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3-monitor setup - problems

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 20, 2010 9:51:24 PM

Hi folks,

I'm having a problem with configuring a triple monitor setup. I have a 2GB Radeon 4870 with a DVI and VGA output. I have my primary 24" LCD connected to the DVI connector and secondary 22" LCD to the VGA connector. They both work perfectly in a dual monitor setup using the latest Catalyst drivers (it's a relatively new build PC).

Earlier this month I had the arguably hedonistic idea to add a third monitor for work purposes. I do graphic/web design as well as complicated database work, for the most part, but after switching from one to dual monitors, I realized a third would be useful, even if there is a diminishing return.

So, I did some research and found the easiest method would be to install a second video card. I just happened to have a little old Radeon X300 Xpress PCIe card laying around and my research seemed to suggest it would be perfectly adequate to run the third monitor for general desktop/graphic needs. It's a 128mb card. So, I popped it in to the third/empty PCIe slot on my motherboard. It was picked up fine by Win7 64-bit Ultimate and I let Windows install a driver so at first try I had the Catalyst drivers for the 4870 card and a default driver for the X300. Device manager correctly identified them too.

On going in to my display properties (windows, not Catalyst CC) it wouldn't detect the third monitor so I decided I should install the X300 specific drivers. I did so and made a bit more progress in that I managed to get the monitor be detected and expand my desktop display to it - everything seemed good.

However, on coming to my system the next morning the third screen was blank/blacked out, without a 'no signal' message. It continues to register the X300 card in device manager correctly, and in display properties if I hit Detect in the displays panel it seems to find an 'undetected display' as the third LCD, but I can't expand the desktop to it and trying to causes the 2nd display to disconnect, leaving me with one (central, primary) display. I can revert back to the dual displays and all is well, but I'm stuck on how to get the third display running again.

I realize this is an odd/unusual setup but I would appreciate any tips or a step-guide approach on troubleshooting this to get it working. I'm quite sure all the hardware pieces are working properly as I've tested each part (LCD) on other systems, etc. I'm presuming it's a driver issue between the vpus and two different driver sets, but I'm not sure.

Thanks in advance, to anyone who can offer help here. I'm imagining that the first logical step might be to completely remove all display drivers and reinstall the latest catalyst drivers and see what happens, but wanted to check in here first.

9.

More about : monitor setup problems

a b U Graphics card
April 20, 2010 10:03:59 PM

It's a bad idea to mix video card chipsets, especially when they are so different in technology. If you want a stable solution you will need to get a second video card that matches the first. Simple as that. I build Multi-monitor computers for a living so I can tell you from experience. Good luck!
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April 20, 2010 10:13:35 PM

Hmmm,

well, not to question your experience, and thank you for the quick reply, but I've read posts by a lot of people who've made this work with entirely different chipsets, even ATi and Nvidia, for example, so I don't think that prohibits success here.

Unfortunately I won't find a duplicate card for the 2GB 4870 and even with a giant case and three PCIe slots, it wouldn't fit. Assuming you're right, and again I can't agree with you 100% there, can you recommend a card of a similar enough chipset that would be more 'likely' to work?

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a b U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
April 21, 2010 2:24:34 AM

you could always get a 5xxx series card. they are able to drive three screens from a single card.

its hardly ideal, but as multi pointed out what you are attempting is very difficult.

assuming you don't game, then an ATI 5570 ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ) would be able to drive three screens.
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April 21, 2010 2:42:58 AM

The Radeon X300 drivers are LEGACY for Windows Vista 64bit, not exactly the best choice for what you are trying to do, (or don't!). "I've read posts by a lot of people" who couldn't tell you the sun rises about 0600 local. Why don't you QUOTE what you've read so the rest of us can reply. It's not working, tell us why Multiscreenz is wrong...
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April 21, 2010 2:54:33 AM

Hmmm, how feisty. Bravo.

Now it is working, oddly. I went back through the basic steps and removed the X300 card and drivers from device manager, add/remove programs and so forth. Rebooted and Win7 64-bit found the X300 and installed a driver for it, reporting it had installed successfully. At this point the first time I couldn't get the 3rd monitor recognized but this time I simply turned it on, expecting to have the same problem, but no, it lit up already displaying the extended desktop.

Conclusion: I've not idea what caused it to stop working in the first place, although you're quite right to say those legacy Vista drivers are hardly the best choice. No other options on the AMD/ATI site though. I can only assume something other than drivers lacking was the cause of it not recognizing the 3rd LCD on the 1st try and that now, using the default Win7 driver, all seems well. We'll see if it stays that way.

Apologies if I wasted anyone's time, and again, thanks for that time taken to read and reply here. I guess the secondary conclusion is that the 4870 and X300 vpu chipsets can be made to work together, eh?

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April 21, 2010 3:03:21 AM

Well done, thanks for the update!!
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