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Graphics Advice requested: minimum GPU for twin projectors

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Tuthmose, 27 Jul 2016.

  1. Tuthmose

    Tuthmose Member

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    Hey all,

    I could use a bit of advice here.

    I’m a high-school history teacher. School budgets being what they are – nonexistent – I’m trying to update my classroom setup on my own dime. I could use some advice on a budget-but-capable GPU.

    Backstory: I hate mixing text and images in a slideshow; it doesn’t work well educationally at all. So I run twin screens. A projector off an old laptop for images/slideshows, and a late 1990s overhead projector with note outlines. That way I can bounce back and forth: a line of notes, then over to supporting images/graphics/eyecandy, then back to notes, etc. It works pretty well, but I’m really limited by that geriatric overhead projector and its friggin’ transparencies.

    So, I’m cobbling together a dedicated desktop HTPC-ish box using an old i3 board to replace the whole mess. I am going replaced the outdated overhead with a second projector (looking on fleabay for a used one as we speak). I will obviously need a GPU that is capable of powering BOTH 1080p projectors simultaneous. Mostly it will be twin PPTs – one with notes, one with images. Occasionally the "images" projector will show video/film instead.

    Since I’ve got to buy all of this crap out of my own not-so-deep pockets, I’d like to spend as little as possible to get the job done. I know what I need for gaming GPUs, but I’m out of my element here. Last-gen GPU suggestion would be just fine, since I can find 'em used for cheaper. Will a 750ti fit the bill? An AMD 270? Do I need something more modern? 2GB of RAM, or do I need to look for 4GB? I’m trying not to spend for overkill, but underkill would be disastrous.

    TL;DR – what’s the minimum GPU, last-gen or current, that will comfortably *simultaneously* drive two 1080p projectors, mostly using PPT but occasionally showing a film on one of them with a PPT on the other?

    Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions!
     
  2. dec

    dec [blank space]

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    The graphics that comes integrated with recent intel i3 and i5 processors is more than enough assuming the motherboard has enough display outputs. In case the motherboard does not have more than one display output then literally any discrete graphics card within the last few years is enough.

    I recently bought a Geforce GT 710 for an office computer and its connected to two 1680x1050 monitors. The only reason I bought it is because the cpu does not have an integrated graphics processor. If you have to buy a discrete graphics card spend as little as possible (under $30USD) and it does not matter if you use an amd or nvidia card. Its fine if its old. I was using a Geforce from 2003 to enjoy multiple displays a few years ago.
     
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  3. Tuthmose

    Tuthmose Member

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    Thank you, Dec - I appreciate the advice!

    Do you ever play HD video on either of those monitors? That's what I'm most concerned about; PPT's (even animated ones) have little overhead, but I will occasionally be playing an HD video clip on #1 with the PPT notes running on #2.

    I'm going to be buying PowerShow as a shell program to juggle the simultaneous PPTs with a remote (since multiple instances of that clunker don't like to share focus, and I don't want to have to keep walking over to the PC to switch them). I'm not at all sure if that will add to my overhead needs. I hope nothing, but I'm hedging my bets. . .
     
  4. wolfticket

    wolfticket Downwind from the bloodhounds

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    As above really regarding power.

    If your using it for simple 2D stuff the number of outputs is the main limitation, not the power of the GPU. I often run 3 1080p monitors (built in + 2 external) off an pretty feeble integrated mobile GPU and it's absolute fine even running HD Youtube on one of them while working on the others.

    Compared with gaming outputting a 2D display is basically idling as far as any modern GPU is concerned and even 1080p video is not going to make it break into a jog.

    If the budget is really tight and the motherboard has VGA and DVI/HDMI outputs I'd give that a go before spending money on a GPU.
     
  5. Tuthmose

    Tuthmose Member

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    Awesome - thank you both!

    The cpu/board combo I've got lying around that will be the guts of this thing has no integrated video, so a separate card is a must, sadly. But it looks like I can go dirt cheap on that, which will really help. The projector is gonna kick my wallet enough as it is (since in their infinite wisdom, the school board built a new building which not only has no technological infrastructure, but is equipped with translucent blinds so you can't really get the room dark, necessitating 3000 lumens if you are gonna get any decent image. I work for idiots.)
     
  6. dec

    dec [blank space]

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    Youre welcome. Yes I have played video well above 1920x1080 resolution with no problems. If you are allowed to hang things on the walls I bet you can pick up some curtain rods and black fabric which may be worth less than the difference of projector prices.
     
  7. Tuthmose

    Tuthmose Member

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    Haha - don't think I haven't considered it. The local fire marshall, however, represents a Final Boss Battle I can't win. I am still trying to figure out a way to darken those shades in a way which won't be obvious or result in the risk of fiery death, but so far nothing obvious presents itself. Probably easier just to eat the cost of a brighter projector . . .
     
  8. Goatee

    Goatee Well-Known Member

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    Tinfoil the windows for a temporary blackout on sunny or hot days (or when travelling / on holiday). Just spray the glass with water and just press it right on. Just pull off and wipe the window with a glass wipe after you have finished.

    We tend to pick up a few rolls after x-mas of the extra wide stuff used for Turkeys as its normally reduced with seasonal branding.
     

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