What is a Dual Monitor Video Card?

G. Wiesen

A dual monitor video card is a graphical input device that allows more than one monitor to be connected to a single computer. It is typically a specialized form of video card, or graphics card, that is installed inside the computer tower to the motherboard. A dual monitor video card will typically work with a computer’s operating system (OS) and other programs to allow enhanced usage and features across multiple monitors. This often includes an expanded desktop across monitors, different windows and features across the two monitors, and interactivity between the monitors.

An SVGA cable connects the second monitor to the computer with the video card.
An SVGA cable connects the second monitor to the computer with the video card.

The basic set up of a dual monitor video card system will usually involve a single computer, with one graphics card, and two or more monitors connected to that machine. While the name tends to indicate a video card that can allow two monitors, there are also devices that can allow six or more monitors. In the past, this type of setup was often used to create a system where multiple screens would display the same image, creating “clones” of each other and often utilized for presentations and displays across different monitors. A dual monitor video card can now be used to create different images on each screen, to allow for unique features and options for users.

A video card is part of the standard computer configuration, and almost all computers have video cards built into the motherboard.
A video card is part of the standard computer configuration, and almost all computers have video cards built into the motherboard.

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There are a number of different types of applications that can take advantage of a dual monitor video card, including basic OS operations and specialized software such as financial programs and programming software. When used with a computer’s OS, the video card can allow the basic desktop to be expanded across the two monitors. This means that when moving a mouse to one side of one of the monitors, it will disappear then appear at the side of the other monitor, as though they were a single screen with no separation. A user can thereby work on two monitors simultaneously, allowing two applications to run in “full screen” on each monitor.

The applications do not usually run in true full screen with a dual monitor video card setup, as the system recognizes both monitors as a single screen. The window or program would then stretch between both monitors. Instead of true full screen, the system is run with each application windowed but displayed to basically fill the screen.

This use of a dual monitor video card can allow someone to run an application on one screen while monitoring financial information on the other. A user could also write code for programming on one screen, while running debugging routines on the other. Some computer games can even allow a player to use two screens, displaying the game field on one screen, and other pertinent information such as maps, players, or virtual inventory on the other.

The basic setup of a dual monitor video card system usually involves a single computer.
The basic setup of a dual monitor video card system usually involves a single computer.

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