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Tobii Studio Tip – Dual Head Graphics Cards & Tobii Studio January 6, 2010

Posted by Jon Ward in Studio, Technology, Tobii.

Just a quick blog post to clarify the minimum requirements and a couple of common questions we get at Acuity about graphics card set-up for Tobii Studio when using the local live viewer set-up.

Firstly – the minimum spec for the graphics card, as per Tobii’s latest document is a dual head card with a minimum of 256mb of graphic memory, preferably Nvidia cards – as these are the units used for product testing. As the Tobii T series units have both DVI or VGA inputs you can go for either option as suits you. DVI monitors have a faster refresh rate usually so for academic research requiring the lowest possible latency we would recommend DVI monitors. If you are using an ATI graphics card there are some known issues where an ATI application runs in the background – a sort of control panel piece of software – and this can cause latency issues, if this is the case stop the application and away you go. Also be aware of in-built graphics cards on laptops as these don’t tend to be powerful enough and the memory is only shared ‘virtual graphics’ memory and can cause issues. Our personal opinion is to go for a 512mb graphics card wherever possible.

Secondly – when setting up a test, we usually use the eye tracker monitor as the primary monitor, you don’t need to as within the latest versions of Studio you can quickly alter which screen is used for the stimuli presentation – however when doing web testing you may find that pop-ups appear on the wrong monitor, as they are hard coded to appear on the primary screen. Very confusing when the moderator screen suddenly gets a pop window to work with and your participant wonders what is going on!

Third tip, and one most people know – is when setting your displays up, offset the screens to eliminate – as much as possible – the mouse travelling from the participants screen, to the moderators. Using the Windows properties screen adjust your screens as shown below…

And finally, the last tip applies to people that have a desktop PC that may have a VGA monitor output built into their motherboard (usually easily identified as it is situated next to audio / keyboard ports when viewed from behind) and a secondary DVI graphics card in one of the expansion slots. This is not a true dual graphics card set-up and although it will work you won’t have the option of changing the monitor outputs to make the primary output the one you desire and therefore you may get pop-up issues as detailed above. The options to fix this are, get a true dual head DVI or VGA card and put that into the expansion slot instead or get an additional VGA card to replace the DVI card – and therefore both outputs are on the same format and this should sort the problem!

Hope these tips were of use, as always any questions please email me at jon@acuity-ets.com.


1. Guy Redwood - January 6, 2010

The nvidia cards we’ve used will only allow you to change the location of the multiple monitors if you use vga (with an adapter) on one port and dvi on the other. If the cables were the same type, we only got ‘span’ mode.

We’ve just discovered that some of the modern laptops will let you drive two external monitors if you use the hdmi port and vga port. Our Dell XPS1330 allows this.

We prefer having the secondary monitor on the left, below the primary monitor. Drag the toolbar from the primary display across to the secondary display. Set the stimulus to appear on the primary screen. If you try running the secondary screen on the right, we find the user’s mouse will stray onto the observer’s screen when they try to use the right hand bottom scroll button in their browser, or when they go to close the browser window.

Final thing we’ve found is that you need to run both screens at 32bit colour, otherwise playback on the secondary screen is slow on some setups.


Jon Ward - January 6, 2010

Hi Guy, thanks for the feedback as always… Strange to hear your experience with the Nvidia cards – we use them on all our machines and don’t have this issue? Maybe a quirk we all need to look out for? With regards to the location of the primary / secondary – we take on board yor point, I think there are two camps of thought on this one and it can be task dependant, or related to the type of testing. As not every test is browse based (or indeed full screen browser based) there may be requirements for the participant to access the start bar menu, in which case the screen is better located as in te diagram. However the illustration is more to show the layout of the two screens diagonally (and at 7am on a freezing cold Preston train platform it was the only image I had!) but I will do a follow up post to clarify this, and maybe show the steps on how to actually get to this stage…

With regards to the 32bit settings, it is recommended that both screens are run at the same colour depth (i.e. both at 16bit or both at 32bit) although if your graphics card is up to the minimum spec then you should be able to run both in 32bit without an issue.

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