With the prices of LCD monitors falling every day even regular users may be thinking of installing a second video monitor to their computer. With two displays you not only gain a bigger desktop, but you increase your productivity, as you can have two programs maximized to full screen at the same time (e.g., an Excel spreadsheet on one display and a Word document on the other display) and you won’t waste time minimizing and maximizing windows to read and copy information as it occurs on a typical working environment with just a single video monitor. After working with two monitors it is hard to go back to a single display system! In this tutorial we will teach you how to check if your computer can accept a second monitor without any extra hardware parts, how to physically install a second monitor to your PC and all Windows configuration that may be needed. Read on.
The first thing you need to check is whether your PC accepts a second video monitor or not. To learn that all you need to do is to look at the rear panel of your computer. Follow the cable that connects your video monitor to your PC and you will find the rear end of your video card.
Nowadays all video cards have two video outputs, allowing you to connect directly two video monitors to your PC without any extra hardware part. However, if you computer has on-board video – i.e., your computer doesn’t have a real video card; the video is produced by the motherboard – you may have only one video monitor installed on your PC. This feature is also known by other names like integrated video or integrated graphics. If this is your case, you will need to buy a “real” video card to install on your PC, making sure that your motherboard has an available slot for installing an add-on video card (some very low-end motherboards with on-board video don’t have a slot for video card available, making it impossible for you to have two video monitors on your computer).
Great, but how can you tell what kind of configuration your PC has? That is what we are going to teach you.
On Figures 1 and 2 you can see the rear end of the two most popular kind of video cards you can find on the market. Follow the cable that connects your video monitor to your PC to see what kind of connectors you have available on your PC. The video card shown in Figure 1 has two DVI connectors, which have several pins and is usually white in color, while the video card shown in Figure 2 has one DVI connector and one VGA connector, which has 15 pins and is usually blue in color.
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Figure 1: Video card with two DVI connectors.
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Figure 2: Video card with one DVI connector and one VGA connector.
Since you probably have already one video monitor installed to your PC, what you will typically see when following the cable that connects your current monitor to your PC it what is shown in Figure 3: a DVI connector is available. This is where you will connect your second video monitor.
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Figure 3: Usually a DVI connector is available on a typical PC.
If you can’t find a VGA or DVI connector available or if it is located on a different position from the one shown in Figure 3, this probably means that your computer has on-board video. On next page we explain this scenario.