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As you guys may or may not know, I have a pretty decent desktop setup at home. My hardware is two graphics cards (GTX9800 and GTX8800), a Core 2 Quad Q9400, 8GB of RAM in four DDR2 sticks of 2GB each, 650Watt power supply, and assorted hard drives totalling 3.5TB. My displays are four 22" LCDs, all in landscape mode, arrayed side-by-side. However, I want to upgrade my setup at the beginning of the summer, and this is your opportunity to tell me all the things that I'm doing wrong and all the things I should do before I totally ignore you. Firstly, here's what I want to upgrade:

:: Most importantly: new motherboard and CPU. The Asus motherboard that I have, a P5Q Deluxe, loves to make Windows BSOD. It's a known problem on forums, and none of the troubleshooting tips including tweaking CPU settings, flashing the BIOS with certain BIOS versions, etc does the trick. I think I should get a Sandy Bridge motherboard and CPU...?
:: I presume I'll need new RAM, DDR3 instead of DDR2? What kind should I get? Channels?
:: I suppose I'm overdue for a graphics card upgrade. Part of the problem is that my PSU, while decently powerful, doesn't have enough GPU-headered connectors to properly power two 9800s. HOWEVER, see power caveat below. What kind of graphics cards should I get? Ideally I want to power at least four or five graphics devices.
:: Monitors. Having four 22" monitors is really great, and I use the leftmost three a ton, but I feel like I don't really use the rightmost one enough, because I have to physically move my chair to read what's on the screen when I'm near the left side. Perhaps a more compact setup? I also love the idea of 27" monitors. See below.

Requirements!

:: Very important: electrical power. I want to minimize power usage as much as possible. My monitors each take 50 Watts atm, and the 27" monitors I've been looking at are all <45 Watts, which is good. I want my whole setup to ideally suck down much much less than a kilowatt (hopefully MUCH MUCH less) with all four (four?) monitors powered on. How realistic is this?
:: Second concern: speed power. I want a fast, powerful computer (of course). While my primary applications are fairly low-spec, like coding, internet browsing, and testing my code, I also enjoy watching DVDs, and I love to game. If I had a more powerful graphics setup, I would probably try more graphically-demanding games.

Some more thoughts on monitors: I'd be interested in supplementing/replacing my 22" monitors with one or two 27" monitors, as long as they're more like 45 Watts than 100 Watts each. Caveat to benryves and Kllrnohj and Nikky: I know IPS panels are awesome. I know TN panels suck at life. However, I'm a cheapskate, and I'm willing to accept the suckiness of TN panels for the price. You can badger me about it all you want, but $300-$400 per 27" monitor vs. $1500 is a big deal for me. For your perusal, my current setup (top-left) and some proposed layouts. When discussing these, keep in mind coding, documents, web browsing, video-watching, and gaming. In the diagrams, from my bed (top) to my desk (bottom) is [33 inches]. Desk to shelf is [8 inches], shelf to bed is [25 inches] (more or less). Currently, the two second-row setups are impossible because of the shelf, but I'd be willing to make modifications. For reference, 27" monitors are [25" x 18"], and 22" monitors are [20.5" x 16"].

Edit: Should you be so inclined, I've included templates at the bottom for you to play with.

I like the second and third from the bottom, very Matrix/HL2-like...
I've got the all landscaped monitor set up, and I like it. My co-worker has them all portrait and likes those. Another coworker has them in a 2x2 grid, the top two are portrait, the bottom are landscaped. My boss has two portrait on the end, and two landscaped in the middle. My other boss has a 2x2 grid, all landscaped. We are all pretty happy with our setups, but that gives you an idea of what kinds of things we do around here, maybe one of those interests you?
DShiznit, those are among my favorites too.

Shaun, let's see what I can do with that. Unfortunately, a 2x2 grid is impossible in my setup due to the limited space between my desk and bed. I could fit 2x2 22"s in horizontal orientation, to be sure, but I think I want to experiment with at least one 27"er in the mix. I like the idea of what your boss has, with the two portraits on the end, and two landscaped in the middle, as per my lower-left diagram. My main downside to that is that it would put a monitor directly in front of my keyboard, which might be slightly awkward (but certainly not tragic). I think your landscaped monitors in a 4x1 arrangement work better than mine because you have them arrayed in a slight semicircle around you. My desk doesn't have the depth to be able to do that, sadly.
Hi isn't like that, though, it's four across, just with the ends portrait.
merthsoft wrote:
Hi isn't like that, though, it's four across, just with the ends portrait.
Ahh, I gotcha. That would be nice too, but it would still be pretty wide (18+21+21+18 = 78" instead of my current 21*4 = 84"). I like the idea of having one or two center monitors in landscape for the sake of gaming and video-watching, since those are both landscape-orientated pursuits.
I like the fourth quadrant image. You get a good central screen for coding and web pages, then the outer four can be used for videos and such.

Only downside, gaming? I don't think that's an ideal setup for games. You're much better off with the second quadrant image for gaming.

You could get buy with quadrant three, use the middle 22" as a vertical window for coding and documents, then you'd have a good monitor infront of you for gaming when it came to it. Still wouldn't be able to have mutli-monitor gaming.
Yeah, the lack of multimonitor gaming would be a bummer. I'm pretty sure I don't want to stick with the 4x1 horizontal setup, though. By the way, for reference, here's what my current setup looks like (as of almost two years ago):

I can see if my friend Adam is still looking to sell his OC'd 9800s at a reasonable price. As far as 1kW is concerned, that's almost certainly a pipedream if you're running multiple graphics cards...
elfprince13 wrote:
I can see if my friend Adam is still looking to sell his OC'd 9800s at a reasonable price. As far as 1kW is concerned, that's almost certainly a pipedream if you're running multiple graphics cards...
I was afraid of that, but I fear that Kllrnohj may disagree. If I'm not gaming across all my monitors, Kllrnohj seemed to think my power usage would be relatively low. With 200 Watts for monitors, you think I'd be using 800 Watts for my computer reading the web? I don't think that's tenable for me.
If it were me, I would do either the bottom left or bottom right set ups. Actually, it would be none of those, because I would have to have it fit the frame perfectly Razz Also, I haven't seen your set up from that angle; it looks awesome Very Happy Unfortunately, I don't really have anything else to contribute, good luck finding a set up Smile
KermMartian wrote:
I was afraid of that, but I fear that Kllrnohj may disagree. If I'm not gaming across all my monitors, Kllrnohj seemed to think my power usage would be relatively low. With 200 Watts for monitors, you think I'd be using 800 Watts for my computer reading the web? I don't think that's tenable for me.

I doubt it, since the GPUs would probably be pretty idle, but you'd still need the beefy power supply to handle them when you're not browsing.
Here's a silly little mockup of what the bottom-left / third-quadrant setup might look like. The diagonal piece on my bed would mean that the righthand 27" monitor would have to be lower. I guess all four monitors would need VESA mounts? If so, would I be able to put the left and right 27" monitors horizontally when necessary?

Edit: For what it's worth, NewEgg quotes me a recommend PSU rating of 785 W for a Core i7 LGA1366, high-end desktop mobo, 2x NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX, 4x 4GB DDR3, 1 optical drive, and 4 5400 RPM HDDs.

So with 200 watts per monitor, you'll be awfully close to a kW under full load.
elfprince13 wrote:
So with 200 watts per monitor, you'll be awfully close to a kW under full load.
Noooo, about 50 Watts per monitor. I think my 22"s take 40 Watts or 50 Watts each, and the 27" TN LCDs I'm looking at are in the 36 Watt - 45 Watt range. And you're not going to operate a 785 Watt PSU anywhere NEAR full capacity.

Edit: This PSU looks pretty solid, although I bet Kllrnohj will disagree:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=17-139-010
Huh, both of my friends who are heavy gamers + build their own computers have PSUs in the 1kW to 1.5kW range. My assumption was that there was reason for this other than just bragging rights.
elfprince13 wrote:
Huh, both of my friends who are heavy gamers + build their own computers have PSUs in the 1kW to 1.5kW range. My assumption was that there was reason for this other than just bragging rights.

Yeah, giving the finger to the environment.
Elfprince, I'd go with bragging rights. I, on the other hand, care about the environment, care about my electricity bill, which I pay, and care about not turning my apartment's wiring into FIRE.
KermMartian wrote:
Elfprince, I'd go with bragging rights. I, on the other hand, care about the environment, care about my electricity bill, which I pay, and care about not turning my apartment's wiring into FIRE.

Fair enough. When I was gaming at one of their houses, we never had to run the portable electric heater in the winter after they built their new computer.
KermMartian wrote:
Elfprince, I'd go with bragging rights. I, on the other hand, care about the environment, care about my electricity bill, which I pay, and care about not turning my apartment's wiring into FIRE.
Why not take out a hefty insurance policy, and then buy a cheap power supply you know has issues with overheating...
  
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