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Can I mirror my secondary display for a third display?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 7, 2011 2:26:58 AM

I recently built a computer for HTPC, and home office work. Using the single EVGA GTX280 (with two dvi output), I run a primary (office software) monitor, and a secondary (windows media center) monitor. Now the thing works great, but I have recently come to the decision that I would like to be able to mirror my secondary display to an HDTV, so other people can see the TV while I work away.

The problem is, my pci tuner card is right in the way and prevents me from getting another graphics card to run SLI,(Plus the card appears to be discontinued, and I cant find them in any stores) which would give me a third DVI output.
So I have found that there are DVI-Y splitters, that, in theory should just duplicate the signal, but they often do not work because of mix matched resolution and "handshake" feedback issues. I also found USB display adapters, but have learned that the output quality is sloppy and the resolution is much less that 720p. I also have an S-video output on the card, but I understand that is basically a lo-fi analogue output, and i can't guarantee that this card will actually power three independent display signals.

So, my question is, is there any affordable way to do this without buying some really expensive powered DVI splitter? I would like to keep my cables DVI instead of HDMI if possible.

I feel like doing this should not be as hard as it is, because I am not asking the GPU to generate another screen to render, I only want a way to display one of my two displays a second time!

If anybody had any ideas or suggestions, They are REALLY appreciated.
a b U Graphics card
March 7, 2011 2:40:45 AM

You can run any (well 8000 series or newer for sure) GeForce card and use its outputs for extra video output. If you have a single card with 3 outputs, you can also mirror a third display off of one of the first two outputs.
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March 7, 2011 2:43:22 AM

Thanks dalauder, do you have a suggested method? any particular hardware used?
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a b U Graphics card
March 7, 2011 2:58:58 AM

Well you could do it a lot more cheaply, but I have a GTX 470 (like a 280, it's OVERKILL for an HTPC) and just plug all 3 cables in then go to the Properties menu that lets me change screens.

Before I had my mini-hdmi to hdmi adapter though, I used a GeForce 9600GSO and just plugged my third video straight into that.

There really isn't much to it. You just need enough adapters. For an HTPC, I recommend a Radeon 5670 or other midrange Radeon. They have better video transcoding than high-end GeForces (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/hqv-2-radeon-geforc...).

5000-series Radeons support Eyefinity for 3 independent displays (no clone/mirroring)--but that does require Display Port compatible displays or adapters, which I'm not familiar with.

Btw, if you don't game, what are you using the GTX 280 for? Even if you're doing CAD/drafting, it's overkill. Unless you do 3D rendering, you won't get much out of it.
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March 7, 2011 1:52:20 PM

I think I've been unclear. Or maybe I just have no idea what I'm talking about. So either way thanks for your help.

I already have a gtx280. I want to keep the card, and try not to expand using SLI. The 280 has only two DVI outputs, so what kind of adapters are you referring to? I would love to find the right kind of adapter that will let me mirror my second monitor to a third, but Id like to be point in the right direction before i go spending a ton of bucks.

If I am misunderstanding you, or complete oblivious to something that I should really know, I apologize.

I got the GTX280 because I really needed this computer to do everything for me when I bought it. I do do a ton of 3d modeling, and some 3d rendering, plus lots of autocad. Also I figured since I was going to be building a hefty computer, why not make it able to do graphics intense game and do the htpc thing. Ive been happy with it all day and all night.

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a b U Graphics card
March 7, 2011 9:09:50 PM

Oh, that's what I was wondering. You didn't mention games, but said "work" and I was wondering where you needed something as powerful as a GTX 280. It'll make a difference in 3D modeling.

It looks to me like the DVI-Splitter is a solid option, but like you said, there are problems with it. I cannot guarantee that your card outputs a strong enough signal to reach both displays or that it won't have that conflict with determining the correct primary display. It should help significantly if both displays have identical native resolution (eg: 1920x1080).

You can be pretty much guaranteed a second GeForce video card would do the trick and allow an independent 3rd display, but you say you're short on space? You just have to make sure the card is 1080p compatible. I'm not certain mixing Radeon & GeForce cards always works smoothly, you'd have to research that, but it is easier to find low-end Radeons that can handle HD video and transcode video at higher resolutions.

The S-Video can be used to clone a display, but only up to 720p or so--which is lower than the resolutions you'll be using.

These EVGA USB solutions do HD resolution, but are a bit pricey. There may be other USB alternatives: http://www.evga.com/products/prodlist.asp?switch=10.
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March 7, 2011 9:30:28 PM

Best answer selected by mrkhsm.
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March 7, 2011 9:37:43 PM


Man thank you for your help. I think i'll try to split the dvi cable with a Y splitter first, and if that doesn't work, ill convert the dvi to hdmi, and split with an amplifier/splitter.

Thanks again for your help, if the dial link dvi is strong enough to push two identical resolution displays with a cheap $20 splitter, ill be the happiest guy on the planet... and even if not, i think i know what is a good way to do it.

Thanks for the usb solutions from EVGA too, that explains a lot. the UV19 looks like it can handle a crazy high resolution, I had no idea that that much data could stream over usb 2.0 bandwidth! Even that is not a bad idea now. I wonder if Windows will recognize the usb display in the standard display properties area, or if evga supplies a seperate software that is necessary to customize.

Take care :sol: 
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a b U Graphics card
March 7, 2011 10:12:36 PM

You're welcome. Amazon had some splitters at a bit lower than $20. And most of the time, a cable is a cable, regardless of price (exceptions exist, such as LONG [>>5m] HDMI cables).
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