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I have an HP HPE h8 1010 and am looking to set up a second monitor for it. It would be an older monitor whose only input is VGA. I am already using a DVI plug for my primary monitor so the only remaining connection available for another monitor is HDMI. I bought a HDMI to VGA cable but that is not working.

Is there a way to link up my older monitor as a secondary?

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What do you mean with a "HDMI to VGA cable". HDMI is digital only. a DB15/VGA plug is analog only. Just a cable will not work. – Hennes Jan 9 '13 at 0:15
It sounds to me like you already have two monitors. Am I right? You say you have an older monitor where the only input is VGA. And you are already using a DVI lug for your primary monitor. Please define primary, older, and "plug". You have a HPE H8 1010, that's your desktop computer, right? Are you using one or two monitors right now? What are you trying to connect to what? – sammyg Jan 9 '13 at 0:17
Im just going off of what the amazon description of the cable and slots on the monitor said. My primary monitor is just the name of right now my only working monitor. By plug i mean cable. I have one working monitor which is using the DVI slot. The HPE H8 1010 is my desktop computer yes. I – Liam Boehning Jan 9 '13 at 6:01
HDMI to VGA. I am just going off of what the amazon description say and from HP Support. Yes i have two monitors. When i said primary i just meant the monitor that is working right now. The second monitor only has a spot for a VGA cable to be plugged in for video. By plug i meant cable. THe H8 1010 is my desktop computer yes. I am only using one monitor right now. – Liam Boehning Jan 9 '13 at 6:04

"HDMI to VGA cable". Do you have the right thing, really?

From looking at this list, a simple cable does not do, does it? It looks like you need a converter that looks like a little box.

If really, you're sure you have the right converter, then the reason for your issue might be that your graphics card has two physical outputs - two plugs - but they're only alternatives for one actual output. In short, it gives you the choice between HDMI and VGA, but you can only use one at the same time.

In this case, the only solutions I see if you really want to have multiple monitors are:

Beware, I seriously doubt the above works.

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HDMI to VGA. I am just going off of what the cable ends look like and the amazon product description. I have looked and my graphics card has support for multiple monitors. I have looked at support and hp says setting up a second monitor can work with just a cable and not any other adapter or converter. – Liam Boehning Jan 9 '13 at 6:09

First things first, let's clear out some of the confusions.

VGA stands for Video Graphics Array and is a type of analog video signal, and it is also the name of the cable and the port fort VGA. It is most commonly used for connecting a monitor to a computer, but there are other uses for it as well.

HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. It is the name of the standard and also the name of the cable type used. A HDMI cable can carry both video and audio signal, so it is a type of a combined AV cable. The signals in this cable are purely digital. It transmits signal in the form of a digital stream of zeros and ones.

DVI stands for Digital Video Interface and is the successor to the VGA standard. Just like HDMI, and as the name suggests, this one also carries digital signal. But unlike HDMI it can only carry video information, no audio. However, some equipment can support both analog and digital video signals over DVI. So the video signal in DVI can be either digital only, or digital and analog. If digital only then it will say "DVI-D" in the specification where D is for Digital, and if the equipment supports both digital and analog then it will say "DVI-I" where I is for "Integrated" meaning it integrates both analog and digital video. You would then buy your DVI cables accordingly. But remember, there is no audio in DVI.

So now that you know the difference between VGA, HDMI, and DVI, it makes things easier to understand. Since VGA carries only analog video, you would need a processor to convert that signal to a digital stream, so that you can get a working HDMI connector on the other side.

  • So it's like VGA (analog) > processor (AD converter) > HDMI (digital).

And it's similar when you go from HDMI to VGA, it's just the other way around. You start with a digital stream, it enters a converter that makes it into analog video signal, and then you get your working VGA on the other end.

  • So it's like HDMI (digital) > processor (DA converter) > VGA (analog).

I'm not sure what kind of cable or converter you got there. But you need to make sure it is one of the "active" type. Meaning it needs to have a power supply for it to work.

I will give you an example with DVI and VGA on a TV.

Say you have a free DVI port on your computer! And you want to connect your computers DVI port to the VGA port on your TV so that you can watch movies on the TV, or do whatever. Remember, DVI ports can be digital only or integrated (analog and digital in one). If your computer has a DVI-I port you can get a DVI-I to VGA cable and connect them and you should get a picture immediately. This is because the DVI-I port carries analog signal.

  • So it's like this, DVI-I (analog & digital) > VGA (analog).

Your TV picks the signal it wants, and since you have connected the cable to a VGA port on the TV it will need the analog signal, so that's what it will use. It will ignore the digital signal, no use for it here. No conversion needed! Just a DVI-I to VGA cable.

But here is another situation! Say your computer has only DVI-D (digital only) port on the back. Now you will need a converter.

  • So it's like, DVI-D (digital) > ? > VGA (analog).

The question mark is where you would need some kind of converter that converts your digital signal into analog video signal, for you to be able to get the picture at the VGA end. For this situation there are "active" cables with a converter on them, or you can buy a DA converter separately, it looks like a little black box, and you connect your two types of cables to it, one at one end and the other at the other end.

So you really need to make sure you got the correct cable type. There are a lots of converter cables of this type in stores for people that want to connect their TV to the computer. Like you have seen in this example above, some people might be able to connect their TV to computer with a simple cable with two different connecters at each end, while others till would need a converter of some sort in-between.

Does your primary monitor have a HDMI port?

If so, then you can use a HDMI to HDMI cable to connect from your PC to your primary monitor.

If not, then I would suggest you connect your primary monitor with a HDMI to DVI-D (or DVI-I) cable. You can get one that has DVI-D or DVI-I at the other end, it doesn't matter, as the only signal that will be used is the digital signal when going from HDMI to a DVI device.

And then you can get simple DVI-I to VGA cable for your secondary monitor. No convertor is needed. For this to work your computer will have to support DVI-I. The integrated type that carries both digital and analog video signal.

So it would look something like this.

  • Primary: PC (HDMI) > monitor (DVI-D/DVI-I)
  • Secondary: PC (DVI-I) > monitor (VGA)

It's a very long answer, I know. But I really wanted to give you some bits of information so that you really understand the difference between these connector types and so that you can go out and pick the right cable and/or converter for your needs.


Just a small update on how you can check if your computer has DVI-I or DVI-D.

This is what the DVI ports can look like.

DVI connector types

Don't worry about the dual and single link stuff, just take a look at it and see if it has those four holes at the left side that go around something that looks like a plus (or minus) in the middle. (It will look like a plus on the port itself. These are images of what the cable connectors will look like.)

The connector number two from the top (dual link, DVI-I) is the best kind that gives you the most advantages, like analog and digital signal and highest resolution (dual link). You could also go with the DVI-I single link, or the DVI-A which is very rare.

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Is this what your computer looks like on the back?… If so, then you only have DVI-D support, so no analog video signal will be coming out of that port. But I'm not sure, because you say yours has a HDMI port on the back, and this one doesn't. So you need to check to be sure. – sammyg Jan 9 '13 at 11:03
Thats not what the back of my computer looks like but your answer is very thorough and thank you for the extra information. I believe your suggestions for primary and secondary monitor cable connections will work thank you very much. – Liam Boehning Jan 9 '13 at 18:45

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