new pc to connect 4 projectors
@alice I would avoid the blackmagic outputs , they are not connected to a GPU but require the signal from the GPU to be downloaded to the CPU and then output to the blackmagic card, there is little advantage in doing this. If the blackmagic or AJA gear was an option in your budget I would push it to a datapathx4. This is a great way to work with 4 outputs. You can maybe get 4 outputs from your GPU, and in the case of @mark_m 's computer I would guess that not all of these outputs could be used for displays at once, the GPU is integrated (albeit an AMD integrated into an intel CPU??). The datapath will take a UHD signal and output 4 independent 1920*1080 signals, it can be plugged into anything that supports 4k over HDMI so it is a great piece of gear to have. You can then be a bit more flexible about what machine you want to run stuff from, I am a big fan of rack/tower pcs, more value for money but yes a pain to carry around. A tower computer with the right GPU can also get you these outputs, watch out for mixing an integrated GPU output with those on the GPU, this can be problematic if your media and outputs are not distributed correctly (IE needing data to move between the GPU and integrated graphics).
I have been looking at these small form factor PCs lately https://comino.com/en/otto#overview-header they are not super cheap but water-cooled and come in a config with a 2080ti and an Intel® Core™ i9-10900KF processor, 10 Cores / 20 Threads with Max Turbo Frequency 5.30 GHz. They run cool and stable and are quite small, they will be safely transported in a pelican case with pluck out foam.
The ALIENWARE M15 R3 also has quite a variety of configurations where the power of the machine varies greatly and of course the cooling in a laptop (and this will directly control the machines actual performance and ability to run the components at the advertised speeds for any length of time) is significantly worse than a well designed tower.
Laptops have very limited options for upgrades, small form factor machines less so, and tower machines are very flexible.
I just need 4 projectors that's my problem
A laptop (built-in user interface display) capable of connecting to two external displays + Matrox TripleHead2Go = five displays
- Built-In Display (laptop screen for the user interface): No connection needed
- External Display #1: Connected to the first output port
- External Displays #2, #3, and #4 (from one Matrox TH2G DP Edition): Connected to the second output port
A Mini PC or desktop machine capable of connecting to three external displays + Matrox TripleHead2Go = five displays
- External Display #1 (external monitor for the user interface): Connected to the first output port
- External Display #2: Connected to the second output port
- External Displays #3, #4, and #5 (from one Matrox TH2G DP Edition): Connected to the third output port
If you have the budget, as @Fred said, the Datapath Fx4 is an even better option than the Matrox.
mark_m last edited by mark_m
wow thank you all so much, you really helped!
Kathmandale last edited by
Good spot, they're a great deal. Counting my pennies...
Worth noting though @alice that those are the 'old' Datapath X4. They're a great piece of kit but only have the band width to support DVI-dual-link, 2560*1600@60. That said, you can get 4k through them but you have to reduce the refresh rate and it can be a bit fiddly to get it set up.
The 'new' datapaths are called FX4 and come in a few options, including SDI and Display port.
I'd certainly go down the datapath route if you've got the budget. They're so configurable you can scale images and define pixel precise input regions, so your 'capture' regions don't have to be halves/thirds/quarters but any area you chose. This means they can overlap for example, or have a gap. It means your set-up can be really flexible. In my experience they are also absolutely rock solid; you can leave them doing a job for years and they just get on with it, or move them every week and they take whatever you throw at them.
The matrox stuff is also really good in my experience but it's not quite on the same level in terms of functionality and reliability; which is fair enough really, because they're also a lot cheaper. And I'm not saying they don't work, they just often seem to forget what they're supposed to be doing when you turn on and need to re-configure them.
CitizenJoe last edited by
I must be missing something.
If I were building a machine, I would simply install a GPU with 5 outputs. Wouldn't that be simplist?
If I were using an existing machine, I would use a Matrox TH2G or DH2G, as needed, to get the number of outputs I want. I also really like the look of the new QuadHead2Go! @DusX, you've been testing this, haven't you? Unlike @Kathmandale, I've not had trouble with these units forgetting their config's in Windows. I find them very reliable.
I've not used the DataPath units as they're so expensive. Matrox is also a Canadian company, so easily available here in Canada!
yes you are right, it was the old one.. The new one is a bit expensive! I think if I will need this kind of equipment I will give aja a try
yes, of course it will be simpler if I build a machine to have 5 outputs.. I don't know what I can find because I want to build a small pc. So I am just considering all my options so that I can find a balance between cost, reliability, and mobility - I don't have a big budget..
It will never hurt to have a Datapath Fx4 or Matrox TripleHead2Go in your kit. They're incredibly helpful pieces of equipment and I've used them for numerous projects. They're an excellent investment.
Kathmandale last edited by Kathmandale
@citizenjoe sorry, I didn't mean to give a bad impression of the matrox kit. I've got a TH2G in my personal kit and I use it all the time. And yes, the times I've had trouble with the set up tend to be on mac rather than windows. I don't have an X4 but I've used them on a lot of show's with hired kit or when I've been working with companies who do have them. They're kind of different beasts I guess. If was looking for this kind of kit and I could get a second hand X4 for the same price as a new TH2G (as @mark_m linked to above) then I'd probably get the X4.
I don't have any real evidence of this from hard testing, it's more of a feeling, but I tend to prefer using something external to having many outputs from the onboard GPU. My small form PC (Gigabyte one in my signature) has 4 outputs, I used it on a show that had three projectors and one local 'control' screen. Everything seemed to run better and have less problems with a single show output going through the TH2G than when I tried to do the same thing using a separate output for each projector. I don't know if there's an improvement in performance when the computer is processing the same number of pixels, but it always feels to me as though the more physical displays that are attached the harder the computer has to work.
I don't often spec computers for a single show, possibly because I don't do much installation work where you leave a machine on the show for a long stretch. My approach tends to be to try and get something that will do the next 5 years of shows (at least) and that can be really flexible. The number of outputs isn't as much of a concern as the overall performance and flexibility when it can easily be increased by off-board kit such as a TH2G/X4.
Many ways to skin a cat though and I know other people will have different approaches and priorities.
As far as i know there is not a great selection of GPUs that support 5 monitors directly. Nvidia GTX and RTX series support 4 per card.
@CitizenJoe started a great thread here https://community.troikatronix.com/topic/6786/integrated-graphics-for-work-monitor that I added some questions to to clear up using multiple GPU's, especially things like an on board GPU in an intel CPU that would get you 5 outputs (1 for the isadora interface and 4 for the projections). The limit of 4 outputs is why I suggested a datapathx4 to get the 4 outputs, it was my understanding that using multiple GPU's is not a good way to go and uses a lot of extra resources (some testing some time ago and some assumptions that may be wrong led to this). At any rate watch the other thread for hopefully some clearer answers to the multi-gpu question as it would influence the advice we would all give to the original question here.
as Fred has said most nVidia cards support 4 outputs total. AMD tend to support 6.
The Matrox QuadHead2Go is a great alternative to the Datapath. I have been using it and rather like the unit. The software and configure is nicer than with the tripleheads.
mark_m last edited by
I just wanted to put this here for future reference re my NUC (in signature).
It will support 5 x displays at 60Hz and 6 x displays at 30hz.
Here's the complete breakdown:
I just ordered a few various Thunderbolt 3 to HDMI and Displayport cables and adaptors to see how well they work and what'd be the best combination for me (I like a UHD monitor, but none of my projectors have higher resolution than 1080p)
Just to say that if you're in the UK or Europe @alice there's a chap on eBay selling 'em for GBP 210 which is an absolute bargain:https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dat...
I bought a used DATApath x4 as mark_m had recommended and it runs very well, but i can't find the Wall Designer software version for Mac. The new version does not support the x4 and the links to older versions are all dead. Would anyone have a Mac version of Wall Designer for Datapath x4?
Thanks in advance
@jfg there was a command line version for OSX for this series but otherwise you need to use the old windows only software.
not what I like to hear but thank you very much.
do you have a running PC version for x4. The links are also dead.
@jfg this should be it - seems all to be online for me:
for me too but I was looking on the Wall Designer download page
Thanks a lot
Kathmandale last edited by Kathmandale
I'm certain I've got an installer for the older X4 windows version saved on my PC, runs happily on Windows 10. Not got access to it today sorry, but I can check tomorrow.
I think this is the link to the relevant bits, it's got the command line interface for mac there as well (Helpfully in 'Archive' rather than 'Legacy').
I thought that Wall Designer was supposed to support X4 if the firmware was up to date but I may be wrong. I actually preferred the old interface to the new Wall Designer.
[edit: sorry, I've read your post properly now and see you had this link already.]