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It's been some time I've actually brought a graphics card and it appears the day when they came with 1 or maybe 2 if you wanted VGA connectors has passed, with most offering DVI-I and HDMI 1.3 and in some cases no VGA output.

So the question is, if I get a graphics card with say 1 of each, where exactly does that leave me? Can I run a seperate monitor off each or is it a case of picking one to use?

Some of the websites selling the things have thrown in phrases like "Triple Display Support" which I guess means each output can drive a display, while others ignored the detail. Visiting the ATI or Nivida site for the models in question wasnt entirely useful, since that neither made it entirely clear in the specs what outputs there were, instead just saying things like "Integrated dual-link DVI output with HDCP Max resolution: 2560x1600" (from a card from what I can tell has 2 DVI outputs, not that the spec said x2 anywhere I could see...).

Also regarding audio, I am right in thinking that only HDMI supports Audio out? What happens if I wish to use speakers separate from my monitor?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

As Vilx- noted, dual display support is pretty much de rigeur these days and you can assume any video card supports that.

Triple and quad output is still more exotic, although all newer models of ATI video cards do support triple output as a new standard (under the marketing weasel name eyefinity), which is encouraging! Triple display support might become somewhat more common if NVIDIA copies ATI in the endless race for video card one-upmanship.

Note that current "eyefinity" models are a weird mixture of

  • DVI
  • DVI
  • DisplayPort

So you must have at least one DisplayPort capable monitor.

enter image description here

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While it's not guaranteed, many graphics cards will allow you to output to as many outputs as the card has. The card on my home desktop has DVI, VGA, S-VIDEO and TV-OUT (RCA) and will happily output to all 4 outputs at the same time (though the S-VIDEO and the RCA output the same picture so it's essentially 3 screen output). –  BBlake Feb 9 '10 at 14:39
    
@bblake s-video and tv-out are pretty useless for displaying anything other than low-res video, though, so this is mostly of academic interest –  Jeff Atwood Feb 10 '10 at 6:07
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Most VGAs today come with 2 DVI outputs and they can all support two separate monitors. Also with a simple convertor (you should get one with your VGA) a DVI output can be converted to a D-SUB output and you can connect your old non-DVI montor too.

The HDMI output however may or may not be linked together with one of the DVI outputs, and may or may not support sound. Try finding detailed specs on the manufacturers website. If the specs there aren't very explicit, try downloading the manual - that usually has all the information you need.

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