Nine years ago, I moved my stuff from the garage into a room we upgraded (here). At the same time, I chose a new display for my workstation: the Samsung MD230X6, a six Screen Multi-Display (using 23″ SyncMaster MD monitors). The setup was fantastic, built like a tank, and I could display images up to 5760 x 2160 pixels. Remarkable fact: I was experiencing the ancestor of curved monitors by folding the left and right panes of two monitors. All this almost a decade ago!
The mounting mechanism of the MD230X6 is sturdy and well designed, with daisy-chaining power and video signals, all the right way. There is one obvious caveat, though: the bezels. Although very thin for the time, they are pretty visible. Even if the 2×3 monitors configuration prevents the infamous central vertical bezel, it remains an eyesore. True, after almost of decade of use, I believe my brain filtered them out. Samsung designed this multi monitor system with AMD’s ATI Eyefinity technology in mind. Therefore, you needed an Eyefinity 6 video card to feed the beast – with six mini-DisplayPort connectors. I used a secondhand Saphire Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 edition video card at the time. That is until I switched it out for an Nvidia NVS 810 (here).
Although I enjoyed my setup, Microsoft regularly screwed me up. Indeed, after every major update of Windows 10, my system’s display stopped working. I tried to defer these updates as much as possible, but I could not postpone them to the Greek kalends. Depending upon the update, I used various fixes to recover. The easiest fix was to rebuild the configuration of the system. For some reason I cannot understand, re-loaded the previously saved settings never worked. The most challenging fix consisted of rolling back to the oldest compatible driver allowing the setup of a mosaic with my card (that’s Nvidia’s multi-display configuration’s name).
It became my – miserable – routine until fate hit me again, twice last month. First strike, one of the SyncMasters (the top right) stopped working. Kaput. True, that’s on Samsung. Nobody is perfect. The second strike, Microsoft/Nvidia’s update stopped recognizing one of my MVS 810’s two Maxwell GPUs! Just like that. No explanation why. Ah, I almost forgot to mention that Kafkaesque situation, where the newest driver drops the mosaic feature and its replacement doesn’t fancy your card. It was the drop that made the vase overflow! Enough, basta, suficiente, 充足的,dovoljan, dost, nok, voldoende, bastante, tarpeeksi, assez, genug, αρκετός, sufficiente, 十分な,충분한, wystarczający, достаточный, tillräcklig, พอ, yeterli, досить, đủ, elég ,كافٍ! It was time for yet another forced refresh.
This time though, I could go mainstream: adios fringe or unorthodox setups. Luckily, the industry made a lot of progress in ten years. So, I picked an Nvidia RTX 3080 based video card and a Samsung Odyssey G9 monitor (49″ QHD, 240Hz, 1000R Curved, QLED). A bold move on my side and the most powerful graphics card I ever owned. True, promises engage only the one believing them, but I hope this combo will make it harder for Microsoft or Nvidia to screw me up. That said, I will never underestimate the power of nuisance of these unwanted updates 😊.
But which setup is the best? Please take what I write with a grain of salt. I used the new setup barely for a month. From a resolution point of view, the old system is better (5760 x 2160 pixels vs. 5120 x 1440 pixels). From a use comfort point of view, the G9 monitor is missing two inches in height to be perfect. Otherwise, the G9 obliterates the MD230X6. And, it has no bezels. Let me write it again, no bezels! The curvature of the G9 is pleasant and doesn’t compare to the folded panes of the MD230X6.
I had grand plans for the Picture-in-Picture feature of the G9. I tested it to display the output of a retro computer out of the OSSC upscaler. It worked well, but it was hard to set it up. Indeed, once you start using it, you must provide a secondary signal; otherwise, you get stuck on a blank screen. At the end of the day, it is disappointing as the options for the PIP size and position are limited. Ah, I almost forgot: I am also delighted dropping the six DP cables to manage vs. a single one. Less is definitively better.
For fairness reasons, I will not compare the latest display technologies. The RTX 3080 is lightyears ahead of the MVS 810. No dice. It is also warmer, making my aluminum Lian Li case feel toasty after an hour of the Flight Simulator 2020 session. But now I can play the dam game!
Last, if you have or plan to have a super ultrawide display (that’s an aspect ratio of 32:9), you will appreciate the Microsotf PowerToys for Windows 10. You can find them in beta here. In particular, the FancyZones utility (here).