Finally, three screens!

I’ve been waiting a long time for a desktop system that can handle more than two monitors. (In mid-2008, I got some great suggestions from readers, but none of them were worth the hassle or expense.

Finally, two weeks ago I found an HP Pavilion Elite m9600t at an irresistible price. The i7-920 processor and capability to expand to 12GB of memory were nice, but what sealed the deal was the presence of two PCI-Express x16 slots. The system came with an Nvidia 9600GS display adapter. I cannibalized an Nvidia 8600 GT adapter from a system that I had previously used as a Media Center and, voila! Here’s what I’m now using: two 24-inch LCDs at 1920×1200 and a 23-inch unit at 1920×1080.


I expect my productivity to zoom to unheard-of levels in the next few months.

That fourth DVI connector is looking a little forlorn. Should I pick up a touch-enabled LCD for it?

16 thoughts on “Finally, three screens!

  1. been using 1 28″ and 2 24″ lcd’s, all running at 1920×1200, for a couple years now. thought about adding a 4th but i just don’t see a need.

    have 2 nvidia cards, 9800gt with 1gb and a gts 250, driving them.

  2. Ed, I ask in earnest how this multiple monitor configuration increases productivity? The only possibility that I see is that if all three montiors are facing you and side-by-side. Is this what you are doing? I’d really like to know because I’m thinking of doing this, so that I can research the Internet while using Word or Live Writer on another screen, and use the third to see incoming email, etc.

  3. That’s nice! I have a 24″ at 1920×1200 and 22″ at 1680×1050, and although there are those rare occasions when it’s not enough, I find it fits my needs for the most part, and couldn’t go back to just one.

    Let us know after a few months if you can’t go back to 2 šŸ˜‰

  4. I find 2 screens to be quite optimal right now, please share how/if the 3rd screen is helping after a few weeks šŸ™‚

  5. In Australia we have a term for this … but on a more serious note I get into enough trouble with two! Looking forward to your increased productivity Ed!

  6. Richard, I picked up this system via They are HP’s outlet for refurbished machines, offering typically four or five a day.

    I wound up paying $606 plus shipping for a very nice system.

  7. I remain amazed at how few people run monitors in portrait-mode. Far more productive when you’re working on documents, or reading PDFs. Especially on non-widescreen monitors, which almost exactly match the aspect ratio of an 8.5×11 piece of paper — unfortunately, non-widescreens are getting really hard to find.

  8. Hi Ed –

    I tried 4 panels once but got a crick in my neck – work was done mostly on one monitor or two at the most and given that case, 3 panels are better with the wing monitors setup with Network Monitoring tools, gadget bar and email.


  9. Here’s what I used to add a 3rd screen to some computers at work:

    Not a strong performance device, but it works so well in business applications I’m very pleased. The first two monitors are done with normal dual output video cards.

    My setup is with one 1920×1200 in the middle surrounded by two 1600×1200 screen.

    I can’t STAND 1920×1080 on computers BTW. On a computer, it’s all about screen real-estate. 16×9 just doesn’t work well. I think it stinks that 16×9 is taking over on computers. 16×10 is so much better.

  10. @Narg

    i refuse to buy anything @ 1920×1080. it has to be at least 1920×1200. but it’s 10% more pixels for the 1920×1200 screens, so a lot cheaper to produce.

    in my opinion, anything over 22″ should be at least 1920×1200.

  11. For the past two years I have used the Matrox Triplehead2Go Digital device with three 22″ monitors. This setup has made my flight simulation experience nothing short of amazing. It has also incraesed my productivity by more than 40 % since I can now view and reply to Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo mail messages or combine any variety of Web pages on three separate screens. The link below will explain it all.

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