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Brooklyn, NY

1 edit

How Run Three Monitors? Win 7

What is a good way to hook up three monitors?

Use: photo editing, light CAD/CAM, business, database, audio, video, browsing.

Not required: Gaming capability

Desired resolution: At least 1980 x 1200
Connections: digital preferred.

System will be:
Win 7
Intel SandyBridge i5 2500K
Motherboard: H67 or P67 as required or desireable

Mountain View, CA

[[sarcasm]]The best way to hook up 3 monitors is to connect 3 video cables to 3 ports on your video card.[[/sarcasm]]

Most consumer video cards do not offer the ability to drive 3 monitors. Some consumer-grade cards offer 2 DVI ports, which would get you dual monitors (obviously). Some only offer 1 DVI port and 1 VGA port (ugh). Otherwise you have two choices:

1) Buy a 2nd video card (make sure it'll work in your board; ideally you want a PCIe video card, so you would need two PCIe slots capable of handling whatever the connector type is (link speed, e.g. x16)). This solution will work, but is "sub-optimal" -- moving windows between monitors (e.g. "between video cards") is usually slow, given that the system has to copy RAM contents from one card to the other. Expect crummy performance is what I'm saying.

2) Buy a video card that can drive multiple monitors. An example would be the nVidia Quadro NVS series cards, which can drive up to 4 monitors.

However, be aware that the NVS cards -- despite having some 3D support -- ARE NOT gaming cards. They're intended for workspace-oriented environments, not for gaming environments. Do not expect games to run decently on NVS cards.

If you need the best of both worlds your best choice is to go with option #1. But I strongly recommend #2 if you don't do any serious gaming. We use this method at my workplace (Microsoft), using NVS 450 cards (PNY brand) with Windows 7. Works wonderfully. We have no problems with video playback, Flash, image editing (admittedly using GIMP but Photoshop would run just as well), nor do we have any "driver wonkiness". The majority of our workload is in Firefox or Internet Explorer. nVidia provides drivers for both 32-bit and 64-bit environments.

Be aware these cards are around US$450-500 -- that's just the nature of the beast. You'd best be prepared to shell out that kind of money anyway (and you probably can given that you have the cash to afford 3 monitors, etc... )

One more point: the connectors on the back of the NVS 450 card are DisplayPort. If your monitors don't support DisplayPort natively, you'll need to buy DisplayPort-to-DVI adapters. PNY makes DisplayPort-to-DVI adapters that work great.

There is no support for analog (VGA) output on these cards, so don't go looking for a DisplayPort-to-VGA adapter for the NVS 450 cards; they only output digital.
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.

Brooklyn, NY


I'm not interested in gaming. I just added that to my top post to make that clearer, as I know gaming is popular.

I just remembered, I would like to run Microsoft Flight Simulator though. Is that considered a game for display solution purposes?

I didn't really want to drop a lot of money on a video card. One of the reasons I considered expanding from a dual monitor setup to a threepack is because TN LCD monitors can be gotten inexpensively now. It's easy to find them for $100 or less on craigslist.

I just need one good quality IPS monitor to do photo editing on. The others don't have to be photo editing quality.

Saint Louis, MO
reply to TomBrooklyn


I don't know exactly how fancy you want to get but you might check this out before you make a decision.


I have been using this system for over 3 years on XP without any type of problems. Just simple and quick.



Lynnwood, WA
reply to koitsu

said by koitsu:

The best way to hook up 3 monitors is to connect 3 video cables to 3 ports on your video card.


Your choices are:
a) a video card with 3 or more outputs -- they exist, but you'll need to pay some extra,
b) more than one video card,
c) a signal splitter such as the Matrox triplehead2go.

For info on the latter, search all time for "triplehead2go".
Disclaimer: I own one.
Palin/Trump 2012!


reply to koitsu

I hate ati but... far as I know all their cards support a max of 6 screens per gpu (obv limited by number of outputs) where as nvidia is hard capped at 2 per GPU...

Something as cheap as a 5670 could power 3 screens if all the outputs work for you...


Not a bad deal at all vs some other peoples posted cards.

If you need vga out... the 5670 has that too just look for a different one...

·Cogeco Cable
reply to TomBrooklyn

My productivity system is an ATI FirePro 2460 with four monitors with DisplayPort & DVI. My orientation is two monitors horizontal with a vertical on each side:


I use ErgoTron arms (great quality products) to hold up the left, right and top displays while the bottom middle one is on the stand. They're all 24".

Once you start using a 24" LCD vertically, you realize the internet was made for it especially in reading any form of online documentation, PDF's, news sites, etc.

Folsom, CA
reply to TomBrooklyn

If you are running an i5, you already have 2 displays, a third can be added via USB using something like these from DisplayLink »www.displaylink.com/shop/index.php?product=5

I use one on my desk at work (using the first generation i5). As the 3rd display it doesn't see a ton of use, but works great for extra real estate. I keep my Microsoft Live Meeting window there during meetings, and all my IM windows, as well as periodically Email/Excel/PowerPoint etc - with no problems at all.

Very small adder to an existing i5 system
"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us.... We are far too easily pleased." C.S. Lewis