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Can a 2nd monitor hurt a computer's performance?


galvin

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Not sure if anyone knows this, but there are a bunch of smart people on this site so I figured it's the best place to ask (a Google search didn't turn up much)...

 

Main question:  Can setting up a 2nd monitor on a computer hurt the computer's performance?

 

I ask because I have a Dell Inspiron 530 with only 2GB of RAM and I installed the Adobe Master Collection (a very resource-consuming software, as I'm sure most of you know) about a month ago.  Everything was fine for the first month (i.e. I could have Photoshop and Illustrator open at the same time and sometimes I would get that "Virtual Memory is low" message, but I would still be able to keep working.)

 

Then I installed a 2nd monitor on my computer the other day and the last two times I have used Photoshop and Illustrator at the same time, my computer would go to a black screen, then come back to life for about a second, and then back to a black screen again (and does this a few times, like a slow motion blink) and then it would eventually go to a blue screen of death. The blue screen would only be up for about two seconds and the most I could read from it was I think "Windows has detected a problem with your computer and will shut down..." and then the computer shuts down by itself.

 

I start back up in Safe Mode and then restart in regular mode and everything seems normal again, until I start using multiple programs again, and then same thing happens.

 

I'm worried permanent damage will be done if my computer keeps shutting down automatically like this (not to mention me possibly losing precious unsaved work).

 

Anyway, if anyone knows for sure that the 2nd monitor can definitely hurt performance, let me know and I think I will just uninstall the 2nd monitor and go back to just one (until I get a more powerful computer at least)

 

Let me know any thoughts anyone has.

 

Thanks in advance,

Greg

 

 

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Let's go back to the last known issue you had, which was the "virtual memory low" error.  This is not a good error to have, as it indicates 2 things:

 

1. You were close to running out of virtual memory, which means that programs were going to crash due to out of memory errors.

2. You have so little usable ram that your system is swapping running programs to disk.

 

First off, you should look over your settings.  How much virtual memory do you have configured? 

 

Second, 2 gig is half of what you could have with a 32 bit machine, and these days, especially if the machine is old, you might be able to double the available memory for little to no money, be either adding new memory chips or completely replacing the ones you have with higher density chips. 

 

Photoshop in particular will use a variable amount of memory from the heap, depending on the size and bit depth fo the images you are working with.  It is quite easy for you to exhaust memory simply by opening a number of large images.  Just because you got illustrator and photoshop open once, doesn't mean you'll not have problems once you actually start to do work.

 

Of course you could have other issues, and this could be exacerbated by the fact that you're using two monitors, although a good deal of that would be related to the video cards themselves.  One known issue with 32 bit machines is that they take can take a bite out of the total avilable memory of 4gb, but in this case you already have stated you don't have 4gb to work with.

 

 

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I ask because I have a Dell Inspiron 530

 

You can buy it wherever, but you need to reference the technical sheet for that model and make sure you buy compatible memory.

 

If you've never installed / upgraded hardware, then it can be a scary task.  One static electric shock in the wrong place and you can ruin your system.  If that's a major concern for you, consider having someone experienced install it for you.

 

The first upgrade I ever performed was when I was 16.  I upgraded an NEC computer from 16MB of RAM to 48MB and just about shit myself in the process thinking of what my father would do if I fried the $2,000 family computer.  :)

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I think I'll start by getting some extra RAM, since I was thinking of doing that anyway.  Maybe that will solve the problems.  Where do I get more RAM?  Someplace like Staples? Or should I order it online?

 

It depends what country your in, In Canada, I order my parts from Tigerdirect.ca , in the U.S you can order from NewEgg.com or Tigerdirect.com . RAM is really cheap. 800 Mhz DDR2 1GB can be bought for $20 Canadian here, thats like probably 18 US dollars.

 

The funny thing is 32 bit windows actually only recognizes like 3.2, (maby thats why it called 32 bit.). I think the other .8 of it is ignored by the computer....

 

Make sure you get the right ram though, there is several types, but you probably want DDR2, 800 MHz.

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Some of it is grabbed by the OS and there is some address mapping that occurs between the RAM addresses at the high end and hardware.

 

Although I'm not sure why .8GB seems to be the consistent number that is missing.  Windows has very poor memory management anyways.

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I would like to give another warning, when your buying pc parts really really make sure you get the right parts. Else you might end up buying a whole pc, buying computer parts is really fun,  you might get carried away. This is what happened to me, when I wanted to upgrade my CPU to a Phenom Quad core, my motherboard didn't accept AM2+ socket chips. So then I bought a motherboard, and then.. ended up buying a new case, power supply, harddrive, fans.. I ended up with this. when I just wanted a new cpu for my old computer.  :happy-04:

 

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Most of y'all probably know, but in case anyone is curious, the whole 32 bit thing is why there's a 4GB maximum.  (2^32 = 4GB)

 

Then from that any addressed memory is subtracted.  512MB in the video card?  Subtract that.  32MB in the audio card?  Subtract that.  So on.

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One static electric shock in the wrong place and you can ruin your system.

That's why you're supposed to use an ESD mat (Although, I doubt someone one buy one just for a single use), or at very least ground yourself to the machine by touching the power supply.

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I think I'll start by getting some extra RAM, since I was thinking of doing that anyway.  Maybe that will solve the problems.  Where do I get more RAM?  Someplace like Staples? Or should I order it online?

 

The advice the other people gave is good advice.  You have to identify what type of chips go into your machine.  There are a lot of 3rd party memory companies like Kingston that basically sell memory chips, and they usually have a system that lets you put in the make and model number of your computer, and will identify what goes into it.  I'd take a look at Crucial, Kingston and Newegg.  Although Newegg isn't a memory company specifically it often has good pricing.

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Adding a second monitor will put more strain on the GPU, as previously stated above. I guess if you have a low-end GPU it might hand some of the processing off to the CPU, but I'm not sure about that.

 

I have three monitors over two 9600GTs, the one running a single monitor is sitting at 37c at a speed of 450/750MHz (NV Clock / Mem Clock). The one running two monitors is sitting at 46c at a speed of 650/900MHz. These cards have two performance levels and switch when they need it. I'm guessing it's a power saving feature or something.

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Adding a second monitor will put more strain on the GPU, as previously stated above. I guess if you have a low-end GPU it might hand some of the processing off to the CPU, but I'm not sure about that.

 

I have three monitors over two 9600GTs, the one running a single monitor is sitting at 37c at a speed of 450/750MHz (NV Clock / Mem Clock). The one running two monitors is sitting at 46c at a speed of 650/900MHz. These cards have two performance levels and switch when they need it. I'm guessing it's a power saving feature or something.

 

I'd die for those temps on my card... even when they are underclocked.

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  • 3 weeks later...

FYI, I got 2 more GB of RAM (ordered it online from Crucial and it couldn't have been easier...they had a search feature which let me find the RAM that was the specific type for an upgrade for my exact computer).  I installed it and everything seems to be running much better, so that must have been the issue, i.e. just not enough RAM.

 

Thanks to all for you input!

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Glad to hear it worked for you. I just ordered a HD 4670 (1 GB video Ram) and installed it yesterday, which has a Dual DVI. Planning to get myself another matching monitor (1440 x 900 ) for dual too.

 

So how is multitasking with 2 monitors, can you get alot more work done, Its worth it?

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Glad to hear it worked for you. I just ordered a HD 4670 (1 GB video Ram) and installed it yesterday, which has a Dual DVI. Planning to get myself another matching monitor (1440 x 900 ) for dual too.

 

So how is multitasking with 2 monitors, can you get alot more work done, Its worth it?

 

I'm never going back to a single monitor. If I had the room on my desk, I'd add 2 more monitors. It makes life so much easier when you're coding IMO.

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Totally agree with King Phillip.  It took me a while to get used to using two monitors, but now I couldn't live without the 2nd one.  If you can do it, then definitely do it. 

It will likely take some time to get used to, but eventually, you will love it.

 

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