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June 8, 2006 6:10 AM   Subscribe

Questions / problems with running dual monitors (mi)

I recently hooked up a second monitor to my computer, and apparently, I can either duplicate what my main monitor is displaying, or I can completely switch between the two (i.e. one monitor on, one off).

I was hoping there would be a simple solution to run two different types of programs at once on the monitors, like a movie playing or web-browsing on one, and a game playing on the other (this computer is purely for entertainment).

My current video card is an ASUS Radeon 9800XT and has dual monitor support and plug-ins. Searching previous askme's pointed me to ATI's Hydravision, but that program seemed far more complicated than I want.

Can anyone point out some good info for a dual monitor noob, or at least tell me if what I'm trying to do is possible? Thanks in advance.
posted by efalk to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure you need 2 graphics cards for a true (as in, at the same time) dual monitor setup, but I await correction.
posted by Orange Goblin at 6:29 AM on June 8, 2006

Best answer: If you're running XP (perhaps other versions of Windows as well), you can enable this through Display Properties.

Right-click on your desktop and choose Properties and then click the Settings tab when the window pops up.

You should see two squares, marked 1 and 2. 1 is most likely your old monitor and 2 should be the new one, though it's possible they're reversed. Click on monitor 2 and then check the box that says "Extend my windows desktop onto this monitor" and click Apply. Note that from this screen you can also control the positioning of the monitor. Click and Drag the monitors around so they represent your actual setup, you don't want to be mousing off to the left to use the monitor on the right.

I also use a program called UltraMon for easy dual monitor application management.

In my experience, some games will hog your display and minimize any video playing on the secondary once it starts up on your primary. This can be solved by running the game in a window, though not every game likes doing this. I don't know about WoW, but I play City of Villains like this and it works great.

Also, some DVD playing software doesn't like to play DVD video on a secondary monitor. This can be solved by temporarily swapping which is the primary monitor, if you want to watch a dvd while gold farming.
posted by utsutsu at 6:32 AM on June 8, 2006

I'm using two monitors to extend my Windows XP desktop and have can put anything I want on either.

Right click on the empty desktop, select Settings and click the box that says 'Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor' for the second monitor. I use ATI drivers and have an ATI Mobility Fire GL 7800 video adapter in my Thinkpad.
posted by FauxScot at 6:37 AM on June 8, 2006

Yes, the real question is where are the two VGA connections you're using? Is this a dueal head card? Two seperate video cards? Or are you just doubling the output through some sort of adapter?

If you're using a dual head card, or two seperate video cards, there should be a setup screen just like utsutsu describes. Make sure you check the "extend my desktop onto this monitor" checkbox for monitor two. That will allow you to move application windows over into that second display.
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:38 AM on June 8, 2006

See for the answers to all your questions.
posted by jannw at 6:43 AM on June 8, 2006

ATI's drivers does funny things with the standard Windows Display Properties. I've noticed this on my laptop when trying to get the display to mirror to the external VGA port.

If you go to the Settings tab in Display Properties, and click on Advanced..., you should have a lot more tabs than the standard 5, and many of them will have the ATI logo. There should be one for Displays. Click on that one, and make sure the "Power Button" for both monitors is depressed. Hit OK.

Now you should be back on the Settings tab. Click on the second of the two monitors, then tick teh "Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor" box, and hit Apply/OK.
posted by kableh at 7:09 AM on June 8, 2006

make sure you have the latest drivers from ATi. I'd recommend not getting the combo installer that requires .NET and is like 120MB worth of stuff - there's a drivers only installer that'll do you just as well. works fine on my X800 card.
posted by mrg at 7:57 AM on June 8, 2006

Both of the dual monitor cards that I've had for my machines will not allow you to render video in one screen as well as play a game fullscreen at the same time. However, if like one person suggested, you de-fullscreen your game, it may work. I'm able to watch video on one screen while browse the internet on the other.

Also try downloading the latest drivers from the manufacturer. That may help.
posted by allthewhile at 8:22 AM on June 8, 2006

Also, there's now a Hydravision Basic version that seems like exactly what you need.
posted by Caviar at 9:53 AM on June 8, 2006

A real handy tool for those of us with 2 monitors is ultramon which allows you to minimize programs to one monitor or the other. Hard to explain, but check it out. It may help with your display problems to, and the forums there contain many good questions and answers.
posted by maxpower at 12:57 PM on June 8, 2006

Both of the dual monitor cards that I've had for my machines will not allow you to render video in one screen as well as play a game fullscreen at the same time.

This is technically true, but WoW has a setting called "Windowed Mode - Maximized" which takes up the full screen (no taskbars or anything) but allows you to use the second monitor.
posted by dagnyscott at 1:30 PM on June 8, 2006

I have a Radeon 9800. It won't do what you want. It has multiple outputs, but it is not "dual-head;" it will drive one display. The things you described in your post are the only things it can do if you hook displays up to more than one of its outputs.

Dual-head cards are like two display cards in one; they have the onboard capability to create and hold in memory two separate outputs, and send each to a different display device.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:05 PM on June 8, 2006

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