New Dell desktop – get a dual monitor?

I just purchased a Dell Vostro 200 desktop. Since I have been used to have dual monitor (laptop + extended monitor) I decided to have the same setting. But it didn’t turn out to be easy. Since I had to spend a lot of hours learning and researching, I want to write this post so you can save some time if you are in the same boat.

First of all, getting dual monitors for your desktop is easy in most cases. There are several ways that you can do it, and the most common ways are:

1. Get ONE video card with multiple ports (VGA, DVI). For those of you who don’t know the term, VGA is blue and DVI is white. You can connect an analog monitor to a VGA port, and digital monitor to DVI port. An adaptor is needed if you decide to connect an analog monitor to DVI.

2. Install 2 video cards.

However, in some cases (like mine), it is harder. Since I ordered a slim tower desktop, it is not easy to find a video card to fit my computer case. As a matter of fact, the video cards sold in the computer stores are not likely to fit. I tried both MicroCenter and Fry’s store and they don’t even carry this type of video cards. And I had a hard time to even explain my case.

Let’s ask my friend Google. One thing about searching these days is that you really need to know your keyword to search Google. For example, I tried searching “small video card”, or “video card for slim tower case”, and only got endless pages or generic online store results. After some research, I finally found their official name: “half height video card”.

However the search on “half height video card” didn’t yield much result. Apparently they are just rare.

Because the size restriction (half height, go figure), a half height card can only have one DVI/VGA port, and one s-video port at most, so the previous option No. 1 is out of the picture. But there is an alternative: use a video card that has DMS-59 port. With the DMS-59 port, you can use a Y-cable to split the signal with dual monitors. Here is an example of the Y-cable: http://www.amazon.com/Molex-DVI-cable-DMS-59-DVI-I/dp/B000BFGXOQ

Besides the option above you can always add a new video card to the system. But just make sure it is”half height” and “low profile” so it can fit the case.

One additional point is that choosing the correct card for your PCI slot. There may be different kind of PCI slots on your motherboard, for example mine has 2 regular PCIs, 1 PCI x1, 1 PIC x16. So getting the right card to fit the right unoccupied slot is another thing to watch for.

A couple of pictures.

I really should get an Apple some day.

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19 Responses to New Dell desktop – get a dual monitor?

  1. Sachin says:

    Hi, did you actually get the splitter to work? I have an HTI Radeon 2400 Pro, Low Profile, and I’m told that a splitter will allow me to use two monitors for an extended desktop. I just haven’t seen much evidence online of this working.

  2. 1.618 says:

    Yes. It works. I got the Y-cable from ebay and it was less than $10. I uploaded a couple of pictures hope that helps.

  3. Ed says:

    Hi, using the splitter, can you have one DVI out and a VGA out, or only 2 DVI outputs? I’m working on a system for my friend, and she has a monitor that is not DVI capable.

  4. 1.618 says:

    Hi Ed, you can always “downgrade” a DVI to a VGA. I actually convert one of my DVI to VGA using an adapter since one of my LCD doesn’t have DVI.

  5. Justin says:

    I have a Vostro Slim Tower 200 as well. My searches have resulted in very vague results/answers. I remember when purchasing my Dell, I had the option of choose the integrated vid card or the 256MB ATI Radeon 2400. Some questions for you:
    1) When you purchased your computer, did you select the integrated vid card or the Radeon 2400?
    2) From the looks of the pictures/your description, you purchased a half height, low profile vid card with DVI output. What specific graphics card are you running with the DVI splitter? Specific model, manufacture, and specs would be great.

    Thanks!

  6. 1.618 says:

    When I purchased my computer I selected the Radeon card (not sure whether it was 2400), hoping it would support dual monitor. And obviously it didn’t.
    I got the new card from dell support. It is “256MB ATI Radeon X1300PRO”, and this information was displayed in ATI’s Catalyst Control Center software. I got the splitter separately on eBay.
    Hope this helps and good luck!

  7. Patrick says:

    Hi there,
    Are you having both monitors on same contents or diff (Extended).
    Like you can have your outlook on one and the other one with something else?

    Thanks!

  8. 1.618 says:

    Hi Patrick,
    The 2nd monitor is used as extended desktop, they are used to display different apps.

  9. Chris says:

    Great post. Thank you so much for this. I have been looking all over for info on how to get dual monitors on my Dell Vostro 200 slim. I have the VGA plug integrated with my hard drive and I just added the Radeon 2400 pro card and it did not work even though a Dell rep told me it would.

    Now they are telling me to get this card:

    http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/products/Gaming_Video_Cards/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&cs=19&sku=A2556607

    The card is a low profile card and actually has both VGA and DVI plugs. Do you think this will work? The Dell rep I spoke to today said it would but I’m still skeptical. The card is a PCI-E card and that is the kind of slot I have open. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

  10. Chris says:

    I’ll answer my own question here…that card will not fit the slim case. After much research it seems like my options are:

    A) Copy your above setup (which means I need to buy a new graphics card and splitter cable)

    B) Buy a low profile card with DVI and HDMI hookups and then use a HDMI to DVI cable. Here is the best graphics card I found for this:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102829

    Very similar solutions. If and when I get this to work, I will make a video to show others exactly how to do it.

  11. Ren says:

    Thanks Chris for sharing your find.
    The second option looks pretty good to me. The card looks nice, and it’s only $55. I spent over $100 on my card. And it was a refurbished one from Dell. If you have a monitor that can take HDMI input it will work great.
    Next time I probably won’t get a slim form PC. It doesn’t really save me a lot of space and the option is just so limited with the PCI-E slots.
    Looking forward to your video and setup.

  12. Ken says:

    hey so if i get a Y cable for my Vostro 200 and plug it into 2 monitor i would get extented desktop?

  13. Corey says:

    I just put a video card into my Slim 200 Vostro and since the computer won’t run both cards at the same time I ordered a splitter to split the DVI cables from the new video card I put in. Problem is that identical picture is coming up on the monitors and I can’t get them to change and drag anything across to the other etc on the view? Any help anyone please?

  14. Chris says:

    OK, I FINALLY got my dual monitors working on my Vostro 200 slim. Extended view and all. It was much simpler than I initially thought. All I needed was this graphics card:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102829

    I found it even cheaper on eBay. The card is a low profile card and it has one DVI hookup and one HDMI hookup shown…what it also has though, is another bracket with a VGA hookup…this is attached via a cord to the card itself. Most pictures online don’t show it attached but it plugs right into the card (mine actually came already attached)

    So you will end up with two slots stacked on top of each other (one with a DVI hookup and the other with a VGA hookup) – Just plug your monitors in, install your drivers, and change your display properties to dual monitor extended view…and voila, you have your dual monitor setup.

    I thought I would need to use the HDMI plug but I didn’t have to. I hope this helps! I will make a video of the setup and post a link to it here soon.

  15. Ronald says:

    So basically, what I can gather from this (and other sites) is that the Radeon 2400 as supplied in my Optiplex 755 will not give me an extended display in spite of the user manual explicitly stating it wil, using the supplied DVI-I to VGA-DVI-D splitter cable…

    I’ve tried everything, and I know the splitter cable is not faulty because when I unplug the DVI part, the initial boot screen shows on the VGA monitor – but as the machine continues to load, it goes blank (in contrast, when both are connected, the boot screen is ONLY on the DVI monitor)

    So basically, Dell lie when they show this is supposed to run two monitors/extended desktop.

    I had initially been running a second graphics card but ran out of available slots when I installed a second Ethernet card (long story), so it’s back to the drawing board….

    I CAN get an Ethernet card that will fit the short PCI slot and re-install the old graphics card, but I think I will instead invest in a much better graphics card, with multiple outputs…

    Oh, the joys of computers…..

  16. Oz says:

    I purchased a second monitor for my Vostro 200. I found my mini tower to only have one hook up for one monitor. I contacted Dell and I was told to purchase a “Graphics Card” and install it. I priced cards with three different vendors (Best Buy, Radio Shack, and with a refurbishing computer store) Prices ranged from $55.99 to $299.00 depending if you wanted to do gaming. I inquired if a Y splitter would work and I was told that it would. I was also told that the splitter would only give me a mirror image on both monitors and it would not extende to have separate documents visible. Come on guys/gals…how diffult is it to get two monitors working with extended view? What is the correct part to purchase? Does anyone know?

  17. Les says:

    So, if I already have the video card installed (factory), then I just need a splitter? I had two monitors working that were different sizes. I just replaced both monitors with the same size monitor (and brand) and now I can only get one monitor to work. My previous configuration was that one monitor was in the VGA port, and the other was in the DVI port. I did the same configuration with my new monitors but the computer DOES NOT like it, and will only allow one monitor work. Thanks for any suggestions!

  18. Dell Desktop says:

    Absolutely get a dual monitor. I have a 15.6 in screen with great resolution, and even at that find myself needing another monitor. I got one for Christmas, and it works great!

  19. Keny says:

    One question: with this output DMS-59, I can have the extended computer monitors or both will look the same, because also I have a Y cable that pulls me two VGA and I have an extended monitor for one for my monitor and another for a TV, they say is possible, if the software recognizes the two screens or just one??? Please answer I need acesoria on this topic. Greetings from Colombia

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