Multi-display Questions

Hello folks,

For a long time, I've run my laptop's default display and an additional 22" LCD attached and simply use my default nvidia drivers to allow me to have a dual monitor display going. While it "works," it is very annoying that there is so little customization and it's very stingy in terms of what can be done. So I'm looking to do better. I recently picked up a new machine. It has an Evga 8800gt graphics card. I'd like to run multiple displays, with a 2nd monitor, but there's a few things I'd like it to be able to do specifically, and that's where hopefully you fine folks can help:

I'd like the displays to be able to be treated as separate. I don't want to just have to stretch a desktop across two displays and I don't want it just cloned or something. When I maximize my browser window, I'd like it to snap to the edges of just one of the displays, not both. I'd also like to be able to play a game on one display, and it not be on the other or mess up the other's resolution or any other settings. Currently with just the basic stuff that comes out of the nvidia drivers, this simply doesn't happen.

I've looked at various things, like the Matrox Dualhead2Go. That's very similar to what I'm looking to do. However, I don't think I need a $200 external device. I'd like to do it with my machine (not my laptop, I have another machine), and years ago, I used to just use a 2nd graphics card, like a cheapy PCI card to supplement the AGP card (back when AGP was being used). Again, right now, I have an Evga 8800gt pci-e in there. If I could do it with this card, that's be great. If I have to add another display card, like a cheap PCI card, that would be fine (preferred really). Adding another 8800gt to get it is not really what I want to do because I don't want to game on both monitors; just one; and display whatever on the other. The Matrox Dualhead2go seems to do exactly what I'm looking to do. But it looks more like its in the software, rather than the hardware. Things like snapping windows to a single display. I'm wondering if I can do similiar things without dropping $200 on an external device.

So again, just a summary of what I'm looking to be able to do:

1 - Dual display.
2 - Run a 3d game, not in a window (if possible?) on one display.
3 - Have a desktop and application, browser, etc, on the other display.
4 - Have them run separate so that I don't have weird applications getting split in two.

Is this possible? Or is the dualhead2go the only way? Or is there software that does this and I can just go with a cheap PCI? Can the 8800gt do this out of the box with some simple software addition?

Seeking your wisdom!

Very best, :)
9 answers Last reply
More about multi display questions
  1. If your running windows vista try using windows to setup your dual display. That what i do and I get the window behavior that you want. However gaming will still change the resolution of both monitors to the games resolution if you run in full screen. usually i'll just run it windowed and maximize it.

    The matrox will not give you the results you want. It treat both displays as a single display to the best of my knowledge
  2. Hrm,

    Thanks for the info. I actually run Windows XP, as I'm not a fan of Vista. I know that the Matrox DualHead2Go treats it as a single display, but it allows you to have a primary display and 2nd display and it effectively grid locks them so that you can do something on one and not the other and not have to manually just window mode things and all that. I saw demos of it with a dvd playing maxed in a single display, a browser maxed in another and the third space just doing whatever they pleased. It effectively runs 3 monitors (the primary, or laptop if you have one) and the two it splits to.

    Too bad there's not a local place that has one of these devices to simply check it out in person rather than like most hardware, having to purchase it and see for ourselves after having spent the money.

    I really liked the review that I read on T.H. about it, I wish it had more details though concerning the use of multiple applications, 3d games, etc, and how it works.

    Very best, :)
  3. Uh you can setup most of what your talking about using Nvidia's control panel. I have a 24" monitor setup as my primary and then a 22" as my secondary. You should have an option of setting them up as individual monitors. I'm at work at the moment with only one monitor. I'll check back to see if you'd have any luck if not I'll post up a walk through.

    Try a google search for it this is a fairly common thing.
  4. try resetting the nvdia control panel then using the xp disply options to setup your dual monitor anyway. lemme know what happens.

    None of the examples you listed for the matrox involved Graphics Rendering "gaming" All of the above happens in vista just the same. It should be the same for XP.
  5. Heya,

    Thanks for the tips guys. I have searched google a bit and some things work no different than what I currently do. Maybe it's due to my really poor nvidia drivers (it's an older laptop with a 440go geforce4 in there). The generic nvidia drivers don't even recognize it. It's why I've got a new machine with a 8800gt in the mail on the way, once I receive it, I'll be able to try a few of the things being listed here.

    Stewartwi, if you have the time, that would be fantastic to see a little walkthrough on this. Appreciate it!

    Very best, :)
  6. Connect the two monitors to the two DVI ports of your video card. Windows XP should see the two monitors in the display settings. When you are there, you could select which monitor is your primary and secondary while setting the resolutions on both. you could also set them to be one joined display or two separate displays.
  7. soundefx said:
    Connect the two monitors to the two DVI ports of your video card. Windows XP should see the two monitors in the display settings. When you are there, you could select which monitor is your primary and secondary while setting the resolutions on both. you could also set them to be one joined display or two separate displays.

    That sounds so simple and easy. When I get the card, I'll give that a shot first and see how it works for me.

    My only question concerning that is how it will function with various games. Ie, will I be able to have it at it's own res and fullscreen on one monitor and still have another res on the other monitor with a browser open for example. And if so, how does it effect moving over to the other monitor, ie, do I have to get out of the game some how to actually get to the other screen with the mouse. Is this basically always true and I'd have to run the game in a windowed mode that simply is as big as the primary monitor it is displayed upon so that I could switch over to the other display and use it without having to stop and wait for the game to release it or something?

    Very best, :)
  8. The problem with games isthat they will often take mouse control. this will prevent you from moving your mouse outside the window. This means that hte only way to get the mouse out of the window is to alt tab of out of the application.

    However some games will relinquish control while they are in the menu. For example when I play mass effect, if I hit escape I can move the mouse freely in and out of the window. but in game i cannot.

    however i have yet to come across a game that will relinquish the mouse in a full screen mode. So pretty much you will have to run your games windowed.
  9. Hrm,

    Ok, thanks. So long as it looks right and runs well, I don't mind the window so much (the border is just annoying in darker games).

    Very best,
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