Need to setup Dual Monitors on a brand new Dell PC

I have a brand new Dell Vostro 230 PC running XP Pro. It comes with an embedded Video card and works perfectly fine. The user want to use two monitors.

I have experience with older Dell PC using an AGP Video card that supports dual monitors via special cable and it worked quite well.

However, I know there's newer technology using a USB dual monitor adapter. I've set one up recently and got it to work but it performed clumsy when rebooting the PC. I had to play with it to make it work satisfactory.

In this new PC, I prefer not to disable the onboard video card and install a new video card that supports dual monitors. I would rather try the USB option again

Can anyone provide a recommendation from experience and as to what brand worked well for them?
Would it be a better choice to purchase a basic video card that supports two monitors and perhaps around the same cost of a $60-$80 USB solution?
Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAsked:
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
USB Video performance is generally AWFUL.  You are much better off getting a video card that supports multiple monitors.  SOME onboard video graphics systems DO NOT support simultaneous use with add-in cards so be careful (I have an OptiPlex 320 that DOES support onboard+add-in card; but I also have a NEWER Optiplex 330 that DOES NOT support that config (and by support, I mean you can't get it to work AT ALL).

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What PCI slots does the computer have? PCI? PCI-Express? AGP?

I would go with a new card. This will not only give you multiple monitor capability but also increased performance.

PNY and Asus both my decent products at good prices.

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Does this PC have a HDMI out as well?
That is another option to run a second monitor off of quite nicely.
Danny ChildIT ManagerCommented:
Our latest Dells were Optiplex 780's - which came with a DisplayPort adaptor to run a 2nd screen. Worked well, once latest BIOS was installed. Any chance you have this?

Or, for an external solution, consider Matrox TwinHead boxes.
Danny ChildIT ManagerCommented:
Just checked spec here, and no DisplayPort :-[

So, you'll need the extra card, either twinhead, or internal. Take care that it a) fits in your chassis, and b) don't go crazy on the spec as it's quite a small psu.
jostafewSystems AdministratorCommented:
I'm using atleast 5 of the EVGA UV+ devices at our sites for older PC's that don't have dual monitor support (and don't want to invest in older graphics cards). As you can guess they don't function until the system boots into Windows, but as a secondary monitor it's probably fine. Performance wise, for office applications they are just fine. A couple issues I've noticed is that they do steal system resources to run so in a really old machine you will notice a performance hit, and in one instance I have a PC that will not start from a cold boot with the USB cable plugged in. Have yet to determine whether it's a Mobo issue or P/S on this particular system.

The deciding factor for me is usually the graphics card bus; if it's PCIe I will grab an innexpensive graphics card which is usually cheaper than the $50 UV+ device. Older than that, it gets the USB device.
Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAuthor Commented:
My vostro 230 has a AGP port. I'm wondering if I can install a 2nd card and use both the embedded and the 2nd card attached to the 2nd monitor. Not sure how that will work. I'm thinking you cant do that.
Once you put in an external card the internal GPU is disabled.

There are a lot of AGP dual video cards at newegg. Great prices too.
Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAuthor Commented:
Thats what I thought.
I do shop newegg. Good company

I just confirmed from Dell that the embedded VGA video controller in my Dell Vostro 230 system supports dual monitors. All I need is a VGA splitter cable. Have you heard of this?
Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAuthor Commented:
I take back what I said above. Dell was wrong when I questioned them further. the embedded video card supports two monitors by spitting the signal. thats not what I want. I want to be able to extend the screen and move a window to the 2nd monitor (true dual monitor support and not cloned support)

Dell recomended something like this. Let me know what you think. this may be a better option than USB 

The two monitors I have support both DVI and VGA
Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAuthor Commented:
jonahzona: It does have PCI Express. The PCI Expresscard I mentioned above has two ports (DVI and VGA)

cfEngineers: It does not support HDMI

The Vostro 230 does not have an AGP port, I meant PCI Express

DanCh99: the internal card is a 256MB card. the one I'm thinking abouit purchasing is a 512 MB as mentioned in the above URL (not that the MB's matter in my scenario) should do the trick. It should disable the onboard video and if not, I can manuallly disable the embedded card.

If I were you I'd get in contact with Dell (you could use the online chat), and ask them whether the onboard video can be used together with an addon video card. If I'm not mistaken, that should work. You could then buy a single port PCI-e card which is probably a little cheaper than a multiport version. Also ask them, provided both internal and external cards work together, whether you need to keep to certain GPU chips or not (nvidia or AMD).
Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAuthor Commented:
The Dell Vostro 230 comes with an embedded 250MB video controller as part of the basice specs. The PC does support a PCI express slot
It looks like the direction I should go is to get a dual head 256MB controller such as the ones mentioned in this URL. The client does have monitors that support both VGA and DVI. If I need to, I would just use both heads, one in the VAG and the other in a DVI ported monitor. And at the very least, I have a DVI to VGA converter.

The prices are great. And its probabley a better solution then going USB 

Great feedback from all of you
Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAuthor Commented:
Great Feedback
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