Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Dual Monitor setup...

Howdy,

This is a really quick and basic question: If I want to use two monitors with my computer, using one for showing my GUI, and the other for showing code for example, do I need a special graphics card?

Do I need two graphics cards?

Can I use a graphics card in my AGP port along with an onboard one?

And does windows support this setup natively, or does it require extra stuff...

Thanks!

Wants to be an ISV
Monday, April 05, 2004

The simple answer is that if you can find a PCI video card you can insert into your PC, it should work. However Win9x and Win2K/XP have different views as to which video cards will work (Check the windows HCL?).
The BEST video card for this is the Matrox G450/550 range which look to XP like two video cards. Many of the other cards look like one wide desktop (i.e. 1x2048x768 rather than 2x1024x768) which means they usually come bundled with a utility to make dialog boxes popup on the right screen rather than halfway between two monitors (and make maximising work).
Some of the older systems also couldn't handle different sized screens which again the matrox can (Watch out the dual DVI with two DVI outputs can't).
NOTE: We only buy the matrox cards, so I can't comment on the current ATI/NVidia cards, the previous generation worked but the bundled "fix windows" software was crap.

Peter Ibbotson
Monday, April 05, 2004

Are those cards cheaper than the nVidia series? I don't do much graphics intensive work, so I don't need an expensive high range card... I'd just like something that could make two monitors work together nicely.

Thanks very much!

Wants to be an ISV
Monday, April 05, 2004

I've found having a second PC is _far_ better than dual monitors. And then there is Syngergy. http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/

.
Monday, April 05, 2004

Wow... now that is clever!

Wants to be an ISV
Monday, April 05, 2004

I've got a second PC *and* dual monitor (from my contracting days, not provided by my employer). What I like best about it is being able to pull up a document on the dual-mon system, park it on the second monitor, KVM back to the single-monitor system and have the document available to read.

I use a Matrox G450 and yes, it's completely painless.

I think most modern GPU's handle dual monitors well - both my new laptops can dual mon with the LCD and an external CRT (at different resolutions).

But for business multimonitor use, Matrox is the way to go. You don't need the Parhelia or any of their new cutting edge cards. Looks like you can get a G550 for under $100.

Philo

Philo
Monday, April 05, 2004

Matrox cards, at least the multi headed ones have never been renowned for their 3d performance, which is why they have never really been a hit with gamers.

The folk that seem to get the most out of them are people in the financial industry where 2d clarity is more important than 3d performance metrics.

I am a big fan of them. As John Smith would say, No Nonsense!

Tapiwa
Monday, April 05, 2004

Synergy2 looks real neat.

Does anyone have production experience with this?

Tapiwa
Monday, April 05, 2004

I second the Matrox/DualHead recommendation.  If you're just doing business graphics, it will server you just fine.

Russell Thackston
Monday, April 05, 2004

Synergy - Production Use.

At a SOHO:

Use it every day with 3 machines. Left-Center-Right, L-C-R. 10/100 Ethernet Hub.

R - Slackware/Web Design/FTP/File server

C - WinXP/"Production"/Internet facing machine.

L - Win98/"Home Machine"/Office2K/Media Players

Works like a charm. And Synergy also supports dual monitors on a single machine

Regards

Kaushik Janardhanan

PS: The different Full Names you see in my posts are because I have browsers open in all machines and post from whichever one I am currently accessing.

.
Monday, April 05, 2004

Another vote for Matrox + Dualhead for business apps

Slough Bloke
Monday, April 05, 2004

If your have large CRTs (20" or larger), better get two Matroxes, not one Dual-head. The dualhead models used to have a lower quality DAC which could bite you on 1600x1200x85Hz. Finding a PCI Matrox can be a challenge, though.

I've been using G400 AGP + Millenium II PCI for three years and not even planning to switch. Matrox makes (or used to make) really cards.

Egor
Monday, April 05, 2004

"The BEST video card for this is the Matrox G450/550 range which look to XP like two video cards. Many of the other cards look like one wide desktop."

I wish you'd stop spreading this FUD. For many years, dual head cards from ATi and nVidia have worked exactly like the Matrox cards.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, April 05, 2004

Diito what Brad Wilson said.

I've used an ATI Radeon VE at home for over three years, and it works very well. It drives two different brand monitors at different resolutions (1600x1200 and 1024x768) for a unified, but staggered desktop. All dialogs automatically appear on the main monitor and the start menu is only on the main menu.

Its one weakness was it didn't deal well with having the secondary monitor to the left of the main monitor. Desktop icons naturally gravitate to the upper left corner (a Windows thing).

This was a $100 card several years ago. Surely the present models work even better.

DaveF
Monday, April 05, 2004

Microsoft had better integrate UltraMon into Longhorn -- it's *that good*:
http://www.realtimesoft.com/ultramon/

MR
Monday, April 05, 2004

Many GeForce 4 MX440 cards which are inexpensive ($60) have both a DVI and a normal VGA output, and can drive 2 independent displays.

Darth Avenger
Monday, April 05, 2004

Virtually all cards nowadays are dual head with you being able to simultaneously hook up the DVI and VGA ports. Furthermore, most DVI ports include the analog VGA signal, so you can get a cheap little adapter that will give you two VGA ports if you don't have a DVI monitor (came for free with my cheapo nvidia). All modern cards appear as two separate monitors to XP, although a small subset of crap cards force you to match resolutions and/or refresh rates on monitors, this is by far the exception.

Dennis Forbes
Monday, April 05, 2004

"Many of the other cards look like one wide desktop (i.e. 1x2048x768 rather than 2x1024x768) which means they usually come bundled with a utility to make dialog boxes popup on the right screen rather than halfway between two monitors (and make maximising work)."

----

Absolutely untrue, and has been for years!  No such issues have existed with nVidia or ATI cards for a couple of years.

For as little as $35 you can get a dual-head ATI Radeon 7000 from NewEgg  that is great for 2D.  With Matrox, you get sharper VGA output and the option of dual-DVI (mmmmm).  Whatever fits your price range.  :D

...but don't let the dual-monitor software dissaude you here.  Not an issue.  Works great even with the cheapest of cards from ATI and nVidia.

John Rose
Monday, April 05, 2004

Brad, my comment is based on an ATI Radeon VE card which was awful in comparison to the Matrox boards (I notice the (C) date on that card is 2000). P.S. Read the last paragraph again where I add a disclaimer.

We tried again a couple of years ago when we wanted a four way card for demo purposes and had the same sort of problems which were sorted by using a Matrox card, rather than the ATI four way card we'd been supplied. (It was however a 7000 series card like the VE)
My Nvidia worries are based on this http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=6360 article which describes some of the problems with the Nvidia software.
However my quick browse around with google seems to suggest that both ATI & nVidia have done some serious upgrading (although I get the feeling you need a 9xxx series ATI card for best results)
http://www.tech-report.com/reviews/2002q4/multimon/index.x?pg=1
also has a useful looking review which seems to imply that later nView drivers are more like the matrox.

Net effect. I'll have to try both ATI & nVidia again but I'm picky and somewhat worried that they both have options to reposition dialog boxes.

Peter Ibbotson
Monday, April 05, 2004

Wow, I just installed Synergy, and I have to say thanks to the anonymous poster who pointed this out. It is *very* cool.

John C.
Monday, April 05, 2004

You are welcome, John!

KayJay
Monday, April 05, 2004

Synergy is pretty dope.  It doesn't encrypt its traffic though:

"all data is transferred between the server and the clients unencrypted which means that anyone can, say, extract the key presses used to type a password. Therefore, synergy should not be used on untrusted networks."
(from http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/doc-security.html)

so be careful!

Steve H
Monday, April 05, 2004

Brad, my comment is based on an ATI Radeon VE card which was awful in comparison to the Matrox boards (I notice the (C) date on that card is 2000). P.S. Read the last paragraph again where I add a disclaimer.
----
I have great results with a $35 Radeon VE / 7xxx series card with dual-head.  Multiple desktops worked perfectly, with no software funkiness or windows being improperly split between the monitors, etc.  It worked just like having two separate video cards (which is a setup I did run for a few years. :-P)

Where the cheap Radeon falls down a bit is image quality on the analog VGA output.  The DVI is crisp (well, of COURSE it is, hahaha- I don't think there's any possible deviation there) but the analog VGA output wasn't as sharp as, say, the analog output on the midrange graphics cards I've owned over the years.  Not BAD, just not the best.  I suspect Matrox's analog output would be even crisper. 

John Rose
Monday, April 05, 2004

Steve,

Any reason to encrypt traffic between machines within the same room, if not on the same table?

KayJay
Monday, April 05, 2004

"Any reason to encrypt traffic between machines within the same room, if not on the same table?"

If your two machines are plugged into corporate ports, as is often the case, and those ports go to an insecure switch (or worse a hub), it could be a concern. The physical placement of the two machines is irrelevant if the actual data travels much wider.

Dennis Forbes
Monday, April 05, 2004

Ah! Get it. Thanks.

KayJay
Monday, April 05, 2004

Synergy uses a TCP/IP connection. If you've got both machines plugged nto the corporate LAN then there may be a problem.

But encrypting your pornography does furnish that furtive 'frisson'.

Stephen Jones
Monday, April 05, 2004

The reason for the "many other graphics cards can't support multiple resolutions" was because in the 2000-2001 timeframe ATI was selling cards as "dual head" but they couldn't do the different resolutions thing, while Matrox had done it natively years before.

So the "FUD" is actually a lingering reaction of the counter to overly aggressive ATI marketing.

But you'll note that *I* did point out that my laptops (ATI cards) can do the multi resolution thing nicely. :-)

Philo

Philo
Monday, April 05, 2004

John, I'll try the VE again. I remember when we tried it last  time on XP there was loads of minor niggles.

Peter Ibbotson
Monday, April 05, 2004

Both nVidia's and ATI's cards can operate dual monitors just fine, at least these days.  Both allow you to either have the card appear as a single adapter (nView/Hydravision) or as multiple adapters (DualView/???). 

There's reasons for both, though in my experience the single-adapter style is pretty annoying, with dialogue boxes popping up on the crack between the two monitors, maximizing stretching across both monitors, and such.  The main advantage you get out of this mode is that Direct3D (in particular) can operate on either monitor without a problem, and even span the two screens.

Treating the card as two adapters is a more 'normal' dual-monitor experience, and what I personally use.  Direct3D won't render with a proper HAL on the second monitor though, unless the developer supports it specifically (and it's a lot of trouble for a feature nobody needs, so nobody does).  This works a lot better for typical windows usage though, since hitting maximize fills just the current monitor, you can have different resolutions/color depths for both, and so on.

Jeremy Statz
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

I used to have a dual monitor setup running on Win98 SE. I just used two (old) graphics cards that I had lying around,  a 17" and 15" monitor. The cards were an ATI rage 128 and a Matrox Mystique (I think).

Windows just sorted itself out. For most things this worked fine, though I remember that some programs refused to run on the second adapter. This was easy to solve by just swapping the monitors over, or whatever. Programs generally started on head one, and I just dragged them over. N.B. You can't drag over "maximised" programs. Resize and shift.

I'm back to single monitor use now. Editing on one screen and viewing the output in another is fine, but if you need a lot of paper in front of you, desk space is a premium.

Owen Griffiths
Friday, April 09, 2004

Just had a dig in my old machine which I thought that I'd thrown out. Turns out that it was what I've been using as a footrest.

One graphics card was was PCI, the other AGP.

Owen Griffiths
Friday, April 09, 2004

Does synergy allow you to drag windows from one display to the next?

Have you ever heard of maxivista? If so, any opinion?

http://www.maxivista.com/

jss
Friday, April 23, 2004

I have recently upgraded my laptop. I decided to get a T41 with the 1400 X 1050 screen for development. I also got a 17" LCD. I am very happy with the setup. There is one annoying issue. As far as I can make out I cannot set the DPI for each screen seperately. That is there is just one DPI setting in the ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 driver and it effect both monitors. The T41 is 124dpi and the 17" LCD is about 96dpi. Am I missing something?

UltraMon seems like great software but does not address this issue.

Limey
Friday, May 07, 2004

Actually I believe the DPI setting is a windows one not a video driver one.

Limey
Friday, May 07, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home