Club 3D “SenseVision” MST Hub (DisplayPort Splitter)
When we first started seeing DisplayPort on desktop graphics cards, as well as being seen as a more cost effective alternative to HDMI, manufacturers were also singing the praises of its ability to be "daisy chained" so that multiple displays would run off one output. Since then we have seen a number of cards with high numbers of mini-DisplayPort outputs allowing multi-screen action but little seems to have been going on with running many displays from one connector.
One company who are now giving some focus to expanding their DisplayPort range are Club 3D. Their MST hub (Multi Stream Transport) allows us to run three displays from one DisplayPort connector which opens up a wide number of options for desktop and mobile users. Today we take a look at the MST to see how easy it is to use and what it can do.
Club 3D package the MST hub in a compact box with the product suspended in foam within. We get a small user guide with the hub as well as a compact PSU.
The MST hub has Club 3D branding on the top with blank sides and base. The front has a high shine surface and is the location for our three DisplayPort 1.2 outputs. These are compatible with active and passive adapters and are capable of running DisplayPort convertors (E.g. DP>DVI and DP>HDMI).
Round at the back we have a single DisplayPort connector as well as the power input… nice and simple. In terms of that DisplayPort input, it is also 1.2 spec which means we have 21.8Gbps of bandwidth (17.28Gbps video) with audio also supported. This is also a High Bit Rate 2 part which means it is fully compatible with AMDs 5000 series (HBR) and 6000/7000 series (HBR2). HDCP is also supported.
To set up the MST hub we have a couple of initial options, first we need to decide which port to use on our PC. That can be a DisplayPort or Mini-DisplayPort via a convertor. Club 3D also offer those and one is shown in the image above. Next we need to decide on the output and chances are that many of the screens plugged into this would be DVI based and as shown above there are a number of variations of DVI convertor out there. All worked on the MST hub so it is just a case of tracking down one (such as Club 3D’s white version in the centre) and plugging in.
With the displays connected our driver control panel should recognise that multiple displays have been added, even though they are on the same port. (In the example above there is actually a fourth, our laptop display as we were testing mini-DisplayPort and HDMI compatibility at the time.) We simply select the display configuration that we want, in our case 3×1 for a 5760×1080 desktop. Then choose the displays to form part of that group and then if needed get the software to reorgainse the layout. That’s it!
The Club 3D Sensevision MST hub is an interesting little device. It offers users the chance to expand their display set-up or solve some configuration issues without the need for a new system or GPU. That can mean adding more displays to a card which was made with minimal outputs (e.g. connecting 5 displays to a card which has DisplayPort, HDMI and DVI). Or it could mean working round limitations of laptops… in our case the laptop used to test had HDMI, mDP and VGA outputs. We connected HDMI, then two DVI screens via the hub and ran Eyefinity without issue or the need for older VGA tech. Even 3D was supported which was a nice bonus.
We also had success with NVIDIA and Intel (Haswell) hardware, allowing us to connect multiple displays to those components too… although they all acted as independent displays rather than one large 5760×1080 panel which our AMD hardware allowed (as well as independent).
Of course the success of the device depends on our GPU and DisplayPort output. For those with DisplayPort 1.1 hardware there will be resolution limits for example but anyone on a modern DP 1.2 output should be fine. No software is needed, we just plug in, run the GPU driver config and within a couple of minutes are up and running with multiple displays.