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how to add a third monitor in Windows XP?

Posted on 2014-02-07
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Last Modified: 2014-02-11
I have a laptop docked in a docking station and I'm trying to use two monitors. One monitor is plugged into the VGA port and one into the DVI. There are two monitors listed, but it the laptop screen and only one of the external monitors. Can anyone suggest how to add a third monitor in Windows XP?
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Question by:exhuser
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Frosty555 earned 167 total points
ID: 39843515
The graphics card on the laptop has to support multiple displays. Many laptops do not.

Even though the laptop / docking station has multiple display ports on it, this is often just for convenience so you can use whatever type of connector you want (DVI, VGA, Displayport, HDMI etc.), it doesn't necessarily mean that the laptop supports multiple simultaneous displays.

Some laptops docking stations include a graphics chip internally which provides additional displays but that depends on what laptop you're using, it's not very common. Since you're already using a docking station it is most likely that your laptop is not one of them

There are USB-based VGA adapters (basically an external graphics card) that would allow you to use multiple monitors. Performance is poor, and resolution, framerate, or image quality sometimes suffers due to the bandwidth limitations of the USB interface, but they do work.

Since this is a WinXP laptop, it probably does not have USB 3.0 ports so you'd need to make sure you get a USB 2.0 compatible one.

Example:

http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/product/startech-startech-usb-to-vga-adapter-usb2vgae3-grey-usb2vgae3/10214332.aspx
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by:exhuser
ID: 39843523
Thank you. What is the best way to check if the laptop supports multiple displays? Apparently this one does because it sees the laptop display and the DVI display...
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by:Frosty555
ID: 39843586
What is the model # of your laptop?

The laptop has the onboard display (the laptop screen itself), and then the external display ports (DVI, VGA, etc.)

Pretty much all laptops support the onboard display + 1 external display.

Multiple external displays is not as common (even though the laptop may have more than one type of display port, it doesn't mean it supports more than one external display), and depends on the graphics card inside the laptop.

In your case I don't think your laptop supports multiple external displays. The easiest way to check is to just plug more than one external display into the laptop, which you did, and it wasn't recognized.
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Assisted Solution

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 167 total points
ID: 39843703
Two questions for you:

(1) Does your dock also have a DisplayPort port? For example, here's what one HP dock looks like:

HP dockItem 13 is the VGA port. Item 6 is the DVI-D port. Item 11 is the DisplayPort port.

(2) For the third monitor, do you want that to be the laptop screen or another external monitor?

Depending on your answers to these questions, I may have a simple solution for you, but I'll wait to hear back from you before writing it up. Regards, Joe
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by:Amit Khilnaney
Amit Khilnaney earned 166 total points
ID: 39844896
Since you mentioned that you have VGA and DVI port both on your laptop but still you see display on laptop screen and one of the external monitors.

This is because you must be on a old architecture which doesn't support more than 2 simultaneous displays e.g. older than Ivy Bridge Architecture

Intel Ivy Bridge: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivy_Bridge_%28microarchitecture%29

You have to use external graphics card solution which is mentioned by @Frosty555 and it is not recommended for the same reasons mentioned.

I am assuming you are using Intel configuration, Please provide you system specifications to find out if there is a better solution
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Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39844911
Hi exhuser,
When you answer my other two questions in post http:#a39843703, please answer a third one. Amit made the comment, "you have VGA and DVI port both on your laptop..." But in your initial question, you said the laptop is in a docking station, and I was going on the assumption that the two ports you're using (VGA and DVI) are in the dock, not in the laptop. But Amit's comment raised a red flag on that assumption, so please clarify the location(s) of the VGA and DVI ports. Oh, a fourth question: Is the DVI port a DVI-D, DVI-A, or DVI-I? Regards, Joe
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Author Comment

by:exhuser
ID: 39844945
It has VGA, DVI, HDMI, not sure about the display port, need to check...

For the third monitor I need that to be the laptop screen.

VGA and DVI are in the dock
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Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39845308
> It has VGA, DVI, HDMI, not sure about the display port, need to check...

If it has HDMI, it probably does not have DisplayPort. In any case, let us know the manufacturer and model number of the laptop and of the dock.
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Author Comment

by:exhuser
ID: 39848144
No, it does not have the display port. And this is a Dell docking station about 3 years old...
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39848199
It's good to know that both the laptop and dock are Dell, but it would be really helpful to know the model numbers of both. There should be labels on them with the model numbers.
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Author Comment

by:exhuser
ID: 39848467
We figured a way to setup the two laptops through the properties of the video card. Thanks for all your help.
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Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39849057
> two laptops

Hmmm, I thought it was one laptop in a dock. In any case, I'm glad you got it sorted. Regards, Joe
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Expert Comment

by:Frosty555
ID: 39851616
I'm pretty confused by this answer too. Do you mean you set up the two monitors?
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Author Comment

by:exhuser
ID: 39851765
Sorry, not 2 laptops - 2 monitors and one laptop
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