How to Setup a 3 Monitor Computer

If you’re a trader or in any industry really, you probably have caught wind of the trend of using more than one computer screen with your computer.  This is easier than you think and depending on what you are already using, it’s probably not as expensive as you think.  But the advantage of using a 3-monitor computer is every bit as great as you’ve probably read.   There have been lots of numbers thrown around, but a university in Utah actually did a study and concluded that yes, if you use multiple monitors you will save a lot of time and your productivity will increase.    In this article we’ll discuss what you need to setup a multiple monitor computer, how much it costs and more.

There are several components that you’ll to turn your single monitor computer into a 3-monitor computer.  But first and foremost you’ll need to check out your computer and make sure that it’s powerful enough to handle multiple monitors.  That means you need to look at 3 main things, your processor, your RAM and your graphics card.  Let’s talk a little bit about how you check each of those components.  For this article we’re going to go over Windows 7, but if you’re using an earlier version of Windows or Mac OS, I’ll point you in the right direction as well.   First let’s figure out what processor you’re using.

  1. Click the Windows “Globe” aka, the Start Button
  2. Right Click Computer
  3. Go to Properties

This will give some key information.  First and foremost, it will tell you what addition of Windows 7 you are running, whether you are running 32-bit or 64-bit, but most importantly it will tell you exactly what processor you are using how much RAM you have installed.  To run multiple monitors, especially a 3-monitor computer, you’ll to have at least 4 GBs of RAM and it’s recommended that you have 2.53 GHz processor or faster, although plenty of people are running 3 screens on the older, slower Core2Duo processors.  On a side note, if you’re using the 32-bit operating system, you computer may only recognize about 3.25 GBs of RAM, which is still plenty for setting up three screens.

Next let’s look at your graphics card.  You’ll need a multi-headed graphics card to setup your multiple monitor computer properly.  The good news is that your computer was built within the last few years, and then odds are you already have one of these.  Multi-headed means is that there are multiple outputs on the card, so that you can hook up multiple screens to your computer.  You can determine if your graphics card is multi-headed simply by checking the number of video outputs, either VGA or DVI.  If you don’t have one already, here’s one that I like.  Of course you don’t have to get this one though, there many available and they range in cost from $100-thousands for some of the more advanced cards.  Spending somewhere between $275 and $500 will give you a high quality video card though, powerful enough to handle multiple screens.

On the flip side of things, if you don’t want to install a new graphics card, there are other options available as well. You can buy an adapter for your computer that will give you the same benefits.  One that I like is called the Matrox DualHead2Go.  This adapter will give you an extra 2 monitor outputs.  They also make an adapter that can handle up to 3 additional monitors.  The beauty of these adapters is that require very little know-how and you don’t have to open up your computer to install them.  They are simply plug and play.

You also need to buy the actual extra monitors.  There are a few different types available these days, such as VGA LCD, DVI LCD, VGA and DVI LED and so on and so forth.  Most people are going to go with LCD or LED because of both cost and quality.  Almost no one is still using old CRT VGA monitors though because they are big, bulky and have extremely low quality.  You can by a 3-monitor array here that includes a stand to help line them up horizontally.  The cool thing about an array like this is both from a tidiness perspective and a space perspective this is going to help you conserve.  Another advantage is the ability to speak with a professional before you order, so that you know you’re buying the right thing.

Yet another option, if indeed your computer isn’t up to par is to buy a computer that’s already designed to handle multiple monitors.  There are a few companies out there that make computers designed for multiple monitors.  Here’s one.  You can find them for around $1000, but you will need to purchase your array separately.  The advantage to doing this is that it will allow you to get a computer that is already configured, saving you the trouble of having to do it yourself.  You’ll also know that it’s already up to par with the correct components, meaning there’s less to think about.

Once you’ve purchased your computer, you can setup your multiple monitors within Windows 7 fairly easily.  According to Microsoft, here’s how:

  1. Open Screen Resolution by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, and then, under Appearance and Personalization, clickingAdjust screen resolution.
  2. Click the drop-down list next to Multiple displays, click Extend these displays, and then click OK.

That’s it now you’re all set.  The new monitors should light up with the additional screen space.  You can also control how Windows handles the monitors from here, for example you can tell Windows to duplicate your main desktop, extend your main desktop or other custom configurations.  So depending on what you are trying to accomplish, you can set this up however you would like.

Hopefully you’ve found this article helpful.  Setting up a 3-monitor computer isn’t hard and now you know how!