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I have a HP DC7100 and want to use three screens with it. The machine has an integrated graphics card, 2 PCI slots, 1 'PCI-E x 16' and 1 'PCI-E x 1' slot.

What is the best setup for three screens? Should I use a card with VGA + DVI in the 'PCI-E x 16' and add a regular PCI card for the third screen or is there a better solution?

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Me Also VERY interested, how my desktop will look like, is there any demo on some websites?? –  Omar Abid Aug 18 '09 at 13:28

6 Answers 6

If you have an integrated graphics card, you technically would only need to add one graphics card with dual monitor support to obtain the functionality you need. You can use some of the money you saved to get a very nice monitor. :)

You could put that in the x16 slot, or in the regular slot; I'd use the x16 slot if your'e into CAD.

If your integrated graphics card is disabled when you put in a new PCI-E card, you really don't have much of an option: you'll have to get two cards, with a minimum of three video outputs for monitors between them.

As for which chipset to get, I'm not sure if this is really that big of a deal if your'e doing non-graphicsy things. My Linux guru friend says that ATI cards aren't very stable on Linux for anything other than basic 2D work right now. If your'e doing CAD, you'll need to make sure you have a card that provides graphic acceleration support for your applications, but other than that, I can't think of anything.

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This disables the integrated card though. –  user5367 Aug 18 '09 at 13:31
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It does? I've had several machines where that wasn't the case. –  J. Polfer Aug 18 '09 at 13:32
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+1 I've worked with several machines where using a separate card doesn't disable the onboard one either. Sure, it may not be activated "at boot", but it's accessible after the graphics driver loads up. –  Chris Jester-Young Aug 18 '09 at 14:10
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This is worth noting however, I've just installed file-servers and went for cheaper Motherboards with onboard video, and a PCI-Ex16, many of these boards could only run the slot, or the card - meaning I could not use a RAID card. (The lesson here is don't scrimp on parts). –  salmonmoose Aug 20 '09 at 12:41
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This depends on the integrated graphics chipset and the BIOS. Some systems can use both integrated and discrete concurrently. Most cannot. The problem is that this feature is not really noted in most documentation and so you have to see if somebody else has tried it to see if it'll work for you. –  music2myear Jul 11 '11 at 15:37

You may not even have to - if you're not after performance there are now monitors that will attach via USB. Or, alternatively Matrox offer a range of multi-monitor adapters effectively joining 2 or 3 monitors into one super-sized screen.

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And these solutions cost hundreds of dollars usually. Much more than a capable discrete graphics solution. –  music2myear Jul 11 '11 at 15:37

One solution that I haven't tried but works is using a USB-DVI adapter. They do run about a $100 (and way up, haven't seen any under) and you easily use multiple adapters for additional monitors.

Here's one for example: http://us.kensington.com/html/14499.html

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I don't think you can use multiple USB-DVI adapters at once on the same root hub. Also, even if you have one running, those use up a lot of the available USB bandwidth, and so you'll have a really hard time using other devices connected to the same hub as the USB-DVI adapter. Most of those devices work via a USB->PCI->Video adapter chipset scheme; if you can use a slot instead, I'd say that's a better solution. It's probably cheaper too. That said, for laptops, they are a great solution. And I secretly want one for mine. :) –  J. Polfer Aug 18 '09 at 15:13

In our company we put up to 4, 6 or even 10 monitors to a single computer.

The actual solution is to go for Matrox DualHead, nVidia MuliView or other graphics cards with same specs.

Each card gives you room up to two screens which you can use simultaniously.

These cards also allow you to spread your taskbar across all the connected screens. (Which actually converts all connected screens to one single screen. -> resolution would be like "3096x1024" or even more.

Solution for your setup would be to buy one of these DualScreen cards and use the built in card for the third screen.

These cards don't cost that much nowadays and PNY / Matrox build these.

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On the computer I am using right now I have 4 monitors. When i put a video card in the pci-e slot it permanently disabled the onboard video card. This is more common then some of the other answers have led you to believe. I had to buy a pci video card with 2 more video outs to get 4 monitors going.

Also any usb/matrox solution is only a good idea if you want low resolutions. In my experience using a matrox i got low res and couldn't use it to watch video or animations on those monitors. Also when i would drag a window it would look bad.

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You can use 3 monitors with an integrated graphics and a card add-in in a PCI slot. I have 5770 in the PCI16 slot and a integrated Geforce 70xx and play games across 3 monitors. The trick is just to leave the BIOS option for integrated graphics selected as the primary display, if you don't turn this option on, then Windows will not find it. I find the frame rate drops like 10FPS when using this combination but its very playable with no lag.

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