AMD ATI Radeon Dongle and GSOD Issues Addressed

While most ATI Radeon 5800 series video card owners are having great experiences, there are some people out there that have issues with the technology. This article will hopefully let you know a little more about the issues and what is being done to address DP to DVI dongle problems and GSODs.

Acknowledging the Problem

We here at HardOCP have come across lately as ATI Eyefinity fanboys, and honestly, I am not going to back away from that. I love Eyefinity and the gaming experience it brings to me personally. I think out-of-the-box multi-display gaming is the biggest thing since 3dfx brought me Voodoo 2 SLI all those years ago. The Radeon 5800 series GPU can do some amazing things at huge resolutions, and if you ever get the chance to experience Eyefinity, I highly suggest it as trying it out will likely make you a believer. The Radeon 5800 series is not without its troubles though. Many [H]'ers understand that there are penalties for being early technology adopters, but we still expect our hardware issues to be addressed.

A few of our readers seem to think we have been intentionally avoiding some of these AMD issues but the honest fact of the matter is that we have felt that 5800 issues at the hands of AMD were getting taken care of. We see our HardForum posters being very vocal about these issues and we know from internal discussions that AMD is aware and working on those issues. The fact is though, when you guys are telling us we need to address a subject, we get in front of the mirror and ask ourselves the questions you put to us.

AMD has pulled up short in some of its commitments to us and we wanted to discuss these issues with our readers and hopefully give you some insight. The two main topics we are going to cover here are dongle problems with Eyefinity when used with three DVI panels and the "Gray Screen of Death" or GSOD problem.

Eyefinity Dongle Issues

UPDATED - 03/16/10: You CANNOT configure 3x1 Eyefinity with passive adapters with any 5000 series Radeon card. You can configure 2x1 Eyefinity with passive adapter with any 5000 series Radeon card because there are only two TMDS display controllers. (I don't really consider 2x1 "Eyefinity" but so be it.) Do not use passive adapters and expect 3x1 Eyefinity to work on any setup using a DVI display.

As we reported in September, AMD's ATI Eyefinity technology was designed to work primarily in a 3x1 display configuration using two DVI attached displays and a single DisplayPort (DP) display. However, it is possible to use three DVI panels if you have the right equipment. There is a list of available DP equipped displays in our AMD's ATI Eyefinity Technology Review if you are looking for a DP equipped display. AMD has recently published a list of "ATI Eyefinity Validated Dongles."

Validation is AMD's highest award of quality. Validated products undergo extensive synthetic and real-world testing to help ensure a good customer experience. Validated products include components, and software that are critical for an optimal experience with ATI Eyefinity Technology. For the best assurance of quality, interoperability and a positive user experience, choose a Validated product.

The current "dongle problem" is such. Some users have issues with the dongle-attached display blinking on and off. We tested with three 30" DVI panels back in October without issue. If you are one of the unlucky ones to have the problem here is some information about it.

The main cause of the issue seems to be USB powered dongles that are not getting enough power from its USB power source. This issue is covered in depth on AMD's Support pages.

The issue can be caused by, but is not limited to, one of the following conditions: The DisplayPort™ dongle’s USB power connector is connected to a USB connector that does not supply sufficient power (USB low power load) - A USB hub that does not have an external power connection is being used - A USB connection on a motherboard or a USB hub is used that does not support the high power load option for USB

AMD told us that it would have "validated" solutions to the market in February that would be sub-$30 for single link DP to DVI dongles and that has not happened yet. On the AMD support page that was recently posted, there are "validated" solutions, many of the same model adapters that we tested and many of our readers tested since last year; most are considerably expensive. The validated dongle solutions on that page likely have a different firmware flashed onto them than what the "validated" solution has. So do not assume that just because your dongle is listed, that it is "validated." ATI Eyefinity Validated Dongles only started shipping about 1 month ago. On that page you will see Firmware revisions noted and this is of the utmost importance.

If your dongle is more than a month old and you are having issues keeping your dongle-attached display working correctly, and have worked though the issues noted here, it is highly likely that you have a dongle that needs an updated firmware. Still many people using older firmware dongles do not see any issues.