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The basics of multiple displays

Posted By : of Data Doctors on February 25, 2002

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I have a Gateway computer and would like to add a video card so that I can connect and run three monitors at the same time. I download streaming stock market charts and want to be able to download three times as many.

- David

This question was answered on February 25, 2002. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

With the release of Windows 98, Microsoft introduced direct support for multiple displays (up to 9 or 10 depending on the version of Windows) on the same system This configuration has been available for CAD (Computer Aided Design) systems for many years and is becoming popular with today's day-traders, web developers, desktop publishers, heavy corporate e-mail

users or anyone that ?lives? in multiple programs on a daily basis.

This configuration is not to be confused with the ability to have two different users using two sets of keyboards and monitors from the same computer It is intended for a single user to be able to display multiple programs such as an e-mail program and a stock-tracking program or a word processor without having to minimize or switch between the programs.

In order to have multiple monitors on a single computer, you will need to add an additional video card Until you have seen how effective this configuration can be, it may sound a bit silly but it has proven to be very efficient for many users.

The variables that will determine success or failure of this configuration include your version of Windows, the type video card that you currently have and the number of displays that you want to use.

The highest chances for success will be on machines that run either Windows 98 or Windows XP and a single video card that has two connectors on it.

There are a number of different video card configurations that will work together, but if your computer has a built-in video card (one that is part of the motherboard), trying to get a second card to work with it is generally very difficult Your best bet is to disable the on-board video

card and get two identical name brand (very important for driver support!) video cards or one of the new dual head video cards.

Several video card manufacturers have developed video cards that have two or more connectors on a single card, which lowers your chances for driver conflicts Our favorite is the DualHead products from Matrox (

Windows ME, NT and 2000 can support the multiple monitor configuration, but getting it to work well has proven challenging in the past, unless you use a dual head card The main issue is getting drivers (software that controls the hardware) that support both your version of Windows and the video cards as well as getting them configured properly.

If you already have a good video card that is not part of the motherboard, stick to the identical card for the second display so that driver conflict issues are kept to a minimum.

As soon as you want to add a third display, both your costs and configuration difficulties increase, so if you can, keep it to two displays If not, Matrox makes a Quad display card that I would recommend instead of trying to get multiple cards configured.

You can learn more about multiple monitor support for your specific version of Windows by using the built-in help menu (in the Start menu) and searching for 'multiple monitors'.

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Posted by of Data Doctors on February 25, 2002

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