Increase Your Workspace with Multiple Monitors

SAN FRANCISCO (06/23/2000) - People say a PC never has too much memory or processing power. Windows 98 users can add display space to that list. If you don't mind the cost and the configuration hassles, you can add up to nine monitors with Win 98. Certainly, anyone who continually jumps from browser to e-mail to spreadsheets to databases to other applications will find adding at least one extra screen a boon to productivity.

Adding a second monitor requires four things: a spare monitor, an open PCI expansion slot, and two graphics cards backed with drivers that support Windows 98's multiple-monitor capability. The monitor and open PCI slot need no setup, but finding and configuring your graphics cards can take some time and energy.

Both your current graphics card and the one you add must use a chip set and driver that support the Win 98 multiple-monitor feature. Microsoft Corp. maintains a list of compatible cards, chips, and drivers in its Knowledge Base (search.Support.Microsoft.Com/kb/c.Asp). The list you want is either in Windows 98 Display.Txt File or in Windows 98 Second Edition Display.Txt File. Select Windows 98 or Windows 98 Second Edition from the 'My search is about' menu, and then enter the keyword display.Txt under 'My question is' to find links to the list you need.

For the name and version of your graphics card's installed driver, right-click My Computer, click Properties, select the Device Manager tab, double-click Display adapters, double-click the adapter name that appears, choose the Driver tab, and click the Driver File Details button.

If your installed graphics card--or your second card--isn't on the list, don't fret. Some newer cards that support multiple monitors aren't yet on the list.

Check with the cards' manufacturers. Older or less-popular graphics cards not on the list may work if you install the right driver.

Installing the Microsoft drivers included on the Windows 98 CD is wisest. When you're ready to connect your second card, let the Windows 98 Add New Hardware wizard select and install the driver. If it can't find a Microsoft driver, consider installing one from the display.Txt list that works with your card's graphics chip.

If while installing any device driver Windows says it can't find a needed file on the Windows CD that you know is there, your Registry source path may have been corrupted by another software program. Click Browse and point Windows to the the Windows CD's drivers/display folder.

It's In The Cards

Another configuration concern is which graphics card is labeled as the primary one. If your PC sees only one graphics card when it starts, it uses that card, no questions asked. But if it finds multiple cards installed, your PC's BIOS designates the one that was installed first as the primary graphics card--and uses it to boot up--while designating the other as the secondary card.

You may expect the card you already use to be the primary card and the card you add to be the secondary card. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen in systems with AGP slots. The BIOS on many AGP motherboards installs a PCI card before an AGP card. If you currently use an AGP graphics card and want to install a secondary PCI card, you may have to use your AGP card as the secondary card.

To determine which card your AGP system will use as the primary one, install your second graphics card and reboot your system. (Always ground yourself--by touching the metal chassis with the PC plugged in--before working inside your PC. Then unplug the system and go to work.) As your system starts, the screen will announce which card it uses to boot; that's your primary card.

If the primary card isn't your AGP card, check your PC's CMOS setup program.

Some recent BIOS versions let you select the primary graphics card manually. Or your PC's manufacturer may offer a BIOS update that adds this functionality.

If your PC still won't let you make your AGP card the primary card, its time to capitulate and reinstall it as the secondary card from the outset. But first, you'll have to uninstall it. Make sure you select its Device Manager entry and click the Remove button to delete its listing before turning off the PC and physically removing the card. Then boot your PC and let it set up the PCI card as the primary graphics card. Next, shut down the PC, reinstall your AGP card, boot the PC, and let it set up the AGP card as the secondary card.

The same ideas apply if you have two PCI cards. The PC's BIOS will assign primary and secondary status to specific PCI slots, with primary status typically going to Slot 1. Of course, being able to put any card in any PCI slot is a clear advantage. Check your system documentation to find which PCI slot is Slot 1 on your PC.

Plug And Chug

Make sure the second monitor is attached when you install your second graphics card. If Windows recognizes and installs it, you'll see a prompt to restart your PC. When you do so--if the configuration is going properly--your second monitor will display: 'If you can see this message, Windows has successfully enabled your display adapter.'

After Windows reloads, Device Manager should list both cards. A yellow circle under Display in Device Manager means trouble. Double-click the listing and check the 'Device status' box on the General tab.

Right-click the Windows Desktop, and select Properties to open the Display Properties box. If all is well, the Settings tab will show two monitors, labeled 1 and 2. When you click on the second monitor, Windows will ask you if you want to enable that monitor.

Now you can set the resolution and color depth for the second monitor. You can also adjust the relative position of the two monitors by dragging one of the monitor pictures above, below, or to one side of the other. For optimum software compatibility, however, place the second monitor to the right of the first. Click the Apply button, and your second monitor should display your new desktop.

Any Port In A Storm

The 2GB hard disk on my year-old Pentium III system is nearly full. I'd like to install another 2GB drive that currently sits in an unused PC. I've been told that since my system came with DVD and CD-RW drives built in, I don't have room for another EIDE-based drive, so I must buy and install a SCSI adapter card and a new SCSI drive. Does this sound right?

Robert Stevenson, Savannah, Georgia

No, it doesn't sound right. Most motherboards support four EIDE devices. You only mentioned three EIDE devices in your system. So even if you have a Zip drive or some other EIDE device installed on your PC, you should be able to add that extra hard drive at minimal expense.

Most motherboards carry two built-in EIDE channels, each with its own connector on the motherboard. The connectors are located adjacent to each other and are easy to find. Just pop the cover off your PC and trace your current hard drive cable back to its motherboard connector.

Each channel supports two devices. Some cheap PCs use EIDE cables that have a single device connector. Because your PC came with three EIDE drives, at least one of your cables has two device connectors: one at the end and one near the middle. If the other cable lacks a middle device connector, you must replace it with an EIDE cable that has two device connectors. Either way, you'll wind up with one free connector for your drive. The only other system requirement is a free bay where you'll mount the new drive. (A configuration note: Put both hard drives on one cable and the DVD and CD-RW drives on the other cable so your hard disks will move data at peak speed.)If you have a fourth EIDE device connected to your system, you can still attach your old drive if you have a free expansion slot. An EIDE expansion card such as the ULTRA ATA/66 PCI BIOS card from Promise Technology will add the extra EIDE ports you need for about $40.

Send your questions and tips to kirk_steers@pcworld.Com. We pay $50 for published items. Kirk Steers is a PC World contributing editor.

Avoid False Starts

Some CD-ROMs launch a program automatically when you load them. If you often use one of these--the Windows CD-ROM, for example--to get data, you have to wait for the program to start and then close it. To avoid this, hold down the key as you insert the CD-ROM. Another option is to open Device Manager (to find its tab, hold down and double-click My Computer), double-click CDROM, double-click the drive name, click the Settings tab, and uncheck the Auto insert notification box.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

More about MicrosoftPromise Technology

Show Comments