Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Using dual monitors while playing games

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
Share
October 17, 2006 6:33:56 AM

I am trying to make up my mind on which video card to get. I will probably get one in the $ 300 to $350 range. I definitely want one that I can use dual monitors. As of now I have a HP f1905 monitor. If I am using both monitors while playing a game will it effect the picture quality or diminish performance in anyway? How does this effect the video card. Thanks in advance,
October 17, 2006 7:29:58 AM

Almost all video cards these days support two monitors. Some have two VGA connectors on the back of the card, some have one VGA and one DVI, and others have two DVI. Depends on the model number and who makes it.

Most cards even include VGA-DVI converters to ensure that you can connect the card to any type of monitor (an old CRT will most like have VGA connectors, whereas most new LCD monitors have DVI, although some have both VGA and DVI).

Frames per Second will definitely be affected while gaming with dual monitors, just like going from 1024x768 to 1280x1024 or 1600x1200 causes the frame rate to drop. The more pixels you push to the screen, the more work the video card is doing. So - if you're running your game with two monitors at 1024x768, its like running one super-wide monitor at 2048x768.

Older games will look great because you have a wider field of vision (the better to see enemies sneaking up on you from the side). But newer games like F.E.A.R. and Oblivion can bring even the most powerful graphics card to it's knees on a single monitor, so you shouldn't expect to be able to play games like that in dual-monitor mode.
October 18, 2006 1:26:37 AM

I was afraid of that. I have a HP pavilion a1310n with XP media center ed. It has an AMD 64 3700+ processor on a ASUS A8AE-LE motherboard with three PCI and one PCI Express slot. So, I guess a dual card setup like a Crossfire is out of the question. Right? Can I run one high end card for gaming in the PCI-E and another lesser card in a PCI slot for a monitor with the Desktop running on it?
Related resources
October 18, 2006 2:14:37 AM

Yes, ever since Windows 98, you can run a second monitor off a PCI card, but you better act fast. PCI cards are getting hard to find these days.

Back in the day when AGP was king, it was common to find machines with an AGP video card and a second video card in a PCI slot. I still have two machines like that, and they work great. But the PCI bus effectively became a bottleneck once AGP 4x arrived, and then with AGP 8x most manufacturers gave up releasing new PCI designs.

Today, since most PCI Express video cards support two monitors, and SLI mobos are available for very reasonable prices, even AGP is starting to die off. You can still find a few high-end cards with both PCIe and AGP versions, but I doubt ATI and nVidia will support AGP once they release their nextgen cards.

Anyway, just so long as you realize PCI cards are only good for office and web applications rather than high-end games and videos, you'll definitely get a lot of use (and value) from a PCI card.
October 18, 2006 2:18:59 AM

I recently set up dual monitors on my 6800 GT AGP (2 x 1280x1024). My games only display on one monitor though (I didn't know you could do two.)

I havn't noticed any performance decrease, but I havn't compared any hard numbers like fps... maybe I should do that.

Probably a small but not noticable decrease in performance (at least for me). Just my 2 cents.
October 18, 2006 2:40:36 AM

I use dual monitors for auto cad and have tried them out on some games...

The problem is most games that will run it usually have something centred, like the target sights which sits in between the two screens. If your really going to go for multimonitors I would suggest using 3 monitors, so you have a centre main and 2 periferal or for other things...

You could run a 6800 like I have with a matrox triple head to go for the 3 monitors.... however when divided over so much resolution it runs slow for x3, and other games newer than 2004-5....

I would suggest going with something with at least 2 video cards, either an sli setup, which already has 4 outputs, or the 7950 gx2, with 2 video cards built in. That way you will have 2 video cards share the work of 3 screens alot better. Those video cards are rated way better for higher resolutions of 2560 x 1800.. etc.
October 18, 2006 3:24:50 AM

Problem is, SLI mode currently doesn't support multiple displays. But since that really isn't an option for the op, it doesn't matter anyway.
October 18, 2006 4:25:48 AM

Sorry to play the devil's advocate, but I would really consider your choice before jumping into this endeavor. Everyone here has been right on the money with their gentle dual monitor gaming advice.

Don't do it!

Take note of the plastic borders sourounding your screen. This will split your shooter crosshair in half putting it 2'+ inches apart. So much for accuracy!
Note also, two 4:3 monitors does not equal 16:9 or any widescreen aspect. I know you may be trying to save money by using your current monitor. Games are not programmed with the dual set-up in mind. I think they tried with a few flight sims, but the reviews I read were horrid.

There are plenty of large 20"+ monitors that look amazing. You could go bigger (24" and up), but pay attention to the screen resolution. You definitely want something 1080p (1920x1080) or higher. The extra pixels make such a difference in the text clarity on a large LCD, especially if you do reading/internet surfing.
**Note to play in Hi-res you may need Sli to get optimal FPS.**

Dual gaming monitors won't pwn anyone, in the end it will be pwning you.

IMHO, I think Tri-monitor gaming is silly too. If you have that kind of money do it right. Get one of the new 1080P plasmas. You'll have a movie theater desktop screen in front of your face. lol. Or buy a high quality projector and turn your wall into a virtual PC movie screen. Probably save your retinas with the latter of the two.
October 18, 2006 5:35:14 AM

I agree with hatsurfer.

That HP monitor should normally be run at 1280x1024. (Assuming you don't like a blurry image.) Now if you have 2 and want to run a game, your video card would have to render at 2048x1024.

Now you're looking at an ATi x1950XTX or nV 7900GTX video card and a much better power supply to get started at decent framerates.

Also, those HP machines are micro-atx. So you have to move your tuner card to the very bottom PCI slot and remove any other cards in the machine. Big video cards take 2 slots up, plus they need a third slot free so the fan can get some air.

After all that, many games won't support this funny resolution. Some games you can edit .inf files to force it, other games you can't.

Then, as hat mentioned, many games that you can get working like this would suck as the screen split would be right in the center.

If you want to watch DVDs and play games at the same time go for it. If you multi-task a lot and/or tend to keep an eye on a lot of different websites 2 monitors is awesome too. But gaming is a much different story
October 18, 2006 6:48:43 AM

Now, a lot of people have mentioned that your crosshair will be right in the middle of the two screens. In most cases, this is wrong.

99.9% of games don't support spanning across mulitple displays. It won't be 2560 x 1024, it would be 2 x 1280 x 1024 (VIC, check your math ^_^). So, you'll get the game on one screen, and your desktop on the other. For productivity, it's great, but for gaming, dual displays doesn't do much.

My suggestion would be to go with a large single monitor, preferably widescreen. The Viewsonic VX2025wm 20" (the one I'm using now) is incredible, big, bright, sharp, and clear. Blacks are decent, as LCDs go, and no detectable ghosting in UT2004, FEAR, or big PvP battlegrounds in World of Warcraft. Highly recommended.

1680 x 1050 is a great resolution, and more and more games support it natively, like WoW, Oblivion, etc. Others, like BF2, FEAR, and the like need some pretty simple widescreen hacks to get it working at native. You're going to find that widescreen is much better supported than dual displays, as sweet as they are.
October 18, 2006 7:00:02 AM

yeah... i personally feel that going with 3 monitors is better than 2, have the left and center monitors hooked up to a 7800GT and the right monitor hooked up to a geforce2mx...

oblivion plays great across both 7800GTs monitors (~30fps or so average when outdoors, under max details, with hdr, so no AA, @ only 2048x768 res though)... as soon as you run in windowed mode to include the geforce2mx in the game rendering, things slow down drastically, detail is the same quality which is nice (makes for a nice looking panorama, for making desktop pictures and what not, with oblivions scenery and all), but man, 10-15 fps is all that can be managed, at best, under even the lowest detail settings and resolutions lol... so yes, if youre going to go with a third monitor, your best bet is to go for an sli/xfire setup... theres also the triple head to go that someone mentioned as well, seconded by sli/xfire even for additional performance

theyre all crts anyhow, so, yeah, if you dont mind the bezels inbetween, they work fine :) 
October 21, 2006 6:15:30 AM

Yeah, thank Yourmother :) 

My math sucks.

I'm using a Viewsonic VX2235wm with an X1800XT 512MB and I love it. 1680x1050 is a nice res.

Only I don't like is that its 16:10, not 16:9, so you still get black bars on widescreen movies. Oh well, still a beautiful screen.
October 22, 2006 6:08:30 AM

I'm running WoW on full settings in Non Window'd Mode using a X1900XT 512 for 2 x Viewsonic 19" Widescreens. I tried running it in Window'd Mode with the latest drivers, CCC, ATI Tool, and various other drivers but I kept getting VPU resets and sometimes my system would lock up. I ended up having to lower the game settings to run it in Window'd mode. :cry: 

I'll prolly end up getting a second vid card for Monitor #2 because I enjoy using Window'd Mode to surf, watch videos, and e-mail when there's dead time in a game.

Anyone have any suggestions on the best single Vid Card to run Dual Monitors on Graphic Intensive games at Max Settings and end up with a reasonable/playable frame rate without having to turn to a second Vid Card?
November 18, 2006 2:33:42 AM

this is the 3 monitor setup I ultimately went with after months of research; if you are not running high end games all the time, a pair of $80 dual port video cards will do fine... (assumes you have a motherboard with 2 PCI-E 16x slots).



more details on items and links to buy them are on my instructable page
http://www.instructables.com/id/EXLOGYUZR9EUMVDT56/



!