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Re: Dual screens on M2n-MX SE?

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      12-13-2009, 08:30 PM
Chemiker wrote:
> Am building a unit around the M2N-MX SE MoBo, and it has only one
> graphic/video out connection. I'd like to be able to see two different
> apps on separate screens. If I get a good PCI graphics card and
> install it in the PCI slot, will that give me dual-monitor capability?
> All my other cptrs (3) have dual graphic output native in the System.
> Asus was cagey about this question and said it *should* work PnP.
> (Implied was YMMV!)
> Alex (Chemiker)

Modern video cards have three connectors on the faceplate. The
GPU itself has two display channels internally. This applies to
the majority of stuff for sale today.

With the two display channels inside the GPU, you can drive two
different monitors from the faceplate of your new add-in video card.

Your motherboard has a "PCI Express" video card slot, with plenty
of bandwidth to run a new add-in video card. That is the slot you
want to use. While you could get a PCI card instead, that only
has 133MB/sec bandwidth to work with, and the PCI bus is shared
with other PCI cards. So using a PCI slot for video, is reserved
for those unlucky people who bought a Dell/HP/Gateway etc without
a higher speed slot. A lot of older machines shipped that way,
and the owners of those machines are shocked, when they find out
what the PCI slot gives them for video. What you want instead,
is to use a PCI Express slot.

Could you run one or two monitors from the bandwidth available
in a PCI slot ? Yes. And most of the time, it would perform
OK. You could do stock quotes for example, and it might not look
much different than when the video card is in a high performance slot.
But if a pixmap has to be dragged around the screen, and the software
API used isn't accelerated (QuickTime player does this), then the
PCI slot causes the resulting image to "stutter".

If you want, you should also be able to run one display from the
motherboard VGA, and a second display from one of the connectors
on your add-in video card. For example, on my computer, I've run
an ATI card and a Nvidia card at the same time, to drive two monitors.
I've also set up two Nvidia cards to drive four monitors (but only
an emulated test, because I don't own four monitors). I take a
screenshot with the PrintScrn key, to prove what the output would
look like, if I could see it :-) Doing that test requires some
"terminator resistor" video monitor connectors - the connector
contains some resistors that fool the video card into thinking
a monitor is connected. By doing that, I can connect one real
monitor and three fake monitors, to do some clone or extended
desktop testing. I've uncovered some strange bugs that way,
such as the two cards deciding to switch roles (left hand monitors
become right hand monitors and vice versa).

Anyway, the graphics setup now is pretty flexible. Most of the time,
at least two monitors supported by one add-in video card. Motherboard
built-in graphics support one or two monitors depending on the design.

Back in AGP slot days, when a motherboard had built-in graphics, the
majority of those would disable the built-in, as soon as an AGP video
card was installed. There is less of that now, so if you wanted to
run three monitors, you could run one off the motherboard VGA
connector, and two monitors from the add-in video card. The motherboard
VGA would not get disabled, not like the AGP days.

You're right to ask careful questions of the manufacturer, when it
comes to video connectors. Some motherboards can have three or four
video connectors on them (built-in), but there can be interactions
between them, that tell you the connectors are not independent.
Like finding an HDMI and a DVI. The signals driving the two connectors
might be the same signals, meaning there is only display information
for a single monitor available. In cases where the motherboard has
two or more connectors, you need to check

1) The user manual. Sometimes they're honest about the relationship
of the connectors.

2) Newegg product review, because a recent buyer may have tested it
and written a scathing review.

3) forums, as they can also contain warnings about
video combos that did not meet expectations.

(I can't reach this site right now. Use this link later, then set
the "model" pulldown menu to M2N-MX SE. I could change the model number
field in the link here, but I like to test a URL before I post it.)

In summary, get a PCI Express card if you can. Put your two monitors
on that. Or get a PCI card, if that is the only option you have
available (say you're using the PCI Express for a RAID card).
There are even USB video devices, with either a VGA or a DVI-D
connector. Again, a bandwidth constrained solution, and only
really good enough for stock quotes. You wouldn't expect to pump
full screen video playback through such a USB solution and have it
pixel perfect and tear free.

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