Multiple Monitors (PCIe and PCI)

August 18, 2009 at 13:53:27
Specs: Windows XP
I'm new to the form and I'm stuck! I'm about to
buy a new PC (Compaq Presario) and I want to
run 4 monitors on it. If I buy a PCIe x16 Slot card
and a PCI card is this all that required to run 4

See More: Multiple Monitors (PCIe and PCI)

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August 18, 2009 at 14:21:45
That should work. Of course each card has to support two displays. Seems like I remember something about some conflicts with the drivers for some graphics chip sets.

Look at the link below for a start. I suggest you also research.

Google running 4 monitors in WinXP.

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August 18, 2009 at 14:37:31
It's usually best to buy cards with the same video chipset brand - e.g. ATI or NVidia - then usually all custom settings are available in the one maker's configuration program.

I've seen web sites on the web that show XP will support up to at least 8 displays.

Some mboards support 2, 3, or 4(?) PCI-E X 16 video cards, but they're usually more expensive and you're not likely to see that for a brand name system.

Brand name systems often come with power supplies with meagre output capacities. They will handle a modest video card, but not one that requires more power. You MAY have to upgrade the power supply.

Your power supply must have at least the minimum capacity required to support a system with the graphics card you are using installed, or the max graphics card you might install in the future.
(Onboard video - video built into the mboard - IS NOT A CARD!)
You can go to the video card maker's web site and look up the specs for the model - often under system requirements - the minimum PS wattage, and, more important, the minimum amperage the PS must supply at 12v is stated. If you don't find that, any card with the same video chipset including any letters after the model number has very similar minimum PS requirements.

In your case, the PS has to have enough capacity to handle both cards. PCI cards usually require less power than PCI-E X 16 cards. e.g. If one card requires a minimum 450 watt PS, another 400 watt, the PS would probably have enough capacity if it was at least a minimum 500 watts.

You can usually replace it with any decent standard sized standard ATX PS with the same capacity or greater.

Standard (PS/2) power supply size - 86mm high, 150mm wide, 140mm deep, or 3 3/8" h x 5 7/8" w x 5 1/2" d , or very close to that, though the depth can be more or less for some PSs.

Don't buy an el-cheapo PS.
See response 3 in this:

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August 18, 2009 at 14:45:23
this can be doesn't seem to be overly complicated but
you definitely have to know what your doing! i was under the
impression that as long as i have two dual monitor cards that are
compatible with the machine i would be fine. i didn't take into
consideration the power supply and chipset compatibility.

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Related Solutions

August 18, 2009 at 14:47:50
Neither may be an issue but you do need to check.

If you already have both cards you can try what you have.

Did you check out the link I provided?

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August 18, 2009 at 14:57:24
no i haven't bought the cards yet. that's what i'm attempting to do
now. i'm trying to figure out what card are compatible with my
machine and if i even have the system requirements to run 4
monitors. now that someone has mentioned power supply, i don't
think i have a strong enough power suppy. my power supply is
only 300w!

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August 18, 2009 at 14:59:37
othehill, yeah i just finished reading the article you referred me
to. i think this is going to one BIG learning experience.

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August 18, 2009 at 15:50:47
If the machine won't be used for gaming, here's a couple of with a single port and 4 way splitter and the other with dual ports and 2 splitters.


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August 18, 2009 at 15:59:41
I don't, I take either one of these cards and add
the appropriate splitters and that's it? I'll be able to use 4
monitors? And another thing, why does it make a difference if I'm
using the machine for gaming? I'll be using it for programming,
viewing stock charts and trading.

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August 18, 2009 at 16:05:55
If you use a splitter you will just be cloning pairs of monitors.

If you intend to have different information on each screen you need two cards with each having two suitable outputs. Be careful you don't get cards with one monitor and one TV output.

You might also look at Matrox brand cards. I think the best they do is 3 displays off one card. Link below.

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August 18, 2009 at 16:12:13
That's the idea...both cards come with the necessary splitters.

I'd use the Manufacturer Contact Info links on the pages I linked to insure they'll work for you.

I asked about gaming because the 8400GS chipset these cards use just won't cut it for modern games.


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August 18, 2009 at 16:15:54
Thanks for the tip Othehill, I noticed that some of the dual cards
are for monitor and tv. I've been on tiger direct all day trying to
find what I need and it's a little difficult. Ok, here goes...I'm
running a HP Compaq Presario CQ5110F Desktop, now if I
purchase a PCIe and PCI cards that are made by the same
manufacture as my chipset (NVIDIA) and my power supply can
handle the cards, is this all thats required to run 4 monitors? If
not what else do I need to know?

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August 18, 2009 at 16:18:47
Hey SkipCox, Othehill just told me that if i use splitters that I'll
just be cloning the monitors. Othehill did you take a look the
cards that SkipCox recommended? I think there designed to 4
monitors??? Right SkipCox? Or will I only be cloning the

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August 18, 2009 at 16:25:50
OtH is probably correct re display cloning and Jaton doesn't address the issue in their FAQ's or user manual.

A call to Jaton or Matrox might be the quickest way to get more information and find card(s) that'll work with your 300w psu.


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August 18, 2009 at 16:28:48
You are confusing the motherboard chipset with the graphics processing unit.

I don't think the chipset used on the motherboard has any real bearing on what brand graphics you use.

What tubes was suggesting was to buy two graphics cards that both use the same brand of graphics engine. nVidia and ATI are the two main brands.

You do want to stay in the same general series. Don't buy an old card and a brand new card. That might cause you to use an older driver. Ideally you want the use the same version of the same brand driver. If you buy current model cards then that should work itself out.

nVidia &ATI have unified drivers. However, an older card may not be able to use the latest version of their drivers.

Is this computer to be used exclusively for business? If so, you don't need very powerful cards, which will save you cash and you won't need to worry as much about the power supply.

Now would be a good time to address the power supply. The brand and model should be on the unit somewhere. You might need to remove it to read it. Post that information. Also, if additional information is listed on the PSU then post that too. This will help us determine if your PSU will be OK or if you need to replace it.

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August 18, 2009 at 16:42:44
It's a compaq 300w power supply. So how do I go about
selecting the appropriate cards?

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August 18, 2009 at 17:58:59
If you don't care about performance, if all monitors are VGA connected , and you don't mind all the displays being identical, you could get a hardware video splitter box
along with one VGA extension cable, and connect that to an existing one video port if it's onboard video, or for better perforance get a cheaper PCI-E card your 300 watt PS will handle and connect the hardware video splitter box to that.

Hardware video splitter boxes are the same things stores use to display the same thing on many computer monitors. They have an amplifier, so they work fine if a video cable needs to be longer than the usual 6 feet or so to the monitor.

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August 19, 2009 at 04:53:22

I have three monitors on my PC currently (but could run 4, so this is applicable).

In order to get it to work I found out (after much internet trawling) that:

1) Splitters are not what you want - they only clone/mirror one 'screen' onto all 4, so you end up with 4 copies of the same thing (pretty pointless).

2) You must get two graphics cards (with two outputs each) which run with the same graphics driver (e.g. all nVidia series 7, or all nVidia series 8 + 200 series') in order for windows to not get confused. If you get either one ATI and one nVidia card or one nVidia series 4 and one nVidia series 8 etc it will NOY work.

3) Your motherboard must have enough slots to run the various cards (I don't see a problem with a PCIe and PCI card as you will have at least one of each available).

At the moment I have two GTX260's in SLI in my primary x16 PCIe slots, and a third 8800GT in my tertiary x8 PCIe slot.

I use the two GTX's to power my two 'main' gaming displays and the 8800GT to run my TV. I could add another TV/screen to the 8800GT to give me four monitors if I wanted using its second output.

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August 19, 2009 at 05:54:29
Thanks Randomtask,
I think I've finally figured it out, and it's exactly what you
described to me. I'm going to buy 2 Nivida cards i.e (PCIe and

Hey, here's the computer I currently have and the video cards
I'm considering. Can you take a look at this setup and let me
know if it will work? Does it make a difference if the PCIe card
is low profile even though my machine isn't a slim tower?



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August 19, 2009 at 05:58:04
Those links direct to the main tigerdirect page, not a specific product..

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August 19, 2009 at 06:09:15



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August 19, 2009 at 06:39:08
I don't know what you're doing wrong, but those links still don't work - they're being chopped after a dash - the rest of the URL is there in the post but it's not being used.

I think these are what you intended:



HP Compaq Presario CQ5110F Desktop PC - AMD X2 7550 2.5GHz, 3GB DDR2, 320GB HDD, DVDRW, NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE, Vista Home Premium

PNY GeForce 8400 GS Video Card PCI Express

Sparkle GeForce 8400 GS Video Card - 256MB DDR2, PCI

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August 19, 2009 at 06:39:15
Go to to buy your hardware. Best site on the net.

I suggest that you also replace the PSU. Below is a link to a cost effective PSU that is more capacity and should be at least as good as your original unit.

Install the PCIe card first and configure it brfore installing the second card.

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August 19, 2009 at 06:44:06
Ok, I'll take your advice and go with newegg...hey, when you say
"configure" my PCIe card first what do you mean by that; set up
dual monitors first then install the PCI card and reconfigure for
quad monitors?

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August 19, 2009 at 06:45:57
shouldn't these cards be plug and play? i shouldn't have install
drivers should i?

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August 19, 2009 at 06:54:48
Of course you need to install drivers and also software to control what is shown on each display. WinXP is much older than the new cards. You can't expect Windows to have the latest drivers. Just use the accompanying CD to install.

Read the help/installation files on the CD BEFORE installing the cards. Use Windows Explorer to browse the directory on the CD to find the install directions or go the the manufacturer's website.

Windows can probably configure the cards but the software that is used to control what is displayed on each screen is best handled by third party software, which should be included with the cards. Only need to install that once.

I just REREAD your original post and am wondering if you might be better off with something different. Are you getting a free upgrade to Windows 7 with the Compaq? Are you buying local?

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August 19, 2009 at 07:03:30
PNY GeForce 8400 GS Video Card PCI Express 300, 350
Power Requirement: 300-Watt power supply

Sparkle GeForce 8400 GS Video Card - 256MB DDR2, PCI, 350
Model SFPC84GS256U2LP
Power Requirement: 300-Watt power supply

I assume each card requires about 50 watts.
Your PS needs to be a minumum 350 watts, or more.

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August 19, 2009 at 07:04:52
Ok. I'm definitely going to read the docs before doing
anything. So, I "think" I'm all set to go now. I'm going to order
the cards today and I should have them by the end of the
week. I'll let you guys know how everything turns out!

Hey, I'd like to thank everyone for helping me out, this is a
SWEET site, I'm a developer and I use many different C#
blogs when I'm stuck on a coding issue, but I've never a
community like this! The response time is unbelieveable!

But anyway, special thanks to Othehill, Randomtask and
SkipCox. I learned a lot from you guys especially Othehill!

Thanks again

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August 19, 2009 at 07:07:50
yeah, Tubesandwires...I'm going to buy a 450w psu. someone
had mentioned that i may need a stronger psu, it may have been

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August 19, 2009 at 07:25:52

I provided a link to a budget PSU in #22 above. That one is 485W and has decent reviews. I believe that PSU will suit your needs.

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August 19, 2009 at 07:29:24
i know othehill, thats the one i'm going to get. i'm going to listen
to the advice that was given to me! i'm not going to do anything
stupid then next week have another post titled "Help I fried my
motherboard because I didn't listen" or something else just as
goofy, LOL!

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