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Connecting two monitors to a computer is common. You can go the other way and connect two computers to one monitor if you have the right drivers and hardware.

I'm getting a new computer soon. I have one high def TV that I use for my BluRays off my computer and one DVI monitor that also has HDMI on it. My question is a technical one. I'd like to use these monitors for both computers. The computer is a Windows 7, 64-bit system. My old system I'm going to turn into a Ubuntu/Linux machine. I have a video card that has DVI and HDMI in there. I was wondering if it's possible to use the dual inputs of my monitor to also hook my new PC and my old PC and switch between them. Is it possible also if I have router, which I do have? Both these computers are on at the same time and use them at the same time if need be. Thank you.

In this excerpt from Answercast #22, I look at a way to connect two computers to two monitors. Just don't trip over those wires!

Two computers through a router

So, let's address the router one first.

The short answer to that one is very simple yes. That's exactly what routers are for.

You connect both PCs to the router. The router then connects to your internet connection and it allows that internet connection to be shared between the two computers at the same time.

That's exactly what routers are all about.

Two computers through a monitor

Now, let's talk about your TV set and your monitor.

First of all, I would want you to make sure that the operating system you're using on both of those machines (and the drivers for the video cards that are on both of those machines) actually support having output on both of the HDMI and DVI outputs at the same time. Most do, but I think that's really the only limiting factor here.

I do believe that, if both your TV and your DVI monitor have dual inputs, then you can connect up the two screens from the two outputs of your PC. Connect your Windows PC to one of those inputs and each of the two outputs from the Ubuntu machine to the alternate inputs on those screens.

Switching monitors

The only hassle will be switching the monitors from one PC to the other. On the TV, for example, you'll probably have to grab the remote and tell it to change input.

For the monitor that you're using, that's going to depend a lot on the monitor and exactly how it specifies which input it should be paying attention to. As long as that monitor has some way of saying:

  • "Pay attention to the DVI input now..."
  • "OK, now pay attention to the HDMI input..."

...then you're fine.

It's just going to be a bit of a hassle to change each screen. There's no way that I know of that you'll be able to do that from either computer. You'll actually have to do that on the monitor or the TV itself.

Article C5411 - May 31, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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1 Comment
Peter Mackin
June 1, 2012 8:59 PM

Leo, Another option is to install a KVM switch. There are KVM switches that support both DVI and HDMI. The biggest problem is that they are expensive.


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