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I have been given the option at work to upgrade my Lenovo ThinkCentre to the Inspiron. It has more RAM and a quad core, but most importantly it does not have an internal speaker (my Lenovo has been having a weird problem with the speaker turning on and off making playing music next to impossible because I don't know what the speaker is going to do today, but I digress ...)

Either way I would like to upgrade to the Inspiron, but unless I can get it to support at least two, if not three monitors (which I currently have running on my Lenovo) it's a deal breaker.

There is a 1 vga output and 1 hdmi output.

I've seen talk of hdmi to dvi adapter cables when googling, but can they be split in such a way?

I plan on running windows 7, I don't care about resolution as much, 1280x1024 is enough for me, and my third monitor is 1024x768 for testing purposes.

I've always had multiple monitors, but I always used to do it via multiple bargain bin PCI video cards back when AGP was the thing, I need to update my knowledge of these types of things.

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Answering my own question to benefit anybody else stumbling across it.

While searching for dual monitor systems on the I ran into my Dell Inspiron zino HD 410, where one of the features was a Integrated ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250. This is also video architecture that they put on laptops. And from this Tom's Hardware post it seems that it has only two video outputs, because he can display from both the VGA port, and the HDMI connection on to external monitors, or one external monitor and the laptop screen.

All of this searching has taught me that:

  • DVI-splitters that result in an extended desktop display are usually not what someone thinks they are. They are 99.9% of the time DMS-59 outputs that carry two DVI signals through the video card.
  • HDMI to DVI is a fairly simple process, but be wary of the adapter you buy for this model of Dell, as most of them will cover the power cord input port.
  • Splitting into multiple video displays will always depend on the video card, the only reason I am able to run three monitors off of my ThinkCentre is because I have a video card with a DMS-59 port in addition to onboard video through VGA
  • The only way to split a signal after the video card is to use specialty hardware like Matrox DualHead2Go, which I have no experience in, have no idea how it works, and cannot recommend because of those facts. Any kind of Y-cable will just produce the same image on the different monitors and will not allow extending of the desktop.
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