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Suggestions on Graphics Card needed for 3 monitor setup

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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January 13, 2010 3:05:37 AM

I have an HP xw6400 workstation running Windows XP. Currently there is an Nvidia Quadro
NVS 285 128mb card installed, that I run a splitter out of so that I can have dual monitors setup.
I would like to keep my dual monitor setup, but also have an HDMI output as well in order to send video to an LCD TV (mainly
to watch Slingplayer). I'm no expert on PC's so I'm not sure what would work. I do not do any gaming, I only use the PC for normal web surfing,
MS Office stuff and emailing. Ideally, I'd like to keep the dual monitors (HP1955's) for the email/web stuff, and use the LCD for displaying video/TV either through Slingplayer or off the web (like Hulu). The PC has an Intel Xeon CPU 5110 @ 1.60 GHz and 2GB of RAM.

I guess in short my questions are:
1. Is this setup possible (basically 3 outputs/monitors)?
2. Does this PC have sufficient resources to do this?
3. What card would be best for this since there isn't a need for gaming requirements?

Any help would be appreciated.
a c 376 U Graphics card
January 13, 2010 3:26:29 AM

Does your motherboard have 2 PCI-E slots?
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a b U Graphics card
January 13, 2010 3:37:41 AM

A quick google search of "HP xw6400 motherboard" apparently shows your motherboard has 2 pcie slots so the easyest thing to do is put another low powered card (mostlikely an nvidia because you already have a quadro) to gain an additional 2 putputs, however you might have to upgrade your psu in order to handle the new load.

There are a hand full of other options you could also choose to gain 3 monitor support.
like replacing your quadro with a hd 5750 that supports 3 montiors, however the 3rd monitor has to be a displayport input or youll have to buy an additional $100 converter.
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a c 376 U Graphics card
January 13, 2010 4:28:19 AM

I really doubt adding a non-gaming card will require a new PSU. There are good ones that use next to no power.
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a b U Graphics card
January 13, 2010 5:48:27 AM

Since you're not watching BluRays or anything requiring that kind of feature set, you might as well just get the cheapest HDMI nV card possible, something like this would be perfect, and still give you some HD acceleration, and possible future improved flash acceleration to for Hulu as well;

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

and it wouldn't change your power situation enough to need a new PSU.
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January 13, 2010 1:17:10 PM

Thanks everyone for the great feedback, sounds like I can do this at a minimal cost which is what I was hoping for.

@Great: how would you compare the card you recommended with this one:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Is one brand better than the other? They both seem to have similar specs...but then again I'm not an expert.
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Best solution

a b U Graphics card
January 13, 2010 2:35:48 PM

Well they are both good brands, with BFG being kinda one the marquee mfr for nV (the other being eVGA), and while the HD4650 is a solid card, since you're not doing gaming it offers only limited benefit, and I would try and use something from nVidia to keep your cards the same and avoid driver conflicts. If it was a new build I'd recommend the HD4650 (although the 128bit memory version), however for you I would recommend the GT210 which has all the nice HD acceleration and support for alot of the modern features, and the NVS card can simply do the easy lifting day to day stuff.

Anywhoo, the HD4650 (128bit) is better, but IMO it's just asking for driver headaches when you mix & match drivers/GPU Mfrs.
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January 13, 2010 3:26:28 PM

Great,

So are you suggesting that I ADD and additional card to what I already have? I was kinda thinking I was just going to get a new card to REPLACE the one I had that could handle all three outputs.

So from a configuration/efficiency standpoint would I be best served to get the new card that has VGA/DVI/HDMI output to do all the lifting, or combine a new card with my current setup?

What advantages/disadvantages am I looking at with these two approaches?
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a b U Graphics card
January 13, 2010 4:32:22 PM

You could add a single card, it might just work since you're not doing major 3D and the HDMi should use one of the TMDS and the DVI should use the other, and then if you can connect the VGA and run off of it, then you might get support for all 3 monitors from the one card, the problem with half-height cards is usually they are a little more finicky, however if you can get a good return policy then it's worth a shot to try and make it work, it should be fine, but sometimes this type of setup is disabled in drivers even though the hardware could support it, and it doesn't have the improved multi-monitor support of the newer cards.

The nice thing about choosing the nVidia card is if it is locked out, then you can always leverage the other card if it doesn't allow you to run it off the one card. Both should work, it jst depends on what ATi and nV let you do.
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January 13, 2010 4:52:25 PM

Thanks Great for all the direction and advice...I'm gonna give it a try and see how it works out using the NV card (with both installed) first. I'll let you know how it works out!
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March 1, 2010 1:58:38 AM

Ok, I finally got the BFG GeForce 210 video card and got it setup. I originally was only using the HDMI output from the new card to my LCD, while the NVIDIA 285 was running to my two 20" monitors (through a VGA splitter). Everything seemed to work fine between all 3 displays, until I tried to play a downloaded movie to my LCD. The audio would still be playing, but the picture would freeze up (I moved the window from my 20" monitor over to the LCD). This only is a problem when watching movies, I can watch streaming video from the web and move it to the LCD without losing the video feed. So I tried to move all 3 displays to run from the BFG card, but found out that you can only run two at a time an not all three (does anyone know a way around that)? However, while doing this I disabled the NVIDIA 285 card and discovered that the video feed to the LCD now worked. Can anyone explain to me what causes this? Is there a conflict when using two video cards? Hopefully I explained my situation correctly...any ideas would be appreciated. I'm not opposed to using 2 video cards, but I want to be able to still watch movies on my LCD.
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March 8, 2010 12:22:11 AM

Best answer selected by nuprin.
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