ratio is now sitting at a 48:10 or 24:5. 24/5 = 4.8 (48/10 = 4.8). using a 1440:900 and combine that to a 4320:1200 resolution. 4320/1200 = 4.8, so the new combined resolution matches the new combined aspect ratio. Now lets up the resolution from a 1440:900 to 1920:1200. That combined resolution will be at 5760:1200, 5760/1200 = 4.8, reaffirming our combined resolution matches the new combined aspect ratio.

Portrait Mode using a 3×1 configuration

We can also turn our monitor to a portrait mode, in a nut shell, stand the monitors on end.

4:3 aspect ratio, will now become a 3:4 aspect ratio. Because we have now turned the monitor(s) on their side so the ratio will change as well, keep this in mind.

3:4 aspect ratio (again this is a 4:3 monitor tuned on to its side)
Using a spanned mode while our monitors are turned on to their side will tweak our ratios and resolution dramatically. since we flipped the ratio we also have to flip the most common resolutions as well. a 1024:768 is now a 768:1024 resolution. and the 1600:1200 has now been changed to a 1200:1600. By spanning the 3:4 aspect ratio our new combined ratio is now a 9:4. 9/4 = 2.25. Lets plum in some resolutions as well to verify the aspect ratio is correct. Using a 768:1024 resolution and combine that with 3 monitors we now have a combined resolution of 2304:1024, 2304/1024 = 2.25, looks like everything is falling right into place. Upping the resolution from 768:1024 to 1200:1600 and combine that we get a new resolution of 3600:1600. 3600/1600 = 2.25.

9:16 aspect ratio (a 16:9 aspect ratio monitor turned on to its side)
Lets span our 9:16 aspect ratio monitors, the combined aspect ratio we get when doing this is now a 27:16, 27/16 = 1.6875. See how things change drastically with multi-monitor configurations. the most common resolution are 720:1280, combining this resolution in spanned mode we now have a new combined resolution of 2160:1280, 2160/1280 = 1.6875. So far everything is checking our correctly, now upping the resolution from a 720:1280 to a 1080:1920. Combined resolution will now be 3240:1920, 3240/1920 = 1.6875, just reaffirming the resolution matches the combined ratio.


10:16 aspect ratio (16:10 aspect ratio turned over on to its side)
Spanning 3 portrait mode monitors our ratio changes from a 10:16 to a 30:16 (15:8), 15/8 = 1.875 (30/16 = 1.875). Now lets see if the resolution corresponds to our new combined ratio shall we. A 1440:900 resolution monitor gets a new resolution of 900:1440 then combine this with 3 monitors we now have a 2700:1440, 2700/1440 = 1.875. Just to makes sure everything is working properly lets up the resolution from a 900:1440 to a 1200:1920 (again the monitor is standing on its side). Now lets combine this resolution by spanning the 3 monitors we now have a 3600:1920 combined resolution, 3600/1920 = 1.875, this reconfirms that the resolution matches the combined aspect ratio.

This next part is when I stack the monitors on top of each other, in a 1×3 configuration.

Landscape In a 1×3 configuration

4:3 aspect ratio
4:3 gets changed to a 4:9 ratio 4/9 = 0.44 (rounded to the highest number)
1024:2304, 1024/2304 = 0.44
1600:3600, 1600/3600 = 0.44

16:9 aspect ratio
16:9 ratio gets changed to a 16:27 ratio, 16/27 = 0.59 (again rounded off)
1280:2160, 1280/2160 = 0.59
1920:3240, 1920/3240 = 0.59

16:10 aspect ratio
16:10 ratio gets changed to a 16:30 (8:15), 8/15 = .053 (again rounded off) (16/30 = 0.53)
1440:2700, 1440/2700 = 0.53
1920:3600, 1920/3600 = 0.53

Portrait (again each monitor been turned over on to its side) In a 1×3 configuration

3:4 aspect ratio
3:4 ratio gets changed to a 3:12 (1:4) 1/4 = 0.25 (3:12 = 0.25)
768:3072, 768/3072 = 0.25
1200:4800, 1200/4800 = 0.25

9:16 aspect ratio
9:16 ratio gets changed to a 9:48, 9/48 = 0.1875
720:3840, 720/3840 =  0.1875
1080:5760 , 1080/5760 = 0.1875

10:16 aspect ratio
10:16 ratio gets changed to a 10:48 (5:24), 5/24 = 0.2083 (round up again) (10/48 = 0.2083)
900:4320, 900/4320 = 0.2083
1200:5760, 1200/5760 = 0.2083

Ending thoughts

As we can see with all of these numbers, that with a multi-monitor configuration there is definitely a lot more to it then just grouping up a bunch of monitors. We have complete and total control of how we can manipulate the aspect ratio of our games. this is what our games ultimately see as far as what we can see and hat we cannot see. Even for them games out there that do not properly get viewed when we are spanning our games we can manipulate the monitors to keep within the aspect ratio of what that game can be played with. So the only limitations there are is ourselves when it comes to what we are fully capable of doing when it comes to our games.