Help me use a Cintiq as a second monitor!
March 26, 2009 1:53 PM   Subscribe

I have just gotten a Wacom Cintiq tablet and I cannot get it to play nice with my existing monitor.

I have a Dell Studio Slim desktop (running Vista) with an ATI Radeon HD 3450 card which has both DVI and VGA outputs. Currently, the Cintiq is hooked into the DVI port and my Dell monitor into the VGA. However, only the display hooked into the DVI output is recognized. I have tried enabling dual monitors in Windows Display Properties and in the ATI control center; in both cases, though, it acts as if there is nothing attached to the VGA port. How can I get my computer to see both displays?
posted by Nedroid to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Make sure your Cintiq switch box thing is set to VGA - it might be set to DVI right now.
posted by philscience at 2:08 PM on March 26, 2009

Blargh, I misunderstood the question. Nevermind.
posted by philscience at 2:09 PM on March 26, 2009

Best answer: Are their two VGA ports on the back of your computer, or only one? The reason I ask is, the halfheight 3450 that's probably in your Dell Studio Slim only has one DVI port on the card itself, and (hopefully) a pin-out on the card for a VGA port, that would sit in the expansion slot right above or below the DVI port. So is THAT the VGA port you're talking about, or is it one "higher up" on the back of the computer (not immediately adjacent). If you've only got one VGA port, and it's much higher up on the case than the DVI port, then that port is probably for your onboard graphics, which is disabled when a discrete graphics card is plugged in. If it didn't come with the extra VGA port, then you SHOULD be able to get it through Dell. It's basically a little ribbon cable with a VGA port on one end, and a pin-connector on the other, and a new back-plate that snaps on the vid card to hold it.

If I'm completely off base with my answer... my next question would be, does the single VGA port work when the DVI is NOT in use?
posted by XcentricOrbit at 3:32 PM on March 26, 2009

Response by poster: Ahhh. The VGA port is indeed much higher up on the back of the tower, so it must be for the integrated graphics. I just assumed that two ports meant I could plug in two displays; I should have known better than to assume with computers!

Would this adapter be something I could find in a computer store? I'm not finding anything on Dell's website and I'd rather not go through them anyway. Also, do you think I'd get better performance just springing for a second video card?
posted by Nedroid at 3:39 PM on March 26, 2009

Best answer: This is what the "full-height" version of your card looks like. See the VGA port and the cable connecting it the the card itself? That's basically what you need along with the little backing plate to the left in this picture. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea what it's called. Plus, I would open up the computer and double-check that your card has the proper pinout (it should; it was in the reference design for that card since it was designed as a half-height card). It would look like the set of pins near the backplate on the blue card in this picture.

I couldn't find anything on newegg, unfortunately. If you don't want to talk to Dell (which I'd still recommend, since they were the ones who sold you the computer, no?), then try ATI's support and/or forums. Or, if you're lucky and have geek friends who hoard computer parts, perhaps one of them has one hiding in a box somewhere that he doesn't need. Maybe a local computer parts store could help you out (I'd bring a picture of what you need, so there's no confusion). The backplate is generally referred to as a "low profile bracket". Other name for a VGA port is a D-SUB (which is a bit misleading, as there are other types of D-SUB ports). Cable between the port and the card is called a ribbon cable or flat cable. I've tried different combinations in google, haven't come up with anything useful yet.

Hope that gets you started, at the least.
posted by XcentricOrbit at 4:03 PM on March 26, 2009

Best answer: Shoot... May be overthinking this. Is there an HDMI port right next to the DVI port? Did your computer come with an adapter to plug into the HDMI port to switch it to DVI, so you could have two DVI ports if needed? Then all you may need is a DVI to VGA adapter for the regular DVI port, if it didn't come with one of those already (unless your other monitor supports DVI as well?). Don't know how the Cintiq will work over HDMI port with an adapter, but it seems like it's worth a shot.
posted by XcentricOrbit at 4:07 PM on March 26, 2009

This HDMI to DVI adapter looks like it would fit the bill, if you don't have one.
posted by XcentricOrbit at 4:09 PM on March 26, 2009

Response by poster: There is an HDMI port next to the DVI, yes (along with a second HDMI port farther up, above the speaker port). It didn't come with any sort of HDMI adapter, though. The monitor does support both DVI and VGA and did include a DVI/VGA adapter. So you think if I get a DVI-to-HDMI adapter I can plug the monitor into that?

So the setup would be: Cintiq attached directly to DVI port; Monitor, using DVI cable, attached to HDMI via adapter.

(I don't have any clue what HDMI is so I'm completely clueless here)

On preview: Excellent. And that is pretty cheap, too, so even if it doesn't work I won't feel too bad about buying one.
posted by Nedroid at 4:17 PM on March 26, 2009

HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface; It's a common interface for HD televisions, but it's basically a DVI video signal combined with audio (which you won't be using for this setup). So as far as I can tell, the setup you outlined above should work out just fine for you. And getting ahold of an HDMI to DVI adapter should be easier than finding one of those VGA port ribbon cables for your card.

I am very surprised that your Dell didn't come with an HDMI to DVI adapter considering that, in the base configuration without the added Radeon 3450 graphics card, it wouldn't have a single DVI port available.

Good luck with it! I hope everything works out well.
posted by XcentricOrbit at 9:02 PM on March 26, 2009

I see that you have your answer, but CONGRATULATIONS on your Cintiq! It will change your life. :)
posted by swilkerson at 10:25 PM on March 26, 2009

Response by poster: XcentricOrbit, you are brilliant and your idea worked wonderfully. Thank you very much for all your help!
posted by Nedroid at 9:09 AM on March 27, 2009

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