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Problem with three screens on workstation

Posted on 2014-01-31
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Last Modified: 2014-02-11
My manager recently installed a third screen on his computer and i was able to get it working but he moved the screen order around the other day and now when a window is on the third screen it stays there for about 30 seconds then all the screens go black the appear and the window that was on the third screen is now on the first screen. Odd. The window will stay there if there is no movement of the mouse but the minute you move the mouse the problem happens again. The three screen solution worked for about 2 weeks before this so I am a bit puzzled by this problem. Any suggestions on how to fix this? I will be re-installing the Catalyst Control Center on his machine which allowed the third screen to be used but other than that I have no idea what to do to fix this issue.
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Question by:tparus
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 39825651
is one of the screens display-port?  probably has to be. He has at least two video cards right?
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39826840
The Catalyst Control Center means AMD, which means Eyefinity, which means you can get three monitors working with just one video card – I have it set up that way on an HP laptop in a docking station (although the maximum number of monitors depends on the adapter). The key to success for me was getting an active adapter, not passive. I first purchased this DisplayPort (male) to DVI (female) Active Adapter for one office:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004SUO1GM/

It works perfectly. I now have three monitors working where before only two of the three would work at a time.

For a second office where I was having the same issue, I purchased this DisplayPort (male) to HDMI (female) Active Adapter:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009YC3W1Y/

Also works perfectly and I now have three monitors working at this office, too.

Obviously, get the one you need depending on the type of connections in the monitor and PC, and, of course, the appropriate cable. The StarTech website has a nice explanation of why you need an active adapter instead of passive to get the three monitors working. Also, the AMD website has this nice description (and other excellent material) of the basic requirements for connecting multiple displays:

Connecting multiple monitors for AMD Eyefinity technology couldn’t be simpler. There are four easy rules to remember:

1. The first two monitors can connect to the graphics card with any display output on your product: HDMI, VGA, DVI or DisplayPort.

2. The third (or greater) display must be connected to the graphics card via DisplayPort.

3. If your monitor does not have a DisplayPort connection, you will need an inexpensive active DisplayPort adapter for it. DVI to DP adapters can be had for less than $30 USD.

4. Every family of GPUs supports a different maximum number of displays.
With all of that said, the thing I can't explain about your situation is why it worked for two weeks and then developed a problem. I would expect it to work or not work, period. In my case, it never recognized the third monitor until I installed the active adapter. So this may not be the solution for you, but I still think it's worth a try, and for less than $30, it's not a big risk. Regards, Joe
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by:tparus
ID: 39829790
The workstation is not using the display port to begin with. The workstation has 2 video cards in it and is using the Catalyst Control Center and I think it is called splifire technology to make the two cards to work together. Now I think this issue might have to do with the monitors since two monitors are the same size and the third is a bit bigger. Originally he had the two matching monitors as 1 and 2 with the different size as the third. Well he felt he had more viewing area on the bigger monitor so he set it up to be 1 the smaller monitor, 2 the bigger monitor, and 3 the smaller monitor. That is about the only thing I can see as why this behavior is occurring. Of course he doesn't want to go back to original configuration and wants to know why it isn't working because it was working before. I have looked for a solution on the web but there is nothing that describes this problem and when I look in the event logs there is nothing there either in terms of errors.
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Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 500 total points
ID: 39829968
> The workstation is not using the display port to begin with.

What is it using? What kinds of ports are on the monitors and on the graphics cards?

> I think it is called splifire technology

That sounds like a mixing of two technologies – CrossFire by AMD and SLI by NVIDIA. AMD's Catalyst Control Center supports CrossFire (and the newer CrossFireX), but I think you need the NVIDIA Control Panel to support SLI. Which type is it? Or is one of the cards SLI and the other CrossFire/CrossFireX? It's possible that there's a setting/option in the AMD Catalyst Control Center and/or the NVIDIA Control Panel that is causing the problem (although I doubt it).

> he set it up to be 1 the smaller monitor, 2 the bigger monitor, and 3 the smaller monitor

I don't think that's the problem. I've never seen the relative positions of the displays matter and W7 is fine with having different resolutions on different monitors.

Given that your manager moved the screens around to change the order, my current vote is for a bad connection (cable not seated properly) or a bad/damaged cable (I never cease to be amazed at the number of times a bad cable is the culprit). I suggest re-seating all cables. If that doesn't fix it, try replacing them one at a time. Regards, Joe
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Author Closing Comment

by:tparus
ID: 39850675
The problem seems to have stopped after swapping out a video extender. I will check with him today but the last time I checked the issue had gone away.
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39850716
Ah, a video extender! Good call on that one...glad to hear you fixed it. Thanks for posting your results. Regards, Joe
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