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Help me understand how dual monitor setup works

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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August 21, 2013 10:15:07 PM

Hi I'm new here and this is my first post, and I'm looking forward to put a good use to it to clear my confusion of how PC works with multiple monitors. Now before I start throwing several questions, I thought it would be nice to introduce myself as a rather tech and gadget enthusiast. Might not as expert as you guys are but at very least I know how to build my own PC, I just had never seen a multi-monitors setup before (in case you're wondering, I don't live in US), and I reckon the best thing to do now is gather some information from internet. So here's a few question I would like to ask:

1. What is the best GPU setup for my preferences? I'm not here to build a super computer with 3, 6, or 10 screens just to impress my friends when they come over. I am only interested with 2 monitors simply to have a work and play environment at the same time. When I game at 1 screen, the other screen could still reply emails. When I code at 1 screen, the other screen could play some lol videos on youtube so that I can stay and feel alive.
So now I see possible setups are 1 GPU for both monitors, 2 GPU (crossfire or sli) for both monitors, or 1 main GPU for graphic intensive activities and another shitty one for work environment. Which one is the most efficient and cost-effective?

2. What about storage options? Let's say that I have 1 HDD as a main storage, with 2 monitors and multiple software with heavy storage workload accessing the same HDD, would it stutter? In this case, is it always a better idea to have more than 1 HDD to have my contents separated? Or perhaps an SSD upgrade?

3. This is purely based on your opinion: windows 7 or 8 for multiple monitors? Windows 8 introduces unique screen-spliting "snap view", but in multiple monitors it doesn't seem to be helpful. And I bet windows 8 hot corners are hard to reach if you're trying windows charm on the left monitor and multitasking on the right monitor.

4. What other things do I need to know?

Thanks and have a good day!

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a b C Monitor
August 22, 2013 12:55:34 AM

Hello there and Welcome to TomsHardWare.

You don't need a dual-GPU configuration to have multiple monitors. Modern GPUs come with

several outlets; HDMI, DVI and sometimes even VGA. So you can easily get by on 1 monitor.

If you're going to game however and it's a modern, demanding game, then it's worth remembering

the resolution "issue". So if you're going to play games, which games would it be? And what kind of

resolution are you wanting. You also don't need more than one HDD. I've never had problems and I

run 2-3 screens. If you want to play games on one screen and do other things on a different screen,

then most games will require you to run in Windowed Mode.
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August 23, 2013 10:35:03 AM

X79 said:
Hello there and Welcome to TomsHardWare.

You don't need a dual-GPU configuration to have multiple monitors. Modern GPUs come with

several outlets; HDMI, DVI and sometimes even VGA. So you can easily get by on 1 monitor.

If you're going to game however and it's a modern, demanding game, then it's worth remembering

the resolution "issue". So if you're going to play games, which games would it be? And what kind of

resolution are you wanting. You also don't need more than one HDD. I've never had problems and I

run 2-3 screens. If you want to play games on one screen and do other things on a different screen,

then most games will require you to run in Windowed Mode.


Hi and thanks for the answer! I would hoping one of the screen to be 1080p which is ideal for movies. However, I'm not really a hardcore gamer, I don't mind reducing the graphic quality in order to get playable fps. Mostly I play Blacklight Retribution and FIFA.

Oh that's sad to know, what happens if you choose the game to play in full screen anyway? What other disadvantages of having 2 monitors?
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a b C Monitor
August 23, 2013 5:49:02 PM

Full HD is a great standard and is definitely something to aim for. Now I don't know your budget, but

I'm very confident that if you got a GPU such as a GTX 650 Ti Boost, that you'd be able to comfortably

game many of the latest games; not least Fifa. It's a great GPU, which is affordable and also "scales"

well in SLI. A Radeon 7850 would also be great. What I meant about Windowed mode was that if

you've got a game running on one monitor, on full-screen and on the other you've got a webpage,

your game will minimize every time you click on the monitor that has the webpage (or whatever)

up. So to stop this from happening, you usually have to run the game in windowed mode. So it's

not because there's any adverse effects; it's just something which can be annoying. Imagine

if you've got a chat open in the other screen. You can see the other person type messages to

you and every time you click the text field in order to write a reply, your game minimizes.

Then after sending your message, you'll click the game again and it'll go full screen after a

second or so. But then the other person might write again and it all just repeats itself.

Hence windowed mode. So to sum up:


Pros:

- More screen space for all sorts of things

- More cool factor

- More immersion potentially, if a game is running on all monitors


Cons:

- Can reduce FPS if both monitors are running a demanding game on very high detail settings

- Requires more space

- Some games will require windowed mode, as described above


That's the ones I can think of, immediately off of the top of my head.

I think you should go for it. If you don't like it, then you can always just sell or pass on the other monitor.

Plus it's not as if when it's plugged in, you can't just use one monitor sometimes too.
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