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Dual monitor: converting from single monitor - which video card?

Discussion in 'Matrox' started by Z Man, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. Z Man

    Z Man Guest

    I have three or four Dell systems I need to convert from single monitor to
    dual monitors. These are standard businesses systems running Excel and Word
    in an financial office environment, so we don't need a high performance
    solution. All the systems currently are running 17" CRT monitors, and I plan
    on purchasing 19" LCD monitors, which I can get in the mid-$200's.

    Management is very sensitive to computer expenditures. What is my least
    expense method of enabling dual LCD monitors? Should I replace the onboard
    video with a video card that supports two monitors? Should I add a second
    video card? Or, is there an adapter that will let me use two monitors with
    my current video card? I expect to purchase LCD monitors should have both
    analog and DVI inputs. Thanks for any advise or thoughts on this issue.
    Z Man, Apr 20, 2006
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  2. Z Man

    Tom Scales Guest

    Can't answer the question without knowing WHICH Dell computers. Depends on
    what card slots they have. Let us know more. You cannot run two monitors
    off a single port in the existing machines, but a cheap card will work.

    Tom Scales, Apr 20, 2006
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  3. Z Man

    James Guest

    You can get two cards or a single card designed to support two
    monitors. I would strongly urge the later and here is why.

    Most computers have a high speed slot for video - either AGP or PCI
    express. They have one slot not two. You can get PCI video cards but
    they are on a much slower bus and very slow. The AGP bus is either
    2x/4x/8x faster and PCI Express is a 16X faster bus.

    You also then have the challenge of two video drivers - in theory XP
    should handle this ok, but in practise, I can't help but think it slows
    things down.

    If you are running Dells that do not have a dedicated video adapter
    slot (AGP or PCI Express) then don't go there. There are dual monitor
    PCI cards (rare to find these days) but it will just be too slow.

    James, Apr 20, 2006
  4. Z Man

    Ian Guest

    Yes. Been ages since I had a single head card, by co-incidence. In fact,
    since I left sluggish PCI cards with no directX support, I never have. I
    never chose two heads on purpose, but it seems to be so very common. My
    first AGP card was in 1999, a Matrox G-400 with two heads. My Ti4200 had
    two DVI capable, and my current, albeit also ageing 9600 PRO also has two
    DVI capable. I would have thought, and this seems to be what you are
    saying, that the integration of two heads on one card brings the advantage
    of controlling two desktops and/or and extended desktop with one driver,
    and/or utility (Hydravsion, for example). And the full power of the AGP
    slot. But I don't know if it stresses the card?? I sometimes feel my
    Radeon gets too hot using the one output. I'm tempted soon to look at a
    second, for fun, but don't know if it'll meltdown if I don't ramp up the
    system cooling. I suppose if you game hard on one output you shut down
    the secondary? Something like that. If AGP 8x has more bandwidth than the
    card can use, does that compensate for carrying two streams from the
    driver? The mind boggles.

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    Ian, Apr 20, 2006
  5. That's nonsense. PCI is still more than fast enough for everything 2D
    and even moderate 3D work. Of course if gaming is a concern PCI is out
    of the run but for "real" work PCI is still a valid option.

    That's btw the reason why there still are professional PCI cards like
    the new PNY Quadro NVS 280 PCI (which replaced the Quadro NVS 200 PCI):


    For everything 2D there is absolutely _no_ performance difference
    between PCI and AGP.

    Benjamin Gawert, Apr 20, 2006
  6. Z Man

    Mangyrat Guest

    ok for what you want/need its easy to answer.

    disable the built in videa card and go with pci or agp matrox card like the
    G450 or any of the other matrox cards with 2 or 4 display suport.

    you cant use the built in video and a agp card at same time so to make it
    easy on your self and avoid problems just disable it.

    like you said you dont need a high end card just something to use for office
    app's so pick a card like a G450 with 32meg or more ram, they will have the
    best looking 2d display.
    Mangyrat, Apr 20, 2006
  7. Z Man

    Mangyrat Guest

    Z man you are going to get a lot of bull shit answer here so your best bet
    is go to a forum that is dedicated to multimonitors

    after you do some reading youl mostlikly end up getting a cheap pci matrox
    Mangyrat, Apr 20, 2006
  8. Z Man

    Enos Nivek Guest

    Gaming is "real" work. It takes more brains to figure out how to beat
    a strat game than how to use bold typeface in MS Office. ;-)
    Enos Nivek, Apr 20, 2006
  9. I'll second that.
    I use two systems with dual monitors, and I tried a number of dualhead
    cards - but nothing beats the Matrox for simplicity and reliability in
    the office.

    I'd consider the 450 to be the bottom line - I've had problem with the
    400 under XP.
    It's also a passively cooled card, so there's no extra fan noise to

    I doubt you'll need anything more for 2d work.

    Stephen Howard, Apr 21, 2006
  10. Z Man

    Z Man Guest

    I'm sure the G450 is suitable for my purposes, and I checked on Ebay and
    found that it is inexpensive. It is also available in both PCI and AGP
    versions. My Dell systems probably don't have AGP. However, the Matrox cards
    seem to have just VGA, and not DVI. Would I be better of getting a card with
    VGA and DVI, or perhaps dual DVI?
    Z Man, Apr 21, 2006
  11. DVI outputs might be the best bet - more likely to remain compatible
    in the long term, and you can buy adapters that convert a DVI out into
    a VGA out ( I don't know that you can convert a VGA out to a DVI ).
    That said, plenty of monitors still come with a vga input as well as a
    DVI - and as you mentioned the monitors you were thinking of buying
    have dual inputs you could save a few bob in the short-term by
    sticking with VGA.

    I think later versions of the G550 have DVI outputs - if you check out
    the Matrox site there's a useful comparison chart that lists each
    card's features.

    I should point out that, for best results, it's as well to use
    monitors that run at the same ( or very close ) screen resolutions.
    The Matrox card allows scaling ( where two monitors use different
    screen resolutions ) or zooming ( where the mouse cursor controls what
    part of the cloned screen you see ), but in practice I find this to be
    a less than satisfactory arrangement.

    Stephen Howard, Apr 21, 2006
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