Dual Monitor

While my last few video cards have been perfectly capable of supporting multiple monitors, I’ve not bothered to hook a second monitor up to any of them.

That is mostly because I don’t have a second monitor lying around to hook up.  My main monitor is still the same 1600×1200 Dell unit I have been using for more than a dozen years now.  It certainly wasn’t very new when I posted a picture of it as part of a post back in 2007.

The table is unusually clear in this picture, but most everything is the same a decade later

A new monitor is on my wish list, but the combination of price for what I would want, uncertainty over what to get, and the fact that my old monitor is still chugging along without issue has kept me from pulling the trigger on a new one.  And, of course, we always have other things to spend money on.

However, a second monitor has become available of late.  At work our office moved annoyingly far from home.  My commute, which was once five miles over surface streets, is now 20 miles over a mountain highway that has to close any time we get a hard rain because the mountain decides to roll onto the road.

To help with that the company gave me a dock for my laptop and a monitor to hook up to it to give me a little more screen area.  It is a crap monitor.  You can tell what your company thinks of you by the equipment they give you.  This is a 1600×900 monitor in an age when full HD 1920×1080 monitors are dirt cheap.  Not exec at our HQ would put up with this for a moment, but somebody not in management in a satellite office a couple thousand miles away gets their choice of leftovers in a closet.  It is basically my old monitor with 25% of the vertical cut off.  But it is still bigger than the laptop monitor, so it is better than nothing, which was the alternative.

When not using it for work I found that I could plug it in to my current nVidia GeForce GTX 960 video card just fine.  Most of what I play at home doesn’t really benefit that much from the second monitor.  I generally play games full screen and the second monitor sitting there tends to be distracting.

But for EVE Online and multi-boxing it is quite the boon.

I have multi-boxed with a single monitor on fleets before, alt-tabbing between clients.  For a travel op or when the enemy doesn’t show up, that works.  But when it is time for combat I tend to forget the client in the background for long stretches, only to find that account is sitting in its pod in a station having been blown up while I was busy elsewhere.

But with the second monitor hooked up and a client running on it I seem to be able to keep track of both and at least keep them alive.

Two clients running… same desk, keyboard, etc.

It can still be a challenge in combat to keep both clients active.  We were in a fight a couple of weeks back and my main was in the DPS ship for the doctrine while my alt was target painting (which improves damage application) and in comparing the kill mails after the fight, there was quite a bit of variation as to which targets got hit.  The alt was on a lot more kill mails as well, due to locking and activating faster (and splitting two painters).

My daughter, walking in while I was playing was taken aback at the sight of two monitors.  She has a 27″ iMac and has all the video real estate she needs for drawing and games, even if it won’t play Overwatch.  She wanted to know how two monitors on one computer would even work.  I had to show her the cursor moving between the monitors and clicking to change focus before she got it.

Anyway, I have that going for me.  I just have to pick the right fleet roles.  Two clients that both have to actively target is a bit of a chore.  But scouting or fleet boosting might be a role complimentary to DPS or logi.

11 thoughts on “Dual Monitor

  1. Faeldray

    I’ve had two monitors for a while now and although I don’t generally multibox games (Wurm Online is the exception), I find the second monitor very useful for reading wikis, watching chat programs, or even watching videos while I play. I don’t know if I’d be able to go back to just a single monitor now.

    I also have my work laptop hooked up to one of the screens in a different input from my main computer so I can easily switch between the two as needed. It saves from having to dig around in cables all the time.


  2. Bhagpuss

    I’ve had video cards with two outputs for years and our house is full of unused monitors because I never throw anything away but there’s one thing I don’t have: space. My gaming room is the smallest of what used to be our bedrooms. It’s about 7′ x 9′ at a guess. I have a very small, very cheap desk that’s about 2″ wider than my monitor and there’s nowhere I can really put another one, at least not if I hoped to see it.

    I have considered wall-hanging a second monitor and now that all three children have long left home we have plenty of larger rooms I could use but I’m used to this one and it’s cosy. I’m also not entirely sure what I’d use a second monitor for. I tab out a lot, it’s true, but when I do I concentrate on what I’ve tabbed out to so I don’t need to see the gaming screen. I haven’t dual-boxed since the Freeport days and I don’t really want to start.

    Still, I might try it one day. When we move, maybe.


  3. Shintar

    Welcome to the club! I got introduced to using two screens through work and I find it very hard to go back now…

    It’s also funny how your story of how you got your second monitor is quite similar to my own. In my case an office move to somewhere further away was also to blame… except that I got the monitor from the old office inventory because they were throwing lots of stuff out and people were welcome to take whatever they could carry off. (1440×900 FYI… but that’s good enough to browse the web on the side while having a game up on my main screen.)


  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    My daughter feels that I did not sufficiently express her amazement at the cursor magically jumping to the other monitor and now makes a “zwoop” sound when she sees it happen.

    I’ve actually had two monitors in the past… back in the early 90s on a Mac… but as noted, I found it distracting.

    And there is a hardware progression through our house. While my daughter has that shiny 27″ iMac, my previous monitor is on my wife’s computer, a 1280×1024 Samsung from about 2002. That replaced the 1024×768 LCD monitor she had previously. Before that we’re in the CRT zone, and the less said about that the better.


  5. evehermit

    The biggest single productivity update I have ever had with my PC technology was moving to dual screens. The second was moving to SSD’s. The third was moving to quad screens. I currently run 2x4K and 2xFHD screens, and have no problems utilising them all. Still – even if you are a technological heathen, you do redeem yourself through your volume of gaming and blog posts. I will try to pretend I did not read this post.


  6. Jeromai

    Like Faeldray, I find a dual monitor setup invaluable for wiki reading, video watching and blog browsing while “playing” an MMO in the main screen. There are some activities for which only half your attention is needed, and doing both together makes it feel more productive overall.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Shirrath Gao (@Shirrath)

    I’m using 3x 4k monitors. My graphics card doesn’t quite have enough memory to run three Eve clients at the same time, though. Two is fine, but I don’t have full faith in my multitasking to run multiple characters in different roles without time dilation. Capital ships are a bit easier, but managing fighters and FAX capacitor could still get tricky.

    While I do run plenty of desktop apps, browsers and IDEs for my day job, the screens only get a run for their money when I’m aggressively wasting time. A game in one screen, a video in second and an assortment of chat clients and browser tabs in the third.


  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    The amusing thing will be in July 2018 when I do the month in review and link back to this post because the most likely comment I will have the is that I am still using the same damn monitor.

    Liked by 1 person

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