Fanless triple-headed graphics card

Calling all geeks.
I built my last two PCs with Matrox G450 & G550 Millenium graphics cards mainly because they we stable and silent. They can’t run Aero and all that fancy jazz but really don’t care about that. But now I want to add a third monitor (for use in an adjacent room by banging a hole in the wall) and it will need to support 1920 x 1200 where my current card is maxed out on 2 x 1280 x 1028.

Condition 1. It must be silent.
Condition 2. It must have at least three outputs: 2 x either D-Sub or DVI (although if I understand correctly, HDMI can go into DVI with the right cable); and one other, preferably HDMI since it’s a small plug and easier to poke through a wall.

So what are people with similar requirements using? After some digging around I came up with this monstrosity (PowerColor Go! Green HD5750 1GB GDDR5 to save you clicking the link). Seems to fit the bill and to be quite good on power. Looks a bit over-engineered for my purposes though. Is there a simpler solution? I suppose I could just add a second Matrox.

You should be able to just buy a 2DVI 1HDMI card and combine the 3 outputs. There are more than enough regular videocards that do this. (AMD/Nvidia).
Seeing as you won’t be doing much intensive work videowise, you should be allright using a fairly low-specced card which would keep the noise down.

edit: example

Thanks for that. It’s the fanless condition that seems to restrict the options. I went to some effort to keep the noise down when building my system so I’m going to stick to my guns on that approach. Of course it’s possible that the graphics card heat sink would require increasing the chassis fans which would defeat the object. The current system ran happily through two summers in an unventilated cupboard. Maybe I’m not pushing it hard enough.

Thanks. That would certainly do. Somehow before, all my searches yielded gaming cards that resembled small space craft. It’s blooming expensive though. But it got me on a new search path. There’s a similar offering from Matrox: M9140 at a similar price.

I guess the most cost effective option for me would be to install a second card but I’m wondering whether there’d be a performance hit, even on PCI-Express.

The Matrox handles 4x1920x1200 DVI, whereas the nVidia handles 4x2560x1600 DisplayPort.

Video cards run cooler with less pixels, so while both will work for you, the nVidia may run cooler because it won’t be pushed as hard as it can go to.

However, unless all your monitors are late models with DisplayPorts, the Matrox with its DVI ports may well be better for you, though you then cannot go to the 27" (2560x1440) or 30" (2560x1600) Dell monitors.

In Australia, the nVidia is 2/3 the price of the Matrox.

Note that while many cards have three output connectors, most only support using any TWO of them, just like the three cards in my system.

I have a dedicated 120mm fan for them, and it has the most work to do in the system. There is no such thing as a ‘free’ lunch! I can still use Cubase down to 1ms at 96ksps without the videos creating problems.

Many thanks Patanjali
Several good points there. I’m finding it surprisingly un-straight forward.

Regarding the DisplayPort outputs, there are adapter cables to connect them to DVI so hopefully all port types would be viable. I currently have two DVI monitors and haven’t bought the third yet.

The issue of how many of the physical ports can actually be used simulanteously seems to be another minefield. It had already occured to me and it’s quite difficult to get the true story from the specifications.

I came across the ATI FirePro™ 2460 this morning which looks great on paper. Four DisplayPorts, very low power usage and can be had for less that £200 (UK). Many of the reviews are by day traders and financial types but I wonder if Cubase is any more graphically demanding than their applications. The hardest I’d push it would be to watch the occasional DVD (but not while doing anything else). There was also a question about making it work with three monitors in XP which I’d have to get to the bottom of first.

Then again I can’t see any reason why this shouldn’t be just fine: ASUS EAH6450. I’m currently using one monitor on DVI and one on analog. It’s just that £43 isn’t reassuringly expensive enough.

You’d have to check if all outputs are available at the same time. On some cards using HDMI will disable the DVI port.

Hi guys,
I would like to continue on that topic and see if I could get some advice as well. I have a 4 year old video card that is NOT fanless and make as much noise as an airbus 320 engine and that is a pain…
I would like to upgrade from dual monitor to triple monitor, I have just realise that you shouldn’t run 3 monitor of the same video card, what would be the best cards to get knowing that the only requirement is to have 0 noise and a low price (not bothered about games or video… music only…)
Thank you

mother board _ MSI MS7360 with 1 off PCI express x16 free and 2 off PCI express x1 free
intel core 2 quad Q6600
2 off 19" monitor
1 off 24" monitor

EMU1212M soundcard

Cubase 6

there are NO 3 head at once that are affordable.
the Matrox M9138 is one of the few
the other option is 2 x cheap cards like Zotac 210 but this has a lot of issues
the nVidia NVS450 has cable issses and is a nightmare

Thanks for your response JCschild, as you say, these are not ideal options. Looks like the VGA market is a bit of a minefield. I probably need to go with fanless cards for noise reduction. Would it be better to get:

  • a 2 ports VGA for the PCI express(x16) and a standard 1 port VGA for 1 of the PCI express(x1)
  • 3 different card with 1 port [1 for PCI express (x16), 2 for PCI express (x1)]

    Windows 7 - 64 bit
    mother board _ MSI MS7360 with 1 off PCI express x16 free and 2 off PCI express x1 free
    intel core 2 quad Q6600
    2 off 19" monitor
    1 off 24" monitor

EMU1212M soundcard

Cubase 6

Use multiple dual-port cards from the same manufacturer.
Since DAWs don’t need to use high-speed graphics (not of the calibre of games anyway), any non-prime, sub $100 dual port cards will do.

I have three cards, all fanless, and two of them are Geforce 8600GT (circa 2006) and one Geforce 9400 (circa 2009).

While fanless cards are better, they still need to be force cooled, but at least one, slow, quiet 120mm fan over several cards is better than a small whiner on each. Note that the more pixels displayed, the hotter cards wil get, so spread the load over all cards as much as possible. That is, if using three monitors, put the largest pixel display on its own card, and the other two on the other card.

I have absolutely no issues, running 3 displays from a single fanless ATI 5770 ( Gigabyte )
It’s not very expensive either ( about 130,- EUR ).
There’s also the silent ATI 5750 from PowerColor, for something like 90,- EUR.

bye, Jan


Those cards look interesting. They appear to be able to handle three 2650x1600 displays, which means I could use two of them instead of the three cards I have now, except:

  • they take up two slots each, and

  • are rated at 450W each (worst case, though I wonder how they can get rid of all that power, beside needing a 1kW supply for themselves).

If I had two of those, it would require a huge fan to get that heat out of the case, and NEVER need a heater for the room. Makes the 35W of the NVS450 appear like it would create ice on its fins.

Hi Pantanjali,

The 450 watt, mentioned on the PowerColor side, is the recommended power supply (PSU) !

Tests of the PowerColor GoGreen 5750, show something like 70 W, with full power 3D usage.
2D is around 30W.
It doesn’t even need an extra power connection.

My 5770 ( around 90 W max ) stays under 53°C,
with a single 120 case fan (runnning at very low 700 rpm ).
The 5770 is very big though. Wouldn’t recommend it for a 2 card system.



What a confusing spec! Power usage had to be a lot less for any hope of it to be fanless.

Yes, promising up until I saw the width.