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I am running a Fujtisu-Siemens Esprimo E2200 with 2gb of ram. The graphics card is ATI Radeon HD 3600 running dual screens. I would now like to add a 3rd screen and I am presuming that adding another video card is the easiest way. Can someone recommend one? That will be compatable with exisitng setup. This is a work computer so no games just boring spreadsheets etc. Thanks

Gary

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I think you may need Crossfire enabled cards to do that, which would mean you need two identical cards that support that. –  madmaze Jan 20 '11 at 17:50
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No, you don't need Crossfire. That's only useful for gaming. –  skypecakes Jan 20 '11 at 18:22
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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The way I would go would be to replace your existing card with one that supports three outputs. Many of ATI's new cards have the "Eyefinity" feature, meaning they support three displays; but check the specs to be sure. They are surprisingly inexpensive. Here's one that can run three displays.

You can also keep the card you have and add an additional card, but that might not save you any money and will add complexity to your system. As Larry said, it depends on what slots you have available. If you have a free PCI Express slot, you can add a second PCI Express video card; that would be the least expensive. It's not that common to have two PCI Express x16 slots, so if you do have another PCIEx slot it will probably be x1. (You can use a PCIEx x16 card in an x1 slot, but an x1 card may be cheaper.) Here's a PCI Express x1 card that would work:

Zotac card on Newegg

If you don't, you can go with a PCI video card or a USB video adapter.

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The linked card doesn't have this issue, but some EyeFinity cards have one DisplayPort output, which is rare on cheap monitors. You'll need a DisplayPort-to-something adapter or cable. They aren't hard to find and no loss in quality, but you should factor it into your cost if planning to go 3-wide. –  yzorg Jan 20 '11 at 20:51
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The easiest solution would be a USB to VGA adapter, you could install another PCI graphics card, or what ever type of slot you have available inside the computer.

A few examples

StarTech.com USB to VGA Multi Monitor External Video Adapter Graphics adapter - 16 MB

StarTech.com USB to VGA Multi Monitor External Video Adapter Graphics adapter - 16 MB

Arkview USB-2011 USB to 2.0 DVI/HDMI/SVGA Display Adapter

Arkview USB-2011 USB to 2.0 DVI/HDMI/SVGA Display Adapter

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I have the top one, and use it at work hooked up to my laptop docking station. Works fine. There is a little lag (almost not worth mentioning) in MSO 2007, and one or two other apps; but its not like you're trying to play WoW or something. –  AnonJr Jan 21 '11 at 0:59
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Your four main options are:

  • Multi-output, single card. This solution will give you the best performance, but will generally cost the most. Jaton makes a number of Nvidia-based 4X output cards for about $150 each. Most or all new ATI cards support 6 displays. Note that beyond the 2nd monitor, all subsequent monitors must support DisplayPort. There are DisplayPort to DVI adapters. You will probably pay $100+ for the card and about $50 per DisplayPort adapter, if you don't have compatible monitors.
  • Multi-output, multiple cards - With NVidia cards, you can add a second (matching) PCIe video adapter to handling additional monitors and they will perform similarly to an ATI EyeFinity configuration. You can also mix cards from different vendors and of different ports, such as 32-bit (legacy) PCI. A legacy PCI card will give you better performance than USB DisplayLink, but it must be installed internally to an available slot. Mixing cards from different vendors or series might have varying success in terms of compatibility and performance, even 2D performance. Some operating systems and vendor's devices work better than others at mix&match configurations.
  • Hardware Display Expander - There are products that can sit between your video card and monitors and present themselves as a very large monitor. Performance on this will be as good as on a single multi-display card. Products include the ViewXpand and Dualhead2go / Triplehead2go. This is actually a quite expensive option, but doesn't require that you replace your video card, important if you have one that is very expensive or specialized.
  • USB DisplayLink - This is the cheapest solution and poorest performance. The performance should be good for web-browsing and office work, but not good for video. You will pay about $50. Comments on compatibility and performance are the same here as with using multiple internal cards, but DisplayLink tends to be better tested with multiple-vendor configurations since this is its primary purpose.
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+1, Great summary! Just wanted to add that Newegg has DisplayPort to DVI connectors starting at $12. –  skypecakes Jan 20 '11 at 23:29
    
skypecakes, for EyeFinity you need an active DisplayPOrt adapter. These are more expensive, but you're right that NewEgg does have them at reasonable prices, from $27/ea. –  ewindisch Jan 21 '11 at 19:51
    
Did not know that! That is very unfortunate. Active adapters are a pain. –  skypecakes Apr 12 '11 at 5:28
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