You are visiting the High Monkey blog archive. Posts prior to 2016 may not meet accessibility standards. Please visit our current blog area at to view accessibility compliant blog posts published since January 1, 2016.

Stupid Usability #98

Trouble with Triple Monitor Setup

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 4/27/2015

From the mind of Aaron Kronberger, Consultant at High Monkey:

For the most part, my computer tasks at home can be accomplished using one monitor accompanied by some minimizing and maximizing of windows as needed. But sometimes I just need to write a little code with Spotify and a separate browser window open at the same time. In all seriousness, having a triple monitor setup would be fantastic if and when I ever started writing and recording my fourth music album. So after seeing a couple Dell 24" IPS 1080p monitors on sale for $95 each, my Acer monitor got two new twin brothers.

Now, if you've ever setup a single or even dual monitors using the Windows "Screen Resolution" menu, it's generally a pleasant experience, and one that doesn't typically require any special connections or cable setup. However, with my graphics card -- an AMD 6870 circa 2010 and probably other AMD cards, if you want to run three monitors or a special type of display mode called "Eyefinity" with three or more monitors, I learned the hard way that only particular cabling setups will work. (Eyefinity is a special display mode by AMD where Windows is basically tricked into thinking your multiple displays are actually just one larger one, and is mostly used for gaming)

For reference, here is the back of my AMD 6870 Graphics Card in my Desktop Computer:

Notice the abundance of ports including an HDMI, two DVIs and two Mini-DisplayPort. Wow, thanks for the options AMD! I initially setup the three monitors using the two DVI and an HDMI cables that I already had and lo-and-behold the third monitor didn't work. "Great" I thought to myself after just getting home and carrying the monitors up to my third floor apartment. So I spend the next 45 minutes checking and rechecking cables and software configurations. Everything looks good!

If you're anything like me, you may think that for 1080p video a port is a port is a port. Not in this situation. Apparently, with three or more monitors, at least one needs to be connected via DisplayPort. I certainly don’t have any 6 foot mini-DisplayPort cables, so back to the store I go for a mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable.

Is it too much to ask to be able to use any three of the available ports? I assume it’s a technical limitation of the graphics card as I see no reason it would be the case due to software. Between troubleshooting and running back to the store, my fun little purchase turned into a minor annoyance.

At least now I can watch cat videos on YouTube while browsing cat memes on reddit and still pretending to get something done.

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 4/27/2015 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments