Post Reply

Forums -> Multiple monitors -> Windows Vista and multiple video cards
Christian Studer   2006-11-05 09:28
If you want to use the full Aero user interface with Windows Vista, and you have multiple video cards installed, Vista requires that all video cards use the same driver.

At a minimum, this means that all video cards need to use a chipset from the same manufacturer, for example all cards have either an ATI or Nvidia chipset.

You can still use video cards with chipsets from different manufacturers, but you'll be limited to the basic user interface.

For detailed information on this, see Multi-Monitor Support in WDDM.

Christian Studer -
ECarlson   2006-11-06 14:36
Interesting. I wonder if someday in the future we'll ever be able to seemlessly mix and match video cards with different chipset brands with no issues at all, and no limitations. Or perhaps that will all become irrelevant, and you'll be able to display any source on any number and type of display in the immediate vicinity, kind of like those commercials where someone is watching something on a big screen, then the action flows onto their laptop screen, then onto their cell phone screen.

- Eric,
Geek at large   2006-11-23 09:46
Frustration, I'll begin with that word. I built a half decent system FX60, Dual 7800 KOs, you get the picture, and I just came into a third 1600x1200 LCD. I was really hoping to be able to use all three in a horizontal span mode to enable a really cool gaming experience, not to mention a great work space. I've been looking for a solution to this for the last few weeks but unfortunately, it doesn't seem to exist. I can of course use two displays with the two heads on one of my cards to span but my third LCD sits there dumb and not very happy as it's not part of a 4800x1200 environment. The only actual solution I found was the Matrox - Triple Head to Go and to be quite honest the specs don't look that hot. I heard/read somewhere that Vista might be able to handle a horizontal span across two Vid cards but haven't found a backup for that on any of the MS sites. Most multiple monitor search queries lead to this site so I thought I would reach out to the people that have experience in this arena. Have I found a hole in the marketplace? Wow, seems like someone could make a lot of money if this sceanario could be realized. Don't mean to sound like a snob but price in not an object. I've been in the industry since I first played Star Trek on a time share interface with a REALLY slow dial up interface. Can someone point me towards a possible solution or hasn't the time come where someone can be surrounded by the experience they're looking for. Thanks for any suggestions in advance. Cheers!
Henrik   2006-11-24 00:43
If you have a 2nd PC to hook your 3rd display on, could be your choice. But it is not for gaming as it lacks hardware acceleration support.
David Markun   2006-12-05 00:51
A suggestion for getting this restriction lifted: People who want to see it lifted, especially third party vendors who can make a business case that this shift in the video architecture will cost them money (lost sales, or support costs), might be able to get Microsoft to change their mind on this issue. I have not worked with the video group(s) at Microsoft but I have seen responsiveness to vendor concerns in other groups at Microsoft.


David Markun
Stefan   2006-12-11 00:55
Does anybody know the maximum numbers of monitors that Vista can handle. I know XP was 10, NT was 16. Any idea for Vista (I really hope 6+)
Mark Jerde   2007-01-17 11:51
Interesting how things change. In Win98 and Win2k I always had the best luck when each card was completely different from the others. Here's a photo of my office in that era.

3 Computers, 8 Monitors

The 4-monitor system on the right was a real bear to get working. Win98, 4 video cards, and *two* framegrabbers. When I finally got everything working I made _no_ changes to the system. No updates, no new software installs, nothing! I had the laptop and the other dual monitor system for email etc. ;-)

-- Mark
steve wa   2007-01-20 04:23
I need advice on the same driver mentioned above...

I'm building a 3 monitor setup, I have 2 BFG GeForce 7600 GT OC, each of which supports 2 DVI-I monitors thru a PCI-x16 slot, but my ECS motherboard with 2 PCIx16 slots would not work with my Intel E6400 Core 2 Duo chip (some other forum said it was the serial number of the board that was causing the problem, and a bios update ddid not help, but New Egg couln't guarantee me a specific serial # on the mobo if I exchanged it, so I went with Biostar and it works, but only 1 PCIx16 slot.)

So my second video card for the 3rd monitor has to be a PCI slot with a DVI-I connector, and I'd like to stay with Nvidia, but I'm confused if I need to have the same chipset (the 7600 GT OC). It appears that there are no plain PCI slot video cards with that chipset and a DVI-I connector. So if I get a eVGA PCI with a Nvidia FX5200 chipset, with that allow me to have the 3 monitor setup with a decent video quality, hopefully the same resolution as the other two?

I'm not using it for playing games, I need the 3 screens for productivity improvements, but if I choose to play an occassional game, it will probably be on the other 2 screens.

How do you load the other driver for the different card, is a plug and play thing where Windows recognizes it, and prompts you for the driver, you load it, and then it automatically shows up in windows as the third monitor thu the desktop display properties window?

Will that be good enough for Vista when it comes out (a different driver [different chipset]) or is it the same driver because both cards have a Nvidia chipset on them?

I'd like to be able to right click on the desktop and see the three monitor cards all listed there, right now, I'm using a cheap VGA card with stnadard vga connector, and it does show a 3rd monitor, but when I right click, the third monitor is not listed in the popup menu.

Thanks some much for your expert advice.
Christian Studer   2007-01-20 07:55
That should work fine, as far as I know all recent Nvidia chipsets use the same driver.

The only requirement for using Aero is that all video cards use the same driver, the chipsets used by the different cards don't need to be the same.

Christian Studer -
steve wa   2007-01-21 15:18
Thanks for your help. It is great to find a msg board with intelligent responses. I'll come back often to let you know how it works, so to post some photos after I am done building the desk.
Chris   2007-01-21 17:00
Hi, I want to setup 1xPC running vista with 4 x LCD panels each streaming seperate media using the net or wmp11. Can you advise the best/cost effective approach.

Thanks in Advance

b0n3z   2007-01-30 17:47
Geek at large - I feel your pain. I built a custom MicroATX system with the end results of having (3) 20" LCD 4800x1200 for gaming or doing work.

Now after I have upgraded my monitor stands to an Ergotron LX Triple diplay lift stand and another (yes 2) nVidia 7950 GX2, I'm having a hard time with gaming. It seems that I can only span on a single card. Granted I CAN use (2) 20" LCD and have 3200x1200 spanned across them using (1) nVidia 7950 GX2. With this, many games will support this resolution. But WHY didn't nVidia support spanning across multiple cards. Especially if they are the same cards or even SLI. Hell, I have (4) GPU when you combine the (2) 7950 GX2. You would think this would be possible. So now I'm in search of a custom app or driver...

System specs:
(3) 20" Dell 2001FP
Ergotron LX triple diplay stand

SilverStone Sugo Evolution Case (black)
SilverStone ST60F 600W SLI power supply
SilverStone NT06-Lite Heatsink
SilverStone FX121 Crossflow fan
(1) AMD X2 4400+
(2) Corsair TwinX2048-4400Pro (4GB Ram)
(1) WD Raptor X 150GB
(1) WD Caviar SE16 500GB
(1) Plextor PX-755SA 16X +/-R DVD burner
(2) eVGA nVidia 7950 GX2
Arthur   2007-02-01 04:32
I just installed Visat and lost my 3rd Monitor on the left. Is there a way to get it to work?

Arthur Strasnick
Salec   2007-02-02 05:07
Hey Guys,
I have a triple display system running vista right now and have run into some major performance issues! My system uses a BFG Geforce 6800 ultra to power the center LCD and a Geforce 5200FX PCI to power the side displays. I've noticed that in the center display when the window is completely within the screen's bounds, there is no noticeable delay in scrolling/dragging. On the 5200 displays there is a slight delay but nothing to cry over.

My problem occurs when the window is either spanned across multiple displays OR is just partially visible on one display and the rest is just not visible. When this happens, there is a HUGE performance hit. It looks almost as if the hardware acceleration gets disabled and software emulation kicks in. This is VERY noticeable when I have a screensaver running as it will run at about 2FPS. Is there any way to solve this issue?? In Windows XP, I had no noticeable problems like this and was loving my multi-monitor display configuration. After using Vista, i've begun to really regret not purchasing the 30" LCD instead..
Law   2007-02-02 08:35
Hey, i have this same problem, i just bought an installed an FX5200 just to do this. It's very disappointing to think i may have just wasted £40!

I did a little test, i put the visualiser on a song on Media Player, on screen 1/2 it cpu usage was at about 15%, when i put it on screen 3 thats on the fx5200 it went up to about 40%. It i move the visualisations back onto screen 1 or 2 it goes back to normal. Oddly being on screen 3 also made the audio go crackly!

I'd very much like to know a fix also.
b0n3z   2007-02-03 14:28
Geek at large - I have an update for ya... Sure we can go with the Matrox TripleHead2Go and dump more money. But I have found a site that is a software solution to this. It's called SoftTH. It works with DirectX 8 and 9. It's not perfect but it seems to work really well with some games. It's still in Beta right now, but hopefully it will only get better. Check out the following site:

As for Vista, I have been testing this for several months at work. I have no plans to move to vista for gaming, until all my main games are compatible with it.
b0n3z   2007-02-03 14:31
For those that don't feel like copy and paste - Here is the link to the Software Triple Head: - SoftTH
Salec   2007-02-05 04:00
I own a triplehead2go adapter already and the biggest thing I dislike is having my start button on the far left of my triple monitor display. This is one of the reasons why I'm very happy with Ultramon running on my 2 video cards. Granted I lose the ability to game on all 3, but support for that has not been too great anyways.

The other big problem with vista is the sheer amount of memory required on the video card. Because vista is handling most of the UI on 3d hardware vs it's original way, much of the UI load went from system memory to gpu memory. This has a huge impact on multi-monitor computing. MS states that Vista requires 128 megs of video memory but doesn't give any details. I suspect that this amount changes based on display resolution and how many displays.

I'm very curious to see how much video memory the other vista users on this forum have. I'm probably going to give up on the 5200FX PCI as my secondary video card and instead buy a Geforce 8800 PCI x16 card (My motherboard supports both AGP and PCIe). The only downside to this configuration is that my 6800 only contains 128megs of video memory :(
Dave   2007-02-08 13:17
Same problem here with an ATI 1800XT PCIe and an ATI 1300 PCI. 3rd and 4th screens running on the 1300 lag badly. The setup worked well under XP but is not usable with Vista. Any idea if this a driver problem or an O/S problem?
Law James   2007-02-09 20:31
Most probably Vista, i just tried turning off all the fancy effects and putting the theme to Windows Classic everythings so fast!

It feels just as fast as XP now, and i can easily drag windows media player into the 3rd screen and turn on music visulisations with no lag.

Only downside, windows looks damn ugly!
BenB   2007-02-11 04:43
PCI is likely to blame. I was informed the bandwidth PCI is able to pass does not lend itself well to the DX9 power needed to drive Aero. The same would likely happen if attempting to do much more than traditional 2D display and that is where Aero hurts it.
Dave   2007-02-11 13:35
Turning off Aero definitely improved 2D performance on PCI screens. The funny thing is it seemed to reduce 2D performance on my 2 PCIe screens as there is actually a slight but still noticible amount of lag caused by turning Aero off.
vibrator   2007-02-14 09:13
hi peeps, just wanna say in response to a post above that the triplehead 2 go is to die for, don't let anyone tell you different. It's so good i bought 2 - double triplehead. Similar sytem - FX62 w/ twin quadros. ATM i can have SLi + triplehead, or double triplehead on a single card (they're both dual headed) - as SLi don't do JACK i just stick to the six screens, my available resolutions are 3840x2400, 2400x1200 and 1960x960 (plus a few other custom jobbies). Fully DX and OpenGL accelerated, 180deg FOV... nice.

As for Vista (x64), i can say that as of the moment there's no spanning option available in the Nvidia control panel - dunno if this is MS or Nvidia's fault, however as such there's effectively NO multimonitor gaming support in Vista - surround gaming on six or more panles is not possible without span mode. Triplehead2go works fine of course, 3840x1200 without problems.


Chakkuchan   2007-02-26 20:50
Yah I have 3 Samsung 20" that I've been wanting to game on, and I've done all the research, sadly the triplehead2go is the best solution for me, but I need a digital edition (they just released a digital edition for the Dualhead2go) that can support up to 1600x1200 for each monitor (then I'll get 2-8800GTX in SLI!!!)

has anybody done any multimonitor testing regarding video playback or anything in Windows Vista? I see they got rid of spanning instead of improving this feature... but can you watch the same file on more than one monitor?

3-Samsung 204b (black)
Black ergotron DS100 triple monitor stand
Amd X2 3800+
2GB OCZ DDR400, Asus A8NSLI Premium
1.4 TB in drives
7800 GT (center monitor used for gaming) & 7600 GT (side monitors)
Greg94   2007-03-20 05:14
Is there a way to inable the onboard video card when using a dual headed PCIe card?

On my last system with XP I had a PCI dual headed video card and used the onboard video for the 3rd monitor.

Now on my new system a Dell e521 and the Nividia GF7300GS I cant get the onboard video to show up its not even listed in the drop down. It seems that when i installed the PCIe card it disabled the onboard video. Is there a way to bring the onboard video up?

Thanks for your help!
Len   2007-04-11 06:58
To answer your question below we have found that Vista also has the limitation of 10 displays even on the Ultimate version. This was on our QuadStation-10 system using FireMV Video cards.

However with the use of Ultramon you can go far beyond that.
Bob Clark   2007-04-15 21:39
I'm building a multiple monitor system with 1-32" lcd and 6-17" lcd monitors surrounding the large KVB Controlled main monitor for financial purposes utilizing 4 computers (3 of which will ONLY display on the large monitor.

My question is simple, is Vista worth it? Can it handle the load for the main computer or would I be better off staying with xp pro?
Dan   2007-07-13 04:34
I am also a hardcore dual monitor user that just moved "up" to Vista. I'm on my third try on the Video card as i'm goin on the advice that the Cards must run the same driver. So.. i've got what i thought was the closest to the NVidia Geforce 6150 LE which is on the main board. I got the Geforce 7300 GT OC PCI-E and i'm having the SAME problems i did with the ATI cards. It just won't install or accept the driver, so the second monitor won't start. ANY suggestions? It's on a HP DualCore 5000+ if that helps.

THANKS SO MUCH!!! I'm dying with just one display!

Tim   2007-08-31 04:59
Hi Dan,

Why don't your try Matrox TripleHead2Go??

The best case scenario would be to use a NVIDIA GPU solution with the Matrox TH2G digital edition for your multi-monitor setup.

This will avoid the multiple card and multiple driver issues Vista is now known to have...

Give it a shot, should work nicely.

Cheers. Tim
David Cole   2007-09-05 06:43
I have to say that Vista was really frustrating, especially when I bought my new 64 bit system with vista installed with a Nvida card on the MB. So what did I do? Exatly what I did in my XP system, I put in a Radeon 7000 and hopped for the best, unfortunately I got nothing. Either one or the other card would work but not both at the same time. And I've now been scanning the web for 3 months looking for a solution with now results.

Is it possible at all to make both cards work? I read at microsoft's website, something about forcing the system, to use both drivers. But I never found anything else related.

Heres the link where I read it:

Any help would be appreciated, right now I'm being forced to run a 32bit version of windows xp on a 64 bit system and lets just say its not very stable.

David Cole
Tim   2007-09-07 01:53
You need to have ONE driver for your multiple cards, therefore you can either have 2x NVIDIA cards or 2x ATI cards running from a single driver.
Otherwise, you can simply use your existing NVIDIA and attach a simple multi-monitor upgrade like Matrox DualHead2Go or TripleHead2Go and alleviate multi-card restrictions...

Hope this helps.

Cheers. Tim
7h0m   2007-09-24 06:42
Hi, I'm planning on pairing my 8800 gts with a 6200 pci card for vista... what puzzles me is that on nvidia's website you can clearly see that the 8xxx and 6xxx drivers are different. Will the two cards work correctly on vista for a 4 monitor setup?

...there are no 8xxx pci cards on the market, if it doesn't work well with the 6200 I dont know what im gonna do. I need DX10.
Tim   2007-09-25 00:34
I believe if the 8xxx and 6xxx drivers derive from the same family, you should be fine. Therefore, if you are able to install two different cards while using the same driver...should work.

Cheers. Tim
Sp4m   2007-10-12 04:44
hello! I'd heard that since Vista FORCES hardware acceleration on all monitors, it may be possible to run a game in windowed mode, stretched across 3 screens, with full acceleration.
Let's assume both VC are identical.

Does anyone have experience with this?

The way I see it, for $300, I can get either a second 8800 (320mb), or a triple head 2 go.
Jacob   2007-10-14 02:29
Hi all

I have a Geforce 8600GT. I am looking for a pci based Geforce card which use the same driver to work under Vista.

Anyone had ACTUAL success with this? I have read a number of comments saying that it "should" work, but I am seeking actual experience here..

Sp4m   2007-10-21 03:41
I can tell you for sure, that a Geforce 4 mx400 will NOT work.

Jacob   2007-10-28 01:15
Hi again

Just wanted to update regarding my Geforce 8600GT.

I stopped looking for a pci based card and instead bought a new MOBO. Bought an ASUS P5K with two PCI-E slots and the ASUS 7300GT card.

It works! I now have 4 monitors connected. Both cards are based on the driver from NVIDIA.

Windows Aero does not work fully, however, this is not a big concern to me.

ChopShop   2007-11-13 11:15
Hi all.
This is mainly a bump for Jacobs posts, im in a similar situation.

I currently run 2x20" viewsonics under vista via dvi on a Sparkle Calibre 8600 GT Overclock, which operates from an Intel micro mobo with just one pci-e slot.

I want to run my projector from the system under VGA, idealy at 1280x768, hopefully as a duplicate of my RH display, otherwise as an extension of the desktop.

How might i achieve this setup, through an aditional video card or going to a 2xpci-e motherboard etc?
7h0m   2007-11-24 09:27
You could search for a 6200 PCI card or anything PCI that is from series 6xxx and up. You need to have all video cards sharing the same drivers. (6xxx,7xxx,8xxx)

I am using a 8800GTS 640mb and a secondary 6200 on my pci slot. It works fine, but aero gives me some stuttering here and there on secondary monitors which pisses me off since I have a beast of a pc (OC'ed Quad Core, 4gb of 8800mhz ddr2 ram, raid-0 1500gb (2x750gb) hds, etc..)

I am currently searching for ways on improving aero performance on all monitors.

btw I know it's not the 6200 itself that is too slow, it's clearly hick-ups and not slow rendering.
Wisang   2007-12-11 20:36
Hi all.. I have a question regarding the use of 3 monitors. I'm planning to buy a TripleHead2go but need a confirmation whether it can play a full screen video (1920 x 480 in size) stretched to three monitors. I've been hearing that it works with games, but has anyone ever tried using it to play video (with windows media player)? Or is there any other way I can do so? Thanks a lot.. looking forward for your answer.

ecarlson   2007-12-15 06:36
TrippleHead2Go should work for video across 3 monitors.

- Eric,
ChopShop   2008-05-27 16:09
Thanks for the info. im looking at going with a 6xxx video card.

Can anyone tell me what implications this may have on my pc's power supply? i have a feeling it may already be under powered, its a 350 watt job. My comp will go throuh bspells of just unexpectedly dieing on me, repetedly, then ill leave it off for a whyle and it stops. This only startded after i chucked the Calibre card in.
ECarlson   2008-05-31 02:53
If it's a cheap 350.W power supply, that might be the problem. If it is a good 350.W, it might be adequate. If you have access to a better power supply, you might try swapping it to see if the problem is the power supply.

If you have to buy a new power supply, I recommend getting a high efficiency unit with an 80Plus rating. I recently got the Antec EarthWatts 380.W, which can run at 100% load 24 hours a day and has the 80Plus efficiency rating. The EarthWatts are made by SeaSonic, which is one of the top quality power supply brands. You could buy an actual SeaSonic, but I only paid $30 shipped (on sale at NewEgg) for the EarthWatts.

- Eric,
Yossi   2008-06-25 20:35

I am writing a driver that enable me to use vista with to different video adapter .
Actualy I have system with bothe NVIDIA and ATI and I can span it to 3-4 monitors.

What I am looking for is API that will allow me to control which of the nmonitor is extended and which one of them will be the primary.

I want to write application that set that automaticaly , does any one familiar with that API ?
John Frits   2009-11-14 09:31
Can three monitors be driven at same time with the Radeon HD 4650. It has three outputs (DVI, HDMI and D-SUB). I currently have 2 monitors running off the intergrated graphics and a third off the HP USB graphics adapter. Between my 3 monitors I have connections for DVI, HDMI and D-SUB.
The card I am looking at is
ASUS EAH4650/DI/1GD2/A(LP) Radeon HD 4650 1GB 128-bit DDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16

I am running 2 acer 22 inch and 1 Hannspree 28 inch

Mattgp1   2010-02-22 06:02
Hi All

Im running Vista and trying to set up three monitors. Im encountering a problem with only two monitors running which i beleive from reading other posts is because of the incompatible video cards (Startech USB2VGA x 2)&

If i upgraded to Windows 7 would it cure this frustrating problem

Forums -> Multiple monitors -> Windows Vista and multiple video cards

Post Reply