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  1. #1
    2 Star Lounger
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    Jan 2001
    Boston suburb (Acton), Massachusetts, USA
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    BIG desktop = dual monitors = what video card supports?

    I want to run a wide desktop screen and stretch an Excel spreadsheet across both screens, or have one browser on 1 screen and another on the other, etc.
    • How much to do the above?
      • Buying 1 card with 2 ports seems like it would be the most cost effective solution, right? Especially if I want the desktop to span both screens...

    • How much (if any) to add TV capability?
    • How much to add gaming?
      • I have only the mildest interest but it's a nice option if it doesn't cost much extra. Which I'm quite sure is NOT the case! I always feel like it might be good to try out a game - it's a technology that has passed me by (I started programming with IBM 1400 series computers in 1966, so I've seen a lot of growth in computers [and I'm old]).

    • 1280x1024 19" screen with a D-sub connector
    • 1280x1024 19" screen with a D-sub connector and DVI (both are Dell)
    • Desktop PC,Gateway 507GR, 3.0 P4, 1 pci x15 slot, 1 PCI x1 slot, and 2 "regular" PCI slots
    • Windows XP Pro
    • Lots of cables and adapters, A/B box, DVI to VGA adapter, etc.


  2. #2
    Gold Lounger Maudibe's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    Pa, USA
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    Go for it!

    I have 4 computers, one for each member of my family. All have dual screens to increase productivity. The kids are in college and the wife is a Medical Transcriptionist. I can't say enough for the added efficiency as well as convenience of dual monitors.
    You have many options. Here are 3:

    1. As you said, a graphics card with dual monitor outputs and an HDMI output as well. I am running MSI NVidia 560 TI Twin Frozier OC video card. Love it to death! As a heavy duty gamer, I am all about frame rates during game play. On Ultra mode (the highest) in Star Craft 2, I am getting frame rates between 175-200 which is outrageous. I am about to go dual SLI mode with 2 vidoe cards...killjoy! This card has 2 DVI connectors so if you were to purchase a similar card, looks like you would need one additional Vga to DVI adapter. The card is down to about $200 now. My wife's and kid's video cards are Nvidia GeForce 520 GT (I forget the manufacturer, PNY or EVGA) and work well but not the gaming beast like mine. Look around $45 for these cards on Before you buy, you must have a PCI-E slot (PCI-Express) which is different from a regular PCI slot, a power supply unit (PSU) of at least 450W, adequate chassis cooling, and a case that will accommodate the size of the card. Most power house video cards take up 2 slot heights. The 520 cards are only single. Note the length of the card may also be restricted by your case. Video cards have their own software that will give greater flexibility in dual monitor setups although it is capable in the OS as well. Dual Setup is a couple mouse clicks once the card is installed. Looking at your specs from Gateway site, you have a PCI-E x16 available slot but no mention of the PSU. If you have not upgraded the 512Mb memory, I would sugest you do so to at least 1 GB. You will see a major boost along with the separate VRAM that is on the video card. By the way, you cannot run integrated graphics simultaneously with a graphics card. Using the cheaper card along with a RAM and PSU upgrade, you are looking about a $115-$125 upgrade. Your system is old but it can still do what you need it to do.

    2. Purchase a card with an additional HDMI (preferrably) or an S-Video out. You can duplicate your screen or extend your screen as well to a TV. If your TV has a VGA or DVI input, then you are set to use it as a second monitor

    3. USB to VGA, USB to DVI, or USB to HDMI Video adapters are available at Newegg also. They run about $45-$60. Don't be fooled into thinking that more expensive is better. I bought a cheaper one for work and it is excellent. It does not have as high a resoultion (1280x1024) as the computers graphics chip but how high of a resolution do you need for a spreadsheet?

    Post back if you should choose to persue this. I will be happy to help you out with any issues or questions.


  3. #3
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    The best way to get to know the cost of things is by browsing for them. You can also get a photoview
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  4. #4
    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    I have two monitors on my desktop computer. I bought a video card with two ports. I do exactly what you have described. Simply get a card which will do what you want to do.

    If you have a laptop, you already have what you need -- the internal monitor is monitor 1, and the external VGA port will be for monitor 2.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    I'm running a NVIDIA GeForce 9500GT with 1Gb memory. This is a less than $100 dollar card that works just fine for productivity programs like MS Office and Photo Editing using Picasa and IrFanView. I'm using it with 2 different sized monitors one LG 23" Wide screen and one Samsung 19" square screen and it works just great. Of course I don't play games other than minesweeper.
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  6. #6
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    Nov 2011
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    I bought a Dell Desktop (Optiplex 980) with dual display card. Fool I was I did not check at delivery that two screens worked. By the time I checked I had customised the machine too much to send it back. So, I bought and installed two USB display adaptors from Climax Digital (via Amazon). The installation coughed and spluttered a bit. Disconnecting and reconnecting re-triggered the installations. Then I went into the conveniently set up tray access icon to extend the displays left and right. Wow. Two big screens and a small one.

    A major advantage of the external USB cards is that when I change the desktop machine I can take them with me.

  7. #7
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    About 1 1/2 years ago my trusty old desktop fried. It is a dual 24" monitor setup. The failure was a fried graphics card. It is my understanding that those little fans on those graphics cards have a finite lifetime which is much shorter than our life expectancy. Mine lasted 8 years. When it fried it took out the motherboard, cpu and power supply. About the only things left the hard drives and optical drive. Some say it is a blessing to save the hard drive intact! All you need to do is mount it in another computer and start up the OS on dissimilar hardware. (chuckle, haha).
    Anyway, the replacement computer I purchased was an HP s5710f desktop. They were on sale at that time. The interesting thing about this model was that the motherboard supports dual monitors natively. Meaning there are two monitor jacks and on board graphics for dual monitors. An external graphics card is only needed if you want more than 2 monitors and/or gaming. I donít do gaming, so I donít need continuous high speed. I do Photoshop and other things. When I brought the desktop home from Staples, I connected monitor cables and power, turned it on and presto, both monitors were detected and operating. Graphics cards, drivers and setup not needed.
    Perhaps you might want to look at this model desktop IF you will be purchasing sometime in the future.

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