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Advice for a newbie - 3-monitor setup

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 3, 2008 3:25:38 PM

Need input on the best way to go about setting up a 3-monitor system for work. My primary use will be Word documents, reviewing Adobe PDF documents, and Internet browsing. No gaming, and limited (if any) video viewing. I would like to be able to view a full page on each screen. I plan to run each of the monitors in portrait aspect ratio.

With this in mind, what characteristics should my displays have? (size [I'm thinking 20", but if this is too much or not enough, let me know], aspect ratio [4:3, widescreen, etc.], resolution, inputs, and anything else I should be considering).

Same question for graphics cards (which ones, minimum specs., internal versus external solution, etc.).

Suggestions for specific brands are appreciated. To the extent it matters, please let me know if Vista versus XP environments impacts your recommendations.

Since I don't plan on doing any gaming or graphics-heavy activities, I don't believe I need bleeding-edge technology, just something that gets the job done, and on a budget. Thanks for all suggestions!



a c 264 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
September 3, 2008 4:23:59 PM

You will want your monitors to display things in native resolution, because that gives the clearest text.
20" displays 1680x1050 = 1.7 megapixels
24" displays 1920x1200 = 2.3
30" displays 2540x1600 = 4.1
A typical web page might be 1200x1200 or so. They are usually resizeable.
If you rotate a 20" monitor, you might not get enough width to view the whole page.
a 30" monitor can nicely display two web pages side by side. I used a Samsung 305T which was wonderful in that application. I found the size of the text to be a bit small, however.
If you want portrait mode, verify that the monitor can swivel.

Look for monitors with a wide viewing angle of 178 degrees. Cheaper units will be at 160, causing you to have to reposition your head directly in front of the monitor to avoid seeing it as washed out. With one monitor, it is not such a big deal, but with 3 you need a larger viewing angle. As to the brands, I would look first at Samsung. They make panels used in many other brands, and I suspect that they keep the best ones for themselves.

You can attach two monitors with almost any current vga card. For example, a EVGA 9500GT at $60. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
For three or four, you need a second card, and a motherboard with two pci-e slots or a motherboard with integrated graphics. Integrated graphics usually only comes in the micro-ATX sized boards, or server boards.

I think I would look at three 24" monitors in portrait mode. They have enough width to each display a web page, and plenty of depth. Look at the 24" Samsung 245T http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As an alternative, look at a pair of 30" Samsung 305T displays. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

These monitors are pricey, but don't go cheap here. If you are looking at them many hours per day you need the best quality you can find.

I dont see Vista vs. XP as having any impact on multi monitors. For a new build without the need to support older/obsolete devices, I would go with Vista-64. It is more secure, and will be supported longer.
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September 3, 2008 5:15:10 PM

Excellent response Geo. I dont think anyone could give a better explanation.

I agree with Geo. 3 x 24" monitors would be the perfect fit for you application.

I also suggest looking at Acer monitors. I own 2 x 22" Widescreen monitors, used on the same system, and they are superb.

You can also look into the VESA mounting arms or brackets. Just about every monitor now days has the 100mm or 200mm VESA standard screw holes in the back. This would allow easy mounting.

I am sure if you look hard enough you can find a ATX motherboard that does have integrated graphics, but at the same time I suggest a board with 2 PCI-E x16 slots.

Cheers,

-PM
September 4, 2008 1:19:14 AM

Thanks all for your replies. This gives me exactly the info I need to move forward.
December 15, 2008 7:35:25 AM

I'm trying to do a similar 3 monitor setup- I have 3 dell 20 inch wide flat screen monitors with DVI or VGA inputs. I use office apps and web stuff, nothing high end or games. My PC has 1 PCIe 16x, 1 PCI 1x, & 1 or 2 more pci slots. I have onboard nvidia 7050 nForce 610i (512mb) adapter with 1 VGA output.

Will it work to use onboard video with an install of EVGA 9500GT in PCIe 16x slot for the 2 additional ports, or do I need to get a PCI card with 2 outputs or disable the onboard and get two video cards?? Can you help determine which cards?

PC runs XP, Quad 9300, 4GB memory, 300 w power

Can anyone help with economical solution

Thanks in advance
Doug

a c 264 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
December 15, 2008 12:36:22 PM

Doug in Texas said:
I'm trying to do a similar 3 monitor setup- I have 3 dell 20 inch wide flat screen monitors with DVI or VGA inputs. I use office apps and web stuff, nothing high end or games. My PC has 1 PCIe 16x, 1 PCI 1x, & 1 or 2 more pci slots. I have onboard nvidia 7050 nForce 610i (512mb) adapter with 1 VGA output.

Will it work to use onboard video with an install of EVGA 9500GT in PCIe 16x slot for the 2 additional ports, or do I need to get a PCI card with 2 outputs or disable the onboard and get two video cards?? Can you help determine which cards?

PC runs XP, Quad 9300, 4GB memory, 300 w power

Can anyone help with economical solution

Thanks in advance
Doug

Start with a low cost pci-e card that does not require any extra pci-e 6 pin power connectors. Your 300w. psu does not have any extra power. Use the onboard video for the third monitor.
You will have to select in the bios which adapter is the primary. Find out what video driver you need for the integrated adapter. It should be something from nvidia. Look for a pci-e card that is supported by that same driver if possible.
December 15, 2008 6:19:19 PM

Thanks for the repy

The adapter is nvidia... I can't seem to find any specific driver info except a version number in device manager. It says NVIDIA GeForce 7050 / NVIDIA nForce 610i at the top and driver version is 6.14.11.7540

When you say cheap PCIe card that does not require 6 pin connector, is that like a pig tail connector from the psu? Can you give me an example of a currently available nvidia adapters that might work? Our local stores seem to prefer carrying high end stuff ,so I'm going to have to find something online.

Thanks,
Doug

a c 264 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
December 15, 2008 6:59:37 PM

Doug in Texas said:
Thanks for the repy

The adapter is nvidia... I can't seem to find any specific driver info except a version number in device manager. It says NVIDIA GeForce 7050 / NVIDIA nForce 610i at the top and driver version is 6.14.11.7540

When you say cheap PCIe card that does not require 6 pin connector, is that like a pig tail connector from the psu? Can you give me an example of a currently available nvidia adapters that might work? Our local stores seem to prefer carrying high end stuff ,so I'm going to have to find something online.

Thanks,
Doug

I think your driver version is 175. It looks to me that it will support virtually everything from the 6000 series on up.
More powerful(and expensive) vga cards require more power than the pci-e slot can deliver. To satisfy their power requirements, they accept one or two 6 and 8 pin psu pci-e power leads.

You could look at the evga 6200 with passive cooling for $39.99:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Some stronger cards might even be cheaper.
The 6200 will support 2048 x 1536 resolutions. A 20" monitor is typically 1680 x 1050.
If you might eventually use 2560x1600 monitors, then something like a 8500 could be used.
I am suggesting EVGA, so you can trade it in for a stronger card through their 90 day "step up" program if you decided you wanted something different.

!