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Windows 7: Dual Monitor question.

24 Mar 2016   #1

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit
Dual Monitor question.

My desktop computer is a Dell Studio 540. It has an onboard video and an add-on video card (ATI Radeon 3600).

I am running a dual monitor setup.

One monitor is relatively new and came with an HDMI so it is hooked into the HDMI port of the ATI Radeon card. There is only one HDMI port on the ATI card.

The other monitor is old, has no HDMI and is hooked into the DVI port of the ATI Radeon card.

The setup works perfectly except that the old monitor is small and I want to upgrade to a larger screen as I frequently read a lot of text from two websites open at the same time.

A new monitor will undoubtedly have HDMI and USB.

In order to get the new monitor working in tandem with the existing HDMI monitor do I hook the new one into the ATI Radeon card, necessitating a DVI adaptor or can I just hook it in to the Dell's onboard HDMI or USB port? Pros and cons of each?

Second question. My larger monitor is 1080p (a 32" TV that I use as a monitor). Would it be better to match it with another 1080p or would 720p suffice? I'm planning on another 32" TV now that costs are significantly under $200.

Thanks for the help.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2016   #2
Mellon Head

Win 7 Pro x64/Win 10 Pro x64 dual boot

Ok. I'll try to answer everything. :)

1. If a monitor has a USB connection, it is for audio, or something else. It is not for video, so you don't need to worry whether your new monitor has USB available on it. Nice if it has it, but it doesn't carry a video signal.

2. If your Dell has an HDMI port onboard, you could use that to hook to the new monitor. Otherwise use the DVI connection with or without an adapter. It's not commonly known, but at 1080p resolutions and below, HDMI and DVI are no different in quality, so it doesn't matter which option you use. The picture quality will be the same.

3. I would use a DVI to HDMI cable out of the ATI Radeon card, as well as the existing HDMI cable for the first monitor. As I said in #2, you won't notice a quality difference.

4. If you can afford it, get a 1080p model for your second monitor as well. A 720p monitor will not look good beside it. It might be blurry, or you will have two different resolutions, and that might be jarring to the eye (that's just me, your mileage may vary. :) ).

I hope that helped a little.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2016   #3

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

That helped a lot.

The Dell does have an onboard HDMI but I think I will opt for using the DVI on the video card since the idea behind adding a video card is for better display performance and having both come out of the same card is likely to have good results.

I agree about getting a second 1080p monitor. I had already figured that out by the time I saw your response.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

25 Mar 2016   #4
Mellon Head

Win 7 Pro x64/Win 10 Pro x64 dual boot

If you find that the two signals coming out of your video card tax it too much, you could try using one HDMI off the card and one of the motherboard and see how that works. You might get better frame rates from youtube and such.

Just a thought...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Mar 2016   #5

W10 Pro x64, W7 Pro x64 in VMware

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Mellon Head View Post
you could try using one HDMI off the card and one of the motherboard and see how that works.
I thought you can, in general, only use either mobo video or gfx card but not both together. I think some boards will do both simultaneously, but I've never seen one.

I've used mobo's that automatically disable onboard gfx when a card is plugged in, and other types where you have to select in BIOS, but not both together.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Mar 2016   #6
Mellon Head

Win 7 Pro x64/Win 10 Pro x64 dual boot

There are a few boards that allow the use of both, though it is likely that the OP's Dell does not have that feature.

I presented it as a possibly available option as the Dell website's manuals are vague in this area, and I know that there are Dell models that allow it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Mar 2016   #7

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

The Dell Studio 540 has an onboard 15 pin monitor port (VGA) and an onboard HDMI port. The owners' manuals seem to imply that you use one or the other. They provide instructions for dual monitors but note that "your video card must support multiple monitors."

The add on card has the DVI port and the HDMI port.

I did a little digging and identified my motherboard as 0M017G. Googling that revealed that the onboard integrated graphics was an Intel GMA X4500 HD.

A little more googling yielded the answer that the GMA X 4500 HD does support dual monitors BUT one of the discussions I found mentioned that an add on card would override the onboard chip. Yet another comment insisted that it's not possible to use the onboard video and an add on card at the same time on any computer.

Makes sense.

I think I'm back to the idea of using the existing add on card with one monitor in the HDMI port and the other in the DVI port with an adapter. I don't need sound on the second monitor and I rarely watch video on the main monitor (I have another computer hooked to a 40" TV in another room for that) so there's no need to upgrade the add on card.

Thank you all for your help. I'm marking this as solved.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Dual Monitor question.

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