Microsoft sets up three 4K PC monitors for 1,492,992,000 pixels of gaming

4K monitors are the new hot thing for PC owners to get, even if they are still highly expensive. Earlier this month we reported that the new PQ321Q 31.4 inch monitor from Asus could run 207 instances of Minesweeper inside its top resolution of 3840x2160. This week, Microsoft decided to have some fun in creating a PC rig designed to run three 4K monitors linked to form one large display via AMD's Eyefinity technology.

As described on the Extreme Windows blog, Microsoft got to play with three Sharp PN-K321 32-inch 4K monitors (on loan, unfortunately), each with a resolution of 3840x2160. They also cost close to $5,000 each. AMD brought in an ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II graphics card to put in the PC rig that has six monitor ports (four DisplayPorts and two DVI ports).

After playing the recent Codemasters racing game Dirt 3 on Windows 8 on all three screens at 30 Hz and one screen at 60 Hz with some success, Microsoft decided to go all out and run the game at 60 Hz on all three monitors running as one display. AMD actually created a custom driver package for the rig and added two more graphics cards and a custom power system (needless to say, the blog insists that people reading the article not try this at home).

The final result was that they were able to run Dirt 3 on this $17,000 custom PC at around 62 to 67 FPS on all three Sharp 4K monitors at 60 Hz with all settings on “High” except for shadow detail and particles. That's a total display resolution of 11520x2160 with a whopping 1,492,992,000 pixels running. The catch? The PC rig was only able to run for a few minutes before it reset because the PSU was getting too much power.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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waste of time, resources, and money if you ask me, honestly I think 1080p is just fine and dandy, I dont think a movie could possibly get any more clear, and whats the point of 4k gaming? I mean does anyone REALLY need that high of resolution? I honestly think retina is a gimmick as well, resolution that high on a screen that small is pointless

what a fail video. Monitors have 1" gap between them, plus 3/4-1" bezel...hardly seemless, and would seem really distracting. Monitors are nice but those gaps are annoying.

Pretty sure 4K doesn't make any perceivable difference for the two side monitors in that game, given that all they display is a fast moving blur and they're not going to be looked at directly. Still, it's an amazing achievement to drive that many pixels at that framerate on commodity (albeit expensive) hardware.

Show me a 120hz Lightboost 4K monitor under 1000$ and I'll be happy.

They spent $17000 on the computer and opt to use a 750 Watt PSU to power 3 7970s...

So it wasn't just the fact the the system was drawing too much power. They just underestimated the power requirement needed to power 3 7970s to power those monitors at that resolution.

Interesting that its 17k. I guess it's really 5k for the system and 12k for the monitors.

CPU sandy extreme 6 core 1k. 3x 7970. $1000. Psu. Ud prob have 2 decent ones that 1 monster. In any event a 1200ax or 1500 would be enough. Ram. Ssd. Ect.

Would this work just as well with Win7 as with Win8?

So disappointing that he didn't show us how many Metro (or so-called and misnamed "modern") apps he could display at once on those rigs.

Why? They're only showing one app here. However you should be able to display 12 Modern apps on those three screens, which isn't an insignificant number I think.

"the PSU was getting too much power" - huh? You mean too much current was being drawn (by the system) for the PSU to handle right?

By comparison, the iPad Retina displays resolution is 2048x1536.

I would also like to add that there probably wouldn't have been a difference on a Windows 7 setup...

Edited by 68k, Jul 26 2013, 1:09pm :

68k said,

By comparison, the iPad Retina displays resolution is 2048x1536.

displaying many pixels is not what is causing so much power usage.

but doing a complex render of 24 million pixels for each frame, 60 times per second, is the reason the 3 GPU are consuming so much power.

you can't compare the power usage with the iPad which has less GPU performance than a 2005 gaming PC.
cutting edge PC GPUs are not exactly energy efficient, but they are able to produce much more complex and detailed renders than embedded GPUs.

that's a total display resolution of 11520x2160 with a whopping 1,492,992,000 pixels running

wrong calculation

from the original article:

This setup is the equivalent of 12 1920x1080 displays, that's a total of 24,883,200 pixels

Phouchg said,
Blame Microsoft. They've been fudging numbers so much lately that even their source mentions 1.5 billion pixels this time

there is no mistake in the original article.

they're talking about 1.5 billion pixels displayed per second (because there is 60 frames displayed each second). NOT a 1.5 billion pixels resolution.

"Rendered pixels per second = 11,520 x 2,160 x 60 Hz = 1,492,992,000"

Phouchg said,
Blame Microsoft. They've been fudging numbers so much lately that even their source mentions 1.5 billion pixels this time

They're probably getting confused with how many billion pixels their cloud servers are going to enhance their Xbox One graphics in games when you play them on your Windows Phone.

sagum said,

They're probably getting confused with how many billion pixels their cloud servers are going to enhance their Xbox One graphics in games when you play them on your Windows Phone.

the confusion comes from Neowin. The original MS article is crystal clear on the numbers.

as to your comment about the xbox one cloud, it is not designed to offload GPU rendering. It's just about enabling more complex gameplay data to be processed.

U could just as easily do the same billion pixels with 3x30" monitors running at a higher fps ........ Though if need 120mhz versions not 60mhz ones

link8506 said,

the confusion comes from Neowin. The original MS article is crystal clear on the numbers.

as to your comment about the xbox one cloud, it is not designed to offload GPU rendering. It's just about enabling more complex gameplay data to be processed.

I thought they had enabled a direct route for compressed cloud data to be decompressed on-the-fly and placed in the GPU memory? Id think gameplay/physics would be helpful for the CPU not GPU.

T1OOO said,
U could just as easily do the same billion pixels with 3x30" monitors running at a higher fps ........ Though if need 120mhz versions not 60mhz ones

milli Hertz?, Mega Hertz?
I think you mean Hz

T1OOO said,
U could just as easily do the same billion pixels with 3x30" monitors running at a higher fps ........ Though if need 120mhz versions not 60mhz ones
Except 60Hz is a pretty standard level. The point was that it could effectively render at 60 FPS.

Phouchg said,
My bad. Now it's not a mistake, now it's simply 5.375 trillion pixels per hour.

Imperial or SI trillions?
the confusion continues...
;-)

60FPS for 17K... damn.
I'll consider in 5-8 years when the monitors are £150-200, and 8K is on the horizon.

Sounds ludicrous now, but so did 60FPS at 1080p just a few years ago, unless you had a couple of top end Graphics cards to play with. Now most mainstream Graphics cards can handle that with relative ease, even on newer titles.

Given that Graphics cards roughly double in power every 18 months, then something like this shouldn't actually be that hard to do in just a couple of years time. As you say though, the real killer is the monitors, the actual system required for this was only 2k if my figures are correct.

Torolol said,
i've seen arcade racing game using 3 monitor with its 80s graphics ...

The point here isn't about the three monitors, its the fact its running 3 4K monitors, each running at 3840x2160 resolution. My laptop has a max resolution of 1920 x 1080 which looks beautiful, but this is effectively twice as beautiful!

skiver said,
My laptop has a max resolution of 1920 x 1080 which looks beautiful, but this is effectively twice as beautiful!

You mean four times as beautiful. It would take four 1080p monitors to have the same amount of pixels as a single 4k monitor:

http://goo.gl/irFwKa

skiver said,

The point here isn't about the three monitors, its the fact its running 3 4K monitors, each running at 3840x2160 resolution. My laptop has a max resolution of 1920 x 1080 which looks beautiful, but this is effectively twice as beautiful!

4 times.