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Configure your workspace the way you want it with support for up to three native monitors via DP/DP/VGA ports.

So I ordered one, and have connected three monitors, but I can only enable two at a time. It can be both of the ones connected by DisplayPort, or one of the ones connected by DisplayPort and the one connected by VGA. Does anyone know whether it really is possible to enable all three at once, and if so, how?

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"up to three" means that at least one configuration (dual graphics card?) supports three monitors - that doesn't mean that your configuration supports that. – Robert Jun 25 '12 at 17:25
It says "support for up to three native monitors via DP/DP/VGA ports". Those are the ports on the back of the machine I have bought. – matthewk Jun 25 '12 at 19:04
Matthew - I'm not sure if you are following this any longer, but here's an update. About 10 minutes ago I tried attaching two monitors using DP to DVI adapters - passive. And it worked like a charm. No need for active adapters. I've been reading up on it a bit, and found that the processor needs to be 3rd gen Intel - e.g. Ivy Bridge. I was running with Intel i5-3550 processor. Which processor do you have in the machine? – Anders B Sep 6 '12 at 9:35
It's an i7-3770. You say "two monitors". My question was about three monitors, though. – matthewk Sep 6 '12 at 13:06
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Is this using Radeon graphics? If so, I'm guessing your monitors are not native DisplayPort and instead you're using adapters. Most EyeFinity cards only have two TMDS clocks, so that means that any outputs beyond two have to be actual DisplayPort connections, or they won't work.

The workaround for this, if your monitors don't support DisplayPort natively, is to buy an active adapter instead of a passive one. (Sounds like you should only need one.)

EDIT: Since matthewk has confirmed that this card does not have discrete graphics, this is simply not possible with the Intel graphics chip in question. You'd have to have an OptiPlex 9010 with discrete graphics, and even then not necessarily all of those discrete graphics solutions would have three ports - there are plenty of such models according to the tech specs on the page linked in the question so the quote in question is technically true. (I'm leaving the answer intact because this would still be the case with shome other OptiPlexes.)

DOUBLEEDIT: To summarize comments discussion, apparently this Dell board is very weird, and works like this if and only if you're using two active adapters. I absolutely cannot explain this in any reasonable manner, totally at a loss, but there it is.

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No, just the onboard graphics (two DisplayPort ports, with DisplayPort to DVI adapters) and one VGA port. – matthewk Jun 25 '12 at 17:14
@matthewk - See my edit. – Shinrai Jun 25 '12 at 17:29
I'm not sure that you are correct about it not being possible. says "Starting with the 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ Processors with Intel® HD Graphics 4000/2500, three displays support may be possible depending on your computer's configuration. Check with your computer manufacturer if three displays are supported on your computer and which display combinations are supported." – matthewk Jun 25 '12 at 18:54
@matthewk - Let me clarify because I should have worded this a bit better - this is not currently possible with any equipment on the market. The chipset technically supports it but no one is shipping compatible hardware for three external displays. I was kind of surprised to hear that myself, but our Intel product rep didn't have a good explanation for us other than 'nobody's bothering'. There are some laptops using this to drive two external outputs + the internal LCD, but that's all that is out there right now. (Further discussion is beyond the scope of a comment.) – Shinrai Jun 25 '12 at 22:01
So what would Dell need to change to enable this? Is it the BIOS, or the driver, or something else? – matthewk Jun 25 '12 at 22:45

I have Small form Optiplex 9010 with Radeon card (DIV & HDMI) and two display-ports on the motherboard.

Got two Dell U2312HM screens with display ports.

Start computer and go to Bios settings [F12] In Bios settings:

Select Displays and choose for Radeon Graphics card (not on auto) as primary

Now reboot And go in the Bios again [F12] Multiple display option is now available, so select it.

Now reboot again [F12] and enter the bios again. Select Intel as primary

So the trick is to reboot after every single bios setting, since the new options will be availaiable after the reboot.

Now I suddenly got 5 screens on in Windows Display settings, but you can only get maximum 0f 3 active displays (e.g. 2 x display port and 1x DVI from Radeon card) or (2 x display port and 1 vga on motherboard.)

I think that the Additional Radeon card is also necessay even if you use all motherboard connectors (2 x display port + 1 vga setup), but did not test it.

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Firstly I'd recommend that you upgrade the driver software for the chipset.
Secondly, there was an issue with BIOS Rev: A00 and dual DP monitor setup. This might have affected 3 native monitors also.
A couple of days ago BIOS Rev A05 became available which addresses the dual DP setup. This might resolve 3 native setup as well.

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Do you work for Dell? – matthewk Aug 7 '12 at 13:09
Yes matthewk, I work for Dell – Anders B Aug 8 '12 at 6:42
And are you saying that the BIOS update will enable the use of three monitors without requiring monitors with DisplayPort ports or active DisplayPort to DVI adapters? – matthewk Aug 8 '12 at 11:45
Matthew - I haven't tested it myself, but in theory it shouldn't matter if the monitor has DP or not. If the monitors have DVI and VGA a DP to DVI adapter should be fine to use. It doesn't have to be an active adapter, it depends on the resolution on the monitor. If it's above 1920x1200 then the adapter should be active. The BIOS update addressed an issue with Dual DP attached - where it would issue a warning in BIOS - although it worked fine, you needed to press F1 each boot. This has been resolved. 3 monitor setup might have been addressed aswell. If not. I recommend you contact Dell Support – Anders B Aug 9 '12 at 12:26
I just read through all comments - didn't notice the hidden ones. It seems your problem has been resolved with two active adapters, hense my statement is probably incorrect. – Anders B Aug 9 '12 at 12:34

Ivy Bridge Intel Integrated Graphics - you can use three displays but two must be via DisplayPort (either two DisplayPort monitors or two active DisplayPort adaptors). See Most desktop Ivy Bridge systems won't support three displays:

Despite the fact that Intel has been banging its drums about support for up to three displays on the upcoming 7-series motherboards in combination with a shiny new Ivy Bridge based CPU, this isn't likely to be the case. The simple reason behind this is that very few, if any motherboards will sport a pair of DisplayPort connectors.

The issue to this specific problem is that Intel has moved away from TMDS support and towards the DisplayPort standard. However, Intel has only incorporated two PLLs and although this isn't an issue for DisplayPort connected monitors, it's a whole different matter when we're talking TMDS interfaces like DVI and HDMI, as well as of course good old analogue output. So if a motherboard maker was to make a board with three DisplayPort connectors – or one eDP interface with regards to notebooks – one of the three displays would be able to have a resolution of 2560x1600 and the other two would still be able to work at 1920x1200, due to the fact that they share one PLL.

Once we start throwing in other interfaces things get complicated, as TMDS and analogue interfaces don't like sharing PLLs. As such on a system where both the DVI and HDMI ports are used – or if the D-sub connector in lieu of one of the other two interface – no third display can be attached. The problem is that the DisplayPort interface is far from commonplace and as such most motherboard manufacturers have opted for more traditional interfaces.

Also see the Intel FAQ:

Q: What three independent display configurations are supported?

A In most cases, three independent displays are supported in the following configurations:

  • If two of the displays are DisplayPort* monitors
  • If one of the displays is an Intel® Wireless Display (Intel® WiDi)
  • If the built-in display is an Embedded DisplayPort1 (eDP)
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