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I'm about to go choose a dual monitor setup:

  1. Is there any reason why I can't just walk out and buy the two TFT screens I like (a wide screen and a 'portrait' screen) and combine them?

    Mainly wide screen would be for gaming, and portrait for browsing. I'd want the desktop stretching from one to the other (ie drag pointer, apps from one screen to the other)

  2. Also do I need separate gfx cards for each monitor or can one cover both? any performance cost?

  3. And can I have separate background images for each, seeing as they'll be different resolutions?

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migrated from serverfault.com May 15 '10 at 3:11

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For this sort of a question, it helps to mention your OS And for #2, it depends on if the video card has multiple connectors on it or not. –  Joe H. May 14 '10 at 23:47
    
If you are planning to use the Clone feature, and display the same content on both screen, for presentations, training sessions, etc. I suggest you to buy two screen with at least the same resolution –  Drake Jun 10 '10 at 9:16

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

There's absolutely no reason why you can't have different resolution and/or size monitors. There might be "jump" in cursor position when it crosses from one screen to another, but the OS should cope.

Most graphics cards come with multiple outputs these days. Just look for one that mentions "dual view" or "double headed".

If you're on Windows there are quite a few apps that allow you to put different images on each monitor. DisplayFusion is just one.

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1  
i use such a setup on daily basis. works fine. –  pQd May 15 '10 at 0:04
    
while it is true that you can do that, if the vertical resolution and actual height is the same in both monitors, everything will be much nicer. –  Lohoris May 15 '10 at 11:53

Don't do it. I have a work office and home office with each with a 20in and a 19in with differing resolutions. Sure, it works. But there's the constant annoyance of having to resize windows to fit appropriately on one monitor or the other. There's also a "step" at the bottom at the bottom that has to be climbed when going from the larger to the smaller.

Two monitors are great, but having had this configuration for several years I long for two monitors of the same brand, size, and resolution. I'd recommend matching monitors.

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Agreed. At my work they thought it would be cool to get us 2nd monitors (a 19" 1440x900 LCD) to put next to our existing 19" 1280x1024 CRT. There aren't words to describe how utterly annoying this is. –  Craig May 15 '10 at 4:02

I've been doing this for years. Right now I have a 1680x1050 laptop and an external 1050x1680 monitor. It's really a 22" 1680x1050, but I have it rotated to be tall to make reading web pages easier.

It's a matter of preference, but I'll have to disagree with Mike Chess. I'm not constantly annoyed at all. It also helps to have an OS that has some snazzy window management features like Windows 7's ability to simply pull maximized windows and snap them to the top or side of a screen.

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+1, Win7 makes two different size monitors much easier to work with. –  Chris S May 15 '10 at 2:51
    
For some programs, sure. I spend my days with Visual Studio (usually multiple instances) and transferring it to another screen usually requires adjustment of the myriad regions within it to see the data I need at any given point in time. I also spend a lot of time using Remote Desktop to access other systems. A session that sets its automatic resolution for one monitor, doesn't work so well when transferred to the other. –  Mike Chess May 15 '10 at 4:19
    
@Mike: Gotcha. Thanks for clarifying. My only interaction with VS is the SQL Server mgmt studio... and that's very infrequently. –  Wesley May 15 '10 at 5:39

Over the years, I've used a number of dual-monitor solutions, and never once have I had the same model/resolution/dot pitch. In fact, having different dot pitches meant I could quickly drag a window from one window to the other to 'zoom in'.

I find having a smaller monitor w/ larger pixels useful for keeping all of the toolbars from applications. (in 1997, my 'small' monitor was a 14" 640x480 CRT, and a 17" 'main' monitor). I'd keep that at different heights, and adjust the OS to consider the connection between the two to only be an inch or two, so I didn't have the problems Mike Chess was describing.

(This was under Mac System 7, but I've continued to do it through the years -- these days, it's a MacOSX laptop hooked up to a larger main display)

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