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Windows is capable of displaying two monitors each at their recommended resolution. Changing the monitor settings may do the trick.

When I connect my 23-inch Samsung monitor with 2048 x 1152 resolution and 32 inch Vizio with 1920 x 1080 resolution to my Asus ATI Radeon graphics card, I get side-by-side monitors that work fine. The only problem is the Samsung now only gets 1920 x 1080. I connect the Samsung with a DVI cord and the Vizio with an HDMI. Both to the same card. I have Windows 7 Home Premium. Is there any way to run side-by-side and still have 2048 x 1152 on the Samsung? Would it take a second graphics card?

In this excerpt from Answercast #49, I look at a computer that is not displaying dual monitors correctly. The setting should be right there in Screen Resolution.

Dual monitors

The short answer is I'm not quite sure.

  • If anything, it's a limitation of the graphics card that you're running right now.

It may not necessarily take a second graphics card if that's the case. It may just take a different graphics card. But before you go down that road, I want to investigate a couple of other options because I actually run this way.

Different resolutions

I have a graphics card that has two outputs and I'm able to set those different outputs to different resolutions if I want to. Windows 7 in particular handles this very, very well.

  • The right thing to do is to right-click on the Desktop, an empty area on the Desktop;

  • And go to Screen Resolution.

There, you will be able to see Windows' concept of how your monitors are set up. It will actually show you a graphical representation of two monitor images next to each other.

  • If you click on one, you can then change the resolution on that monitor.

  • If you click on the other, you can change the resolution on that monitor.

Presumably, the graphics card is exposing the full capabilities of each of the two different connections and Windows will allow you to select the most appropriate resolution for that specific monitor - independent of what the resolution is on the other monitor.

A new graphics card

Now, Windows supports this. So if for some reason that doesn't happen (in other words, both seem to be restricted to the lower of the two maximum resolutions), then my only assumption can be that the graphics card itself is incapable of driving two monitors at the same time at different resolutions.

  • There are absolutely graphics cards that can do that.

A second graphics card

Another approach, as you mentioned, is in fact a second graphics card.

  • Windows will recognize that and it will drive both graphics cards just fine.

So, like I said, try Windows; it may simply work for you if you know how to get into the user interface to make it configure. If not, then one way or another, it does seem to be a limitation of your graphics card and either adding to it or replacing it are probably the most likely ways to resolve the problem.

Article C5768 - September 3, 2012 « »

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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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2 Comments
Bob
September 5, 2012 8:10 AM

Often craphics cards that can support multiple monitors state what resolutions they can support - I know that if I connect multiple monitors to my card, the maximum resolution for at least some of them will be lower than the maximum for a single monitor on it's own.

Lew Nelson
September 7, 2012 10:25 AM

After further study I found the solution. I had selected "Duplicate these Displays thinking I wanted the same icons and taskbar on each display. With this selection I got the lower resolution on each monitor. I switched to the "Extend these Displays" and now have the correct resolution for each monitor. Thank you for your help.

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