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Windows 7: dual-monitor card recommendation for basic 2D office PC - Win7

03 Apr 2011   #1

Windows 7 Pro 32-bit
dual-monitor card recommendation for basic 2D office PC - Win7

Hi everyone,

Looking for recommendations for a cheap graphics card for a new Windows 7 32-bit business PC (Dell Optiplex 780 Mini Tower). The integrated video it ships with (GMA 4500 on an Intel Q45 chipset) is reportedly pretty lousy and $30-80 is worth it to me for multiple monitor support and freeing up all the system RAM. The actual graphics requirements are minimal. All the PC will be used for is Excel, Outlook and basic web browsing on two 19” monitors. Decent Aero performance would be a plus.

I thought that any card would be better than the integrated but after researching a little it appears that decent 2D performance in Win7 is not a given… 2D, Acceleration, And Windows: Aren't All Graphics Cards Equal? : Part 1: Laying A Theoretical Background

Ideally the card would be without a 6-pin power connector and as low power consumption as possible. The PC uses Dell’s “88 Percent Efficient PSU” that I’m guessing is codeword for low-wattage. The thread linked below indicates problems with fitting even some single-slot gaming cards into the 780’s case due to size of heatsinks and fan shroud. But I’m not looking for gaming/3d performance so there’s got to be something that will work for decent office 2d acceleration. is GTS 450 compatible with Dell Optiplex 780


My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Apr 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

Are you fine using 2 VGA or 1 VGA and 1 DVI or HDMI?
It looks like most of the cheaper cards, like the GT210, GT220, and GT240 have 1 VGA, 1 DVI, and 1 HDMI and I am not sure if they can do dual digital outputs at the same time.
GT210 will be the cheapest and lowest power option and there are over a dozen to choose from on
I have been satisfied with eVGA and XFX branded cards.

I am currently sitting at a low powered desktop, 300watt psu, AMD triple core with an XFX GT240 and it works great, but we are only using 1 display on this machine.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Apr 2011   #3


The PC uses Dell’s “88 Percent Efficient PSU” that I’m guessing is codeword for low-wattage
The MT appears to have 2 PSU's available, so your potentially biggest limiting factor is the PSU - you may have to visually check which version you have

dual-monitor card recommendation for basic 2D office PC - Win7-opti-psu.jpg

A lot of the GT210/22/40 recommend a 300w minimum. Which will widen your options. If however you have the 225w version, your options become quite narrower.

Card Size:
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Dell 780 manual
NOTE: MT supports full height card
That refers to the height, which is a single slot card but it doesn't specify wheter or not if it's low profile. A low profile card would probably be a safer option and since you only need a WEI index score of 3.0 to enable aero, you really don't need much grunt at all.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

04 Apr 2011   #4

Windows 7 Pro 32-bit

Thank you for the replies.

2xVGA or 1xVGA + 1xDVI would be fine. I have DVI-VGA adapters somewhere.

PSU - The 255W is what is listed as the "High Efficiency" one, so it must be that. I'll confirm with the sticker as soon as it arrives next week.

Card size - Based on what I've seen on the Dell site and in the 2nd link I posted, the Mini Tower has full profile cards/brackets but the height/thickness and believe it or not the length are factors. I think when Dell says full height they mean profile. But from that other thread it sounds like regardless of profile, the height/thickness of the heatsink and fan are the issue. These strange sizing issues and my lack of knowledge on the 2D front is why I'm turning to the experts on this one. If it's getting too confusing I'll just wait until it arrives and test a couple old/big PCIe cards to see what could fit and then report back.

I think the GT240 was actually recommended in that same thread, but they decided against it for some reason, even though many pictures suggest some 240's look like a one slot height/thickness. That thread was for someone looking for 3D/gaming on a Opt 780 so I didn't follow their recommendations too closely. But maybe that's my only option. Who knew it would be so tricky to a find a simple card for the 780's apparently stupid case design. With all the advancements in gaming/3D cards in the past several years, I thought it would be easy and cheap to find a 2D card. 4CPU cores and 4GB of RAM and you still need a real GPU to see Windows 7's fancy

Anyway outside of allowing 2 monitors is there anything a discrete graphics card really does for business applications (Office, QB etc)? I just thought is would help Windows run better. As you can see I've been stuck in business applications on Win XP (where integrated or any dualhead card was fine) for far too long

Thanks again.

Oh and Zepher is that Avid MC on your picture? I can't quite make it out.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Apr 2011   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

Premiere Pro CS5
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Apr 2011   #6

Windows 7 Pro 32-bit

Nice...I read that they now have all kinds of extra support of fancy features/acceleration for workstation level GPUs.

Update. The 780 finally arrived and indeed has a 255W PSU. I'm going to try installing a few cards tomorrow to see what I can fit size-wise, bit it does indeed look tight for any tall fan/heatsink on a long card.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 dual-monitor card recommendation for basic 2D office PC - Win7

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