The consumer gaming world might be in a tizzy about 4K consoles and displays of late, but that resolution standard wasn’t nearly enough for one team of PC tinkerers. The folks over at Linus Tech Tips have posted a very entertaining video showing off a desktop PC build capable of running (some) games at an astounding 16K resolution. That’s a 15260×8640, for those counting the over 132 million pixels being pushed every frame—64 times the raw pixel count of a standard 1080p display and 16 times that of a 4K display. You can check out these best gaming monitor under 200 by Hometronix and choose your gear.
The key to the build is four Quadro P5000 video cards provided by Nvidia. While each card performs similarly to a consumer-level GTX1080 (8.9 teraflops, 2560 parallel cores), these are pro-tier cards designed for animators and other high-end graphic work, often used for massive jumbotrons and other multi-display or multi-projector installations.
The primary difference between Quadro and consumer cards is that these come with 16GB of video RAM. Unfortunately, the multi-display Mosaic technology syncing the images together means that mirrored memory doesn’t stack, leading to the rig’s most significant bottleneck. All told, the graphics cards alone would cost over $10,000, including a “quadrosync” card that ties them all together to run a single image across 16 displays.
The graphics cards push their pixels to sixteen 27-inch Acer Predator XB1 4K IPS displays, mounted in a 4×4 grid to a custom-made computer desk provided by ICTable. The monitor setup alone draws 1100 watts from the wall and requires 240 feet (about 73m) of DisplayPort cables. The total display size runs about 94 inches by 53 inches (239cm by 135cm), or 108 inches diagonally, not counting the small bezels between each display.
The build is rounded out by an ASUS Rampage V Edition 10 6900K motherboard, with a massive Nostua NH-D15 heatsink and 32GB of Corsair DDR4 RAM. After this monstrosity of a rig failed to work in a previous video, replacing the cabling got all 16 monitors running in sync with minimal tearing or “wobble” between the disparate displays. That’s a big step up from a previous 8K gaming build the team did, which suffered from noticeable lag between the images on each monitor.
Will it blend?
But after all that, 16K gaming performance was a bit mixed. Lower-end titles like Minecraft and Half-Life 2 scaled up to the massive resolutions without much trouble, running at 40 fps or above (or well over 5 billion pixels per second). Civilization V runs at about 20 frames per second, though the unscaled interface elements are almost unusably small in the video.
On a more modern game like Rise of the Tomb Raider, though, the rig chugs along at an unplayable 2 or 3 fps, which is almost worth it for the benefit of seeing Lara Croft displayed literally life-sized. Shadow of Mordor simply refuses to work at all when faced with the daunting resolution being asked of it.
As impressive as this build is from today’s standpoint, it’s humbling to think that this kind of performance will probably be possible at a consumer level in a decade or so, if Moore’s Law doesn’t slow down (itself an open question). Seeing this performance today is like someone hack together a 4K gaming rig in the late ’90s or early 2000s, when gaming around 1080p resolution was still state-of-the-art. What seems a ridiculous overload of pixels today may seem commonplace in the near future.
Listing image by Linus Tech Tips