Building a computer with 6 monitors [edited title]

I managed to find an amazing deal on a set of 50" DLP video wall “cubes” removed from a from a government installation. There were 12 in the set, but some had burn-in and other problems, and I’ve managed to produce a good solid set of 6. They are 4:3 aspect ratio sets with a native resolution of 800 x 600 and they never had a display controller - each was only ever used with composite video from traffic camera monitoring.

So, I need to find a set of three video cards each with dual VGA outputs to make a display two sets high by three wide. Each card is only going to be driving 800 x 600, so the cheapest card made will have more than enough horsepower - we’re not going to game on this. The wall will be used for a composite video input, HD tuner input and DVD playback.

I want to avoid buying more than one set of cards if I can. I’m thinking one AGP and two PCI in an older computer, or 3 PCIe cards in a newer one.

So, any Dopers done this before, and do you have a recipe that works?

Not one response? I guess I had too specific a subject line. I guess I should have posted it as “Building a computer to drive 6 monitors”. Because that is all it is.

I’ll change it for you.

You can do 6 way eyefinity on one card. It’s probably a high end card feature though - I’m guessing no low end cards have 6 ports - but it’s a simpler option.

Eyefinity requires digital inputs on the monitors, so you’d still need some kind of digital-to-analog converter.

I think a couple of these would probably do the trick.

Huh? What?
Oh…never mind…thought I heard my name.

Thank you.

I looked at those, but they seem like over-kill. As I said, each monitor is only 800 x 600. The total resolution of the display is 2400 by 1200 - barely above HD. I’d much rather use 3 $50 dual output cards than one $500 six output card. This computer is not going to be used for anything other than driving this display, so free slots are not an issue. If it has one more card, it will be an HD tuner/video input but I could get by with a USB one. So, for the minimal bandwidth (6 800x600 at 60hz) one AGP plus two PCI might do it. 3 PCIe cards would definitely do it, but that gets me into a much more expensive range of base computer.

What about those inexpensive USB to VGA devices? I’ve always wondered how well they work. It sounds to me like for 800x600, these doodads might be the ticket.

One or two, but I doubt that six USB to VGA converters would be able to handle outputting video in real time. These six displays are in an array two high by three wide, edges touching to form one huge display. Any delay in updating any one would look weird, which was why I was looking at video cards.

This may be a completely idiotic/irrelevant reply.

My computer guy built my desktop machine a few years ago with two dual video cards (nVidia GeForce 8600 GT) at my request, as I wanted to be able to expand to four monitors. I now have my four monitors and they are running fine. Four 22" widescreens, two of them rotated to portrait mode.

Only catch is the cards have DVI output. I know that in the past I ran at least one monitor with a DVI/VGA adapter, but I doubt that’s either practical or desirable.

And that is pretty much the extent of my technical knowledge of the subject. Wish I could be more helpful. Your prospective setup sounds pretty cool.

Actually, it is relevant. GeForce cards are cheap. Do you know what sort of bus your computer has? AGP with PCI, or PCIe?

Well, I’m honestly ignorant about most video hardware-related things. But what exactly is the bottleneck here? Each of the USB devices has its own little GPU I believe, so they each can contribute their share of graphics processing horsepower.

So is the problem the bandwidth on the USB controller? How much would be required exactly, to drive one 800x600? I honestly don’t know.

What you just said? I heard “argle bargle google goo.” No idea. Is there someplace I could look that up? Device Manager or someplace?

Sadly, the Windows Device Manager doesn’t reveal that much hardware detail.

To follow up:

I wound up using Nvidia cards, one AGP and two PCI. I’ve managed to fire up all six monitors, and am trying various programs that will let me stretch one image across all six. Ultramon looks like what I’ll go with.