Yet even more lovely tech questions

OK, so, I’ve now got my lovely new monitors. And also my lovely new – to me – computers. Some HP boxes.

Cool, so I’ve now got two HP boxes and four monitors. The aim is to have two m to one b. I want to be able to have different images on the screens. OK, I know Windows (10 on these boxes) does that.

Hmm, so, there are a couple of, I guess, ways this can be done. One wide from the hdmi port to a monitor, another from the VGA to the other. That have a chance of working?

Or, a splitter I guess. But looking at Amazon I see lots of so called VGA splitters which do not, in fact, offer two different screens. You just get to repeat the same screen. Which isn’t what is wanted.

So, – and do this by actually showing me the page which has the piece of kit on it on Amazon.,co,uk – what is the kit necessary to have two different screens off the one box?

No, don’t tell me about hdmi splitters because the two old screens, which will the juniors in each set up, don’t have hdmi slots.

So, it’s either I can use both the hdmi and the VGA outputs off the one box. Or a VGA splitter. And if the second, which type do I need?

28 thoughts on “Yet even more lovely tech questions”

  1. >Hmm, so, there are a couple of, I guess, ways this can be done. One wide from the hdmi port to a monitor, another from the VGA to the other. That have a chance of working?

    Yep, that’s pretty much it. You need as many video outputs as you have monitors, you’ll need to look at the back of your PC and count them, most PCs will have at least one VGA and at least one HDMI port. You might have DVI ports or mini HDMI ports which can be used with an adapter if you need to. Just plug both monitors into the PC (with adapters if needed) and Windows should know immediately.

    If you don’t have enough video outputs, you may need to buy another graphics card which has as many outputs as you need, but you probably don’t. Dell, HP, and the like usually include an HDMI and VGA port since they are the most common.

  2. Your first choice should be to avoid VGA if at all possible. So work from the HDMI first.

    Dumb splitters will most likely just repeat the input signal to multiple outputs, so not what you want.

    You can get KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switches that allow you to use multiple monitors per box, and multiplex that to multiple boxes. It sounds like that is massive overkill for what you need 🙂

    Hopefully, the computers will have multiple video outputs. ie one HDMI and one VGA. It should be as simple as plugging your main monitor into the HDMI and your secondary, backup, monitor into the VGA port.

    There might be some fiddling with Windows video setup to do, but someone else will have to walk you through that.

  3. First, congrats on getting a modern computer 🙂

    Second, you will *want* to have multiple HDMI (or mini display port, or Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 2) connectors.

    You do not want to use VGA. Ever.

    IF you have a Thunderbolt 3 port, you can connect several monitors to it (and external disks, and,…) You will need to see if the monitors accept TB connections. If they do, then you can ‘daisy-chain’ them with extra TB cables

    If you don’t know owt about ThunderBolt, no problem. It’s recent (in PCs, though long there for Macs). Read the PC manual. It’s very very easy to use. If you have TB, plugging in cables should be all that’s required.

    You may have a display port or mini display port connector. If you do, this probably works in parallel with HDMI. Read the manual. There are mini display port to HDMI adapters and cables, and the same for display port.

    If you have just one HDMI and no TB and no display port (mini or big), then you will want to buy a new video card. Unless you’re doing all-out gaming, it’s likely that an el-cheapo one will do.

    Best o’luck!

  4. I’ll second BiW’s avoid VGA if you can. It’s old school analogue, you want to be using digital video for everything. Modern machines will often have 1+ HDMI and 1+ DisplayPort (DP). You want those to go to your monitors. HDMI and DP are pretty much interconvertible, you can get HDMI -> DP and DP -> HDMI cables. (I’ve got a complete mix of everything and use converter cables all the time.) The one thing to be aware of is that there are multiple HDMI standards, with later standards handling higher resolutions and faster frame rates. When buying new HDMI cables try to get HDMI 2.0. For DisplayPort just don’t buy DP 1.0, 1.2 is sufficient unless you’re going for 8K monitors. (I find Amazon Basics cables are good if they do the sort you want.)

    If your machines are very new you may even have USB-C/Thunderbolt connectors. You can daisy chain multiple monitors on those.

  5. Why the VGA hatred chaps? I ran a desktop with dual monitors – one HDMI, one VGA, both from the built-in graphics card – for many years. Couldn’t tell the difference in image quality. Yes it’s possible to get noise on an analogue cable, but that’s only a problem if it’s a problem.

    I am also obliged to direct your attention to the age of the user’s eyes…

  6. Tim said ‘ two old screens without hdmi’. I’m assuming they are VGA only – not even DVI – in which case the connection is straightforward – HDMI to HDMI and VGA to VGA. Let’s hope W10 recognises both and the display control menu on W10 should allow you to position them – side-by-side or even top and bottom:)

  7. It would be easy to assist if you gave the model numbers of your monitors and computers. Then it would be easy enough to see what combination of HDMI cables and/or DVI cables and/or USB-C cables you may or may not require.

    As everyone else says; no VGA please.

  8. You can get KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switches that allow you to use multiple monitors per box, and multiplex that to multiple boxes. It sounds like that is massive overkill for what you need

    I would say avoid KVM switches.
    I have to deal with them all day. Always freezing, not switching (if you need it to switch), laggy input, and occasionally just go poof and stop working, if they start up properly at all.

    But that’s just my experience with them. Others’ mileage may vary.

  9. Chernyy D

    I have had a different experience with the things:

    My desk used to have nearby a Mac (main work machine), another Mac running native Linux (no MacOS at all), a Raspberry Pi. I bought a KVM so I could directly access the Linux machine and the Pi without faffing. It was a 4-port KVM (USB keyboard and 4K HDMI) so I could also grab a recalcitrant Mac (one I couldn’t access via screen sharing) to find out and fix the stupidity).

    The Linux and Pi were there so I could build and run idiot software developed on the Mac in platform-portable manner.

    This all worked very well indeed. Not using the KVM at the moment because I foolishly rewrote the most recent software and it still needs more repairs before it runs on the Mac, so no need to worry about porting..

    The KVM always worked no problem. FWIW it’s a “PWay 4K HDMI USB KVM Switch 4×1”

    Having success with one at home doesn’t mean they work well deployed in force at work.

  10. @BlokeinTejas

    We have two pcs displayed on a single screen, of which there are two . One is screen is on the machine, the other at a remote station. Keyboard and mouse at both sites. About 30m apart. So you can access both pcs at both sites, but only one at a time.
    It involves switchers, extenders, and signal boosters.
    Something always going wrong. Usually requiring one or more bits of it to be cycled.
    Would have been easier just to have second screen/keyboard at both ends and run them as separate computers.

    PS. I didn’t design it this way, that was someone else’s genius idea. I just have to keep it working…

  11. Long time lurker here.

    One thing that will make all of this hella easy is to add a hub/docking station into the mix. The Dell ones are very good. You can then hook the monitors into the hub; there will be available ports for HDMI, USB, USB-C, Displayport, and – yes – even VGA. You might need some adapters from the old monitors as the USB ports will be more plentiful than VGA. If they don’t have an old VGA slot then use the cable adapters as suggested by others.

    The computer has to have sufficiently powerful graphics card to drive 4 screens but I doubt that’s a push as my laptop can certainly do 3 (including the laptop screen itself).

    Then in Windows 10 it’s just a case of right click on desktop > Display > Multiple displays > extend these displays – turns the 4 screens into effectively one giant one and you set the “layout” using “Rearrange your displays” at the top.

    If you’re talking about 2 separate computers, each running dual monitors, then repeat as above – just need 2 hubs instead of 1.

  12. Can’t see what problem with VGA is. I’ve a similar set up to what Tim has. Two monitors with VGA inputs, one fed through a Video Port converter. But my set up’s for work, not playing computer games or watching pr0n. 4:3 screens because they’re a far superior format for displaying text which is mostly A series paper layout.
    For dual machines, I used to run Synergy. So you only need the one K/B & mouse for both

  13. Theophrastus (2066)

    “But my set up’s for work, not playing computer games or watching pr0n.”

    So pimping doesn’t involve watching pr0n?

  14. HDMI to HDMI and VGA to VGA will do you just fine Tim. Plug it all in and head to Windows 10 display settings where you can set whether you want the screens duplicated (you don’t) or extended (pick this one). Apply that then click the ‘Identify’ button to figure out which screen is which and drag them into the appropriate arrangement, left/right and up/down.

    You may notice a slight difference in colour representation between the two screens which will be a combination of different monitor models and connecting one digitally and the other analogue. You will probably need to be looking for it though; in day to day use it’s fine.

  15. Not sure if this is the sort of thing that you’re wanting to do, but you could run the 4 monitors off the one computer (with 4 distinct displays) .
    You need a gfx card with multiple outputs such as;

    If you have the added complication of VGA only inputs on two of the monitors then you can also get hdmi to vga adaptors such as this;

  16. To set up multiple monitors in windows;

    VGA monitors are perfectly ok to use , however you may have issues getting them detected and set up in windows.

    Modern monitors with a digital interface (hdmi/dvi/displayport) speak back to the gfx card and let it know what resolution/capabilities it has. Which means that setting them up should be more or less automatic.

    With a dumb VGA (analogue) display they will not be detected automatically and will have to be set up manually.

  17. I would just (assuming these are regular boxes) get a gfx card with 2 outputs rather than pissing about with splitters or other outside stuff.

  18. HP Boxes – that is your solution to low blood pressure for the next few years. Attach an HP printer and early onset apoplexy is ensured.

  19. Is it naughty for arts graduates to be amused at the technical lacunae of their self-satisfied STEM counterparts?

  20. “… however you may have issues getting them detected and set up in windows.”

    Ah-haaaaaaaaah. Is that the reason for all the anti-VGA sentiment? I couldn’t make head nor tail of it – it’s always worked for me – but I wasn’t taking the Windows factor into account.

  21. Ah-haaaaaaaaah. Is that the reason for all the anti-VGA sentiment?

    That, and it generally being a lot fuzzier.

  22. “generally being a lot fuzzier.”

    That’s what I thought until I scored a free monitor that (surprisingly, given its age) only has VGA-in. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between it and my main one. In sharpness, at least; the panel’s viewing angle is terrible. But that’s not VGA’s fault.

    Point is, if there is any difference beyond the purely theoretical, it’s hardly comparable to that between, say, composite video and VGA itself.

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