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Hardware Thread, Multiple monitors / graphics cards setup query in Technical; Hi guys, hopefully someone more experienced can help here? I haven't got precise spec of hardware here but will provide ...
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    Multiple monitors / graphics cards setup query

    Hi guys, hopefully someone more experienced can help here?

    I haven't got precise spec of hardware here but will provide later if necessary.

    I currently run an HP XW6600 twin quad core with 16GB RAM and 2x 250GB drives. I have a graphics card (and for the life of me I cant remember what it is, I have an inkling it might be an FX4700?? with 512MB) with two DVI outs and both are connected to 23 inch HD AOC widescreen monitors (using VGA/DVI convertors) and these run perfectly well. What I now want to do is add a third monitor (initially an old 15 inch Dell that I have kicking around) so I will need to purchase another GPU. I have plenty of PCI-e slots so that is fine and I have done a bit of googling and now it seems it might be more complicated than I expected(???)

    Now I'll get to my queries:

    1. Does my second card need to be the same brand as the first?
    2. Online, people have spoken about SLI which means nothing to me, should I be concerned about this?
    3. Is there anything I should bear in mind when purchasing the second card, other than what applications I plan to run? (FYI I am a very rare PC gamer (have a PS3 for that) so most use will be MS Office inc Outlook, web browser(s) and a few other graphically low-demanding programs.
    4. As I mentioned I currently use VGA cables with a converter, if I switch to DVI leads am I likely to notice an improvement in quality?

    Thanking you in advance edugeekers!

    James

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    NikChillin's Avatar
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    I wanted 4 monitors for work and tried to add a new graphics card, ATI type but no joy getting them to work together, I think the original was a NVidea, I bought another ATI, same type, only 20 quid for both and all is great, only running internet and office apps too and DVI, don't really notice the difference too much.
    Last edited by NikChillin; 30th December 2012 at 10:49 PM.

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    best bet is to get a quad head card, it's designed for the job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twin--turbo View Post
    best bet is to get a quad head card, it's designed for the job.
    Thanks for that and whilst I understand exactly what you are suggesting, given I have a pretty reasonable card already and spare slots do I really need to 'scrap' what I have and buy what is more likely to be quite an expensive new card?

    Other people online do suggest that a simple addition should suffice and I have no plans to do any 'fancy' gaming.

    The key thing for me is to establish whether I should be able to run two different models of cards alongside each other ie nvidia quadro 'xxx' and an nvidia GeForce 'yyy'

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    I run a pair of different Nvidia cards together to provide 3 monitors. (I can't fit a fourth one on my desk yet but plans are underway for that!)

    lspci | grep -i nvidia
    01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation G73 [GeForce 7600 GT] (rev a1)
    02:00.0 VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation G92 [GeForce GTS 250] (rev a2)

    Note, I run Linux so all is fine there but I do on occasion (rarely) boot into windows and they all work fine there but I've not tested anything demanding there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EssexShep View Post
    The key thing for me is to establish whether I should be able to run two different models of cards alongside each other i.e. nvidia quadro 'xxx' and an nvidia GeForce 'yyy'
    It should be fine as long as you are using Windows 7 or 8 and the drivers are WDDM v1.1/v1.2.

    About Multiple GPU Systems
    Windows 7 supports multiple GPUs that run simultaneously. Multi-GPU support falls into two broad categories:

    • Homogeneous multi-adapter.
    • Heterogeneous multi-adapter.

    In a homogeneous multi-adapter configuration, the PC has more than one graphics adapter but all adapters use the same graphics driver. Here are two examples:

    • Two identical cards from the same graphics hardware vendor, such as two PCI Express (PCIe) ATI Radeon x600 cards, each in an x16 PCIe slot.
    • Two different cards from the same graphics hardware vendor, such as a PCIe NVIDIA GeForce 7600 in an x16 slot and a PCIe NVIDIA GeForce 6600 in a second x16 slot.

    The bus typeóPCIe, Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), or PCIóis irrelevant. The graphics adapters can all be on the same bus or they can be on different buses. The key point is that all graphics adapters use the same graphics driver.

    In a heterogeneous multi-adapter configuration, the PC has more than one graphics adapter and uses more than one graphics drivers. A common example is the use of graphics adapters from two different manufacturers, each of which requires a different graphics driver from the respective manufacturer.

    Windows 7 supports heterogeneous multi-adapter configurations, whereas Windows Vista did not. In Windows 7, a system can have a heterogeneous multi-adapter configuration, with multiple GPUs that require different WDDM drivers. The WDDM model for Windows Vista required that all display adapters use the same driver. (Source)
    One of the limitations of WDDM driver model version 1.0 is that it does not support multiple drivers in a multi-adapter, multi-monitor setup. If a multi-monitor system has more than one graphics adapter powering the monitors, both the adaptors must use the same WDDM driver. If more than one driver is used, Windows will disable one of them. WDDM 1.1 does not have this limitation. (Source)
    To check the WDDM version for your current graphics card, run DXDiag.exe.



    Quote Originally Posted by EssexShep View Post
    4. As I mentioned I currently use VGA cables with a converter, if I switch to DVI leads am I likely to notice an improvement in quality?
    Definitely use DVI (or HDMI/DisplayPort) where possible. Text will be sharper, you won't get any interference and your monitors won't need to keep adjusting themselves when you boot up the PC.
    Last edited by Arthur; 31st December 2012 at 11:43 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EssexShep View Post
    do I really need to 'scrap' what I have and buy what is more likely to be quite an expensive new card?
    Triple and quad display capable graphics cards aren't that expensive these days. e.g.


    * All prices are ex. VAT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EssexShep View Post
    Thanks for that and whilst I understand exactly what you are suggesting, given I have a pretty reasonable card already and spare slots do I really need to 'scrap' what I have and buy what is more likely to be quite an expensive new card?

    Other people online do suggest that a simple addition should suffice and I have no plans to do any 'fancy' gaming.

    The key thing for me is to establish whether I should be able to run two different models of cards alongside each other ie nvidia quadro 'xxx' and an nvidia GeForce 'yyy'
    The only reason you "need" the same cards is for things like SLI, which basically combines the processing of the cards to one output, that's not for multiple monitors etc.

    If you want just another monitor it shouldn't really matter on the exact model of the card, as long as you have the free slots etc (and they aren't SLI only slots etc if you have a expensive board?)

    However in reality, if all you want is for word processing/internet etc, any reason you don't buy a USB adapter? Saves taking the pc apart, and can easily be transferred to other computers if you want it then.

    Either that or as mentioned above, there are cheaper 3 port cards, if your motherboard won't support dual graphics already?

    Just you mention your 15inch monitor, so it's not like you'll be running HDMI or anything I'm guessing? But just an idea.

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve21 View Post
    any reason you don't buy a USB adapter?
    High CPU usage is one reason I wouldn't go for a USB adapter.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    High CPU usage is one reason I wouldn't go for a USB adapter.
    If as mentioned it's only for office/web etc you won't be flooring your CPU anyway. It's not for gaming.

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve21 View Post
    If as mentioned it's only for office/web etc. you won't be flooring your CPU anyway. It's not for gaming.
    Even for basic use they suck. We have some Startech adapters at school for teachers who have damaged their laptops VGA port and I wouldn't use them if there wasn't an alternative.

    For desktop PCs, a PCIe card would be a no brainer IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    Even for basic use they suck. We have some Startech adapters at school for teachers who have damaged their laptops VGA port and I wouldn't use them if there wasn't an alternative.

    For desktop PCs, a PCIe card would be a no brainer IMO.
    Eek, they're gone up a bit in price haven't they? £61.99? Maybe not at that price! lol. Could have sworn they weren't that high

    Steve

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    Re: Multiple monitors / graphics cards setup query

    Have you a budget in mind?

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    The OP should also note that whilst you can mix and match certain makes/manufacturers and models of cards, it may effect the way certain programs behave. For example, I couldn't run Photoshop Elements 9 a couple of years back because the OpenGL version between the Nvidia and ATI cards I was running in a 4 monitor setup (perfectly fine I have to add) was different. Once I'd added in an Old Nvidia GeForce 9500 the problem went away. I had originally tried an old Nvidia FX card I had laying around, but once again the GL version issue caused the program to crash.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve21 View Post
    Eek, they're gone up a bit in price haven't they? £61.99?
    We get them for around half the RRP. Still expensive, but cheaper than a new laptop. The USB 3.0 version costs £47.59 ex. VAT (RRP: £91.99! ).

    There's no way I would buy one myself at that price.

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