So I built a computer about 6 months ago and love it. It's fast and near silent. But I'm thinking of getting a second monitor so I can browse the internet while gaming (SWTOR mostly as of late).
I'm running a radeon 6950 1g, 8 gigs ram, sandy bridges 2500 i5 processor, 600w power supply, nothing overclocked. Everything runs very cool and quiet and want to keep it that way. current monitor is 23.6 inches 1920x1080.
So I've never dual monitored before, and I have some questions. I want to keep my speed high and my power consumption/heat low enough to maintain the quiet computer. Do I need to crossfire that 6950? If so obviously I need to upgrade to an 850w power supply (knew I shouldn't have skimped the first time!). My 1g card was discontinued (sapphire), so I'd probably get a 2g card, and I know that kinda wastes a gig, but that's life I guess.
Also, should the second monitor be a duplicate of the first? ie same size and resolution? I could be happy with a smaller monitor, but this one was decently cheap, so w/e. Maybe it doesnt matter.
If you are using the monitor for something other than gaming, it does not need to be the same resolution or size. This could save you some money by purchasing a lesser monitor, but if you want things to look uniform there's nothing wrong with getting a duplicate.
To seamlessly switch between your game and web browsing, you need to run the game in Windowed (Full Screen) mode. This makes it so you don't have to alt+tab to move over to your web browser windows. Unfortunately, this mode disables all but the primary graphics card, so crossfiring wouldn't improve your performance. I found this out the hard way when I got 5850's in crossfire.
The good news is that a single 6950 should be plenty to power the kind of games you are playing at 1920x1080. If you want more performance and you don't mind running Full Screen mode and alt+tab'ing out every time you want to do something in your browser, crossfiring isn't a bad option. You don't need an 850w psu for 6950 x2 though, a 750w should be just fine (assuming it's from a reputable brand with good quality like corsair, xfx, etc). Finally, there are 6950 1GB cards available. It doesn't have to match your current one, any will do. Don't spend the extra $ on a 2GB- you won't get any benefit out of the extra memory pairing it with a 1GB card. Even if you did, the two perform IDENTICALLY at your resolution! Save the cash!