NVIDIA GTX 280 SLI 3D Surround Experience

Take your 2 year old GTX 280 video card and pair it up with another 2 year old GTX 280 and what do you get? You get an NVIDIA SLI system capable of delivering huge multi-display NV Surround gaming resolutions with the latest games.

Introduction

It was only two short years ago that NVIDIA served up its latest and greatest GPU at the time, the GTX 280. Many of you are quite familiar with that GPU and its derivations because you are still using it today. Here is what we said about it back in 2008.

The BFGTech GeForce GTX 280 OC offered us solid gameplay performance, allowing very high playable settings in our games. It is the fastest single-GPU video card on the planet right now, period. Its price is high, at $659.99, but it will definitely deliver the goods, especially at 2560x1600.

Wow! $660! Holy sheep dip Batman! Thankfully today, the GTX 280 is not quite as expensive. In fact, here is one for sale now in our forums for around $150. Finding these used GTX 280 cards for less than $200 is a very easy thing if you have a look around.

You likely know that we do not spend a lot of time reminiscing over old technology, but the GTX 200 series is worthy of an exception since it has been awarded a very new NVIDIA technology. If you have read about NVIDIA's new 3D Vision Surround Technology you will know that we were extremely pleased with the Surround portion of the technology, so much in fact we gave it an [H] Gold Editor's Award. We think that multi-display gaming is the "next" SLI. Many folks are already using AMD's ATI Eyefinity Technology and have been since last year. However, multi-display gaming with an AMD Eyefinity system requires buying a new 5000 series video card. Multi-display gaming on NVIDIA could possibly cost you nothing...if you have three displays hanging and a 200 series GPU SLI setup.

NV Surround with GTX 280 SLI

What we have done here is very simple. After our launch article covering NV 3D Vision Surround, I simply slipped our GTX 480 SLI cards out of the system and installed two aging BFG Tech GTX 280 OC cards into our Intel X58 motherboard and configured them for SLI using the latest NVIDIA driver that supports NV Surround technology. We used Steam for all of our game content.

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I did reinstall the NV BETA 256.69 drivers and after that I was up and running with the least expensive multi-display gaming setup I have ever used. The heart and soul consisted of two each BFG Tech GTX 280 OC video cards, and our displays are Dell P2210 LCD panels. The panels new run about $250 each, but you can find refurbs for much less if you look around, some as low at $150.

NV Surround Advantages

In case you are not informed on this yet, NVIDIA Surround is quite different from AMD's solution. NVIDIA 200 series GPUs can be used for NV Surround, as you likely guessed since this is the focus of the article you are reading now. You don't need to purchase brand new video cards to move into a 3x1 multi-display NV Surround setup. You can use older GTX 285 / 280 / 275 / 260 cards. Along with that, you do not need to have new fangled DisplayPort ready displays either like you do for Eyefinity. DVI input displays work just fine with NV Surround, but you are required to have displays with matching resolutions.

The "downside" to NV Surround is that it requires an SLI configuration to work. You need at least three DVI outputs, and since currently NVIDIA GPUs will only support two displays off any one GPU, you are required to use at least 2-card SLI. If you already have a GTX 200 series card, you need one more card with the same GPU, and an SLI capable motherboard then you can be in the NV Surround business.....with three displays of course.