Setting up your PC to run on dual monitors might be simpler than you think! More often than not, laptops and desktop towers sold in the last three to five years are ready to accept an additional external monitor. Without you having to know anything about computers. There are a few nibbles you should be clear about, this article is written to guide you through them.
Desktop Vs. Laptop
Portable computers already have a built-in monitor, it’s one of the things that differentiate them from desktop tower computers. The other one is that they’re overly compact, and as such are difficult to upgrade with additional video cards.
Laptop computers, without fail, have a port for an external display. Whether it’s VGA, DVI, DisplayPort or HDMI is not an issue, you can look it up in the manual in two seconds and buy a converter that translates it to DVI-D, which is to be found on virtually all desktop monitors.
Desktop computers are limited only by their motherboard and incidentally, the video card. Old computers, which still have the AGP port are more complicated to upgrade to dual monitors, in case the current video card does not have two ports.
If it does, your chances are looking terrific. Usually, it does not matter what connectors are on the video card, as long as they’re not composite-out, which is what you’d want to have on a TV rather than on a computer monitor.
What to Do if There are Too Few Ports?
Port broken? Do not worry. It’s easy to work around in most cases. Desktop computers can be expanded via an additional video card, if the motherboard accepts PCI-E cards. If it does not, jump to the solution for laptop owners.
Laptops can’t be taken apart, or at least that’s not one of their main design goals. As such, one has to be creative to extend its capabilities beyond what’s come with the box.
USB 2.0, fortunately, is one of the common ports, there are a couple on every computer. There are USB to VGA/DVI external video cards. Check what resolution they support, Full-HD is desirable, considering how wide-spread it is amongst modern LCD monitors. The cost of each adaptor should be around $50.
Having two monitors is simple. What if you wanted to have two extra monitors beyond what’s in the laptop already? Same thing. Connect one to the video connector, one to the USB external video card, and you’re set to go. These USB devices can be hung from every USB port of your laptop, if you like, supporting up to 4-6 extra monitors. One each.
Another handy solution is to buy a piece of software, which attaches networked computers to your system as if they were ordinary monitors. One solution on Windows XP and above is MaxiVista, Xinemara on Linux and ScreenRecycler on Mac OS X. You may want to ask someone to help you with Linux, though.
Just like in any other case, where you’re figuring out how to position monitors on your desk, pay attention to ergonomic and health safety guidelines. I also suggest you buy two of the same model to be able to match their contrast, brightness and color calibration.
You usually don’t have to take any further actions to set up your PC to run on dual-monitors. In the few rare cases you do, upgrading to a two video card setup, setting up a virtual monitor system with other computers, or USB video cards help you do it effectively.
Software-wise, you’re fine as long as you run anything at least as recent as Microsoft XP. No additional code-assembly required.