By October 29, 2009

That extra half inch always gets you ….

I run three monitors in my home office. For awhile I used to do this via two video cards, but I had a lot of stability problems in Windows Vista and the release candidate for Windows 7. I disconnected the tertiary monitor, yanked the PCI video card, and started researching solutions. I thought I would have to upgrade to a dual PCI-X slot motherboard and run two video cards in an SLI/Crossfire configuration. That meant buying a new motherboard and a second GeForce 7600, and that would have been a pain in the ass for the former and a little difficult for the latter. The GeForce 7xxx series is now two or three generations old, and I didn’t want to gamble on a used card.

ATI’s new 57xx series features “Eyefinity,” which basically allows one card to aggregate several physical monitors into one meta-monitor. This is, conceptually, a little different from a multi-monitor display that breaks the desktop into several sections. Think of Eyefinity as making one big, oddly-shaped monitor out of whatever monitors you have on hand.

The trick to Eyefinity, however, is that you need at least one of those monitors to have a DisplayPort interface. I’d never even heard of this interface until I started researching the 57xx series. Apparently it’s on laptops and Apple has their own “mini” version of it. The problem was that my three existing Dell 22″ monitors had regular VGA and DVI.

I purchased a 22″ monitor from Dell with a DisplayPort link for about $240 shipped. I was surprised to see a shipping notification that evening, and the monitor showed up three days later. Problem solved, right?

Er, no.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/7822-2/IMG_0364.JPG

It’s hard to tell with my crappy photography skills, but the monitor on the left is quite a bit smaller than the two on the right.

It turns out that the P2210H I bought is actually 21.5″ in size. It was listed in the 22″ – 24″ display category on Dell.com and I didn’t read the item description very well. What the fuck, Dell? 21.5″ is not 22″.

I wrote to Dell last night, pretty embarrassed that I didn’t RTFM and bought the wrong sized monitor. Leave it to the Web usability guy to fail at reading the product information. Oh well, at least I validate the theory that people don’t read on the Web; they scan.

Anyway, Dell responded this morning with an apology, pre-paid UPS postage, and stating they would not charge me a restocking fee for my error. I was extremely surprised, especially since I have read horror stories all over the Web about Dell’s monitor support. I guess this is officially RMA / Returns support and not product technical support, but I was still impressed.

I ordered the correctly-sized 22″ monitor last night with a DisplayPort interface. It wound up being $20 cheaper, which is odd but whatever.

As soon as I type this entry up I am going to box up the P2210H and return it ASAP.

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Posted in: technology

3 Comments on "That extra half inch always gets you …."

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  1. bc says:

    ninja gmail! 🙂

  2. Agreschn says:

    So what card did you get, Doc? I’m interested in building a new gaming PC in the next year or two (Diablo 3 is calling me quite loudly) and I’ve always been a fan of ATI’s stuff. The new 57xx series looks to give them the GPU crown for at least a little bit of time while Nvidia tries to catch up.

  3. drfaulken says:

    Hey there,

    I got the 1GB 5770. It’s a great card, especially since it allows me to run up to four monitors (currently just three).

    It was cheaper than getting an SLI board and two SLI/Crossfire video cards, and turns out to be a pretty robust card to boot.

    That being said, you might want to wait, I’m sure the next generation will be even better.