4 Display Graphics Card Question

I am a noobie, but I am setting up my friend's computers in his office (my friend knows absolutely nothing about computers, which is why I am doing it). For his desk, he wants to have a four-monitor setup, where each monitor is its own display (i.e. one long screen where he can drag things across the monitors so that he could have multiple windows, documents, programs, etc. open at once for maximum efficiency). All four monitors are new and the same model, etc. (they are HP monitors, I don't have the model numbers on me). Each monitor has a VGA and DVI connection available. He will not be gaming; the computer is for his business use (e.g. email, internet, spreadsheets, pdf's, word processing, etc.)

The computer (HP p7610f - that he has has integrated graphics that are automatically disabled if a graphics card is added to the computer. Inside the tower, there is one PCI Express x16 slot for a graphics card, 3 PCI Express x1 slots and 1 PCI Express x1 minicard slot.

Because there is only one x16 slot, I assume that I cannot use two dual output cards (i.e. an x16 together with an x1), unless I went with two x1's, but I also assume that because almost every card I see is an x16, that the x1's are expensive. Also, based on the numbers, I would assume that x16 is better than x1. Accordingly, I am looking for a graphics card that can support 4 outputs at once.

My friend is looking to spend as little as possible to keep his startup costs down, and I have found 3 cards for under $250 that will support four outputs (one of which is an x1 card):
1) ATI FireMV 2450 512MB GDDR3 PCIe VHDCI (x16) -
2) ATI FirePro 2460 512MB PCIe x16 LP Workstation (x16) -
3) ATI FireMV 2450 512MB GDDR3 Workstation Card (x1) -

I am completely lost and can really use some help.
A) Am I right in understanding that the x16 is better than the x1 and thus I should just use one x16 card rather than two x1's (even assuming that I could find two cheap x1 cards with dual outputs)?
B) Which of these cards is the best card (or is anyone aware of a better card for a comparable price)?
C) Is there any better or cheaper alternative to get this four-monitor display set up?

Thanks a lot, I really appreciate any help I can get. I want to help him get his office set up as quickly and cheaply as possible.
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  1. Best answer
    A) 16x is faster if you are using a card that can use the speed and you are processing data at a high rate. If this is a workstation for 2d applications, then no biggy.
    *if the monitors are 23in or larger, the 1x may show some loss of performance.

    Another solution would be to use two cards. A 16x dual monitor card an a 1x dual monitor card. That is your option, cost under $150 for both.
  2. Ok great, thank you so much! I just looked it up on Amazon, and I can get a 16x and a 1x card for about a combined $135.

    So which would you recommend? Should I just go with a four output 16x card for $240, or get the 16x and the 1x (and save $100)?

    If I go with the two cards, can I just plug the two of them into the motherboard and the four monitors will work, or will I encounter any difficulty setting up the four output display? Also, if I go with the two cards, will my friend notice any performance issues (again, he is not gaming, just standard business internet and software)?

    Thank you so much for all of your time and advice! I really appreciate it.
  3. Two video cards can always present issues.

    IF you go that route, your easiest method would be to buy a 16x and 1x of the same generation, such as a Nvidia 300 series or ATI whatever series.

    However, if you run Windows 7, many of the dual videocard issues go away, even if they are different brands.

    A 4 port card will always be the easiest and give you the best performance when moving windows across screens, but after that, the performance is much due to the videocard powering the monitor.
  4. Ok great, thanks again! He does have Windows 7, so I think I'll go with the two cards.
  5. Enjoy! I also recommend displayfusion free (like ultramon, and download some ultrahigh resolution images to stretch across all of them.
  6. Best answer selected by nukeemaway.
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