Tech Reviews

Accell’s latest Ultra AV DisplayPort offers an easy multi-display solution

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I have a three monitor setup at home and let me be the first to say that it’s a lifesaver. From doing my taxes to editing photos in Lightroom, having three displays allows me to multitask like a boss. Honestly, I could probably never go back to one monitor again.

My current setup involves three monitors plugged into the back of my GTX 780ti GPU via a combination of HDMI and DVI ports. Since I’m running three cheaper Dell monitors, quality isn’t too much of a concern to me with this particular build, and as long as I get a nice clear image I’m ok using this multiport setup. For the most part, I keep things separate on each monitor; unless I’m playing something like a sim racer. I normally don’t like to stretch a single image across three displays in most situations. One of the issues however, rises from the fact that each monitor requires its own cable, and each monitor will take up an available port on my GPU. At this rate I’m eventually going to run out of ports, and I’m not going to lie, I have had visions of a six monitor setup in the near future.

With DisplayPort I can use one DisplayPort port, and use Accell’s Ultra AV DisplayPort 1.2 Multi-Display MST to chain three monitors into one connection. DisplayPort is able to do this because it can send independent video and audio streams to each monitor, freeing up the other HDMI and DVI ports on my build. This would help me achieve my dream of a six-monitor setup with ease. From a user standpoint, I don’t really notice that much of a difference between DisplayPort and HDMI/DVI in everyday use. From where I’m sitting, everything still works pretty much the same. There are benefits to DisplayPort over other types of connections, though I won’t really go into them in any great detail here. Different connections can affect higher resolutions, multiple display via one input, obtaining a faster screen refresh rates and more. Mostly, using the Accell adapter clears up the space behind my GPU and frees up a number of ports. It’s just nice knowing that I’ll have the option to add more devices when the time comes.

The Accell adapter supports up to three monitors independently up to 2560×1600 @60Hz. As with other multiple monitor setups, the adapter allows you to stretch a single display across all three monitor,s or use each screen for a separate application. I can use one Accell adapter to power three displays and the remaining connections for another three monitors. I could also take things even further by getting a second Accell adapter, creating a six monitor video wall using the two MST hubs, and having even more free HDMI/DVI ports for when I REALLY want to go nuts with my displays.

The adapter is small enough to not really take up any significant space behind my tower, though it does require a power outlet to function. Which is something that I was disappointed to see, but that is really the only complaint I have about the adapter. It’s nice that I can clean up the space behind my PC a bit, but now I have an additional outlet cable stretching out in the opposite direction. This creates a spider web of cables that I’ll have to fix, so it’s basically a “one step forward, two steps back” scenario of cable management. It’s the end of the world, I’ve seen the alternative and it could be much worse.

While using DisplayPort, you can also use an adapter to work in conjunction with DVI and HDMI. Accell warns that some systems run into compatibility issues when using DVI/HDMI adapters, so proceed at your own risk and use the website as a guide. Also keep in mind that the number of displays the Accell adapter can support at any one time is completely based off what your graphics card can handle. Be sure to double check what your GPU can do before proceeding with a certain amount of displays. If you are looking into how this setup works, there is a walkthrough video on the company’s YouTube Page, which you can watch below.

The final thing to consider is the price. The Accell adapter will run you about $99.99 from Accell’s site or on Amazon.com. You have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it to pay $100 to run multiple monitors via this DisplayPort hub, or if you’re better off snagging three HDMI cables for a quarter of the price. Yes, there definitely are benefits to using the hub, and I personally will make use of it, but keep in mind exactly what you’re using it for and what your plans are.