Forum Thread

Please help me find a budget video card that will support a 3 monitor display

Bowser1313 33 18 December 7, 2015 at 08:36 PM
Hello there.
Need help adding a little life to system that's a little long in the tooth but running too well to toss.Hopefully someone far wiser than I can give a few pointers as to how best to set up a triple monitor display.

I'm currently running an old Gateway FX6710-01 w an Intel Q9400 processor, USB 2.0 (not 3), Window 7 Pro (64bit), 8 gig of ram, w a new-ish Kingston SSD drive as my primary OS HD and the stock 1 TB drive repurposed as my storage drive. I use this computer primarily to surf the web, do basic office work (Excel/Powerpoint/Word), graphic design (photoshop and illustrator), compose music and trade stocks. The Radeon HD 4850 it came with gave up its ghost about two years ago, so I popped in an ATI Radeo HD 4500. I think this is a weak card, but it's better than the integrated video and has been running two monitors w the desktop extended into both via windows without issue for the past few years. The only games that I play are Chess and a very 16 bit looking version Axis & Allies, so I'm obviously NOT a gamer.

While I can plug in the third monitor via the remaining DVI port, the Radeon card can only power two of the monitors at any one time and disables whichever monitor is not the main display when I extend the display to the third monitor. I thought it might be possible to have the Integrated VIDEO drive the 3rd monitor and went into the BIOS and set the integrated VGA to static instead of dynamic at 256 MB, but that still doesn't seem to work while the video card is installed.

The monitors I'm using are 2 Dell U2412 and one U2413 w the resolution on all 3 set to 1920 x 1200. While I am clearly not a gamer, I want to make sure whatever card I get can still run 1080p HD video without crashing.

A little googling let me to something called Eyefinity vs Crossfire vs a usb solution , but lost me when people started talking about displayport vs mini display port w active adapter vs passive and the various card series. The info I found here elaborated on that a bit, but was over a year old (though I'm not the best at searching through forums and might have missed a more recent one.) Basically I'm not sure if I should just add a weak card to an open PCI slot or if I should grab a better card that has 3 out-puts or if there's something else. And what the best value card would be.

SD's tend to know their stuff, so please let me know what's recommended and what some of the least expensive options are since I don't want to drop much $$ into a system this old, but am not ready to upgrade yet. Thanks in advance for the help and happy holidays.



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instead of buying a new video card, why not purchase a USB to HDMI/VGA adapter? It will allow you to add the extra monitor, keep your card and save some money.
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I have another topic in the tech support forum on this, since I thought it was more in line w the forum but thanks for the suggestion.The topic of extending the life of "obsolete" hardware that still is very responsive and works well for everything it needs to do (except gaming) doesn't seem to get much love at SD.

I went and bought the PowerColor HD6950 currently on sale at SD.
I was thinking that a USB to HDMI/VGA adapter might not work as well since my USB is only 2.0 so I may have an issue if I'm watching a video that monitor since I'm not sure what the USB max bandwidth is and I'm keeping the resolution pretty high.
Plus I think this card is probably the best card my system can support given that the mobo has got PCI-E 2.0 (x16) and only a modest PSU (and I like the idea of maxing it out at a $50 pricepoint, which seems to be around the same price as the adapter)

I figured this would give better performance and help it last another few years.
Do you think this is a good, cost effective solution?

Also I have plenty of DVI and HDMI cables, but no display port cables since I've never needed them. My Dell monitors seem to have DVI, HDMI and Display port.
Any idea what the best setup would be?
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If you are looking to game on your system, then you will need to upgrade or invest more money into upgrading your system. If on the other hand, you want to have more monitors and use them for non-gaming activities then your proposed setup will suffice. I would caution against increasing monitors and/or other aspects of your system with only a modest PSU...the extras can be taxing on it.
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2 monitors ok, but 3 or more... been some time since i went looking into info for myself.

monitor size... my issue they need to be all same size. preferably same make/model. having one monitor say 20" and another 23" and i end up getting "loss mouse" as i attempt to move mouse from one screen to another including drag/drop programs. along with programs would "open up funky" now and then due to i size one app just right for say 23" is now way to big for 20" even though same resolution. the text sizing / graphics just to small or to large...

at moment have 40" led TV screen with 23" monitor and situation is ugly....

on other hand. i debated over going with 2 (32" LED TV's) which i should have done. (to late now) since like you i rarely play any sort of games. and it is more about text. and little amount of movies i do watch. the 2 32" tv's more likely would of served me better. i can use the 1920x1200 for more window space. and descrese the font size. and clean up crisp edging of fonts. so i gain much more readable text. and have much more text to see.

other words... "i gain more display area" go with larger LED TV's, and adjusting settings. accordingly. what use to be say 3 paragraphs of readable text on 23" is now like 6 paragraphs worth of readable text on the 40". same 1920x1200 resolution. i simply can display more stuff. with a smaller font size on a larger TV screen.

at moment if 32" 1080P 60hz LED TV's a good deal is about $120 to 150.
i got lucky with a 40" LED TV that has VGA / D-sub display port for connecting directly to computer, there is some HDMI to dvi converters for 6 bucks or less. along with mini dvi to HDMI for a few bucks as well. to convert your other display port on your computer.

Be careful some LED TV's for what ever reason. state they are 1080P resolution, but when you hook up to computer the resolution goes down from 1920x1080 down to say 1500x768 resolution.

google "tv mount ball" full motion wall mounts. but the very end of the mount that attaches to TV. has a little "ball" that allows rotation of TV. along with tilt and angling. they will most likely be "wall mounts" but being able to adjust TWO 32" LED TV's, to keep the light coming in from windows, to lights in the room off the monitor. will more likely be a large plus. this is more so you can actually use the larger display area, vs having a spot in the LED TV. were it is all glared out. ((grumbles)) waiting for my TV mount to arrive! 1/4 is out of commission due to ceiling fan light glare! at the moment, and in the morning sun light. i loose about 1/5 of the right side of my 40" screen due to sun glare...

amazon seems to be lowest price at moment for tv mounts overall.

you do not need the wall mounts, and just use the regular flat base. , but finding myself with a water bottle to a piece of paper leaning up. to be in the way of my seeing the screens. to being able to use a pair of cheap computer speakers i can shove under the screens. raises the overall screens up off the desk. and more in center with my eye level. so i am not looking down or looking up.

already at moment...i am wanting my "wall mount ball end" so i can turn the 40" LED TV 90 degrees. finding i am only using about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the screen. for reading long text (not because of glare)... going across screen get way to long. to point i am finding it difficult to find the next line within a larger paragraph. as a result most of my browser windows, document windows, have been re-sized. and no longer at "max" / full screen like what is done when i move something over to the 23" monitor. even trying to follow along each line with my mouse. to next line on the 40" is rather painful. hence not using the entire width 40" LED TV and document windows resized and browser windows resized to about 1/2 to 2/3rds of overall width of the 40 inch.

i realize ya asking for 3 monitors, but upgrading graphics card on an outdated computer. MEH.

a USB to VGA or usb to...hdmi / etc... for 3rd monitor is a cheap way to go as well. like others have said. it really is not about response time for gaming. but rather just getting more display area.

be careful usb2.0 to usb3.0 overall resolution to refresh rate can be an ugly issue.

check they might have some sort of "add in card" that might give you usb3.0
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