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6/16/06 How-to use two monitors on one computer

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / June 15, 2006 8:19 AM PDT

I have a question about using two monitors at the same time. Recently we bought a 19-inch flat monitor, but we still like our bulky Dell Trinitron 19-incher, and it still works great. A friend of ours said he saw on TV that people had set up their PC using two monitors at the same time and, for example, are able to drag an Excel spreadsheet to display along with another PowerPoint slide from each monitor. Can you tell us, is it possible for newbies like us to do this, and how and
what type of wire do we need to link these two monitors together; plus, how do we set XP's OS to do it? Thanks.

Submitted by: Steve N. of Fairfax, Virginia



Hi Steve, it is possible to use two monitors and hopefully this will help you.

1. First you must consider the power usage of using two monitors. If you are not concerned about this, then you can move on.

2. Do you have room for two monitors; do you have a power strip or a free outlet to plug into near by?

3. Do you have the correct hardware?

What you need...and assuming you don't have a dual-capable graphics card installed...

You will need a few things before getting started: one, a free AGP (accelerated graphics port) or PCI (peripheral component interface slot) on the motherboard. The reason for this is that you need an open slot to plug in a graphics card that will support dual-monitor hookups.

There is another way also, by installing two PCI video cards or one PCI and one AGP , but with dual monitor cards , life can be much easier. Another issue is same picture problem. If using two PCI video cards, you may get the same screen on both. Many times, dual monitor cards have extra software, separate images so you can in fact, put one wallpaper up on your monitor and on the next, put a different one.

What about your onboard monitor port? When using graphics cards, typically the onboard graphics are disabled so this would do no good.
As it stands, a dual monitor card is the easiest route to take.
Many graphics cards require a higher power supply, typically 350W for a round about. You need to inquire as to what the card needs before buying the card.

What kind of graphics card? Matrox seems to have a good rating for multiple monitor allowance and would be my (personal) pick. There is also ATI Radeon or Geforce. "There are many types and opinions of what works though and I would encourage you to do a lot of searching, pricing and questioning before making a choice. "

Cost can start becoming an issue, depending on the graphics card, power supply, and cost of running two monitors, once again you have to ask, Is this what you really need? What benefit will it be to me?

Installation of the card will depend on the type you aquire and you should follow the instructions of the manufacturer of the card. There are some important things to remember with the installation of a graphics card. Yes I stated that installation will depend on the type but some basic rules still remain...

1. ESD (electro static discharge) the same effect as rubbing your feet on a carpet and shocking the cat. There is enough voltage to destroy a circuit and can render the pc useless. The typical user may not have a grounding strap to prevent this but one precaution you can take is to ground yourself to the metal chasis , (the metal pc housing) when working inside. Keep the computer up off of static inducing surfaces like rugs, beds etc...

2. Make sure power connections to the pc are unhooked, you don't want to take a risk of getting shocked or damaging the computer.

3. If you are not sure on what to do, contact support or someone who knows how to accomplish the task as you may cause more harm than good.

That said, and assuming your pc is up to specs, you may want to know what to do AFTER you get all your gear hooked up. There are many options and the basics are where you may want to start...

Windows XP has support for up to 10 monitors and will accommodate just fine. Here is a great link which covers Windows information on how to begin detecting and setting up...

Here is another link with a lot of information on how to use dual monitor features among other issues if you get stuck...

I hope this helps answer some of your questions Steve.
Good luck with your dual monitors.

Submitted by: Paul K. of Gladstone, Michigan
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Honorable mentions
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / June 15, 2006 8:19 AM PDT

I recently had to set up over 50 dual monitor configurations at my work, by adding a 19" flat panel to go with an older 19" CRT. The trick is to get a second video card and install it in an open PCI slot in the computer. This sounds daunting but its actually very easy: just open the case and look for an empty slot that will fit the new video card. Pop out the cover that protects the end of the slot and carefully, but firmly, push the card into the slot so that the video connector sticks out of the back of the computer. Replace the cover. Next, connect the new flat panel monitor to the new video card with a new video cable, leaving the CRT connected to the old video connector.

We used inexpensive cards without fancy graphics options for gamers, but you may want a slight upgrade. When you turn the computer on, Windows should use "plug and play" to install the software needed to run the new video card*. Assuming you have Windows XP, it will also automagically detect that you have a second monitor. However, you have to set it up by doing the following: right-click the Windows desktop, click Properties, then click the Settings tab. You should see two monitors in the upper part of the window, numbered one and two. They will probably be different sizes, and one will be sort of "grayed out". That's the new monitor. Click on this picture and then look near the bottom of the window. There should be two lines, both unchecked. Check the second one, "Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor". At that point, you should see the second monitor spring to life, but don't get too entranced! There will also be a dialog box asking if you want to keep these settings, possibly on the other monitor. Quickly now, check yes, as you only have about 15 seconds before it reverts. After this, click on the "Advanced" button to go in and set up the screen resolution (1280 by 1024 is native for most flat panels in landscape mode) and refresh rate (anything above 60 hertz). These changes will also generate the "Keep these settings...?" dialog box. If it looks OK, click Yes.

*If you wish, you can insert the CD that came with the video card to install the software that works with it, but this is mostly extra trimmings not absolutely necessary to normal operation. Windows usually does a good job of loading the "drivers" that make most new hardware work acceptably well.

Submitted by: Tom M.



Hello Steve,

It's not actually a question of wiring, but of video card(s) you use. I have been using two monitors with Windows XP for quite some time. You may use one video card with two connectors, so two monitors can be connected at the same time, or two or more video cards. Your options depend on the slot(s) your motherboard has available -- without an available slot (PCI, AVG, PCI Express), your easiest option may be to replace your existent card with one with two connectors. In that case, make sure you'll buy one that fits the same type of slot your current card uses. The software necessary to set things up comes with the video card, and allows you to choose the resolution, depth, relative position of displays, different backgrounds for each screen and much more. You will also be allowed to choose the behavior of what you want to see, for example a continuous screen where you can grab a browser window and take it to other monitor -- or not: you may have two screens with the same image -- it depends on what you want.

You may use CRT and flat panel devices together. If any of your monitors has a connector other than the video card's (the connectors may be either DVI or HD15, or both), you should easily be able to buy an adaptor that does the job with no problem (pay attention that the adaptor may have been packed with the video card -- read the box -- and you may not need to buy it separately).

Generally speaking, it's easy to love the more-than-one setting, and if you try to go back you'll probably miss the extra space you will get used to; some annoyances can happen, as some programs show throughout the monitors even when they're supposed not to, but you can always change your settings specifically for those cases: they are a small price to pay for the comfort you get.

Submitted by: Renato J.



It is not difficult for you to set up for dual-monitor use.

1. With luck, your current graphic board may already be capable of supporting 2 monitors. Check at the back of your desktop to see whether the board to which your current monitor is connected has another empty monitor connection socket: if so, just connect your second monitor to that empty connector socket and you are all set (see "Connecting Monitors" instructions below). See also "Optional Multi-monitor Software" below if you want added advanced dual-monitor functionality.

2. If your current graphic board has only one monitor connector, then you will have to replace it by a new graphic board that supports dual-monitor. The new board has to match the type of graphic board slot inside your desktop, which will be either the "AGP" or "PCI-Express" type.

3. A good and relatively inexpensive PCI-Express board is the "ATI All-In-Wonder X600 Pro", that not only supports dual-terminal (at extremely high resolutions up to 2048 x 1536), but also accepts TV signal from your cable box (or TV antenna) to the board's integrated TV tuner to allow you to watch TV on a window on your monitor, record TV program to your hard disk for later replay, and zoon-in, pan, or freeze live-action TV. It is $79.99 + $7 shipping less $40 Mail in Rebate = $46.99 Net, here:
A good and relatively inexpensive AGP board is the Sapphire Atlantis Radeon 9600 XT AGP 8X 256MB DDR board, at $76.99 (no tax, free shipping) here:

4. CONNECTING MONITORS: To install new board, just replace old graphic board with the new board, and install the driver software in the CD coming with the board. You may want to check afterwards on the manufacturer's website whether there may be any recent updates to the driver that you can download. On the new board, there will be a VGA (analog) connector (shown in blue on the PCI-E board above) to which you should connect your CRT monitor, and a DVI (digital) connector (shown in white in photo above) to be connected to your flat monitor with a DVI cable if your flat monitor has a DVI input connector. If your flat monitor does not have a DVI input, but only a VGA input, then you need a VGA cable plus a VGA to DVI adapter (which may come with the board, or which you can get on eBay for about $4.00).

5. OPTIONAL MULTI-MONITOR SOFTWARE: It's optional, but you may want to download some dual-monitor utility software for added advanced dual-monitor functions (google "dual monitor software"). A good software that you can download and use for a free trial period is Ultramon, here:

Submitted by: Van N. of New York City



Windows XP supports multiple (you can use as many as video cards you have available) monitors straight out of the box. Earlier versions requires more "tinkering" to get to work.

If you have an additional video output (either you have an AGP video card with both a DVI and VGA, or a video card with two outputs, or you have another PCI video card) Windows XP automatically detect it and ask you for the corresponding drivers.

You should not need any cable other than what came with your monitor. The only thing left is to "arrange" the two monitors so Windows will know which is Left or Right (or Up or Down). If you right-click on your desktop and go to the Properties -> Settings tab you should see another monitor to the right of your main one. There will be a large "1" and a large "2". Depending on the brand of the monitor it may be already "attached", but if is not you can easily attach it by right-clicking and selecting "Attached". The only thing left is to choose your desired resolution, but if it matches your other monitor it will be easy to drag. By the way if you have more than two monitors you can arrange them any way you would like. You can put one above one of the other two.

Be warned that once you get used to multiple monitors it will be very hard to go back to just one. It is extremely useful if you do any CADD. Lego CADD works great with multiple monitors. I have run a TV card or Windows Media Player on one while I use my work on the other monitor.

Submitted by: Luis C.



There is a plethora of information available to you on the Internet by using Google Desktop that you can download from
Click here: Google Software Downloads.

I have done such a Google search for you and have included the link below

Click here: Connecting two monitors to a Computer - Google Search

Instead of regurgitating information readily available to you, I have extracted an excellent article by Jason Kohrs for you which you can access by clicking on the link below. it will answer all the questions that you may have and more :

Click here: Jason Kohrs, Using Dual Computer Monitors, Dual Monitor Set Up, Connecting Dual Monitors, Building a Dual Monitor Computer

There are many excellent video cards using different chipsets and with different connectors . Some only have one DVI and one VGA connector such as the Nvidia GeForce 6800, others have only two DVI connectors, such as the 256 MB nVidea GeForce Go 7800 PCI Graphics card. Hoewever you can convert the DVI connectors on the Card to VGA by an inexpensive adapter.

I use a Dell XPS 600 computer with dual SLI 256 MB nVidia GeForce 6800 chipsets Video Cards in two 16x PCI Express connecters on the mother board. Each nVidia GeForce 6800 video card has a DVI connector and a VGA connector. DVI gives me a better picture. Therefore each flat panel Dell 2001FP monitor is connected to a separate nVidia 6800 Ge Force DVI conector on the video card . The SLI bridge connecting the two nVidia 6800 Ge Force video cards can be removed for the monitors to function properly or you can leave the conector bridge intact and disable SLI from the software provided with the nVidiea 6800 ge. Force video cards.

Dual SLI video connectors give you superior monitor performance only if you are into gaming. If you are not into gaming, you only need one Video Card. For example one nVidai GeForce 6800 Video Card will allow you to connect your flat LCD Monitor to the DVI connector on the Video card and your 19 inch CRT Dell Trinitron Monitor to the VGA connector on the Video card. Cables should come with each monitor.

If your Flat panel LCD Monitor has a VGA connection in addition to the DVI connection, and my Dell 2001FP LCD monitors do, a DVI-VGA adapter allows you to VGA connect both the LCD Flat Panel monitor and the 19 inch CRT Trintron monitor to the nVidia 6800 card. However in my opinion, a DVI connection gives you better performance.

It may be intimidating when you first get into it however once you learn it, it will be pretty straight forward. Please do give me a call at 925-934-3902 and I will help you further if you need help.

Submitted by: Arthur B. of Walnut Creek, California



This is a function native in XP Home and Pro. I currently run 3 monitors (Two 17? and one 21? widescreen) in the same PC with only XP home as the OS. The key is your display adaptor(s). You either need one that will support dual displays (usually requires a DVI adaptor) or 2 separate single display cards. For your typical applications IE: Excel and/or PowerPoint you needn?t spend a ton of money on high memory cards to get going. I used to run a 128 meg AGP8 card and a 64 Meg PCI card for dual monitors. Not only did this function for productivity programs just fine but I could never remember which card was connected to which monitor. In other words the 64 Meg PCI was as effective as the 128 AGP. So don?t? go crazy with the money.

You will enable this thru the display settings of windows, unless, the driver software for your display adaptor(s) have this functionality as well. The two more popular chipsets, nVidia and ATI have dual monitor capabilities in their driver user interfaces but I thought they were somewhat limited. The main utility I use is Ultramon. (Kinda sounds like a superhero huh?) It gives me more flexibility even though it is a program essentially running in the background.

You?ll have to play with this for a bit to get used to and find the way using two monitors best fits your needs. I can only tell you this much. After using two monitors for about 1 ? years I now have three. I?m concerned that in 10 years I?ll have eight of them.

Seriously, I think you?ll be very pleased.

Submitted by: Randy K.



In order to accomplish this you need one of the following:
1) Two video adapters
2) A single video adapter with dual head capability
3) An external dual head adapter

If you install any of the above with an operating system that supports multiple displays (such as Windows 2000 or above) you can go into the Display Properties, Settings Tab, select the second display, and check the option to Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor. This will allow you to stretch your desktop across multiple displays. Should you need to purchase the adapter to accomplish this, make sure the output connectors on the adapter match the inputs to your monitors (VGA to VGA, DVI to DVI, etc...). An external dual head adapter takes the single VGA output from your computer and splits it across two screen using dual head technology.

One example of this is the Matrox DualHead2Go adapter. As another option, if you have a laptop running Windows 2000 or above that has an external VGA adapter, you can connect an external monitor to the VGA connector and extend your Windows desktop from the laptop screen to the external monitor.

Submitted by: Russell D.



I have setup a multiple monitor support many times and it's fairly simple. To start off, you will need a video card that has TWO VGA ports on the back of your computer. For those of you who don't know what this is, let me explain it to you in "english." A VGA Port is the jack where you plug in the cable that runs from your monitor to the computer. A Video Card is a green card that you can only see if you open up the computer. The only part of the Video card you can see is what is sticking out from the back. These cards usually go on the empty slots at the very bottom of the computer. Now back to the setup. An example of a Video Card is an nVidia or ATI Radeon. If you don't have one, you can get one for about $100-$150. To connect a video card is easy. Follow the instructions and run the cd that comes with it.

Now, turn off your computer before doing the following. Once you have a video card with two VGA Ports, then all you need are two monitors. Connect the power of each monitor and setup both monitors the way you will want them to stay. Connect one Monitor Cable into one of the two VGA ports from your video card and connect the other monitor cable into the other VGA port that's left in the video card. Once that's finished, turn on the computer and both monitors. Wait until the computer starts and finishes loading. You shouldn't see both monitors on yet, just one. Right Click on your desktop and click Properties. Go to the Settings tab and you should see your normal settings there except, you will see two monitors. One will probably be Black and the other will be Gray stating that it's not activated yet. Click on Identify. The number one should show up on your screen and the number one would be on the monitor that's Black. Click on the number 2 monitor and underneath that, there will be some check marks. Click on the Expand My Windows Desktop onto this Monitor (As in you both your monitors act as One Big Desktop and you can drag multiple windows to either side and have one program on one side and another program on the other side) then you will also check the Expand my Desktop.

Make sure that both Monitors have the same Resolution (either 1024 x 768 or 800 x 600) or which ever resolution you want but be sure that both have the same resolution.

Congratulations. You just set up a dual monitor desktop computer. Have fun!

Submitted by: Gabriel C.



The first thing you're going to need is two monitor connections. Most new graphics cards have two connectors. Usually they have one Analog (DB-25) and one Digital (DVI.) [DualMonitor01.jpg] Your system can have one of each connection or two of both. Most monitors use DB-25 and converters for from DVI to DB-25 are usually between $10-$40. Most new graphics cards will come with one as well. If you only have one monitor connection your are going to need to install an additional graphics card. Now might be a good time to upgrade while you're at it. Now just plug in your main monitor to the connector that is closest to the card and the secondary monitor to the connector closest to the bottom. If your computer is on the monitors should be displaying the same thing. If your computer is off, well turn it on.

You've just completed the hard part. Now go to your control panel and open up the Display setting. Now click on the Settings tab. There should be two rectangles with the numbers 1 and 2 inside of each one. Click on the one that says 2. Click where it says Extend my Windows desktop to this monitor. Set your screen resolution on your second monitor. If you want to drag the monitor to a different position you can. Click on OK. You should be all set.

Submitted by: Gabriel C.



I have done this task many times and it is very easy. All you need is a PC with two video ?heads? or output for your monitor. If you don?t have two currently, a new video card isn?t hard to add and can be purchased from any computer retailer. To set up the two monitors, plug both monitors into your PC, one in each port ?head? and boot it up if it isn?t already. On the desktop, right click in a clear area and click on properties. This brings up your display properties which can also be found in the control panel. Click on the settings tab and, if properly installed, you should see two boxes. One should be shaded and the other should be solid. The solid box represents the monitor you?re using now and the shaded box represents the other monitor that is currently not working. Click on the shaded box and find the check box under it that is labeled ?extend my windows desktop onto this monitor.? Clicking this box will make the selected monitor become the secondary monitor, leaving the other one to be primary. The primary monitor will contain the start menu and be the default monitor for opening applications. If you want the monitors to swap primary/secondary, click the pic of the secondary monitor and select ?use this device as the primary monitor.? To change where the mouse transitions from one screen to the next, say you want to go off the left side or top rather than the right, just drag the pic of one of the monitors into the desired position and the computer will reposition the mouse, etc. It may sound like a lot now, but trust me, it?s EASY! Good Luck!

Submitted by: Brent M.



You can do this by purchasing the right video card. Or, by putting a second video card in. All you need is to have two video outputs so that you can actually connect two monitors (or TV's even!). At home, I currently have an Nvidia Geforce 4400 in place with a TV output on it. Some other cards will have dual VGA or even DVI connectors. This is often referred to as a "dual head" card. Install the card using the provided drivers, or find the Microsoft "logo tested" drivers if the Nvidia drivers cause even a small problem. I've actually got both drivers available and I either "update" to the Microsoft driver or "roll back" to the Nvidia driver depending on what I want to do. Morrowind, and some of my larger DVD rips only work with the Nvidia drivers, but I tend to get a crisper display with the MS drivers. Anyway, back to the subject.

In my configuration at home I connect my TV to my video card directly by using an S-Video cable. The S-vido port resembles the PS-2 port that your mouse uses. My card also have standard RCA connections...these are the single-prong, "stereo cables" that come in red-white-yellow groups. All you need is the yellow cable, and they can typically be purchased solo. Plug your TV output into the video card using the appropriate cable, and reboot! When you come back to Windows, open the Display properties in the Control Panel. On the "Settings" tab you should see two boxes labeled 1 and 2. Each of these represents a monitor...with 1 being the default (the one you're working with.) Click on the box with the 2 on it. Look for a check box below labeled "Extend my Windows Desktop onto this monitor." This activates another check box that will allow you to use the second monitor as your primary. What this means is that your task bar will live there as well as any new windows that open will usually pop up on that monitor. As was mentioned in the question, the desktop is treated like one large space. You can drag a window to the edge and it will appear on the other monitor. It takes a little getting used to, but I find it to be pretty intuitive. You will often find yourself adjusting resolution and colors until you find a good configuration for what you are trying to do. I can make Doom 2 work on my 27 inch TV as long as I make the resolution settings as low as possible (800 X 600). Apply your settings, and you're done. With enough memory (both video and RAM), you can literally play a video, full-screen, on one monitor while crunching a spreadsheet on your current monitor...with no performance drag. When your screen saver comes on it will also extend between screens. Pretty neat!

Two monitors is very similar. You'll need a dual-head video card for monitors that only have VGA connectors. Typically these are the blue connectors, while DVI are white. DVI is the better technology, but VGA is far more common. You may use dual video cards and achieve the same thing. This is the setup I have on my work PC. Just install both video cards and plug in both monitors and the setup is virtually the same. You cannot use two AGP based cards because there is only one AGP slot on a mother board. Two PCI cards or a PCI and AGP mix will work though. Check with the salesperson at the computer store and see which cards they recommend. Most newer ATI or Nvidia models will be compatible with themselves, but it's better to check with the experts than return cards all day.

However you achieve it, once you are able to plug more than one display device in, this feature will just be available in your Display properties. Some TV's just aren't capable of producing a good picture, but any one of the more expensive brands should be good to go. I've done this with a Panasonic TV with awesome results, but the TV (Asus) I got on sale at Wal*Mart always displays in black and white. If anyone knows why, I'd LOVE to hear your feedback on that one, but I suspect it's because Windows doesn't have a compatible driver.

Submitted by: Robert B.
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IBM and Lenovo ThinkPad Laptops have Dual Support
by Kebb / June 15, 2006 11:34 PM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

If you get a ThinkPad it can support the dual monitor.

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(NT) (NT) Same with HP and Compaq notebooks (at least with ATI ca
by SantiagoCrespo / June 16, 2006 12:16 AM PDT
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Viewing two monitors using a laptop
by wardlex / June 16, 2006 5:56 AM PDT

i want to know what do to use an additional monitor with my laptop

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Laptop + extra monitor
by crazylax42 / June 18, 2006 5:14 AM PDT

So would I like to know how to use an external monitor plus an lcd. Anyone know where there is a good guide for this?

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Laptop and secondary display
by Gandalf / June 22, 2006 1:08 PM PDT
In reply to: Laptop + extra monitor

Most laptops today have an external VGA port that can be used to connect external display devices such as a monitor or projector.

Many, but not all, laptops' external VGA ports support only mirroring, and do not support extending your display. In other words, on the external display (monitor/projector), you see _exactly_ the same thing that is displayed on your primary (LCD) display. This is a limitation of your laptop's integrated display adapter. Some laptop display adapters support true secondary (extended) display devices, but this is usually found in higher-end laptops.

If your laptop does not support a secondary (extended) display, it also will not support features like _presenter view_ ( found in Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 and later. This feature allows you to work with the PowerPoint application on your primary display and display only your presentation on the secondary display.

See for a relatively in-depth article on the topic of integrated vs. discrete display adapters for notebooks. It is relevant to this discussion...

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Running dual 19" for a year now
by alee46 / June 16, 2006 12:47 AM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

I am running a CRT 19" and a new 19" LCD on a NVIDIA GeForce 5500 GTX. The LCD is directly in front of the keyboard, and the CRT is sitting to the right. The NVIDIA software allows me to adjust each screen independently and offers many setup configurations. I can put the 'non-immediate' type programs off to the side, but still be able to glance at them- instead of maybe having to minimize and restore them over and over again. I like being able to have a full-sized ArcMap open in front of me while editing, and have ArcCatalog open on the side to drag files, modify files, or converting new data to add. I can leave outlook or media player open to the side, and be working on the screen in front of me. When I first hooked them up, I had to get used to looking for my mouse, I actually changed the mouse color so I could find it. The screen to the side does not strain my neck, because I do most of the work on the main screen. It has made my work more efficient.

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Quad Monitors on a Compaq Server turned Mega-workstation
by sob69 / June 16, 2006 2:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

I completed this project about a year ago. Dual PIII Servers of this type can be picked up for almost nothing these days. It becomes a very useful toy with a new video card and a little ingenuity. Here is a link to the write-up with pictures:

It was fun!

Jeffrey Alsip

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Other suggestions from our members
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / June 15, 2006 8:19 AM PDT

The multiple monitors setup is best driven by a Video Graphics Card with 2 heads. Otherwise, you may experience a slowdown in video performance with the cable-based solutions on the market. Especially with a PowerPoint presentation as you describe in your letter. My favorite is any NVidia card running a GeForce 5x00, 6x00, or 7x00 -series card with 2 DVI (White connectors) connections as it offers the greatest flexibility with monitor connections. Use the DVI to VGA adapters included in the retail versions of the cards to use with your VGA Dell monitor. This card, along with the current Forceware drivers from NVidia, can easily allow you to enable 2 different-sized desktops for one long extended desktop. NVidia calls it "dualview" and it's very easy to enable. Once you have them properly connected, follow these directions.

You must reboot with both monitors on first. Once rebooted and logged in, on any blank part of the desktop, right-click and hit "Properties". In the upper right of the window, click "Settings". Click the button "Advanced" in the middle of the screen. In the window that opens, click on the NVidia tab. Click on the display settings. You should see 2 dropdowns. The top one should have an option called "Dualview". Enable it and hit apply. Your second monitor should appear with the same background and image as your current desktop. If it appears to have your proper/legible resolution, then you're done and you should be able to drag anything over there or play fullscreen video. If it does not, right-click the monitor you want to change and hit "change resolution". Your flat panel has a native resolution that probably isn't the best for your Dell Trinitron. You should see what it is in the manual of the monitor and set it in this "change resolution" window fo that monitor. Once you have your monitors set the way you want them, hit ok in the box you're in now. Then hit ok in the "Display Properties" window. That's it! You're done.

Submitted by: Chris H.



It's easy and incredibly useful to use two monitors together if you have the space on your desk. Windows XP already comes with all you need to do the job. You have not mentioned what your computer setup is, but it's likely that the only component you will have to buy is a graphics card with a dual output.

You don't need to 'link up' the two monitors together, just attach them to the connectors on the card. You will need to get a card that has one VGA output and one DVI output (though you can easily get converters from one to the other) I use two monitors on a NVidia 5700 LE graphics card (which is pretty low end as graphics cards go), with a 17" LG CRT and a 19" LCD monitor. The graphics card will go in the AGP slot (for older motherboards) or the PCIe slot (for newer motherboards). If you get a NVidia card, you will get their NView software to configure your monitors; but the win XP software is also good enough. Once you are used to two monitors, you'll wonder how you ever did without both of them!

Have fun.

Submitted by: Vishwas B.



Using two monitors is a much more efficient way to use any PC. If your like me and do lots of graphics and video editing, two monitors is absolutely essential. Even if you?re not into graphics and video rendering, two monitors still makes any PC much easier to use. I run two 19" dell flats on my main PC, and you only need one more piece of hardware which should cost around
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Dual Monitors
by JamesBlade / June 15, 2006 8:42 PM PDT

Running Dual Monitors is a great avantage when working on any computer.

I have seen many posts here talking of how it is done. So I do not feel repeating what was said is really nessacary.

I would rather point out some of the issues that may help you avoid running into any complications in setting up Dual Monitors.

First off, I was able to run Dual Monitors using a Nivida PNY 440Mx for one monitor and then the onboard intergrated motherboard vga port to run the second monitor. I ran this on a system running windows 98se.
And to be honest it was easier to set it up with windows 98se then it was to with windows xp home.
Windows XP Home had troubles reconizing the onboard video and the pci 440MX at same time.

So if ya are on Wondows XP and are trying to run two monitors using a pci card and the motherboards built in graphics card. Well it will work, but ya may have to fidget with it a bit. Also make sure that the PCI card you use will support Dual Monitors. I put in a Nivida 5500OC made by BFG into my girlfriend's computer, and was unable to get dual monitors running using onboard video card to run second monitor. BFG does make cards that support Dual Monitors, But I have since then learned that A BFG Card needs to have two Video Ports on the card for it to support Dual Monitors. I have also found out that PNY Cards two ports or one port, will usually support Dual Monitors even if using a Onboard Video Port to run secong monitor. I can not really make comment on ATI or other cards. For I have never used them. However they are Good Cards as well, just read the spec's on the box to see if they will support dual monitors.

Best solution is as mentioned a few times is by getting a video card that supports two monitors, and has two video ports.

My next Card was a Nividia PNY 5200FX. This had two vga output ports and a s-video port. I was able to run both monitors with ease on the one card.
A tip to help resolve unwanted problems before ya start. Do Not Use the Drivers that come on the CD with the Video Card if it can be avoided. Instead If windows XP does not have the drivers that is needed, which in many cases Windows XP will have the needed drivers, but if not, Go to the Card's Manifacture's web site and download the newest version of drivers availible. This can help avoid alot of problems in setting up the Dual Monitors.

My next set up with Dual monitors was running a PNY Nividia 6600 AGP card. Which had a DVI Port, VGA Port, and a S-Video Port.My 19 ich crt burnt out, so i was at this time running on a KDSuse 17 inch flat screen CRT, and a old Gateway 15 inch crt. and all worked fine.

However I recently upgraded to a Westinghouse 20.1 inch lcd Monitor.

This upgrade caused conflict in my Dual Monitors. It seems that I could not run a LCD with a CRT on same card. The Frequency was out of range. All I would get was a black screen stating Frequency Out Of Range.

To Solve this I put in my old PNY Nividia 5200FX PCI back into one of the open PCI slots and Hooked the CRT up into that card.

Now on boot it reads the PCI 5200FX and not the AGP 6600. But the LCD is still being ran off the 6600. It seems that the puter will read the PCI slots before it reads the AGP slot, but I am speculating on that one.

There may be some cards out there that will allow lcd to be ran with a crt. But this is somthing that should be concidered when thinking about hooking up a second monitor.

There are many many avantages of running dual monitors. I expecially like it when i am trying to learn something on the computer, such as taking a tutorial on a image editing software, or learning about how to write web programing languages. For you can have the tutorial on one screen and actually do the excercise on the other monitor, and i tell you that beats trying to jump from one window to the next on same monitor hands down.

It also a great plus when i am creating a Web Page. For I can view the completed page on one monitor and work on it on the second monitor.

But that doesn't mean dual monitors doesn't help in entertainment on the net. I use Instant Messenger's and it is very nice to be able to keep my conversations with people on my messenger, while surfing the net, and being able to keep both in plain site at all times.

Or if you are shopping, it makes comparing products and prices from different vendors alot easier. and much more efficiant.

The avantages of running dual monitors are unlimited, I have ran Dual monitors for about 5 years now, and I could never see going back to just one. It sort of like when the only isp ya had is dial up, and ya think well it is all ya really need. But then once ya get Broadband, you see what you really have been missing out on, so ya never want to go back to dial up again.

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dual monitor options
by steve b / June 15, 2006 9:49 PM PDT
In reply to: Dual Monitors

I have an alternate way without requiring you to open your machine. It works best with USB 2.0 though.
I have an alternate way without requiring you to open your machine. It works best with USB 2.0 though.

"USB 2.0 Hi-Speed USB Video Card Adapter SVGA
Features : New Features: Add one application of Mirror function, so this adapter can be as Primary, Extended, or Mirror of Primary screen on system, display function.
04-11-2005 We have added new driver support for Hi-Resolution up to 1280X1024 at 16-bit Color. Please see our driver download section! USB 2.0 SVGA Adapter enables you to connect any monitor, LCD, projector to your PC or notebook. You can use it as an extended desktop or as a larger/different display...
Part No. USBG-SVGA2" just one of at least 2 companies that I know exists.

I even took it one step further. I got a USB over Ethernet device (picked up at COMPUSA but don?t remember the brand off hand). Put it on a wireless router. Installed the software on my desktop running wireless and it found the monitor and added it to my machine. Now this was overboard and took a minute or two to catch up initially but it worked.

So not only did I add a second monitor without opening my machine. I added a remote monitor that was in a different room all together. Makes figuring out where you are on that monitor a bit hard but it was fun.
Also the wireless unit on my system is an 802.11.b linksys USB.

However back to reality.

The USB Video converter is a very fast way with newer faster machines to add more than one monitor and never need to open the case. Let?s face it we all are getting units with at least 4 if not 6 USB ports.

"USB 2.0 Hi-Speed USB Video Card Adapter SVGA
Features : New Features: Add one application of Mirror function, so this adapter can be as Primary, Extended, or Mirror of Primary screen on system, display function.
04-11-2005 We have added new driver support for Hi-Resolution up to 1280X1024 at 16-bit Color. Please see our driver download section! USB 2.0 SVGA Adapter enables you to connect any monitor, LCD, projector to your PC or notebook. You can use it as an extended desktop or as a larger/different display...
Part No. USBG-SVGA2" just one of at least 2 companies that I know exists.

I even took it one step further. I got a usb over ethernet device (picked up at COMPUSA but dont remember the brand off hand). Put it on a wireless router. installed the software on my desktop running wireless. and it found the monitor and added it to my machine. Now this was overboard and took a minute or two to catch up initialy but it worked.

So not only did I add a second monitor without opening my machine. I added a remote monitor that was in a diffrent room all together. Makes figuring out where you are on that monitor a bit hard but it was fun.
Also the wireless unit on my system is a 802.11.b linksys usb.

However back to reality.

The USB Video converter is a very fast way with newer faster machines to add more than one monitor and never need to open the case. lets face it we all are getting units with at least 4 if not 6 usb ports.

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Older Cards
by laboye / June 15, 2006 9:35 PM PDT


I've done this set-up ever so many times! From my experience, the video cards that were designed for dual-monitors are the best way to go. They are generally easy to set-up and have minimal hassles in the process. I have a PC set-up as a media machine, but since I wont be playing any video games on it, I swapped the nice viceo card for an older 32MB ATI card. It has dual VGA outputs and an S-Video output. Before I used the TV for the purpose, I had two monitors set-up on it. I simply plugged them both in and started the computer. In display properties (Control Panel -> Display Properties / Control Panel -> Appearance and Themes -> Display), I selected the second monitor and checked "Extend my Windows desktop onto this display" (or something to that effect). After clicking apply, it worked flawlessly. Even when I switched over to a monitor and TV, it worked the same way.

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Don't forget the pan-and-scan virtual desktop
by dlauber / June 16, 2006 2:58 AM PDT

Even before I started using dual monitors, I could achieve part of their purpose of getting more screen real estate with a pan-and-scan virtual desktop.

"Say what?" you may ask. Pioneered by an add-on to the classic desktop publishing program Xerox Ventura Publisher (still alive and well in version 10 from Corel), this feature gives you a desktop that is larger than your monitor's screen. Move your cursor to the edge and the screen moves to reveal additional real estate. This enables you to open your applications full size - never use a scroll bar again in word processing, spreadsheets, or desktop publishing. It also lets you open several applications next to each other. It's a great productivity enhancer and it can be easily achieved in Windows XP with a single monitor (even with some notebooks) and dual monitors.

The key is having an ATI video card and using ATI display drivers without the Catalyst Control Center. So just download the drivers from ATI's site if you don't already have them installed. Uninstall your older ATI drivers, reboot, and install the newer drivers you downloaded (ignore Windows' attempt to automatically install drivers). You may be able to do all this with your current ATI drivers installed. The only way to know is to try it.

To get the pan-and-scan virtual desktop:

(1) Right click your desktop and select "Properties." In the Display Properties window, pick the "Settings" tab.

(2) Click on Display #1 and pick "Advanced."
Select the "Display" tab. (IF you're using a notebook computer, choose the "Monitor" tab and uncheck thee box for "Hide modes that this monitor cannot display."

(3) Click on the "Displays" tab and then on the first "Monitor" button. Before clicking on "Monitor," if using multiple monitors, be sure that the "1" is also chosen.

(4) Uncheck "Use DDC information." If using an LCD monitor, set the "Maximum Refresh" to 60 Hz. If using a conventional monitor (CRT), set the maximum refresh to whatever is suitable.

(5) Now, under "Maximum Resolution" set the resolution for your monitor to something low, like 800 x 600 or 960 x 720.

(6) "Okay" your way back to the "Settings" screen and set the "Screen Resolution" for Display #1 to something high like 1600 x 1200.

(7) Click "Apply" and you've got your pan-and-scan virtual desktop on a single monitor or Monitor 1.

(8) To get the pan-san-scan virtual desktop on Monitor 2, follow these same steps, but start by clicking on Monitor 2 and then checking the box for "Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor." Click "Apply." Then, with Display #2 still selected, click on "Advanced."

(9) Follow steps 2 through 7 again, but be sure to pick the second monitor button in step 3 and be sure that "2" is selected for that monitor.

(10) And bingo, you've got a ton of desktop real estate on one or two monitors. To go back to a static desktop, all you really have to do is check the "Use DCC Information" button.

If these different tabs are not available, then you using Windows' own drivers and need to install drivers from ATI.

IF you use a laptop or notebook computer with any video card, you may be able to get the pan-and-scan virtual desktop. This technique generally works with ATI video, but sometimes also with NVIDIA video in notebooks. There's no guarantee it will work, but you are extremely unlikely to harm your monitor by trying.

(1) Right click your desktop and select "Properties."

(2) In the Display Properties window, pick the "Settings" tab. Click on Display #1 and pick "Advanced."

(3) Select the "Display" tab. Choose the "Monitor" tab and uncheck the box for "Hide modes that this monitor cannot display." Then click on "Okay" and return to the Display Properties - Settings window. Change the screen resolution to a higher setting - try 1600 x 1200 pixels and click "Apply." If that doesn't work, try a lower resolution. The key is that the resolution you choose should be higher than the screen's native resolution.

Good luck and enjoy the convenience and greater productivity the pan-and-scan virtual desktop offers.

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Dual Monitor, No need to drag and drop
by jorlhill / June 17, 2006 7:07 AM PDT

I too have been running dual monitors for quite some time mostly for transferring data around into different programs. I had an Invidia 5200 FX and noticed the second monitor port, plugged in a monitor and viola. It has been working fine for about a year. There is a nifty freeware program at that places an arrow on the top task bar of any program you open. Just click on the direction of the arrow and the opened program goes to that monitor. It also places a task bar on the bottom of the 2nd monitor that is helpful. There is a shareware at but I have not used it so do not know how is works. The one from mediachance works fine.

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by jahan / June 17, 2006 10:46 AM PDT

for the Mediachance link; the 2nd taskbar thingy is magic.

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I used USB-VGA adapter
by sue and kieran / June 15, 2006 9:31 PM PDT

I installed a second monitor using a USB-to-VGA adapter. It is about 100 bucks. Plug in the monitor to the adapter, and plug the adapter to any USB slot available. Install the software (I think this goes first, you will have to read the simple manual) and you have it. It's kinda neat. According to the manufacturer you can install up to 4 of these adapters. One caveat, videos won't work show up in the extended monitor. Flash movies will but not wmv, mpg, vob, etc. But this good enough for displaying graphics, and text (like a long spreadsheet).


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Extremely easy on a Mac
by the Otter / June 15, 2006 10:19 PM PDT

Note that if your Macintosh has an open display port, all you have to do is plug in the second display. If it didn?t, but you have a free PCI slot, the instructions posted here are right on. You can hook up as many displays as you have graphic ports available; just go into the System Preferences, click on Displays, and arrange the displays however you like.

I?ve been running a double-header for six or seven years, now. My current setup is a 20'' ADC Apple Cinema Display with a 17'' cheapo LCD tacked onto the side. If I had the space on my desktop, I might grab another video card and hook up one or two of my old CRTs, but I?m living with what I?ve got.

(Frankly, when I get my next computer, I may have to just bite the bullet and invest in a 30'' Apple Cinema Display. Sure, it?s about $2,000, but it would probably do me just fine, by itself?for a while, anyway.)

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I agree...
by freakstate / June 16, 2006 6:04 AM PDT

I have a sweet setup at work where I plug my MacBook Pro into a 23" Cinema Display. Lots of real estate plus I use Parallels Desktop for Mac to run Windows apps. Once I'm hooked up my MacBook's monitor becomes my Windows screen while the cinema display becomes my primary Mac screen. It's like geek heaven!

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Dual monitors and a Laptop
by Grownuptoys1 / June 15, 2006 10:24 PM PDT

Okay, I think I understand the dual monitor installation strategy if one actually has a PC that is tower based but what if I have a laptop. Am I forever doomed to not have dual monitors?


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3 different solutions depending on your laptop
by jbroshear / June 15, 2006 11:16 PM PDT

I know of three ways to do it with your laptop, depending on which model you have:

1) Some laptops have both a DVI (digital) and VGA (analog) monitor connection on the back. If you have such a laptop, then you should be able to use both an analog and a VGA monitor for dual displays.

2) If your laptop doesn't have 2 connections, then consider a port replicator or docking station for your laptop. Again, this depends on the brand, but many docking stations I've seen have both a DVI and VGA connection.

3) Finally, consider using your laptop monitor as your primary monitor, and an external monitor as your secondary monitor. This is actually the setup I'm using as I type this. It works great. Connect a monitor to the external monitor connection on your pc, then go to display properties, click settings, and extend your windows desktop onto the second monitor.

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Dual Monitors with a Laptop
by kperry1911 / June 15, 2006 11:18 PM PDT

This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to setup a dual Monitor. I use it myself. Assuming your laptop has a VGA port to plug in an external monitor... (I Believe most do). At anyrate, all you need to do is plug in the external monitor then setup windows to display dual screens.

To setup dual screens in XP you need to change your "Display settings". I do this but "right clicking" anywhere on the desktop, then select "properties" and the "Display Settings" window comes up. In this Window go to Settings at which point you may see an area with 2 monitors Label 1 & 2. Click on the #2 monitor, then check the box below next to "Extend My display to this monitor" . At this point you're just about done. You may have to adjust the screen resolution to reflect different screen sizes... but once you're here, your pretty much home free.

Good Luck,


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Dual monitors with 2 laptops?
by mmstephan / June 16, 2006 5:55 AM PDT

Ok you tech whizzes out there! Can you think of a way to connect a second laptop to a primary laptop and use both screens? I'm sitting here with two laptops open and thinking it would really be nice to share those screens. One, my primary computer, is a fairly new Dell Latitude. The second one is a rather old IBM thinkpad.

Any ideas? Thanks!

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Sort of but not quite
by Trinity86 / June 18, 2006 4:41 PM PDT

It isn't possible to run the second laptops monitor off the first laptop but you can get a similar result using software called Synergy (free, Synergy allows you to control two machines with one mouse and keyboard. You wont be able to move windows between the monitors but you can copy/paste things and use it from one computer. The advantage over dual monitors is that the computers are still seperate with their own resources. You then have effectively double the processing power because you have two machines instead of one with two monitors.

It's not possible to connect the second monitor because laptop monitors are connected strait to the video card, you'd have to open up the laptop, cut the case, and install an additional port+switch, basically, not possible.

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by mmstephan / July 14, 2006 1:54 AM PDT
In reply to: Sort of but not quite

Just now checking back to see if anyone came up with anything - thanks for the tip on Synergy - I'll try it!

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two external monitors to one laptop and having three indepen
by TJCGI123 / September 18, 2007 3:01 AM PDT

In the solutions that everyone is posting, are you saying that the two external monitors will work and not the laptop screen? I want to be able to connect two external monitors to a new laptop and have three independent screens showing me three different things. Is this possible? If so, how is it done? Thank you for your assistance.

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That entirely depends...
by John.Wilkinson / September 20, 2007 2:04 AM PDT

In most cases the laptop will either let you choose between the built-in screen and an external display or display the same image on both. However, if you're lucky the 'graphics card' may support multiple monitors, each with its own image. (Extended desktops) That depends entirely on the laptop, though, so it's something you'd have to look for the the particular model's specs/manual.


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My laptop is a new Dell inspiron 17 in. with windows vista
by TJCGI123 / September 20, 2007 8:58 AM PDT

It only has the ability to show me either the laptop screen and one external screen or two externals showing me the same thing and a different view on the laptop screen. I am trying to find a way to show three different things on three different screens. Thanks for your response.

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multiple monitors to a laptop
by TJCGI123 / September 24, 2007 5:19 AM PDT

This particular laptop only has one connection for an external monitor. The brains at Dell told me that buying a splitter cable would resolve my issue. Obviously, it did not. It just split the second video between the two external monitors.

Is it possible to ad a video card to my 1721 Dell inspiron? The techies at Dell are useless. They have no knowledge of the company's products. They have misinformed me numerous times.

Again, I appreciate anyone's useful advice. Thank you.

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2 Monitors 1 Laptop
by stillett0 / November 19, 2008 2:51 PM PST

Please Help!

System Info:
Sony Vaio VGN-Z570N
Running Vista
NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS graphics card (2 ports: VGA & HDMI)
Two 22" Gateway HD2201 monitors (3 ports: VGA, DVI, & HDMI)
Using VGA & HDMI cables

I have a Sony Vaio VGN-Z570N and 2 brand new Gateway 22" widescreen hi-def monitors. The monitors have VGA, DVI, and HDMI ports. The Laptop has HDMI and VGA ports. I am trying to run both of the external Gateway monitors and not the laptop screen. I am running an HDMI cable from one monitor to the laptop and a VGA cable from the other.
After installing two monitors on a Dell Dimension E521 desktop effortlessly and using the extended desktop I made this purchase immediately (I even bought a dual monitor stand so the 2 monitors sit flush with each other -- looks great). I was running an aftermarket ATI X1300 graphics card on the Dell with VGA and DVI ports (don't do it... hardware nightmare - blue screen 3-4 times a day which went away when I uninstalled the graphics card).
Using the Sony laptop I can get an extended desktop using either the laptop screen and the left monitor, or the laptop screen and the right monitor, but not both external monitors at the same time! Any ideas?
Also, is there any way I can get the image resolution on the external monitor up to 1680 x 1050? The Sony laptop screen maxes out at 1366 x 768. I can get the external up to 1680 x 1050 using the NVIDIA Control panel (the graphics card in the Sony is GeForce 9300M GS), but the display size shrinks and the "Auto" adjust feature that was available for optimizing the screen when I used the Dell is grayed out.

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Two monitors one Laptop
by capcom60 / November 28, 2008 2:10 AM PST
In reply to: 2 Monitors 1 Laptop

I run two monitors and one Laptop. The Laptop is a HP6910. (compaq). The set up is simple. I use a USB to VGA adapter (see Sabrent or Triton). One monitor goes to the VGA connection on the computer, the second goes to the adapter then the USB port.

I have email on the laptop, spread sheets on the monitors. I have run over 10 excel spread sheets between each 22 inch monitor. It makes it real easy to cut and paste. I also use Ultramon to split the tool bar. So whatever is on the screen is at the bottom of the display. I can have different screen backgrounds on each monitor, I can stretch the spread sheet across two or three monitors, but thats crazyness. I can also watch a movie on one or a news video and work on the other without lagging.

I used another brand of VGA to USB but my screens would freeze or be slow to response. I don't know if it was the computer, or because of different monitors or the adapterr. I switched everything and it works great now.

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