December 8, 2006
I have something in common with Bill Gates and Larry Page:
Larry Page: I have a weird setup in my office. I have one computer with three monitors: one flat-screen monitor and two regular ones. I have my browser on one screen, my schedule on another and my e-mail on another. I can drag things to different screens. I also have a projector. So if I'm talking with everyone in my office, I can move stuff onto a big screen.
Bill Gates: If you look at this office, there isn't much paper in it. On my desk I have three screens, synchronized to form a single desktop. I can drag items from one screen to the next. Once you have that large display area, you'll never go back, because it has a direct impact on productivity.
We're all members of the three monitor club.
If you're only using one monitor, you are cheating yourself out of potential productivity. Two monitors is a no-brainer. It's so fundamental that I included it as a part of the Programmer's Bill of Rights.
But you can do better.
As good as two monitors is, three monitors is even better. With three monitors, there's a "center" to focus on. And 50% more display area. While there's certainly a point of diminishing returns for additional monitors, I think three is the sweet spot. Even Edward Tufte, in the class I recently attended, explicitly mentioned multiple monitors. I don't care how large a single display can be; you can never have enough desktop space.
Normally, to achieve three monitors, you have to either:
- Buy an exotic video card that has more than 2 monitor connections.
- Install a second video card.
The first option is difficult because video cards with 3+ monitor connections are quite rare and usually expensive to boot. The second option, adding an additional video card, is easier, but not without some compatibility pitfalls of its own. But there's a third way that may be easiest of all. The Matrox TripleHead2Go is a neat little external device that provides three display support from a single video output. And it's now available in analog VGA and digital DVI editions.
There is one big caveat, however. In a modern three monitor config, the operating system sees each monitor as an independently controllable desktop. You can set resolution, size, and position of the monitors independently, and windows can intelligently size themselves to each desktop on each monitor.
With the matrox Triplehead2Go, you're stuck with one mongo giant desktop that spans all your monitors.
This is a very old-school way of implementing multiple monitors. Before Windows was properly aware of multiple displays (think NT 4.0 era), the "giant desktop" was the only way you could get more than one display to work at all. And "giant desktop" has a lot of downsides:
- Maximizing a window becomes an exercise in futility.
- You may not want your start menu on the leftmost monitor.
- With two monitors, "centered" dialogs split the middle.
To avoid the many problems of "giant desktop" fakery, you really need the OS to know that you're using two or three physical monitors, along with their resolutions, positions, and so forth.
But the Triplehead2Go has its charms. You don't have to open your computer to install it, for one thing. And it works with computers that can't be opened, such as laptops. The Triplehead2Go abstracts away the multiple monitors at a hardware level and presents itself to the operating system as a giant ultra widescreen monitor.
The Triplehead2Go also has one unexpected strength: video games. 3D acceleration across multiple video cards is tricky at best. And there's no good way to tell a game to use multiple monitors unless it's explicitly coded to do so. The Triplehead2Go device neatly sidesteps both of these limitations by externally simulating one ultra-ultra-wide monitor.
PCFormat UK experimented with the Triplehead2Go in a couple recent and upcoming game titles, such as Armed Assault:
Armed Assault also takes advantage of an optional TrackIR head-tracking device. The combination of a three-monitor setup with head tracking is incredibly immersive, and has to be seen to be believed. Watch the video and be amazed.
Three-monitor setups are particularly strong in "simulator" type games where peripheral vision is crucial to gameplay. PC Format UK tried it with the recently released GTR2 racing game, and the results are impressive.
There are lots more screenshots of various games running in triple-head mode at Tom's Hardware and Neoseeker.
The traditional "add another video card" method is still the preferred way to gain entry into the prestigious three monitor club. But for laptop users and gamers, the Matrox Triplehead2Go is also a nice option with a few caveats.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
the jump from 2 to 3 monitors gives you 50% more display area, not 33%.
The only problem with using that device for a laptop extender is that I typically use the laptop screen as the primary display and an external monitor next to it... it's still a very interesting solution, however.
If I've learned anything from Swordfish, it's that 9 monitors is the way to go.
And that object oriented programming involves hooking together lego blocks of code.
Work provided me with multiple monitors at home...
and at this point, even if I had to pay for the 20" displays myself, it would be a no-brainer.
It's like going from mice that are mechanical to optical... There is just no going back.
I'm using the second video card approach with a mix of Radeon and NVidia cards and it's working fine (for 2d)... but google earth wont span the video cards cleanly.
That picture of the soldier in the field is pretty impressive. Right now I'm running on my laptop and then have a 24 inch dell connected to it although it would be awesome to have to 24 inch monitors at the same time.
I posted in the "Programmer's Bill of Rights" entry, and I'm pleased to let you know that there have been some improvements:
1) I got a flat 17" CRT that someone from management threw away for a 20" LCD
2) They've changed the air conditioning filters, so the air doesn't smell as much now
3) I got an OEM Logitech optical mouse, so the old ball mouse I had got tossed into the trashcan
4) I managed to overclock my P4 Celeron from 1.7 to 2 GHz, so the machine runs at least a bit faster now
One of these days, I'll win the lottery, or at least find a foreign employer that will let me work from home. But I'll still have only one monitor on my desk ;)
The extreme mercator projection might be useful if you have all three aligned flat, but I could see it becoming incredibly distracting if the monitors are more sensibly arranged in a folded configuration. Especially for those with sensitive perephrial vision. I guess you're back at the "needs game engine support" stage if you want true omnidirectional gaming, sadly.
That does have the potential for some awesome though, much better than my mismatched 19"+laptop combo. Even if 3 is getting so big I couldn't see myself doing anything with it all.
There's actually one more option. MaxiVista provides a software package that will let you expand your desktop to another PC. It works like a charm. http://www.maxivista.com/
I've been doing this for a long time. Here are the tips I would add:
Dual-head video cards are common, but more than that is still quite rare. If you have a PCI Express motherboard with 2 x16 ports, good for you. Otherwise, unless you do something expensive like a 3-head video card or a TripleHead2Go (or a DoubleHead2Go on one of the ports on a 2-head video card), you will need to run one monitor on a PCI card.
This PCI-card monitor will have much lower performance than the others that are on your main 2-head video card, so you won't want to watch movies on it, but it is still fine for email or programming. You'll see some lag dragging a window to or from the PCI-card monitor, and fast-scrolling data slows down (like console output), but otherwise it works ok.
You'll find that the lag of dragging between monitors goes down greatly if the two cards use the same video drivers.
Vista supports two kinds of video drivers: XP-type (XDDM) and Vista-type (WDDM). You can't run Aero glass or do DirectX-10 stuff on XDDM drivers, so you generally want the WDDM drivers. However, Vista can only load one type of driver at the same time, and it can only load one WDDM driver at the same time. So if you want to use two video cards under Vista, they need to use the same video driver.
I'm currently using two GeForce 5200 cards (1 AGP, 1 PCI) on my computer at work. They run Aero Glass (not great, but ok), and everything works fine.
Unless you're a chameleon, you can't use two monitors _at the same time_ anyway. There's a handy program called Remote Desktops. It's a part of Windows 2003 Administration Pack which you can download for free from downloads.microsoft.com. It's also included in W2K3. Basically it allows you to establish multiple RDP connections to other PCs and easily switch between them (they become nodes in the MMC tree on the left). I've tried dual monitor setup and went back to RDP. Same thing, less head turning and mousing. Disclaimer: my monitor is a 23" widescreen, so I have plenty of resolution if I need to code and read a doc on the side. At home, 15.4" MBP seems sufficient.
I used to use dual-monitors religiously, but I just came across VirtuaWin (basically it's desktop switching like X11, but it works a lot better than the Windows Power Toy one)
So far I am not *totally* sold on this vs dual-monitors, but it's nice to put SQL Managler on one desktop, keep the first two for instances of VS then use the other two (or however many) for other apps, multiple browsers (as I'm a web developer) etc.
I currently have dual-monitors at work and a widescreen @ home, all are using VirtuaWin, I am not sure what I like best yet.
Matrox Quad graphic cards are relatively cheap and they provide up to *four* monitors (the card has two VGA outputs, each one is duplicated using a special cable which is included with the card).
I personally use two computers each with 2 monitors on my desk. (along with 2 keyboards and two mice) It's tricky doing a lot of typing on the upper keyboard, because your hands are suspended a little awkwardly, but for CPU intensive tasks - I find it works very nicely. I can burn a DVD and not have a slowdown in file transfers or play a game and not worry about alt-tabbing to search for something.
I will say that I do not use it to its full potential. My desk isn't that large so I have resolutely held out on the programs that allow you one mouse to simply drag across the seperate machines (I find a second mouse works fine, and I don't like picking up my mouse and placing it back down to drag). I've also found myself under-utilizing my leftmost monitor, although it is only a 15". And I like keeping my calendar open on my rightmost monitor, but also have two docked items - Google Sidebar and Trillian, so I don't find myself moving windows to it too often.
Eventually I hope to invest in several 24" or 30" Widescreen LCD's (I'm holding out because I can't stand anything less than 1200 high). But with all the talk about how wide text should go before it's difficult to read, I may end up with 4 1600x1200 LCD's.
I have three monitors at home, and two at work, and I have to agree that 3 is the sweet spot. Vista gave me a bit of a fit using AGP or PCI-E and a PCI card, so now I run two PCI-E cards (not SLI, for what it's worth...)
I will say that rather than ever try to use two computers, I much prefer RDP, even giving a second machine it's own monitor.
There's not a lot mentioned here about the non-gaming benefits of three monitors, so I just wanted to say that while two monitors are better than 1, the jump to three is completely life altering (remeber the first time you used TIVO?).
I am a software engineer, and the big draw for multiple monitors (for me) started in the 80s when you had text mode and graphics mode. Multiple monitors allowed you to run your app on one screen and debug it in the IDE on the other without screen flipping - which didnt always work with all video modes ("mode x" - sigh).
Today everything in in "graphics mode" so the real gain is only real estate, but if you are using 2 monitors then you have converted your single-monitor front and center prime real estate into two sub-prime lots with a huge bezel eye soar (assumming you center the monitors in your field of view). There's no way around it, MS Windows will take away some of the potential productivity gain because the center of your desktop will be split across two monitors.
But with three monitors, the center of your desktop will be a single full monitor. You will have a left, right, and main monitor that you will find to be very natural. Now you can have your code, help, and email visible at the same time. Or code, help, and website.
Most people that see my desk think its overkill, but I can tell you the benefit is not 50% more than 2 monitors, it's more like 300% better. I have dual 19" LCDs at home, and tripple 17" lcds at work. Truthfully, I don't code as much at home as I used to. I try to get my personal coding done after hours at work because its sooo tedious using just 2 monitors. I know it sounds (and is) pathetically spoiled, but I cant help how I feel.
If you are a manager - get your developers 3 instead of 2, the productivity gain will be substantial.
I have to say Maxivista is the way to go, just as having two monitors is a no brainer we all use multiple computers, with Maxivista I can extend my primary monitor or remote control the other systems. You might also look at a usb to vga adapter. Also once you go DVI you won't go back to VGA
I have three monitors on my desk: two for my G5 and one for my linux tower. I use synergy [http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/] to share one mouse and keyboard between two machines. Copy and paste even works well. This way I get the benefits of three screens and multiple operating systems running natively.
I agree about the focal point. It is much better to have three screens with the center screen being the focus.
I have to say Maxivista is the way to go
Just be aware that Maxivista is like Remote Desktop-- it's sending all the screen data over ethernet. So performance is *considerably* lower than any other option we've talked about, and anything intensive (watching video, 3D, Aero Glass, etc) won't work very well.
I've been a member for years and I love it.
What bothers me is the screen makers. Look at the new screens, what do you see more and more? *WIDE* screens! I don't want wide, I want tall! I'm running 3x19"@1280x1024. I don't have the space to go any wider and it's reaching about the maximum width that's comfortable to work with anyway. How about some 1280x1280 or even 1280x1600 monitors, though?
Some monitors rotate. I've got a Dell 1907 FP (Just one.) It rotates so I have a tall screen. It's fantastic for programming. Regular monitors look like PDAs now.
I've had no problems with Cleartype.
If I had three of these, it would be amazing.
I have 24" widescreens at home and at work.
That's a fair whack of resolution, but I find the most frustrating aspect is that I can't define "sticky lines" on the screen that I can snap windows to.
Windows multimonitor is a good solution for this problem because Windows treats each screen independently, as a "maximize target" (if you suggested I had no idea what I was talking about here, you'd be absolutely right).
Having that sort of target would help me more efficiently manage the resolution I have available - if I could "draw" a right-hand 1/3-sized "maximize target", I'd get much of the benefit of multimon for no additional hardware investment.
Um, did that make any sense? Anyone heard of any program that can help me divide up my screen area? :)
(Aaaaand I might just order another monitor. Sigh)
Can anyone reccomend a good solution for multi- screens, and a KVM? I currently have one screen connected to my 4 home systems (2 servers, 1 workstation, 1 laptop) that I switch between regularly. I'd love to have 2-3 screens but I cant lose me KVM.
These days you can get mid-range graphics cards with 2 Dual-Link DVI outputs on them - with a splitter cable, you could put 2 monitors onto one DL output and it should be pretty easy to get 3 or even 4 monitors running off one card (disclaimer: I have not tried this. Yet....).
The nicest 3-monitor setup I have seen recently is a Dell 30-inch widescreen TFT with two regular 20-inch TFTs in portrait mode, one on each side like "wing mirrors". The 20-inch screens in portrait mode are almost exactly the same height as the 30-inch, and the resolution matches (the 20's are 1600x1200, and the 30 is 2560x1600) so you get a 4960 x 1600 desktop. Real estate for everything you need, plus it looks pretty elegant too.
Interestingly, with the price of TFTs these days, if you're anything above junior level and you can get even a 5% improvement, you can break even on the Giant Desktop From Heaven in less than a year.
I had a two-monitor setup for a very long time, but recently, I went back to having just one monitor. You see: It's a question of resolution. When I'm combining two 1280x1024 screens, I'm getting 2560x1024 pixels with a nasty black divider at pixel 1280.
When I use my nice Apple 30" cinema display, I'm not only getting more mixels (2560x1600), I'm also getting them without any black divider.
I very much prefer this one screen to two smaller ones, though I could certainly imagine myself adding another secondary monitor, but the vertical pixel count could be an interesting problem as 1600px isn't exactly something many monitors have and I'd have to have the pixel-heights not match.
Utternoncesense: No KVM? o.O
Loren: Many widescreens let you rotate them. Then you'll have your three (or five!) pillars. =D Nvidia does _not_ support automatic rotation (manual works), but ATI does, if you need that.
TristanK: Acer has something called Gridvista, where you define maximize-targets (sort of like 4 monitors within one screen). ATI has a more robust version, uh... Hydravision, there we go.
Hard to believe the 30" display is only $1500 now. Right now I'd rather have a cheap LCD TV for gaming, but, wow. ...I'd need a graphics upgrade, which means a laptop upgrade, for gaming on that one though...
at work I use http://www.nvidia.com/page/quadronvs.html cards x2
I had 4 monitors but recently switched back to 3. We have some custom monitor setups ( similiar to: http://www.soyogroup.com/products/proddesc.php?id=410 ) with a widescreen ViewSonic VP231wb (1680x1050).
I tried working from home. I couldn't do it. being able to reference something from one screen while working on the next is now so ingrained into me that a single monitor setup leaves me feeling handicapped.
I've been a member for almost a year and a half and I have a hard time imagining ever going back. I have two computers (two different development environments) both with dual video cards and I can switch between computers and get the same three monitor span. I know at least from my point of view there is a definite increase in productivity and ease of use (as they are related, narf.)
I use the center monitor as my coding window. With the right monitor I have my solution explorer, output, immediate window, etc. With my left monitor I have a nice auxillary surface where I can surf the web, open email, use textpad, etc. It's the only way to fly.
with two regular 20-inch TFTs in portrait mode
Beware, portrait mode has serious problems with ClearType. Remember that ClearType depends on a very specific arrangement of the RGB subelements in a LCD. And when you rotate, that arrangement changes..
These days you can get mid-range graphics cards with 2 Dual-Link DVI outputs on them - with a splitter cable, you could put 2 monitors onto one DL output
Hmm. Has anyone tried this? Does it work?
When I'm combining two 1280x1024 screens, I'm getting 2560x1024 pixels with a nasty black divider at pixel 1280.
That's one of the biggest reasons why three monitors is the way to go.
i have 2 machines, 3 monitors: dual monitor on my windows box, and a single on my linux box. using a piece of open source multi-platform software called synergy, i use the same keyboard and mouse on both machines. i even run it on my laptop and control all three machines (4 displays) from the same keyboard and mouse.
it acts like one big desktop, but no drag drop between different machines (now _that_ would be impressive) -- however the clipboard does transfer between machines -- copy from windows, paste into KDE... copy from the desktop, paste onto the laptop.
it provides amazing productivity for a multi-platform developer like myself.
Uh, I use Workspaces in Linux and will use them in Mac when they become available. Swapping between different workspaces is far easier than trying to do something productive while looking at another monitor. Try workspaces for awhile, see what you think...
TristanK: check out GridMove (GIYF). It lets you define areas on the screen and easily size windows to those areas with a drag or quick key combination. Mandatory addition for big monitors, IMHO.
Foxyshadis: Utternoncesense: No KVM? o.O
I used a KVM for a little while, but I just wasn't too happy with it. I didn't have a top of the line one, and I was having some issues with monitors self powering off, and when I turned them off. I like seeing my display to tell if there is a problem, so that precludes the monitor on the KVM, and I moved my hands faster than the delay in the switch. And I'll often rest my wrist on the top or bottom keyboard in a pause from typing and quickly use the mouse on the other. Besides that I find it easier to use - I think it looks a lot cooler/more intimidating.
I know _exactly_ what you're talking about, and if there was an application that did that, I don't think I would hesitate before shelling out for a 30". The lack of 'snap-lines' really holds me back from widescreen monitors.
The only thing I know of that approximates it, is control-clicking multiple taskbar buttons, right clicking and choosing "Tile Vertically" (In XP). It's not perfect by far, but it is something.
There's definitely something to be said for focusing solely on a single task, but I think virtual desktops are no replacement for multiple monitors.
When working with one monitor (virtual desktops or no), Photoshop is pretty much unusable and it becomes necessary to hide a lot of important information in Visual Studio.
Two monitors is enough to use Photoshop and VS at max efficiency, but leaves no space for other tasks. If I wanted an MSDN document or chat window visible at the same time, I'd need monitor #3.
So go ahead and install VirtuaWin. But babies, when you walk outta here, y'all gonna be usin' gold-plated monitors.
if you want large not wide just flip a 24" and you get 1200x1920 :)
Any 3-monitor solutions for a Mac G5?
3x23" or even 3x30" would be sweet, as I agree, the lack of focus on a 2x setup isn't great...
Remote Desktop is excellent but still with a few limitations
*it is unacceptable for gaming on a second system and not responsive in comparison for rich media tasks
*referencing images, documents, programs and interacting with them at the same time. This is the biggie and always will be. If you can't see this clearly, you never will
*multi monitor and remote desktop gives more freedom and control - embrace them both!
Core 2 duo with sli 7900 pci xpress cards,
first head has matrox triple head to go with 3 x 19" TFTs and second card head has a pair of 19" widescreens and lastly an ergodex dx1 and microsoft lazer desktop combo
IOgear Dualview (awesome bit of kit) 4 port KVM links this with a second system, mac g4 and 4th port for changeable testbed.
This means with the help of the afore mentioned gridmove, matrox power desk and synergy software I can do anything I need to usually with a couple of button presses or a swivel of monitor.
Gaming and movies are surround or widescreen and can still view the double widescreens on same system while gaming or switch focus of the audio, video, control or usb hub of anything to the double widescreens to check status.
Even the clipboard lets the copy paste between machines and two widescreens in portrait for browsing and coding is joy. No problems with truetype in portrait here.
Bring on the quad head to go DVI dual KVM with ethernet and usb hubs support then even a 5 monitor desktop won't be enough. Or support 2 x THTG on the same system.
...oh yeah, and wirless power already. Ram used to be my bottleneck, now its my power plugs
To Utternoncesense, there is a small utility called synergy that allows you to use one keyboard and mouse across two physical computers. It is great and does not require any hardware, other than a network connection. You can even run Linux on one machine and windows on the other. Look for it at synergy2.sourceforge.net
SplitView lets you split the 'one large monitor' back into two smaller monitors - windows no longer maximize across both monitors, and dialog boxes do not pop-up in the middle of the two screens.
One great tool to "replace" your KVM is RDP. If you run in a win32 enviroment you can use RDP (remote Desktop protocol) to ope nanother system. In a multi monoitor enviroment it allows you to have one system on one monitor and your main on another.
I run 4 monitors (three along the bottom and one above the center)
I often need use of another system so I just RDP into it. THe benefits are you have cut and past between all systems. You can share hard drives. It is a rock'n cool solution.
I hope this helps.
OK. I'm a web developer wanting to enhance my working environment to 3 monitors (1 screen for coding, 1 screen for monitoring ftp files and staging server, 1 screen for other apps incl email). I'm using a toshiba laptop as my desktop. Someone told me to use Ultramon to manage the 3 monitors. The laptop has Vista on it, but I don't know if Ultramon is compatible? Can anyone tell me what other software / hardware I need to buy so that I can take advantage of all the benefits y'all have been singing about???
Yes, Ultramon is Vista compatible.. and it's still necessary in Vista.
Thanks Jeff. Following on from my last posting and having read all the postings a second time(!) I have another question:
If I use a Toshiba laptop (with Vista) and a Vaio laptop (with XP), can I use the Triplehead2Go between the two laptops so that I can keep all my old stuff on the Vaio and all my new stuff on the Toshiba, whilst sharing 3 screens between the two systems? If so, do I need to get ultramon on both laptops and would I then need SplitView / Gridvista / Gridmove / Synergy (which, in your opinion?) to run the 3 screens as different entities. And do I need to shell out for anything else? Thanks
O.k. I am a newbie to the three display realm. I have two Ati X1950 cards running on one Gigabyte P965-Dq6 mobo. I have three 19" displays, I have the Main (middle) pluged into one video card. The other two are pluged into the other card. My problem is some games I wanted to play like MFSX and X3: Reunion do not see it as one big 3480?x1024 display. I can make the two cards on the one video card a single display but cannot add the main display. Is there some extra software I need?? Should I just get the Matrox triple head??
Ok. I've been a dual monitor user for 5 years but now you guys have me thinking seriously about moving to the triple! I'll have to get a bigger desk. The computer cart barely holds two.
I center my keyboard and myself in front of my primary monitor so that i don't have the visual bar right in my way. Then I use the second one for email and FTP and chat.
BIG QUESTION: I want to be able to send windows directly to another monitor without having to drag (i.e. hotkeys or a button on the window) I know Multi-Mon has that functionality but I really don't want separate taskbars on each monitor. Anyone know of a program that can do that without a lot of other fluff.
Bought 3 22" for $279 from compusa 3 weeks ago on a special. I can not tell a lie, AWESOME. I had been using 2 since 98se where it was painful. But this is outstanding.
Shame they dont make monitors with no side bezel for a seemless join.
Will the triplehead2go work as a 6 monitor setup using one for each slot on the NVIDIA G-Force 5500?
Quick question concerning the triplehead2go hardware from matrox. Has anyone used it with Vista and if so does the aero view work well? I saw a couple posts involving vista, but couldnt really decipher a definitive answer to the above question. Thanks.
quoteO.k. I am a newbie to the three display realm. I have two Ati X1950 cards running on one Gigabyte P965-Dq6 mobo. I have three 19" displays, I have the Main (middle) pluged into one video card. The other two are pluged into the other card. My problem is some games I wanted to play like MFSX and X3: Reunion do not see it as one big 3480?x1024 display. I can make the two cards on the one video card a single display but cannot add the main display. Is there some extra software I need?? Should I just get the Matrox triple head??
I have the same issue. I have 3 19" WS LCD and want to play games. I have a NV6600AGP w/2 and a NV5500PCI with 1 monitor.
Chris on February 10, 2007 08:48 PM
OMG............ Ever since I moved over to the TH2G from matrox..... I will NEVER go back to anything else..
I play Counter-Strike on three monitors at a resolution of 3840x1024 and it is UNREAL !!!!
TH2G is worth every penny in the 300.00 cost !!!!!
e6700 Core2 DUO 2.66ghz
GeForce 7900 GTO 512mb PCIe
250gb SATA2 HDD
(3) Dell 1907fp monitors
Was interesting reading and would offer this info to all dual monitor users ...
I found a handy utility that lets you scroll open windows without having to click on them to make them become the focus or active window.... just move your cursor over the window and you can scroll it without having to click it...
Aswell.... whats the best gaming graphic card that handles dual monitor ... want to run games aswell.. but can't on my 32mb Matrox g450 card..... any suggestions !!
Just thought I'd chime in here as a member of the 3MC to give you all a heads up that Christian Studer released the first beta of UltraMon 3.0 on March 31. If you are running multiple monitors on Vista you'll really want to go check it out.
I'm looking to buy a new gaming setup. I was looking to buy x3 22" widescreen LCDs, and two of the Nvidia 8800 GTXs SLI'ed to pump out the power.
Problem is I have no idea how to run high quality input through the three monitors. The Matrox Triple Head2Go isn't an option since it only runs maximum of 3840x1024, and with widescreens, I'm at 5040x1024.
I'd appreciate any help, thanks.
I'm actually a lawyer interested in getting a three monitor setup. I can envision the setup being so much more efficient. I was wondering if anyone could suggest a setup. I guess I would be purchasing a new desktop. I would appreciate suggestions as to which video cards would be the best and most economical. Thanks.
This is great reading!!!!! Have been running 2 mammoth 20 inch CRTs for 3 years and can't wait to dump those antiques!
I have been slavering for more than 3 years for TRIPLE MON's!!!!
Question: Do I need to order more chip speed and a better video card than what's below in order for 3 new 19 inch LCDs to run OK for programs like IE, Word, and the occasional once a month DVD? we don't use PC games here only because i have trouble with my hands and can't master keyboards well enough to play Half Life 2 etc...........
Dimension E521,Athlon 64 X2 3600+ (1.9GHz, 512Kx2) with 2 GB RAM and nVidia Ge Force 7300 LE video card.
Set to ship tomorrow from Dell and can get an RMA and return if you guys think i should.......................have waited YEARS for 3 mon's............i'd rather send it back and wait another week for a stronger PC if that's required for 3 mon's to run well..........TX!
The trick to running three monitors is to get a motherboard that properly supports two PCI express video cards. Make sure, ABSOLUTELY sure, your computer has two PCI Express x8 or x16 slots suitable for video cards.
I'm almost positive the E521 won't have two video card slots. I would talk to a Dell rep and get a model which does. You may have to buy one of their higher end models to get the two x8/x16 PCI Express slots you'll need for two video cards.
As for choice of video card, that's less important. Any semi-modern PCI express video card will work (My picks: the GeForce 7600 GT, and the ATI X1950 Pro), but do get *two of the exact same model video card* to prevent problems.
i forgot to post above that I am planning to buy Matrix TripleHead2Go Digital and use it with the new Dimension E521,Athlon 64 X2 3600+ (1.9GHz, 512Kx2) with 2 GB RAM with nVidia Ge Force 7300 LE video card.........do i still need the two PCI Express x8 or x16 slots suitable for video cards?
I've been using multi monitors running through one dell pc for about a year now. It really has been great.
It's a multi-taskers dream come true.
For those who want a similar experience without the multiple monitors check out "virtual desktop managers". While you don't get the same effect of seeing all your apps at once, you can seperate your tasks into seperate virtual desktops. Apple's come with built in and it's called "spaces".
Software solution to deliver triple-head effect for games:
This involces some compromises, as the rendering is done by one video card and thus the display buffer must be transmitted over the PCI Express bus to the 2nd video card..
I screwed up and bought E521 with only ONE ONE ONE PCI Express x 16 slot.......wish i had waited to buy until after you had posted May 10, 2007!!!!
documentation on the motherboard of the E521:
no way i can get two, identical GeForce 7600 GT video cards to run 3 monitors (20.1 inch Dell LCDs) of that motherboard?? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!
John Page Garrett
PS: how in the f__ck does Al get ANYTHING done with a desk like that!?!?!?!?
You can still add a PCI card to get the third monitor, JG...look around for, say, a 5200fx PCI. Since you have an Nvida primary card I'd suggest another Nvidia card (which the 5200fx is) as a secondary. A PCI card is bad for gaming but should be fine for your purposes. Good luck!
PS: If your motherboard has a PCI-E x1 slot (tiny little short ones) they make video cards to fit those as well.
A quick question, since this triplehead2go product only does a span of the 3 monitors, i was wondering if the double (dual monitor) would be able to do that with a span and a tv as a seperate monitor (nvidia users will know this is dual view)??
because i plan on using my two 22" monitors as a single monitor and mount the tv on the wall above it so i dont want the task bar to span onto that, is this possible???
Thanks for this site!, After reading this page I jumped from 1 to 3 monitors. I find it great!
My setup is a dual head video card plus an old s3 pci card. My central monitor is 19'', the right and left ones are 17''.
As many of you said, there is no go back.
An alternative to the "Maxivista" idea that I've found useful is a program called "Synergy".
Instead of sending screen data to the other computer, what Synergy does is send mouse and keyboard data (and clipboard data) to the other computer -- so, if you move your mouse off the edge of the screen of one computer, it shows up in the screen of the next, and you can then type into things on that computer. Thus, along with the "large desktop" advantages, you get the benefits of multiple computers, as well as the benefit of one keyboard and one mouse for everything you're looking at. The disadvantage is that it's multiple computers, so you can't drag windows from one set of screens to the other -- but, if you've got pretty fixed ideas of which task goes with which screen, that may not be a big deal.
I found this particularly useful with my laptop and desktop, and for various reasons had things on both machines that I wanted to use. It might also be useful for people who want to do things in multiple operating systems, since Synergy is (mostly) cross-platform.
I want 3 monitors, but i see 2 dual mon epci cards would create a lot of noise - both would have fans.
Anyone who has this configuration - is it noticeable?
I would not want TM2G, because i do want the stiky windows to mon borders, just as commenters here mentioned.
I currently have Matrox G550, two mons, and would want 3rd. My system is old enough, so i am ready to upgrade.
So if i want a 3mc membership but a quiet pc, where should i go?
Thanks to your inspiring post - I have now Joined the 3 monitor Club. 3x 19" LG Flatrons on a ErgoTron 3 Monitor Stand using Matrox Digital TripleHeadtoGo with Vista 32 and a 8800 GTS 640MB.
I must say after you get over the initial Motion Sickness from playing games over 3 screens it’s really quite fun. It won’t increase your skills or anything, as unsupported (games not built, may support - but not built for three screens/Matrox) don’t give you more peripheral Vision but instead stretch a Standard One Screen Image with a Higher FOV.
Example UT2004, has a default FOV (Field of View) of 100 max. Matrox for Single Player asks for a 130 FOV. If you played on one screen you would get a large walleye with everything in view, would be quite standard to normal UT2004. Matrox takes that and stretches it. With the added FOV it gives the illusion of surround gaming. Games that don’t give extra FOV look a bit funny. Games that Dont support and Matrox wont assist with (single screen games) like COD4, maybe able to be forced over 3 screens but it would be extremely stretched. 3x wider then it should be.
Games like ARMA that are both supported and built for TripleHeadToGo however will give you 2 monitors of more physical viewing area, without changing your normal view. Basically look at the ARMA picture that was provided on this site and lop off the left and right of the bottom Status bar. You get the same game, but 3 screeners get a visual advantage. Unlike Ut2004 where we all get the same view, I just get a bit larger FOV due to forced Walleyeing and then its stretched.
Motion Sickness is a big one from 3 screens, and UT2004 and Oblivion do it to me every time.
As well As a warning as I haven’t seen it anywhere else – When using Matrox you get a bevel management and if you use it you’re going to lose the width of the monitors that touch the middle to right, and middle to left and then centers width. What this does as gives the illusion of things passing behind the monitors “Frame” as well breaks up the problem with the monitors breaking up diagonal lines in different start and end places.
As well the 2nd biggest thing is that Matrox 3 screen gaming is not overly supported and you end up playing on the far left screen for one screen games (or when your motion sick). At this time your center and far right will hibernate (no Signal - soft shutdown mode/power saving mode). You do not get 1 screen Game, and 2 screens desktop. So there is no effective gain other then neck injury for one screen games. There is also distortion to ingame text (shrinks it) and in some 3 screen enabled games makes the Text Huge or shows you things – like behind the loading screen, while the game is loaded. So Epileptics beware.
Once you get over that, and realise you got 3 screens (1050$ CAD for 3x Fresh Monitors and Stand, 110$ CAD for 4 DVI-I Cables (Matroxs supplied DVI-I Cable was too short, and LG only supplies VGA.) and then 375$ CAD + shipping for the Matrox... It gets quite costly to join this Club. But the damage is done and you really can’t go back.
I vowed I would never be a hodgepodge 3 monitor club member and I recommend the same to all whom will follow this path. Buy 3 new monitors at the same time, get a nice stand and get them linked. Anything else is non-prestigious and inferior.
For the gamers out there, Sick to One 20” or one 19” anything larger and you’re going to lose out on games because you waste valuable milliseconds looking rather than reacting to the enemy whom is already shooting at you – that and all your tactics that you perform because you have limited FOV will all change and it will bugger you up – Especially for First Person shooter. Flyers, Racers – I guess after you get over the extra view it will become natural, so perhaps this might be worthwhile to you. Hardcore CS players or Unreal Players or any hardcore-esk, First person shooter player – really think hard about 3 screens, if only for gaming, I recommend against.
With that I bid my Ado and hope this helps someone in the future :D, Good post by the way Atwood!
Sorry about the above post, - MS Word, Killed my formatting :D
Multimon sure is an improvement though 1 super big display is probably superior in many scenarios.
However 2-3 projectors seamlessly attached is by far the coolest! You'd rather sell your Mercedes than going 'back' to multimon.
I have hooked up 3 monitors to a new Dell at our law office. The managing attorney sits facing 2 monitors. The 3rd faces away from him toward one of his paralegals on the other side of the desk. The sttorney shifts programs that he wants to work on with the paralegal to his screen #2. I have installed a DVI splitter on the Dell output to monitor#2, and then connected the splitter output to monitor #2 and monitor #3. Both the attorney and the paralegal have their own mouse and keyboard, so they both can navigate thru the program and make entries. Works great - big productivity gain. The only problem is that Monitor #3 DVI cable must be physically disconnected before shutting the computer down, or on startup, the computer gets confused and ends the extend session to monitor #2. After the computer is rebooted, Monitor #3 DVI cable is reconnected for the days work. If anyone has a solution to this annoyance, I would like to know
I need some advice. I'm trying to put together a triple monitor system. (3) - 24" LCD's. One of the problems I'm having is with LCD selection. Most panels these days are TN panels. Those are ok if u just have one panel, but when looking to the left or right as u would be doing with a triple monitor setup, you can see the text will not look sharp, and the white background color starts to look yellowish. At least this is what I see in the store when I do a mock test. Please correct me if this is not right. I think the effect will be more pronounced when using 24" monitors.
My next best option is the Dell 2408 and HP LP2465. I think those are both S-PVA monitors. They are pricey. $800 and $600 respectively. For $800 i was hoping for an s-ips panel. I have dell 2005 and dell 2007 which are sips and they are wonderful but now can't be bought for a good price at all.
What do you think? What monitors make the best triple monitor setup? I graudally turn my side panel inward so I can see the outer edge more clearly. I bet if I turn a TN panel enough, that maybe I can work this way. It's a big issue since I'll be buying 3 monitors and I can't afford to be wrong...
I clicked the link to the head-tracker video and WMP opened the video between my monitors. Does that count as irony?
For laptops etc.have a look at USB connected monitors using DisplayLink chips. Not suitable for gaming, but excellent for office work
BTW, author Terry Pratchett has 6 monitors: 2 rows of three.
i want to connect two monitor through the leptop. but in monitor i get divide screen.for exampple leptop (lep)in first monitor (top) is second monitor.lep + top. iam using window xp.
please tell me how it possible.please send me your views.i waiting your reply. my email id is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am using an T61 thinkpad as my base machine and I was using a dual-monitor setup until recently, the second display being a Lenovo 22inch widescreen monitor. Recently I ordered another Lenovo 22 inch Widescreen monitor to create a 3 monitor setup, my laptop being docked on a docking station. I gpt a Triplite 1 foot - VGA / XVGA Splitter Cable - HD1. But my system does not recognize it as three displays.
My laptop display is screen 1 and BOTH the lenovos are display 2, so i still have a dual view, but displays of my lenovos are cloned.
Reading the entire thread above, I am assuming that I need a second video card. The one I have now is nVidia.
Can someone please suggest, what I need to do, to get a unique display on each of my three displays?
Thanks a lot,
continued from above....
The video card I currently use is NVIDIA QUADRO NVS 140M
If I had to add another video card, which one would be the most compatible. (I am using Windows XP)
I am using
CPU : Q6600
MEMORY : 2GB @ 800
HDD : 1TB, 500GB, 320GB
OS : Vista ultimate x86 32bit
Display Card : 2 x Gigabyte 3870HD 512MB DDR3
Motherboard : Gigabyte x38-DQ6
Monitor : Samsung 2253BW
after i hooked up everything, problem comes...
the first two monitor connected to first PCI-E Display card does have 1680 x 1050 revolution
but the third monitor connected to the second PCE-E Display card only have maximum 1280 x 1024
why this happen? everything brand new and reset before i use
Drivers, BIOS, firmware all upgraded to latest
Ha! I have Four Monitors! I beat Bill Gates.
I can totally agree with this article. Having a single monitor is a complete nightmare after you've gone multiple monitor. If it wasn't for my quad Monitor SUPER PC (brand), I wouldn't get much done. Check out this Quad LCD multi-Monitor Video Demo. It reminds me of Minority Report:
So I know this is kinda late, considering how this article was posted a LONG time ago, but I was wondering on the specifics of multi-monitor, and more specifically multi-card, usage. When I'm running Windows with two graphics cards (X1950Pro and 4850) to support three monitors, is there a way to shut down the graphics card controlling the two perephrial monitors? Maybe a profile-based approach? My reason for asking is that I'm worried about gaming with two differing cards. Perhaps there's a way to switch off the secondary card so that games work fine.
Curses Opera and your lack of spell check. The correct spelling was peripheral. Sorry for my ignorance.
OK, I have one video card with three outputs. Two DVI and one s-video. Is there any way I can get windows to recognize all three? Right now it recognizes the two DVI's but in order to use the s-video I have to unplug one of the DVI's.
I currently have a 2PC 2 monitor setup which works like this:
PC1 VGA - MON1 VGA
PC1 DVI - MON2 DVI
PC2 VGA - MON1 VGA
This give me dual screens on PC1 and a single screen on PC2, my biggest problem currently is that I have 2 keyboards/mice (not very convenient).
I'm looking to buy a new PC soon because my older ones are (like myself) a bit long in the tooth. I also have soon to become available a third monitor with both DVI and VGA ports. I would like to keep all three PCs running.
My first draft of a solution to linking them up was as follows:
PC1 VGA to MON3 VGA
PC1 DVI to MON1 DVI
PC2 VGA to MON1 VGA
PC2 DVI to MON2 DVI
PC3 VGA to MON2 VGA
This would give me 2s PC with 2 monitors each (by switching MON1 between DVI and VGA) And 1 PC with a single monitor (by switching MON2 between DVI and VGA). All a bit convoluted and I would have three keyboards/mice, not relly practicable.
In an ideal world I would have PC1 running 3 screens (not really bothered about the other PCs having or sharing more than one screen) and IMPORTANTLY just a single keyboard and mouse, preferably wireless.
All PCs will be networked. PC1 PC2 XP Pro, PC3 XP home.
Small snag is that the PC I have priced up only has a single PCIe slot and that will be filled with the supplied grahics card so adding another Graphics card would mean PCI, or spending a LOT more money for 2xPCIe. (I was wondering if the on board graphics are still enabled when a graphics card is fitted i.e. could the built in VGA port be used for MON3?). I'm not using the PCs for gaming.
I have been researching options on the net for both software and KVM solutions and am now totally confused! I would welcome any ideas for the general setup and also comments regarding the pros and cons of the following software:
Synergy (I note the last release was in 2006 - is this still viable?)
Can somebody help me with sharing or broadcasting a 3 monitor setup to another 3 monitor setup?
To get rid of the keyboard and mice take a look at http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/. This basically uses some software to use 1 mouse and keyboard across two PCs.
not sure how it will work with your multiple monitor set as normally used with 2 PCs with 1 monitor each but think you should be able to get something going with it.
Multi screens is the way forwards.
I have been running three monitors (2 x 20.1 wide and a 19 4:3) out of my 9800GX2 for quite a while now:
However having recently purchasing three matched 22 1680x1050 Samsung widescreens and a Matrox DVI Triple-Head-To-Go I have hooked all of these up to a single output on my gfx card (now running in SLI) and can run full screen applications across all three screens. Playing Counter Strike: Source, EVE and Live for Speed (all I've played so far) across such a massive display area (5040x1050 desktop) is beguilingly addictive.
Not only that but if I were to disable SLI mode, I could theoretically use the other two outputs on the graphics card at the same time, giving me a total of five screens from a single card! Quite simply, my desk is not big enough.
I've only had this setup a few days (thankfully a weekend) because Monday is here and I'm finding it quite difficult simply getting on with my work!
I stumbled here in search of a program that might split the windows taskbar into monitor groupings? As the Matrox creates a single massive desktop, all my programs start from the left and are not seperated to each monitor (which is what I did have running the three seperate screens out of three outputs and using Ultramon). Anyone got any ideas?
Where I work (sysadmin at a large remote operations center) we hall have 3 1600x1200 pixel monitors. I like it, though I think 4 would be of use.
Geoff, such software does exist, many of my coworkers use ultramon.
So I have a laptop with a 4:3 screen. I want to connect two 24 widescreen monitors to this laptop without the different aspect ratios becoming a problem. These two external monitors will be used for drafting large floor plans and pretty much nothing else. Would I run into any problems using the TripleHead2Go to do this?
I run a 42 inch TV and 2 24 inch monitors... I havent set up the 3rd monitor yet as I need to get a graphics card to run it on (my 4870 only produces two outputs), but in the next couple of days I'm looking forward to joining the 3 monitor club.
That said, gaming on a 42 inch 1080p 'monitor' is amazing fun.
Three identical 20" monitors greatly improve productivity.
Personally I use 6 monitors = 3x Dual-head video cards, but
I don't necessarily view all of them at the same time.
Counting from left to right:
Monitor 2 = 21" wide = Most productivity, text, data and program code.
Monitor 3 = 21" wide = Program GUI, graphics and most used references.
Monitor 4 = 21" wide = References, Browser windows, Explorer, Network,
Auxiliary apps, calculators etc.
Monitor 1 = 24" wide (Portrait) = Photography, tall images
Monitor 5 = 18" 4:3 = Junk I don't want to deal with now but don't
want to close or minimize just yet. This is
like a side table for putting off stuff.
Monitor 6 = Projector or HDTV.
The only challenge was to find a motherboard with 3 PCIx slots:
Asus P5W Premium, Quad-core Intel CPU, 8 Gigs of RAM,
2x ATI Radeon HD 3600 video cards, 1x ATI All-in-Wonder x800.
I welded together a metal rack to mount the monitors in a semi-circle,
above the table.
The only downside: ATI's catalyst drivers are CRAP, and not 100% stable, causing occasional blue screens, on avg about 1 per day
under windows XP Pro (32)
Also, one tends to get a bit of a sore neck when viewing the
rightmost and leftmost monitors back and forth.
The system is 100% stable under Windows 7 (64-bit) but not all of
my apps run under the Win 7.
Hey guys and gals, I had a question. Right now at home I'm running dual 20 inch widescreens at 1680 by 1050 resolution. Is it possible for me to get a third monitor and play games with three monitors, or is it not possible because I'm running widescreens? From what I understand, if you put three 4:3 monitors together the resolution will add up to a widescreen? So if you had three 6:10 monitors it won't be possible to get the correct aspect to play games right?
A little while back.. when I was on 2 monitors.. I decided to skip three all together.
My current setup:
I am using 17" monitors.. I like to sit fairly close to my screens and find that 17" at 1280x1024 gives me the ability to have quite abit of screen real estate without having whitespace issues when I maximize a window to a screen.
I use my far left monitor for SQL Management studio full screen, center left is my main window for Visual Studio.. I keep all of my VS dock windows seperated to my center right monitor. So Solution Explorer, properties, classview, tool box, et al are all spread across my 3rd monitor. This allows me to always have my code view window full screen, and gives me instant access to all of the support windows without having to sacrafice code space or wait for the window to slide into view. The far right monitor is reserved for MSDN Documentation, web browsing, Remote Desktop, etc.
I use basically the same layout when I do photoshop work as when I do VS work.
My workstation is a Dell Precision 690:
With the horsepower I have at my fingertips, for special task situation I combine one or more VMWare Workstation 6 instances. The REALLY nice thing about VMW6 on my system is it supports multiple desktops. So depending on which VM I'm running (I have one dedicated to .Net 1.1 stuff) I can replicate my host environment, or split multiple VM's across 2, 3, or 4 monitors..