Walk me through Dual Monitors

Alright, here’s what I have:

One ATI 9800 All in Wonder Card (AGP)
One 17" Samsung LCD Monitor
One POS 15" CRT Monitor
2 Standard old style monitor cords
One ATI 9200 SE Video Card (AGP)

What I want to do is see how easily I can set up another monitor on my system. I’m happy with the one I have now, but it feels a bit crowded when IMing, watching TV and reading the dope. If I’m happy with the results I’ll buy a 15-17" LCD because the CRT I’m using to test it is about 9 years old.

I assume I’ll need an adapter of some sort, that is if my card is capable of dual support. And if such an adapter exists. I know the 9200 AGP is useless in this setup, but I figured I’d include it under haves.

So what now?

Look at the back of the card for any type of output jacks. I have an nVidia GeForce card that has an S-video out. I run it through my standalone DVD recorder.

Some cards have dual-head support, where they can provide an output to two monitors. Dig around in the documentation for your cards, and you’ll either find a relevant section, or not.

If not, all you (typically) need is a second video card. However, as there’s only one AGP slot, it needs to be a PCI card, preferably in the slot closest to the AGP card. And also preferably make it an ATI card to match what you have already.

All being well, Windows will recognise the second card, although won’t be using it by default. Go into Display Properties-Settings, and the second display should be shown. Click on it and enable “Extend my windows desktop…”, and apply. All being well, the second monitor now works, and you can sort out the layout and resolution.

Things that I’ve found can cause problems:

  • Interference with sound cards. Having two graphics cards seems to cause some sound cards problems. No workaround, in some cases, because it’s a hardware flaw.

  • Things appearing on the wrong screen. Some of this I blame on Windows (both on its inherent design and on the inability to change the way it works). Some of it is program-specific, with floating toolbars being a common culprit.

Oh, I forgot to say - the biggest drawback to dual monitors is going back to a single one. I end up audibly muttering obscenities when I have to alt-tab between programs while using ‘another’ computer.

Oh, another problem I’ve had is with various video programs. Windows Media Player only plays on one screen…DivX will only maximise on one…Media Player Classic is fine on either, but crashes when dragged from one to the other while playing. And so on.

Also, expect to “lose” your cursor from time to time. If I go too far to the right, the cursor ends on the second monitor whether I’m using it or not.

Ok, the treeware for the card says that the 9800 must be the primary card when using multiple displays. Thats about it.
There is an S-Video Out. So plug this to an adapter for the monitor plug and hope Xp recognizes it?

Also, do the monitors work independantly, combined as extensions of eachother, or can you choose?

Once you plug in your 2nd monitor, the computer should recognize it.

START>Control Panel>Display>Settings

You should see something like this.

In the drop down box, choose the 2nd monitor and play around with the settings until it looks good to you. Click the “Extend my Windows desktop to this monitor” and you see your wallpaper on the 2nd monitor.

Alright so I didn’t have the adapter cable and couldn’t wait to try, so I pulled a tv out of the other room.

I feel a little stupid. This is way easier that I originally expected. Just a matter of going into the display settings.

I’ll be looking for another monitor tommorow.

Can I only have programs run in the primary monitor (say Halo)? One of the purposes for a second monitor was running my tv tuner off it. But the program only opens into the primary and can’t be dragged into the secondary. Its something I can work around but I’d rather not if I can help it.

When the TV program opens, can you alter the size of its window?

I’m a Mac person not a PC person but unless it’s different on a PC, the program will probably START OFF on your primary monitor but you can then drag it to the other one.

If your TV tuner card has to be dedicated to a specific screen, you can just designate the other one as your primary monitor (even if only for the duration of watching TV on the other one) and then programs will launch on the other screen to begin with. (On my old PowerBook, DVD playback will only work on the built-in TFT screen, I’m assuming your TV tuner might have a similar logic to it)

Neither of the cards you have supports dual displays by themselves (as you’ve already apparently learned), nor is it recommended to try and get different types of cards to play nicely together.

The “All-in-Wonder” series of cards are great multimedia workhorses, with a plethora of outputs and inputs, but not able to drive two computer monitors at once.

The 9200SE is a bare-bones card that only supports one monitor and one SDTV output.

I used to use a Radeon 9550 (which cost me about $50) to run both my flat-panels, with great results. (I now have a X850 XT PE, which is both blazingly fast and offers two DVI outputs.) I’d recommend investing a bit of money to get a single card that will drive both monitors at once.

Is this really a problem? I’d think as long as the computer itself can work with the hardware, and the OS can utilize either display card independently, you should not have any problems running two disparate cards simultaneously. I’ve never had a problem mixing different cards (or even different card architectures) on dual monitor or triple monitor setups.

I don’t know what everyone’s problem with the 9200SE is - I’m running one at work right now, and with a DVI->VGA adapter it quite handily supports two monitors.

My only problem is that since I run Windows 2k, multi-monitor support is done by the ATI driver, which is less convenient than that XP provides. (ATI gives spanning only, as opposed to ‘separate’ desktops, and the resolution of both desktops has to be the same, regardless of monitor resolution.

Well I played around with it last night and was satisfied with the results. The only problem was with getting programs to run in the secondary screen, but I can live with the compromise.
So now was I need is a VGA->S-Video or Composite Video adapter. I’ve googled it but haven’t been able to find anything. Does such an adapter exist?

I believe Windows XP is built to accomodate dual moniters without any special card. I just plugged the other moniter into USB 2.0.