A question that I have been asked often,
So since I have a very cool set up, which I’m very grateful of, I get a lot of questions, especially regarding the third TV monitor.
Before even explaining,
Let me get into the benefits of how more monitors = better productivity.
Let me ask you a few questions first regarding your work flow/computer use:
- Do you find yourself minimizing often?
- Do you feel crammed and not enough space while browsing on the internet?
- What about beat making? Is it hard to work with tons of plugins/windows open? Do they keep overlapping with annoyance?
This is what got me into wanting more than 1 monitor. The overlapping of plugins/windows.
For real, the more monitors = the more productive you can be. This goes for beat making, website development, and just overall web-browsing and enjoyment! Comparing 2 products? Look at them side by side!
How do you set 3 computer monitors up?
The set up process actually took me a bit of research to figure out. I had an extra HD TV laying around, since we got rid of cable TV, so I really wanted to put it to use!
Nowadays, with technology improving, most video cards allow you to set up 2 monitors real easy. It’s just a matter of plugging both in!
But what about when trying to set up 3?
Now, if your video card gives you the option to plug in 3 monitors, but when trying to plug-in the third one it’s always a black screen, here is the reasoning. You need an active adapter. (More on this in a moment).
I went with an ATI video card because they have a feature called Eyefinity.
This allows you to set up to 6 monitors!!!! (Depending on the video card, mine supports 5).
The cool thing is your monitors do not have to be the same size/resolution, it’s just a matter of plug and play, but there are a few catches, which aren’t really catches.. just products you need to make it work.
So let’s go over this!
Getting 3 Monitors to Work with an ATI Eyefinity Card,
Alright, so this is a picture of the back of my video card:
How it works is, the white inputs, which are DVI, will support 2 monitors easily. Plug-in, and good to go! You can also use 1 DVI + 1 HDMI.
But with 3, you will need an active adapter. Since my video card supports mini DisplayPort only, I got a Mini DisplayPort to DVI Active Adapter.
I got mine real cheap from a shop in Canada called Future Shop (same as Best Buy). It will say active on the top of the connector, make sure of this!
How Eyefinity works is, you can plug in:
- 2 DVI monitors + 1 active adapter
- 1 DVI + 1 HDMI + 1 active adapter
(Remember, my video card only supports mini display port. So I needed a mini DisplayPort active adapter. You might need just a regular DisplayPort active adapter. All depends on what your video card looks like).
You can plug in 2 monitors fine, but the third monitor must use an active adapter.
If your monitor has a mini display port,
Now, if your monitor has a Mini Display Port, then I don’t think you need an adapter.. but I don’t think many monitors have this! So, an active mini display port will probably be the route you are wanting to go.
Recap the set up process,
- Get an ATI video card that supports Eyefinity
- Get 3 monitors — Resolution/size does not matter, although it is nice and keeps things consistent.
- Get an Active mini Display Port — Now, I got an active mini display port because my video card has mini display ports. If you have regular display ports, then you’ll want to get just an active display port adapter, not mini.
- Plug-in Your Monitors — Plug in your monitors, and use the CCC (Catalyst Control Center) to set up your monitors, and you are good to go!
- Don’t Forget About Drivers! — Just like anything with technology, most of the time they have drivers, so update them. They will only help you with performance and bugs :).
- I’d recommend 2’s or 4’s — 3 has been cool, don’t get me wrong, but there’s some places where I can’t move my mouse up because it doesn’t set up that way.. Again, 3 has been awesome, but 4 would make your computer experience super consistent. (Although, it is something I’ve gotten used to and does not bug me one bit!).
Here’s an image of #6. Where the red arrows are, I cannot move my mouse up, so I have to move my mouse to my left monitor, then up. The blue arrows work as normal. If I move it up on my right monitor, it does not go up, it just stops like a regular monitor.
What are the benefits of having more than 1 monitor?
So I just wanted to go over some of the benefits that may encourage you to invest in more monitors. This may even be a better investment than sounds or hardware, as for real, your productivity will increase huge! (Especially from only 1 monitor).
- Amazing productivity – I can’t explain enough how much more work I can get accomplished with more monitors. Two monitors was awesome, three is absolutely amazing! (Personally, I would like to get 4 at times for consistency + when doing web development, video editing, and a bit of graphic design, the more monitors the better!).
- Less clutter on your screen – With more monitors = less minimizing. This has been such a perc of having more than 1 monitor.
- Did I mention better productivity? – 🙂
Really, there’s only benefits to having more monitors, if you have the money, and if you have enough room!
Here’s how I got my third monitor, which is a TV, to mount behind my monitors:
I personally found having an HDMI cable with the HD TV is a must. I had a DVI cable plugged into the TV for awhile, but after trying an HDMI cable.. WOW the text was actually legible lol. It was pretty hard to read with a DVI cable. The text was a bit blurry, making me having to really focus my attention on what words said.
What are the cons of having more than 1 monitor?
- More money
- Takes up more room – I found my desk always a bit cluttered.. I have done some work arounds to help that though. Such as getting speaker stands to get my monitors off my desk, and get a special keyboard tray to keep my typing keyboard off the desk.
- Takes a bit of reading and understanding – Technology is not easy to understand. I did research for a couple of days to make sure I wasn’t wasting my money, and the things I was looking to purchase actually worked together. (Hopefully this post just seals the deal for you though ;)).
- Hopefully not break anything! — Back in the day when I was 100% computer hardware illiterate.. I put DDR2 ram into a DDR socket. How did I get it to fit? Not sure.. but when I turned on my computer it smelt like burnt candy.. and never turned back on.. lol. So be careful, do your YouTube video research before installing!
In the end, having more than on computer monitor will only increase your workflow, even though at first, you have to cough up some extra cash. The workflow improvement is way more beneficial than the price you pay.
Hope that helps!