Multi-Monitor Setup

Posted On 2007-07-17 by FortyPoundHead
Keywords: Monitor Dual Multi Setup
Tags: Tip Tutorial Windows 9x Windows 2000
Views: 1848

How to get more screen space for less money

Have you ever wished you had a bigger monitor, but the prices just are too much? For those of you with Windows 98 or Windows 2000, there is another option that will provide you with a much expanded desktop for a fairly frugal investment. It's called multi-monitor, and it allows you to use multiple monitors together as one large desktop (or in other ways to be discussed later).


First, what do you need to do this magic? The first thing is at least two monitors. Do you have an old 14" or 15" monitor around somewhere? Pull it out and put it to work. The next step is a way to hook those two or more monitors up to the computer. For this you need any of the following options (for 2 monitors):

2 multi-monitor supported PCI graphics cards

1 supported PCI graphics card and 1 supported AGP graphics card

1 dual-head graphics card (Matrox G400 dual head)

Supported on-board graphics and a supported PCI graphics card

How do you know if the card supports multi-monitor? Well, you can go to Display.txt in your Windows folder (for Windows 98) and check out the information there. You can also go to your graphic card's manufacturer website and see what information they provide. For Windows 2000, you should check the hardware compatibility list.


This is the easy part. You need Windows 98 or Windows 2000, the correct drivers for each graphics card and that is it! Note that some manufacturers have different drivers for use in a multi-monitor arrangement than when using only one monitor. Check with their website.

Windows 98 (from the Display.txt file in Windows):

Determine which card you want to use as your primary card. First make sure that the card works with multiple monitors. If you are using an AGP and a PCI card, check in the BIOS for the option to set which will be initialized first. The first initialized will be your primary card.

Insert the card into your motherboard, and then add your second card. The system BIOS will decide which card is the primary card. One way to verify which card is your primary card is to check which card displays the Windows 98 Startup logo when you turn on the computer. The card that displays the Startup logo is the primary card, and the card that appears to be inactive is the secondary card. If this is not what you want, reverse the order of the cards in the PCI slots.

Repeat this procedure for each additional card. Unfortunately, with current system BIOS', there is no way to determine which adapter will be the second, third, or fourth card until the card is actually used (exception being PCI/AGP combinations).

Start Windows 98 Second Edition. Windows automatically detects the new cards. When you are prompted, restart your computer.

During Startup, Windows initializes the new secondary adapter and displays a message indicating the card is correctly initialized.

If the primary card displays in 640x480 and 16 colors, right-click the desktop, click Settings, click the Colors down arrow, and then select the 256 Colors setting or a higher setting. Click OK, and then restart your computer.

After you log on, right-click desktop, click Properties, and then click Settings. In the Display area, Windows lists each video adapter in your system. Find the adapter you want to use, and click it.

Click the Extend my window desktop onto this monitor check box, and then click Apply.

Tough, huh?

You can now adjust each monitor separately, including refresh rate, resolution, color depth and relationship to each other in Display Properties/Settings.

If you are using the Matrox G400 Dualhead, it is even easier since you only install one card. In Windows 98, the secondary monitor can be controlled exactly like two monitors are, with the additional options of having the monitors mirror each other, having one provide a zoomed image, or other effects provided by the Matrox powerdesk.

Windows 2000 (from the Windows 2000 Help file)

To install additional monitors

Turn off your computer.

Insert your additional Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) or Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) video adapter into an available slot.

Plug your additional monitor into the card.

Turn on your computer. Windows 2000 will detect the new video adapter and install the appropriate drivers.

Open Display in Control Panel.

On the Settings tab, click the monitor icon that represents the monitor you want to use in addition to your primary monitor.

Select the Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor check box, and then click Apply or OK.


Selecting the Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor check box allows you to drag items across your screen onto alternate monitors. Or, you can resize a window to stretch it across more than one monitor.

To use the multiple monitor support feature, you need a PCI or AGP video adapter for each monitor. If you have an onboard video adapter (one that is not a plug-in card but is part of the motherboard) that you want to use as part of a multi-monitor configuration, it must be set as VGA. For more information about configuring multiple monitors, see the Windows 2000 Resource Kit.

The operating system always needs a VGA device. The computer's basic input/output system (BIOS) detects the VGA device based on slot order, unless the BIOS offers an option for choosing which device is to be treated as the VGA device.

The VGA device cannot be stopped, which is an important consideration for docking units.

The monitor that is designated as the primary monitor will display the logon dialog box when you start your computer. In addition, most programs will display windows on the primary monitor when you initially open them.

Using the Matrox G400 Dualhead is a little different in Windows 2000. Because Win2K does not see it as separate devices, the two monitors are treated as one. So you stretch the desktop across both by choosing resolutions like 1600x600 or 2048x768 or 3200x1200. Yes, these resolutions are twice as wide as normal and the taskbar stretches across both monitors. Of course, you still have the big increase in desktop space.

So, hopefully you have just learned enough to set up and run multiple monitors on your computer. From experience I can tell you that I will never go back to a single monitor. The ability to work or surf on one monitor while checking email or chatting on the other is not to be missed. And for people who work in the graphics field, multi-monitor should be considered a necessity. Try it, you'll like it!

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