Running more than 2 monitors at a time

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Running more than 2 monitors at a time

Okay, so I've been around technology for a while now, but I can't seem to get past this one little piece of tech that has haunted me for years.  How do I use more than two monitors without using a splitter or software?  I know it's possible to have several monitors if you have the right video card to support it.  Unfortunately, every video card I've purchased with 3 or even 4 monitor plug in ports (inputs?) have never worked.  I plug in a DVI, VGA, and two HDMI and it doesn't work.  With a different video card I plug in two DVI and an HDMI and it doesn't work.

I think I'm missing something obvious here, but please let me know!

P.S. - Love the new layout for the website.  It was a much needed improvement.  Great job, and love that you added a forum!

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It's a great question and I'm glad you asked!  I ran into this problem a few years back, where I would purchase a video card that had a setup similar to how you're describing.  Be it two DVI and a VGA, or and DVI, VGA, and HDMI output; no matter what I did I could never get the third monitor working.  The strange thing was that the other two monitors worked, no matter which ports on the video card I plugged them into.

I started to dig around to figure out why I couldn't get 3 monitors to work.  I'm actually running into a wall now finding the content again, but there is a hard limit of 2 outputs via HDMI, VGA, or DVI.  In order to exceed this, you need to either install a second video card (which in itself can be a challenge to setup and get working), install a USB to VGA adapter (more on this in a second) or install a video card which has DisplayPort on it.  See, DisplayPort doesn't limit you to two physical plugs; in fact, you can split a DisplayPort to have multiple monitors on a single DisplayPort output.  With DisplayPort 1.2, you can support up to 4 monitors at full 1920x1080 (1080p) resolution.  This is ideal, because you can extend your monitors quite a bit more depending on the video card you have driving it all.

Back to the USB video card option:  Yes, this is an option, and honestly the one people have used historically.  People would get a powered USB hub, then plug 5 of these USB to VGA adapters in, then have a 6 monitor computer.  While this may seem like an ideal (and cheap) way to get multiple monitors, as well as bypassing the 2 monitor limit of HDMI/VGA/DVI ports, USB video is often dependent on CPU processing power.  The primary purpose of a dedicated graphics card is to get the processing power offloaded from the CPU, leaving more computational time for other more important factors (e.g. your computer will run faster).  USB Video defeats this purpose, and unless you are using low end graphics (Think text, web surfing, email, marketing / financial firms) you will probably cry a lot when your system doesn't work as expected.

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