ATI Radeon HD 4850 and X1550

I've been thinking about putting a third monitor on my workstation. If two monitors is great, then three will be even better. I don't have much space on my desk, so that third monitor will probably be 17-19" at most. Maybe another Dell.

Then I'll take the 17" 16:10 and set it in landscape mode on the left side. I'll use that for Winamp while I'm working on the other two. Then I'll have the 22" 16:10 main monitor, and the third new monitor (either a 16:10 or a 4:3) mounted vertically on the right.

At first I thought this would be simple. I have two built-in video outputs - an HDMI/DVI and a VGA. I figured I could put in an aftermarket PCI-e x16 card with two DVI outputs, and use one from the integrated Intel graphics.

Unfortunately, both XP and Vista require that all the video adapters use the same driver. This means I can't use the integrated video at all - nobody makes another video adapter that uses that driver.

This means I need to add two aftermarket adapters, and since the Asus P5E-VM motherboard only has one PCI-e x16 slot, I had to go with one x16 and one older 1x card.

I settled on an ATI HD 4830 and an x1550.


Before getting started, I reconfigured the north bridge settings for video in the BIOS. I disabled the integrated graphics, and set "Initiate Graphics Adapter" to PEG/PCI. PEG refers to the x16 slot, and PCI to the 1x slot. I wanted my x16 card to be primary.


Here you can see the HIS low-profile x1550 card in the top-most PCI-e 1x slot. This card fits easily in a small case, and as long as you don't want cutting edge 3D-acceleration, alone it would make a nice upgrade from the Intel GMA graphics.

Not good enough for me, however, as that would only give me one VGA and one DVI output. That's the same as what I have today.


And that brings us to this gigantic thing. It's a Sapphire Radeon HD 4830 with 512MB of RAM. I wasn't sure if it would fit, but as you can see, it just barely fits, although the cooler makes it impossible to use the remaining PCI-e 1x slot.


Now my only worry is heat. The cables wrapped out of the way of the 4830 so it can blow right out the side of the case, but the x1150 is blowing hot air right on the back of it. As you can see here, the CPU cooler can't vent to the outside. This case really needs an exhaust fan on the right-hand side.


Sweetness. Now I have three DVI outputs (two of which can be converted to HDMI), 1 VGA out, and two s-video outputs that all work. The integrated HDMI and VGA outputs are disabled, so I won't be using those.

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