Dual-Monitors on Dell Dimension 2400

Does anyone have thoughts or experience setting up dual-monitors on the Dell Dimension 2400? This machine has an integrated video card and runs WinXP-Pro SP1. I only use the machine for Excel and programming, so have no need for a high-performance video solution - I really just want the most inexpensive solution for expanding my desktop to two screens. Also worth noting is that I have a gig of memory, which is shared with the integrated video card.

Is it as simple as installing an additional PCI video card and connecting one monitor to the built-in video input and one monitor to the new video card? Also, is it true that WinXP adequately supports multiple monitors?

Or, should I get a new video card that can support two monitors and just not use the integrated video card on the Dell Dimension 2400 (if this is even possible)?

Another possibility is to purchase a different machine that does not have integrated video, and has AGP ports as well (such as the Dimension 4600). Given the machine is used for Excel and programming, is there any reason to consider this route?

In either case, I would also like the new video card to support video out to a TV. Any recommendations for specific video cards or configurations that have worked well specifically on the Dell Dimension 2400 or other similarly configured machines?

I also need to buy the second monitor for this configuration. I currently use a 17 inch CRT (16 inch viewable) and would like to get a 15 or 17 inch flat panel. Any opinions on whether it's worth the $150 premium to get the larger flat panel display given that the other half of the dual-monitor setup will only have 16 inch viewable?

I'm not too up-to-date with monitor technology, but is there also a choice between analog and video input for flat panels? Should I consider the digital input altnerative, and how would that change the selection of the video card?
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waysideConnect With a Mentor Commented:
The ATI Radeon 9200 comes in a PCI version, supports 2 monitors, and has video out.


newegg.com has it for $97.00 with $0.99 shipping.


The GeForce 5200 also fits the bill, $96.00 from newegg:


The Radeon has DVI for one of the monitors, which may be better for you if you get a flat-screen (it can two 2 VGA's with an adapter for the DVI port).
The machine doesn't list video cards as an option, so there is probably no AGP port (you can check this), so you will need to get a machine or motherboard with AGP.  If you want TV-out, you should get a Radeon card that provides this and a tuner, such as the All in Wonder 9600 (http://www.ati.com/products/radeon9600/aiw9600/specs.html).  This will give you two VGA outputs and an s-video out, but when you use the s-video, you can only use one VGA.

Flat panels take up less room and use less power, so I would recommend them if you can afford them.  It's ok to mix a CRT with an LCD, and for these sizes, VGA, as opposed to DVI, works fine.
zacbellAuthor Commented:
Your comment implies that AGP is needed for a dual-monitor setup - is this true? Independent of that, is it true to say that a dual-monitor setup requires a single video card that has two video output ports - or is it also true that a dual-monitor setup could use two distinct video cards each with a single video output port?

The video card you recommend seems like complete overkill for my purposes since I don't care about 3d gaming performance or video-in. Are there lower-end video cards that just provide multi-monitor capability without all the features appropriate for gamers?
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No, you don't need AGP for dual-monitor capability, but I was taking into account your requirement for TV-out, which is difficult to find with dual-monitor capability also.  There may be cheaper solutions, but that would entail PCI cards with TV-out, and if you try it with onboard video, your chances of success go lower.  You could try one PCI video card with your onboard video just to get dual display, but as I said, that could be problematic, since many motherboards disable their onboard video when they detect a PCI video card.  The Matrox G450 PCI card has dual display and is pretty sharp for 2D applications, so maybe that's for you: http://www.matrox.com/mga/products/mill_g450/home.cfm - it doesn't have TV-out, though.
If you really want cheap, you could also check out the Radeon 7500, which has a PCI version with dual monitor support and composite video out.

Pricegrabber.com shows that you can get it for about $80 or so. Personally I'd spend the extra $15 on a 9200, it's a much better card.
zacbellAuthor Commented:
Sorry for the late response, but I ultimately purchased the GEForce MX 4000 PCI 64MB (about $70). This PCI card comes with one VGA port and one s-video port. I had no problem hooking one monitor to the onboard vga (Dell Dimension 3000), one monitor to the GEForce vga port, and my tv to the s-video port - all at the same time with no problems whatsoever. This was precisely what I was looking for, and for a lot less than I was willing to spend.
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