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Need to add a third Computer Monitor -- What is the easiest way?

Old 07-13-12, 10:04 AM
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Need to add a third Computer Monitor -- What is the easiest way?

I have two monitors for my my desktop computer and I can move windows on them back and forth how I want to, but I now want to add a third monitor. I know I don't want a splitter cable--I tried that and the third monitor is a mirror of the one I attach the cable to. There are only two monitor ports on the video card. Is there a gadget I can buy that will let me add another monitor?
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Old 07-13-12, 10:16 AM
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You might be able to add a second video card, to get up to 4 monitors total. If not, there are external adapters that can be used. Matrox or Accel make them based on the article I just read.

http://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-M.../dp/B002FJQXXC
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Old 07-13-12, 10:42 AM
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My boss just ordered us some USB-VGA adapters that will work. I'll let you know when they get in how well they work and what brand/model they are.
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Old 07-13-12, 11:55 AM
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My vote would be for the additional video card. A third monitor will take up some processing power.
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Old 07-13-12, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by mikeybikes View Post
My boss just ordered us some USB-VGA adapters that will work. I'll let you know when they get in how well they work and what brand/model they are.
USB - VGA/DVI is probably the easiest. We used an adapter brand called SIIG and one by HP. Both had issues with the software provided. When we got the updated driver from their sites it worked. The HP is better though. The image quality is a notch down from directly plugged into a VGA/DVI port. We also have used a displayport to DVI, but you would need a displayport on your pc. It was the easiest since it didn't require any drivers.
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Old 07-13-12, 04:50 PM
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Problem with USB->VGA/DVI adapters is they're darn slow. And they use your CPU and memory to do all the graphics processing, making your computer slower during times when CPU load is high.

There is also a Windows and driver issue. Ideally all the chipsets driving your monitors should be the same model, or at least the same family from the same vendor (nVidia, GeForce, Intel, etc.). Having two different video-cards with two different drivers greatly increases the changes of conflicts and crashes. Or it simply will not work. Here's two possible configurations, depending upon how your existing computer is configured:

1. 1x from onboard-video + 2x plug-in video card. Match video-chipset for best performance and compatiblity

2. no onboard-video, get a quad-output video card, like this Galaxy GeForce MDT GT 520 1 GB DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 Quad DVI Multi-display Graphics Card

Typically, I find it easiest to reduce the number of monitors and just get larger ones. Easier on the eyes and reduces headaches from straining. I went from this:


To this:
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Old 07-13-12, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by BlankCrows View Post
I have two monitors for my my desktop computer and I can move windows on them back and forth how I want to, but I now want to add a third monitor. I know I don't want a splitter cable--I tried that and the third monitor is a mirror of the one I attach the cable to. There are only two monitor ports on the video card. Is there a gadget I can buy that will let me add another monitor?
OP... what's the video card currently on your PC? Sometimes it looks like cards have only 2 ports but they actually have more... Mine had only 2 DVI connectors and yet...tada:

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Old 07-13-12, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post
My vote would be for the additional video card. A third monitor will take up some processing power.
you may need a bigger power supply to add another video card... some of them are quite power hungry.
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Old 07-13-12, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
Problem with USB->VGA/DVI adapters is they're darn slow. And they use your CPU and memory to do all the graphics processing, making your computer slower during times when CPU load is high.

There is also a Windows and driver issue. Ideally all the chipsets driving your monitors should be the same model, or at least the same family from the same vendor (nVidia, GeForce, Intel, etc.). Having two different video-cards with two different drivers greatly increases the changes of conflicts and crashes. Or it simply will not work. Here's two possible configurations, depending upon how your existing computer is configured:

1. 1x from onboard-video + 2x plug-in video card. Match video-chipset for best performance and compatiblity

2. no onboard-video, get a quad-output video card, like this Galaxy GeForce MDT GT 520 1 GB DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 Quad DVI Multi-display Graphics Card

Typically, I find it easiest to reduce the number of monitors and just get larger ones. Easier on the eyes and reduces headaches from straining. I went from this:


To this:
Nice setup... what are you doing analyzing stock stoichiometry all day long?

I was amazed at the set up my stock market analyst had, while I was trying to do CAD work on a couple of small monitors. I got my company to step it up a notch, now at least I have a couple of nice large monitors.
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Old 07-13-12, 05:30 PM
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Duct tape.
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Old 07-13-12, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
you may need a bigger power supply to add another video card... some of them are quite power hungry.
That depends entirely on the card.
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Old 07-13-12, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by bigbenaugust View Post
Duct tape.
Best. Suggestion. Ever.

I need another monitor to keep my kitten occupied:

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Old 07-13-12, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
Best. Suggestion. Ever.

I need another monitor to keep my kitten occupied:

Is that cat watching kitty porn?
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Old 07-13-12, 10:39 PM
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Like ReubenX said, do you have details on your current hardware? If it happened to have an AMD motherboard chipset with onboard graphics capabilities, three or four monitors would be feasible just by using a compatible AMD/ATI-based video card in conjunction with the onboard video.

I need another monitor to keep my kitten occupied:
Lay your Kitten Decoy Monitor horizontally and put on some video of a randomly-moving object.
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Old 07-16-12, 09:41 AM
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Thanks for all the input.

This computer is a Acer Aspire X1430. I printed out the spec sheet but I don't know much about the technical stuff. OS is Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. Processor is a AMD dual-core E-350 with a AMD Hudson Chipset. Graphics is onboard support for AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics. It has a HDMI port and a D-sub VGA port (which are both being used.) I/O expansion -- PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot , and PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (PCI Express 2.0 x4 bandwidth). I don't see any removeable plate slots on the back where I can plug a expansion card into.
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Old 07-16-12, 06:09 PM
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Take a look at the back of your computer:



The PCI-Express x1 and x16 expansion slots are on the far right (1). It appears they may already be occupied with a USB-3 and another graphics card. Do you see a DVI-I monitor port like shown on the far right of the picture? Typically with DVI-I ports, you can get a splitter cable that separates the signal into two ports. A DVI-D digital and VGA analogue video port. Most DVI-I video-cards use separate chipsets for the digital and VGA signals and you can get two more monitors out of that for 4 total.

Download and run this System Information app . We can then determine which model graphics card you have and find a way to use it for additional monitors.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 07-16-12 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 07-16-12, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Nice setup... what are you doing analyzing stock stoichiometry all day long?

I was amazed at the set up my stock market analyst had, while I was trying to do CAD work on a couple of small monitors. I got my company to step it up a notch, now at least I have a couple of nice large monitors.
Heh, heh... you don't need that for stocks. I mostly trade futures and futures-options. You should see the set-up some of my contemporaries have:


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Old 07-17-12, 08:30 AM
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If your Acer has the AMD APU running graphics via the motherboard, and has a vacant PCI-Express x16 slot, I think one of these would accomplish your goal: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814125404 The manufacturer does call for a 400-watt power supply, but I think they're hedging their bets, that's not a power-hungry card there (no additional power cable needed).

Big picture: next time you get a PC, don't get one of those low-profile ones... get something that takes full-sized cards and standard ATX power supplies.
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Old 07-17-12, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
Take a look at the back of your computer:



The PCI-Express x1 and x16 expansion slots are on the far right (1). It appears they may already be occupied with a USB-3 and another graphics card. Do you see a DVI-I monitor port like shown on the far right of the picture? Typically with DVI-I ports, you can get a splitter cable that separates the signal into two ports. A DVI-D digital and VGA analogue video port. Most DVI-I video-cards use separate chipsets for the digital and VGA signals and you can get two more monitors out of that for 4 total.

Download and run this System Information app . We can then determine which model graphics card you have and find a way to use it for additional monitors.
Hmmm, I'm apparently working with a low-end version. This one does not have anything at (1), just some cover tabs. (If there was a DVI port there I can assure you I would've tried it.) I'll run that System Info App as soon as I can and see what I'm working with here. I'm used to looking at older computers and am not familiar with this newer PCI expansion stuff. Looks like I'll have to get a video card for that port at (1).
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Old 07-17-12, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
If your Acer has the AMD APU running graphics via the motherboard, and has a vacant PCI-Express x16 slot, I think one of these would accomplish your goal: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814125404 The manufacturer does call for a 400-watt power supply, but I think they're hedging their bets, that's not a power-hungry card there (no additional power cable needed).

Big picture: next time you get a PC, don't get one of those low-profile ones... get something that takes full-sized cards and standard ATX power supplies.
That newegg offering looks like a normal sized card. I don't think it would fit where I would have to put it.

I didn't choose or buy this desktop but I've learned what not to buy in the future!
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Old 07-17-12, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by BlankCrows View Post
That newegg offering looks like a normal sized card. I don't think it would fit where I would have to put it.

I didn't choose or buy this desktop but I've learned what not to buy in the future!
They include the low-profile bracket, so it actually does both formats. I can't 100% guarantee it will run in parallel with your onboard APU, but from my research on the subject it appeared so. They're the same overall GPU family and the driver software should recognize them both. Famous last words...
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Old 07-18-12, 08:57 AM
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So we got some USB->DVI/VGA adapters in. I have my third monitor set up. It works. It is slow on the refresh. The window will lag as it is being drug over to the screen. I wouldn't want to watch a video on it. What I use the screen for, that's not a big deal.

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Old 07-18-12, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by BlankCrows View Post
That newegg offering looks like a normal sized card. I don't think it would fit where I would have to put it.

I didn't choose or buy this desktop but I've learned what not to buy in the future!
If you look closely, the PC-board is low-profile. The VGA connector is done through a ribbon-cable. A low-profile bracket can be used and you would just sacrifice the VGA connector. But there's already HDMI and DVI, so you actually don't need the VGA. In the event it doesn't come with a low-profile bracket, I've just trimmed the bracket down to size with tin-snips and bent over the top with some pliers to fit a low-profile case.

Don't worry about small form-factor cases, it's the future. Many people are finally realizing that they've never filled every single expansion-slot in their previous PC. Heck, I was recently involved in a project that swapped out +800 Wyse thin-client terminals for Foxconn NT-A3500 computers that are the size of a paperback book. HP's all-in-one systems that are built into the monitor have been selling like crazy as well.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 07-18-12 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 07-18-12, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by mikeybikes View Post
So we got some USB->DVI/VGA adapters in. I have my third monitor set up. It works. It is slow on the refresh. The window will lag as it is being drug over to the screen. I wouldn't want to watch a video on it. What I use the screen for, that's not a big deal.

We use the USB-DVI adapters at work for CAD work (processing done on remote server) and don't have any issues. I would suggest that you determine the chipset maker (in the adapter) and download their driver... it completely eliminated our lag issues.
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Old 07-18-12, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
We use the USB-DVI adapters at work for CAD work (processing done on remote server) and don't have any issues. I would suggest that you determine the chipset maker (in the adapter) and download their driver... it completely eliminated our lag issues.
It is one made by Startech. I downloaded the latest drivers from their website.
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