Dual head display question

Has anybody here got any experience using a dual-head display such as the Matrox G450? I am thinking of getting one for use with Windows 98 but have a couple of questions:

  1. If I maximize a window, does it maximize across both monitors or can it be restricted to one or he other?

  2. Does the Task Bar go accross both monitors or just one?

  3. What happens with games?

Please share any experiences, good or bad.

I have a G400, essentially the same thing. The 400 was cool because it shipped with the ability to convert to dual-head, which I eventually did.

Matrox’s dual-head configuration is far more versatile than the standard Multiple Monitor options inherent in W98. You have the option to clone your screen onto the second monitor, to spread it across both, or to display a zoomed section of the first monitor on the second. The spread-screen seems to be your particular interest.

  1. A maximized window takes up the full screen of the first monitor. However, it can be manually expanded to fill both.

  2. The task bar also lives on the first monitor by default, but it can be manually moved anywhere you please.

  3. Only a few games actively support multiple monitors. I don’t have any of them. Some games crash when dual-head is enabled. Others, like Diablo II, don’t seem to have a problem with it at all, but only display on the primary screen. You cannot simply move the cursor from the game to the desktop, but a quick alt-tab will minimize many games, giving you both screens. After a lot of hacking around, I managed to get one version of QIII Test to support the zoom feature, but the display was too dark to use with the rail gun. Drag. Haven’t tried it with regular Quake III.

My experience? Dude, with double 19" monitors, I have the most powerful home office I’ve ever used. Word processor lives on one screen, Internet on the other, graphics programs wait in the background to spring instantly into use, and at 2048 x 1512 on the primary and 1280 x 1024 on the secondary, you will never, ever hear me whine about a lack of space. The 2D quality of the G400 and G450 is unsurpassed. In short, it kicks ass.

But for games, the G400 (and the G450) is a little wheezy. Framerates at high resolutions suck, especially in OpenGL 3D games, where Matrox really drops the ball (yes, I know about TurboGL and the like–it still sucks). I wouldn’t even bother messing with a combat flight sim in dual-head–the G400 just doesn’t have the ass to do it. I play a lot of games, and this card no longer meets my minimum standards. (In fact, it never did. Matrox took almost a year to solve their driver problems with OpenGL. When they finally did, the card was approaching obsolescence. Don’t be fooled by the larger number; the G450 is essentially the same card with a different memory bus.)

You do have another, much better dual-head gaming option: the GeForce 2 MX. Not only is it equally priced or cheaper than the G450, it can almost double your framerates over the G400 in 3D games and still give you similar dual-head options.