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Windows 7: Confused about PCI slots!

01 Jul 2014   #1

Win 7/Pro 64-bit
Confused about PCI slots!

I have a Dell Optiplex 745 Minitower:
  • Intel Core 2 Duo MPU
  • 305W power supply
  • Four PCI slots
  • 8GB RAM DDR2
  • Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit
PSI Slots:
  1. PCI Express x 16 (empty)
  2. PCI (empty)
  3. PCI (WiFi card)
  4. PCI Express x 1 (empty)
Discovery: if a graphics adapter is plugged into the motherboard, the on-board graphics adapter is disabled. I've found no work-around for that.

Workload: no gaming; just text editing for web sites, simple graphics, file transfer, and web browsing, plus Email.

Objective: I need a total of three monitors.

Issue: I see all sorts of PCI specifications, but am not sure what will work on my MB. I want to keep power usage down, so I want only one adapter to drive three cards. Something like this:
Sparkle PC 8400GS 512MB DDR3 PCI Graphics Card 700037

The Sparkle is available through, has three outputs, and is advertised as supporting three monitors. ("... expand your visual real estate across three HD displays with DVI, HDMI and DVI outputs" according to pitch on BUT WILL IT WORK?

Your thoughts?

My System SpecsSystem Spec

01 Jul 2014   #2
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1

Hi there, first let's get some terms right. PCI and PCIe are not the same. PCIe (PCI Express) has more bandwidth and would be better suite to power 3 monitors. I see no link to the Sparkle card but you say it's a PCI card. I would search for a PCIe X16 card with 3 outputs. The Sparkle one is a bit dated I think.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jul 2014   #3

Windows 7 Pro-x64

Yeah, it's PCI 2.0 card. It's made for the older PCs. It gets mixed reviews and I can't find a manual on it. To get to Tech Support on their site, you have to register. My opinion on that matter is best left off this forum. I can't find any reference to anyone running three displays on that card. The card itself has a HDMI, DVI and what looks like a VGA port. Unless there's an adaptor of some sort included, I don't know how they claim it has two DVI ports. You get sound on the HDMI port IF you use a jumper from your sound card to the video card.

If that works for you, then it will probably work.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

02 Jul 2014   #4

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

You have a PCI-Express x16 slot and your PSU is rated 305W (Dell Underrates their PSUs so 305W that is real) there is no doubt that you can have that card
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jul 2014   #5

Win 7/Pro 64-bit

To clarify, I want to use my machine with three 19" monitors and Window 7's "Extend desktop to this display" option for these multiple displays. Although I may occasionally dip my toe into a YouTube video, I'll not use the devices for watching TV. Sound will come out of the back panel connection on the PC.

Since the PCI Express x 16 slot (slot 1) is empty, this seems to give me some flexibility, as I now understand that the slots are generally backwards compatible (or is that a misunderstanding)?

Thanks for the discussion!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jul 2014   #6

Windows 7 Professional x64 Linux Mint 16

2 Important Points:

Does that card have a power connector ?

Does your power supply have a power connector for it ?

Yes this is a PCI card, as suggested you`d want a PCI-Express card.

But it doesn`t need a power plug.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jul 2014   #7

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit

My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jul 2014   #8

Windows 8.1 Pro w/Media Center 64bit, Windows 7 HP 64bit

PCI is an older protocol and PCIe is newer and they are not compatible. That card is a PCI card and will not fit in your PCI Express (PCIe) slots and I doubt it will run 3 monitors. Look for a cheap PCIe card and use your x16 slot.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

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