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Windows 7: Extended display over 3 monitors

08 Mar 2012   #1

DELL Win 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
 
 
Extended display over 3 monitors

Would appreciate some help on this one.

Sorry for the long thread but wanted to provide some context.

Objective
I would like to have an extended desktop over 3 monitors (different windows on different displays). I've seen it done, I know its possible. But I have tried and failed. Looking for help before I give up.

Setup
-Windows 7 Home Ediition 64 bit
-Dell XPS Studio 9100 desktop
-Dell OEM version of AMD HD 5670 ( VGA, DVI and HDMI ports. NO DP port)
-Non gaming application
-3 existing monitors
>>>LEFT: Sony Bravia 32" LCD TV ( HDMI and VGA inputs
>>>MIDDLE: Dell 1901 monitor ( DVI and VGA inputs)
>>>RIGHT: Dell 1907 monitor (DVI and VGA inputs)
-Slots
•PCI card slot (PCI_1) 26
•PCI Express x1 card slot (PCIE1X3)
•PCI Express x16 card slot (PCIE16_1) (used by video card)
•PCI Express x1 card slot (PCIE1X2)
•PCI Express x1 card slot (PCIE1X1)
•PCI Express x8 card slot (PCIE8_2)
Latest AMD Drivers,Catalyst etc.
Resolution requirement - Modest. At this point would even settle for 1280 x 1024 on all monitors

Intial display configuration
Dell OEM AMD 5670 HDMI port > to > HDMI input on Sony Bravia
Dell OEM AMD 5670 DVI port > to > DVI input on Dell 1901
Dell OEM AMD 5670 VGA port > to > VGA input on Dell 1907

Results
Windows 7 control panel sees, recognizes and identifies all 3 monitors. In fact I thought I was done!. But it only lets me extend any two at a time ; not all three at once.

Solutions
From searches to date, I read quite a bit so far - all frustrating:
Option 1 - use a passive or active DP adaptor - but not applicable here as I dont have a DP port.

Option 2 - add a cheap second video card - but many unanwered questions -
a) If I get a second video card - must it have the DP port for all this to work? I assume yes, given I dont have any DP ports now, and three conventional ports dont seem to do the trick.

b) If yes to needing a DP port, the what type of DP adaptor do I need to get?:
- DP to VGA passive?
- DP to VGA active?
- DP to DVI passive?
- DP to DVI active?

c) How do I set it up? Any two monitors on the orignal OEM card (no DP) and one monitor on the new card (via DP)?

d) Regardless i have been unable to find such a card on the market that is "a cheap second video card". has a DP port, and is not a X16 card ( that slot is filled).
Option 3 - Throw out the Dell OEM video card and replace it with something new ( like what?) with DVI, HDMI and DP ports (at what cost?) and what type of DP adaptor?

Option 4- Give up. Abandon the project and stick with two displays ;This will be my only option if I cannot find a another solution.
Again, sorry for the long post but I am out of ideas.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Mar 2012   #2

DELL Win 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
 
 

The more I read , the more I am concluding the most effective way (and maybe the only way) to do this, is Option 3, ie

- buy a new PCI-e x16 graphics card with a DP port ( approx $100-$300)
- buy an ACTIVE dongle ( a I want to run 3 monitors in total) (approx $50)

Eg ref:
HD5450 Triple Monitor Support Problem

Trying to set up 3 monitors with Gigabyte Radeon 6950 card

As to the cheaper Option 2, I dont know if thats even possible in practice for the 3 monitor sceanrio.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Mar 2012   #3
Microsoft MVP

Win 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Option 2 is your best bet, and cheapest. As for the questions regarding #2,

A. No it doesn't have to have a DP for it to work.

B. See A.

C. You can connect it any way you want using what is available on the monitor you're going to connect to it; VGA, DVI or HDMI; DP shouldn't even be a consideration if none of your monitors support it.

D. A x8 slot is full length and you can run a x16 card in it. For what you're looking to do the cheapest HD 5450 or 6450 you can find should work no problem. A lot motherboards that support Crossfire or SLI (neither of which you need or will be running) that come with 2 x16 slots will actually run them at x8 when two cards are installed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


08 Mar 2012   #4

DELL Win 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by stormy13 View Post
Option 2 is your best bet, and cheapest. As for the questions regarding #2.... You can connect it any way you want using what is available on the monitor you're going to connect to it; VGA, DVI or HDMI; DP shouldn't even be a consideration if none of your monitors support it..
Hmm... What I dont understand is, if a DP port is not needed, why would a second video card work for three monitors, but a single video card (with 3 ports) not work?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Mar 2012   #5
Microsoft MVP

Win 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Because unless the card has a DP on it which has a different circuit/output built into the card, the three connections (VGA, DVI and HDM) are all running off of two RAMDAC's, which are only capable of outputting to a single display/connection at a time. On most cards configured like yours is you can usually use a combination of,

VGA and DVI
DVI and HDMI
VGA via VGA-DVI adapter (but only if supported, and not likely to be) and HDMI

and has been the same way since video cards started coming out with three connections on them.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Mar 2012   #6

DELL Win 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
 
 

There are a whack for cheapo 5450 cards, say here: Search Results for 5450 at TigerDirect.ca

Are any of these less problematic that the others in terms of potential problem with:
-simultaneous use with another viedo card ( the Dell OEM 5670 card in the x16 slot)
-use of the 5450 in a x8 slot
-PCI 2.0 vs 2.1
-other factors?

This sure would be a clean and inexpensive solution if it works!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Mar 2012   #7
Microsoft MVP

Win 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Mar 2012   #8

DELL Win 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
 
 

Why is it that power supply requirements wouldn't be an issue here. Wouldn't TWO cards represent quite a burden in that regard ?

Dell XPS Studio 9100 has a 525w power supply.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Mar 2012   #9

Main - Windows 7 Pro SP1 64-Bit; 2nd - Windows Server 2008 R2
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mediaman09 View Post
Why is it that power supply requirements wouldn't be an issue here. Wouldn't TWO cards represent quite a burden in that regard ?

Dell XPS Studio 9100 has a 525w power supply.
Not all 525W PSUs are equal; being that it's a Dell...maybe.

The card stormy13 linked to is typically used in HTPC setups. It's small and fanless, so it will fit in a dinky case, be quiet, and most importantly for your question, not draw a lot of power. Some of those HTPC rigs only have a 300-400W PSU to begin with.

See what you get with this:

eXtreme Power Supply Calculator
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Mar 2012   #10

DELL Win 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
 
 

Still issues here... Read a few posts to the effect "my motherboard woudn't fit a x16 card in the x8 slot because of a silly piece of plastic". So this may not be that clean a solution unless I can find an x8 video card.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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