Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Building a Dual Monitor PC from scratch

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
Share
February 28, 2012 10:51:46 PM

Hey guys,

I want to build a PC to do my uni work on (and some mild gaming) and have my heart set on a dual (or tri) monitor setup. I'm not really sure what extra CPU/GPU power I'll need for this, and what sort of monitors to use? To be honest I'm just looking for some opinions on what monitors to get and how many would suit my needs.

I already have a copy of windows 7, 2x 2GB 1600Mhz RAM and a 600W PSU. I don't really have a specific budget, I just want a budget multi monitor PC.

Any suggestions?
February 28, 2012 11:03:19 PM

You just need a graphics card. basically all graphics cards support dual monitors now. sorry if this is a dumb Q but what is "uni" work? since you want to do some gaming then that is how you should buy the card. get best gaming card for the money you want to spend. if you want to go with 3 monitors then you will need to run 2 graphics cards. I would go with amd simply because of eyefinity. you definetaly want to of the exact same monitor. if you go with 3 then you can have all 3 the same, or go with 2 of the same and a big one for the middle.

tell me what u think.
a c 276 U Graphics card
a c 76 C Monitor
February 28, 2012 11:07:00 PM

For gaming, you will want a discrete graphics card of some strength. At least a $100 card and it can go up from there if you have the budget. Spend what you feel comfortable doing on the graphics card, it is the prime determinant of game performance.

Such a card will easily handle two monitors. Some high end cards will handle three or more. Few games will be able to use two monitors, and will direct the game to the primary minitor.

It is not a big deal, for any pc that can handle games on one monitor.

I suggest you start with two identical monitors. Different sizes or brands will be awkward to drag images from one to the other. They may change size or color tone in the process.

If, in the future, you need more monitors, you can either use motherboard integrated graphics adapters, or a <$30 discrete graphics card can give you even more attachments.

For higher levels of multitasking, which many monitors implies, I think you should plan on more than the 4gb of ram you have.
Related resources
February 28, 2012 11:07:51 PM

To save money definitely get a AMD video card. You have to get a very expensive or multi Nvidea GPUs to run three monitors.

Depending on how much gaming you do... I'd suggest getting a card with 2GB of VRAM. If no Eyefinity gaming, then you can get a 5770 1GB or greater.

I have three Acer 21.5'' Slim Design monitors and they were a very great buy. They are cheap and quality monitors. You can get the 24'' version now for under $150 a piece which is very good. I'd start there and if you want to spend more go to ASUS 24'' VW series monitors.

When picking a monitor, pay attention to bezels. It's nice to have thin bezels, but also bezels that are even all the way around the monitor in case you want to switch to portrait mode. It make a world of difference if you can get a multi monitor stand to go with them too, and to do that you need to have monitors with VESA mounting options.
February 28, 2012 11:18:01 PM

uni is short for university (I'm doing a Computer Science Degree). I should have mentioned I'm from the UK, thought the forums would be region specific. Thanks for the responses by the way :) 

I know all about pc rigs with one monitor displays, was just worried I'd need something special (like additional CPU/GPU power) for a multi-monitor setup. I don't know much about Eyefinity, will look into it thanks for mentioning it.

The main reason for wanting multiple monitors is so that I can program, test, multi task etc. so gaming really isn't issue, forget I mentioned it. I'd either want three same sized monitors or two same sized monitors, not a bigger one in the middle. The maximum I'd want is three, so will I need more than the 4GB of RAM? I'm quite happy with them just sitting on the desk, what would be the benefit of a stand?

Thanks for the responses :) 
February 29, 2012 12:06:33 AM

Paul_93 said:
uni is short for university (I'm doing a Computer Science Degree). I should have mentioned I'm from the UK, thought the forums would be region specific. Thanks for the responses by the way :) 

I know all about pc rigs with one monitor displays, was just worried I'd need something special (like additional CPU/GPU power) for a multi-monitor setup. I don't know much about Eyefinity, will look into it thanks for mentioning it.

The main reason for wanting multiple monitors is so that I can program, test, multi task etc. so gaming really isn't issue, forget I mentioned it. I'd either want three same sized monitors or two same sized monitors, not a bigger one in the middle. The maximum I'd want is three, so will I need more than the 4GB of RAM? I'm quite happy with them just sitting on the desk, what would be the benefit of a stand?

Thanks for the responses :) 


If you are not gaming, you essentially won't be using "eyefinity". Eyefinity is three monitors that act as one BIG monitor so the games span all three. But Eyefinity is something you enable so don't worry about not wanting it or something. It's optional. I use Eyefinity when gaming, then disable at other times like now. It's better for the full screen button to maximize to that monitor instead of all three. An AMD card that supports Eyefinity will power three monitors on it's own... that's what you should get from it. Most Nvidea cards will only power two.

The stand makes it easier to set the monitors lined up and steady. Makes it look nicer, but merely a luxury honestly.

You won't need any additional CPU or Memory really. They only thing is with more monitors you'll find yourself multitasking more and that will eat up more memory and possibly CPU, but I think your 4GB is probably OK if it is OK right now... Won't change much.

Good luck with Computer Science... I just graduated with Computer Engineering. I'm the hardware to your software.
February 29, 2012 1:05:52 PM

I'm the Operating System to your hard drive :) 

Well if having two or three monitors doesn't strain hardware too much I may just purchase x2 22" monitors and hook them up to my DELL. It has 3GB of RAM (I could upgrade this if necessary), 3Ghz dual core processor, and I recently put in a 1GB DDR3 HD5450 to replace the old card.

My only problem is the Dell motherboard can only hold one graphics card and the HD 5450 only has one HDMI output. Does this mean one monitor will be HD and the other has to use DVI?
February 29, 2012 1:37:26 PM

Paul_93 said:
I'm the Operating System to your hard drive :) 

Well if having two or three monitors doesn't strain hardware too much I may just purchase x2 22" monitors and hook them up to my DELL. It has 3GB of RAM (I could upgrade this if necessary), 3Ghz dual core processor, and I recently put in a 1GB DDR3 HD5450 to replace the old card.

My only problem is the Dell motherboard can only hold one graphics card and the HD 5450 only has one HDMI output. Does this mean one monitor will be HD and the other has to use DVI?


Somone correct me if I'm wrong, but DVI and Displayport can output higher resolutions than HDMI anyway. The only real advantage to HDMI is that it carries audio as well, but most monitors don't have speakers, and none have good speakers. A DVI to HDMI/VGA adapter is easy to come by if your monitor doesn't have DVI, but that is the standard on new monitors so it should. VGA ports are dated, but will work fine for a typical monitor. Whatever other port the card has, use. DVI is reccomended by me.

Your system should power two monitors very easily outside of high res gaming.
February 29, 2012 2:55:57 PM

I actually just found a HDMI to DVI cable in one of my drawers. So I can use the card's HDMI & DVI port and the output should be the same on both monitors? That's good, will be buying the monitors soon, I'm looking at getting two of these: http://www.amazon.co.uk/LG-E2251VR-inch-Widescreen-Moni...

What do you think? Still don't know if I want 2x 22" or 3x 17" at the moment

EDIT: More info about that monitor here: http://www.lg.com/hk/it-product/monitor/LG-home-E2251VR...
February 29, 2012 3:25:54 PM

Paul_93 said:
I actually just found a HDMI to DVI cable in one of my drawers. So I can use the card's HDMI & DVI port and the output should be the same on both monitors? That's good, will be buying the monitors soon, I'm looking at getting two of these: http://www.amazon.co.uk/LG-E2251VR-inch-Widescreen-Moni...

What do you think? Still don't know if I want 2x 22" or 3x 17" at the moment

EDIT: More info about that monitor here: http://www.lg.com/hk/it-product/monitor/LG-home-E2251VR...


Those will be fine, 5ms isn't ideal, but you'll be fine. You could probably find something cheaper and just as good though. (Assuming I have the exchange rate right) I would suggest 2x22" over 3x17". 17"is WAY small. Yuck. I'd hate to read text all the time on that.

Note: Since the monitors have a DVI port, and you have a free DVI port, might as well use a strait DVI cable.
February 29, 2012 3:35:43 PM

Electronics goods are cheaper 99% of the time in the US compared to UK for some reason, even when you account for the exchange rate, so I don't expect to find a good deal really. Thanks for the help :) 
a c 376 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
February 29, 2012 3:46:32 PM

If you want to be able to use 3 monitors for basic tasks but only need to do some light gaming on one then a mid-range AMD card like the HD6850 or HD6870 would be a good choice though you can go cheaper if gaming performance doesn't matter much to you. In order to actually use a third monitor you will need an active displayport adapter. They cost about $25 in the US.
February 29, 2012 4:29:24 PM

jyjjy said:
If you want to be able to use 3 monitors for basic tasks but only need to do some light gaming on one then a mid-range AMD card like the HD6850 or HD6870 would be a good choice though you can go cheaper if gaming performance doesn't matter much to you. In order to actually use a third monitor you will need an active displayport adapter. They cost about $25 in the US.


Just to point out, yes the $25 adapters WILL work, I've had a few and don't expect more than about 6-8 months before it fails and you have to get a replacement. The USB powered $100 units last much better if you can spare the money.
March 4, 2012 7:26:33 PM

I have decided on buying just the two monitors, been looking at 22" monitors but can't find any cheap ones (sub £100). Could you recommend any? The £115 LG monitor I mentioned seemed good value as it is LED and one of the cheapest I could find.
March 5, 2012 1:57:13 PM

Paul_93 said:
I have decided on buying just the two monitors, been looking at 22" monitors but can't find any cheap ones (sub £100). Could you recommend any? The £115 LG monitor I mentioned seemed good value as it is LED and one of the cheapest I could find.


Sorry for the delay, been busy.

I think this monitor is close to your 100 Euro price,

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
March 14, 2012 12:41:07 PM

I can't find that monitor available in the UK unfortunately. I'm looking for around £100 not euro though. It looks like I may have to go for the £115 LG monitor
!