How to hookup 2 external monitors to a laptop with one VGA port?
June 28, 2008 4:31 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to setup 2 external monitors on a laptop with just one VGA port ?

I have two Acer AL2216W 22" LCD monitors (1680x1050) that I want to use to provide a dual screen display running off a Inspiron 6400 laptop.

The Inspiron 6400 has one VGA port and no DVI port. I have seen several USB to DVI or USB to VGA adapters which allow you to add an extra video output. Some of these units have external video cards in the cable. Some cables do not have an external video card.

Has anyone else tried this kind of setup with similar laptops, monitors? What equipment did you use to provide a second monitor output on your laptop?
posted by greenknightwatch to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Matrox DualHead2Go works very well for a good friend of mine. It emulates a larger display to the video card (ie, a single 4000x2000 display) and then splits multiplexes the signal out to each dispaly. Its pretty slick.
posted by SirStan at 4:40 PM on June 28, 2008

I would avoid "USB Video Cards" in general. The Matrox uses your native video card, it just lies about how large your display is, so the computer still thinks it has a single display that is reallly big.
posted by SirStan at 4:41 PM on June 28, 2008

The Matrox DualHead2Go works pretty well for me at work.
posted by icebourg at 5:42 PM on June 28, 2008

One of my coworkers uses the DualHead2Go and is quite happy with it. Note that your two screens have to be totally identical, and it's tricking Windows into thinking that the two are actually one very-wide display, so some things aren't quite perfect. But it works pretty well as far as I can tell.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:21 PM on June 28, 2008

I have used two usb different video cards in the past. The first one had awful picture quality, was dog slow, and crashed my machine all the time. The second one had ok picture quality, was fast enough, and didn't crash.

Unfortunately, I do not remember the models I used.

If you go that route, buy locally, and be prepared to return the item a number of times until you find a decent brand.
posted by gmarceau at 10:27 PM on June 28, 2008

I tried the DualHead2Go and hated it; because it treats your desktop as a single monitor, many things (including the Taskbar) are split between the two. Many port replicators will have a VGA and a DVI and allow you to use both at the same time if the laptop display is off. That's what I do at work.
posted by JMOZ at 12:10 PM on June 29, 2008

Response by poster: Not going to get the DualHead2Go because it could only provide 2 1280x1024 resolution. Not acceptable for my 1680x1050 LCDs.

I used this tool to check the resolutions I would get with my graphics card.

I am afraid there's no perfect solution. I am thinking about a high quality USB video card, if such a thing exists, or a port replicator with video card (haven't found one for my laptop yet.)
posted by greenknightwatch at 7:18 PM on July 10, 2008

Best answer: I found a solution and am very satisfied with the result.

One monitor runs off the the external VGA port on my laptop. I run the second monitor off of a EVGA UV Plus+ 15 USB external video card. I am very pleased with the result. I can't notice any difference in quality. The EVGA UV Plus+ Also matches the resolution of my monitors.

Be careful because a lot of the external video cards will not match the resolution of widescreen monitor.
posted by greenknightwatch at 8:32 AM on August 16, 2008

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