I have a computer with a single x16 slot occupied by Matrox Parnhelia. Other motherboard slots are x1, which means I have to get a (rare these days) x1 graphics card to drive more monitors. My question is: how can I be sure that the x1 video card plays nice with the x16 one?

The reason I'm asking is that I've read reviews that many x1 graphics cards are exclusive, forcing you to remove all other video cards, if any.

Update: Just in case anyone is wondering what I decided on this, there are some interesting things to consider.

  • First of all, it turns out that you can stick a 16x card into a 1x slot if you file away the slot or clip the card contacts. This means you can grab a cheap $50 x16 card and use that. Turns out that lots of people are doing that at my friend's office to have 3 monitors per machine. What this means is that buying expensive x1 cards or 4-head x16 cards us meaningless.
  • Second, and this is the solution I'm going to go for, is that as it turns out you can get a graphics card such as the ATI Radeon HD 5870 that can support up to 6 monitors. It costs just $300 (compare that to the costly NVidia NVS with only 4 outputs). The only downside, if you're sticking it into a business PC, is that it requres a power supply far better than the one you probably have. I have a (very expensive) 400W supply, but this baby requires something like 650W.

Unfortunately, the only way to be sure is to try, or ask around and see if anyone else has tried.

I find that most newer cards based on the same or similar chipsets work fine; for instance, I just dealt with a customer of ours today using a Quadro NVS 450 and Quadro NVS 295 in the same machine with no problems.

  • That's nice, but... there's no way I'm paying for a Quadro NVS 450. And I don't need more than 4 screens per machine anyway. – Dmitri Nesteruk Mar 15 '11 at 9:17
  • @DmitriNesteruk - I assumed that was probably not exactly what you had in mind, but the point still stands. Combinations like that SHOULD work but there's not really like a database you can check. – Shinrai Mar 15 '11 at 14:17

I would recommend purchasing a card from the same manufacturer, and preferably from the same generation as your x16 card. A quick Google surf says they exist.

  • I need guarantees that they would. Not planning to blindly buy two cards and hope they do. – Dmitri Nesteruk Mar 15 '11 at 9:16
  • 2
    Then open a support ticket with Matrox and ask what combinations their drivers will support. If that is a "go", then purchase from a reputable vendor that will accept a return. That is the closest thing to a guarantee you'll get. – kmarsh Mar 15 '11 at 12:17

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