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How do I enable the Onboard VGA output to add a third monitor to my system

Posted on 2014-02-17
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Last Modified: 2014-03-06
I have a work PC with a ATI FireMV video card for dual monitor capability.  Is there a way to enable the onboard VGA out to add a third monitor to my system?
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Question by:Bruce
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Robert Sutton Jr earned 250 total points
ID: 39865195
Then it wouldn't be rendering from the ATI card.
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by:rindi
rindi earned 84 total points
ID: 39865209
It depends on your system. For example if your addon card uses an AGP slot, then you can't also use the onboard GPU. If it is a PCI card, then it usually works.

PCI Express GPU's usually also won't work concurrently with built-in GPU's.

You can enable, disable onboard GPU's in the BIOS. So you can try it there.
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 166 total points
ID: 39865301
I have an HP laptop in a docking station with an ATI FirePro M3900 Mobility adapter and it supports three monitors, but only after I figured out the trick — when I first tried it, I could get only two monitors working. The solution for me was to get 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 worked 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/

This also works perfectly and I now have three monitors working at that 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:
http://www.startech.com/AV/Displayport-Converters/Active-DisplayPort-to-DVI-Adapter~DP2DVIS

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.

Since your ATI FireMV card also has AMD Eyefinity technology, all of this should apply to you. The only thing I don't know is if the third monitor can be on the VGA port. I suspect it can, but I haven't tried that. For me the third monitor is the laptop screen itself. I think it's worth a try for you, and at less than $30, it's not a big risk (and Amazon is superb with returns). Regards, Joe
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 166 total points
ID: 39892614
Hi cylikon,

In my previous post, I wrote this:

"The only thing I don't know is if the third monitor can be on the VGA port. I suspect it can, but I haven't tried that. For me the third monitor is the laptop screen itself."

I have good news for you — the third monitor can be on the VGA port! I just tested it at the office mentioned above with the DisplayPort (male) to DVI (female) Active Adapter. I connected a VGA monitor to the VGA port and then reconfigured the displays such that the laptop screen was disconnected and the VGA screen was part of the extended desktop config — worked perfectly! I then got greedy and tried to use the laptop screen, too. Alas, four screens did not fly. But for three, it works a charm, and the third screen may be either the laptop display or an external VGA monitor. Regards, Joe
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