What do you do after you’ve built yourself a screaming fast gaming rig that you dropped about $2,000 on? If you are like many gamers, you’ve already got a 17" or 19" LCD monitor with a wicked fast response time. So you lust after a 24” monitor, but that’s… ouch… three times the price of the 19” monitor.
Then again, there’s the really dreamy 30" screen, but you are entering the realm of diminishing returns and it’s really hard to justify spending $1,500 on a monitor when the rest of your system cost you $2,000. What if I told you that you could get 51" – 57" of vivid eye-candy goodness for about $700? Would you do it?
When I was first asked about reviewing the Matrox TripleHead2Go, I was afraid that I would not have the hardware to properly review this neat little device. Where would I find three identical monitors? Would the screen size and refresh speeds have to be the same? The answer was that I didn’t need three identical monitors.
I carted two 2004 vintage generic Dell 15" screens home from the office after work on Friday to supplement my 17" screen. Plugged them in, installed the software, followed instructions and… it worked. There was my windows desktop spread over three monitors.
The Technical Details
The Matrox TripleHead2Go is a device which allows you to connect two or three monitors to your gaming rig for a resolution of up to 3840 x 1024. From the system's perspective, the TripleHead2Go acts like an ultra wide-screen monitor; the unit communicates to the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit on your video card) which resolutions it supports, the same way any flat panel would and the GPU decides whether or not to offer those resolutions to the user.
In laymen’s terms; through the TripleHead2Go, your system now thinks it has a wide-screen monitor to play with and your view of the game now stretches out in a panorama over the screens.
The box contained the TripleHead2Go device, an AC to 5VDC transformer, 2 cables – one HD15 / HD15 and one HD15 / DVI-I, the software and instructions.
The device itself is a handsome little box. Black metal and well ventilated. Smaller than a CD case in length and width, and about half an inch high. It was so light, I left it dangling off my desk. The unit got warm, but never hot. That it was dangling in mid-air may have helped, but I doubt it would keep a cup of coffee warm. Slow the cooling? Maybe. Place a cup of coffee on top of it? Inadvisable.
Installation was simple. The unit is labeled clearly and basic instructions in five languages fit on a single fold piece of paper as large as the CD that came with it.
- Change your display resolution to 800 x 600@60Hz.
- Turn your computer off and hook up the unit and monitors
- Turn your computer back on and install the Matrox software
- Change your display resolutions to one of the support resolutions
The first I tried was 2400 x 600 (or triple 800). My Windows desktop stretched out nicely. I tried a higher resolution and had a moment of panic when I was greeted with a center screen without any icons or tool bar and two blank side screens, but a simple right click to get to the video properties and change that back to the recommended starting 2400 x 600 solved that problem.
Included in the software is a program – Matrox Surround Gaming Utility (SGU) that assists you in setting up your games for the TripleHead2Go. What it does is create a game configuration file to have proper settings enabled for TripleHead2Go resolutions and places an icon on your desktop with the word "Surround" appended to the name of the game. It does not replace your current file, which made me a happy camper as a reviewer. I would not have to manually change my game files after I uninstalled the software and returned the review unit!
Matrox also offers a software tool downloadable from their site that provides additional resolutions so that it can be run in Dual Head mode, wide screen and will also support the faster refresh rate of CRT users.
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