Running a second monitor?

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Blackhawk
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Running a second monitor?

Post by Blackhawk »

Does anyone do this on a gaming PC? I've always had a second PC nearby for referencing things while gaming (maps, guides, builds, etc.) This was either a full PC built from old parts, or a laptop. But between switching to a smaller desk and having to rearrange some furniture, neither really works anymore (there's nowhere to put them)

I was thinking about adding a second monitor to my gaming PC.

How effective is this for what I'm talking about doing? How much of a hassle is it to switch between screens (IE - go from fiddling with a built in-game, to scrolling a build guide on the second screen, and back to adjusting the build in-game?)

Aside from the apps being run on it, does it have any performance impact?

What about compatibility issues? Does it cause games to misbehave?

And what about when the primary monitor is a good 144Hz gaming monitor and the second one is a cheap 'good enough for reading' monitor, likely with a different refresh rate?
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Octavious »

If there's a performance hit I haven't noticed. I have a really nice Dell curved monitor as my primary and run of the mill monitor for the secondary. It's really pretty much plug and play. You just have to assign which monitor is primary. I can't recall a game that didn't pick the correct screen. Just make sure of how many connections you have on your video card and what type. There are many weird combos of what monitors and video cards support. Most likely you would be display port to the main and HDMI to the backup. I can't really think of any major downside.

I actually have 2 consoles connected to my main monitor plus the computer. And the other monitor goes to the computer. I can easily switch between all of them.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by GreenGoo »

I have a second monitor and I couldn't tell you if there are performance hits, which should be a good enough answer. There probably are, but if I don't notice them then it seems like it's not a problem to me.

Honestly I would have a very hard time giving up a second monitor at this point. It's just too convenient.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Blackhawk »

How fiddly is it to switch between them, say, between a game on the main screen and a browser on the secondary?
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Smoove_B »

A few years back, I remember seeing tiny monitors (they were like the size of big iPads) that you could easily attach to a desktop PC and use for the exact things you're trying to do (having a map open, having a guide accessible) while gaming.

I tried doing some research, but I guess they don't make them anymore - maybe regular monitors are so cheap now and easier to integrate they're no longer needed.

Sorry, not helpful.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Octavious »

Blackhawk wrote: Thu Jun 08, 2023 4:34 pm How fiddly is it to switch between them, say, between a game on the main screen and a browser on the secondary?
Depends on the game really. Actually launching the game is easy peasy. It will always pick your primary monitor. And the other monitor will still display whatever it already had up. So if you wanted to pull up a map on the other screen it's super simple. Switching to the other screen can by hit or miss, but I'm also an idiot when it comes to stuff like that. I'd be very surprised if you didn't like it.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Daehawk »

Always wanted to do this with one of my older smaller panels. For stuff like maps and hint guides and such. Thought it would be cool. But my cedar chest as a desk doesn't have room for it. Thought about just mounting it in the window divide which is dead center back of said cedar chest..but haven't yet.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Anonymous Bosch »

Smoove_B wrote: Thu Jun 08, 2023 4:42 pm A few years back, I remember seeing tiny monitors (they were like the size of big iPads) that you could easily attach to a desktop PC and use for the exact things you're trying to do (having a map open, having a guide accessible) while gaming.

I tried doing some research, but I guess they don't make them anymore - maybe regular monitors are so cheap now and easier to integrate they're no longer needed.

Sorry, not helpful.
You can find similar products designed for use with a Raspberry Pi, which makes 'em a good deal more affordable. That does not exclude them from being useful as a mini secondary monitor for a regular desktop system though, as shown here:

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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Kasey Chang »

They are still all over Amazon, HDMI, "second screen", "portable", well under $100. The trick is mounting it in a way that's usable. IMHO, it's just easier to use a cheap tablet.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Brian »

I run a second monitor and don't notice any performance hit.

Many games will allow you to easily mouse over from the main screen to another with no problem. Usually non-action games like Civ and such. Some games you will have to run in borderless window mode to do this.
Other games you will have to Alt-Tab over to whatever you have open on the other monitor.

Diablo 4 on my machine takes a big hit when you focus away from it but then clicking back in the game brings it back up to speed


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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by GreenGoo »

Blackhawk wrote: Thu Jun 08, 2023 4:34 pm How fiddly is it to switch between them, say, between a game on the main screen and a browser on the secondary?
Depending on the game, I literally move my mouse from one monitor to the other by moving it to the edge of the first monitor until it shows up on the second.

You can only have 1 application be the "focus" though, so if you want to search you need to click on the 2nd monitor somewhere to shift focus. And returning is the exact same thing, just move cursor to the edge until it shows up on the first monitor, then click to return focus to the game.

This is if you run your game in borderless window (or even bordered). If you run a game in full screen, sometimes you'll have to alt-tab to get the focus away from the game. But sometimes not.

The short answer is that it is (almost) completely effortless. I mean that. Instant and without conscious thought.

edit: what Brian said. A small hiccup that is easily avoided is that for some games without a cursor (such as fps) you can be mouse looking and have the cursor appear on the second monitor because you kept turning with mouselook until the computer thought you'd moved the cursor out of the first monitor. This can be solved by either playing game at full screen (requiring alt-tab to switch to a different app, on second monitor) or many games have an option in settings to "lock" the cursor to the game, which prevents this exact problem. Alt-tab still allows you to switch painlessly.

I cannot imagine going back to a single monitor. There's just no way I could give it up willingly at this point.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by GreenGoo »

Some games pause automatically when focus is taken away, some continue, some can be set one way or another. Some continue to play sounds when focus is taken away, some stop, some allow you to set one way or another.

a lot (most?) games can be configured how to behave when focus leaves and returns.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Smoove_B »

Anonymous Bosch wrote: Thu Jun 08, 2023 7:57 pm You can find similar products designed for use with a Raspberry Pi, which makes 'em a good deal ore affordable. That does not exclude them from being useful as a mini secondary monitor for a regular desktop system though, as shown here:
Yeah, that is definitely pretty close to what I remember seeing. I think some were even set up as virtual key pads so you activate macros (presumably while playing an MMO), but most were being used as gaming aids (maps, guides, etc...)

I like the idea of them, but from a practical standpoint I'm not sure I'd use it as intended. :)
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by GreenGoo »

Lastly the second monitor continues to display whatever it was displaying when you return to your game otherwise it wouldn't be any different from alt-tabbing on a single monitor. So the second screen can have a list of crafting recipes, ship designs, map directions etc etc that are easily referenced by glancing slightly to the side while you play on the main monitor.

It's ridiculous how useful this is.

edit: Some games (very, very few) actually utilize the second monitor. Supreme Commander comes to mind.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by GreenGoo »

Yet another thing. Some games do NOT run well in borderless window mode. They just don't. Running them in full screen solves this for 99% of the games I've seen this problem.

Some games run smoothly in the background, or like Brian said, grind to a halt as with Diablo IV. This isn't usually a problem or if it is, logical work arounds can be found pretty easily.

Just wanted to mention that not everything is perfect all the time. Just usually.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by TheMix »

I dabbled with two monitors back in the day. I don't recall any performance issues.

Well, I still have two monitors. But one is hooked up to my work laptop. So it's not quite as convenient sometimes. But most of the time it's fine. It does mean two mice and two keyboards. But I have them anyway.

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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Blackhawk »

I'm well-versed in the exclusive fullscreen/borderless/windowed variants, and I'm used to alt-tabbing when I want to look something up already. I just wanted to make sure that it wasn't a huge issue to switch between the monitors. I have seen that mixing refresh rates sometimes causes issues, so I'll need to research a cheap 144Hz monitor somewhere, but a second one seems like the way to go.
GreenGoo wrote: Fri Jun 09, 2023 1:01 pm Some games run smoothly in the background, or like Brian said, grind to a halt as with Diablo IV. This isn't usually a problem or if it is, logical work arounds can be found pretty easily.
Brian wrote: Fri Jun 09, 2023 10:01 am Diablo 4 on my machine takes a big hit when you focus away from it but then clicking back in the game brings it back up to speed
This often intentional. In Diablo IV, for instance, they have a 'Max Background FPS' setting that defaults to 8. The idea is that it reduces the overhead you're alt-tabbed out. I've seen this setting on a lot of games over the last few years (mostly because I always check for a foreground FPS setting to limit the frame rate to 141 FPS - it helps Gsync do its job.)
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by GreenGoo »

Blackhawk wrote: Fri Jun 09, 2023 3:22 pm I'm well-versed in the exclusive fullscreen/borderless/windowed variants, and I'm used to alt-tabbing when I want to look something up already. I just wanted to make sure that it wasn't a huge issue to switch between the monitors. I have seen that mixing refresh rates sometimes causes issues, so I'll need to research a cheap 144Hz monitor somewhere, but a second one seems like the way to go.
Fair enough. I'd describe changing focus between monitors as "trivial" and I run them at 2 different resolutions and refresh speeds.

My video card is a GTX 980 :oops:

edit: AOC 1440p at 120Hz and Benq at 1080p at 100Hz
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Kasey Chang »

Some games will lock the mouse into one monitor and won't let you get out unless you Alt-tab.

I'm running triple monitor off my RTX2070. Works pretty well, but I game off only the center monitor, which is the 120 Hz Acer. I do NOT have G-sync active though, as it keeps falling out of sync and I got tired of waiting for it.

FWIW, if you have ANOTHER computer, you can connect another monitor to that, and you can control BOTH from the first computer, so the two computers and two screens can cooperate with Powertoy "Mouse without a Border". So the two monitors became seamless.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Blackhawk »

Thanks to saved up Amazon credits plus Prime day, I'm now running the second monitor. I love it except for a few minor annoyances. I wish that programs would open in the screen that I open them from (if I click a shortcut on my primary, open it on my primary. Click it on my secondary, open it on my secondary. ) That's minor enough that I can work around it, though. I also wish that there was a 'show desktop' button per-monitor.

I'm also trying to find an easy way to display my CPU/GPU usage and temps on my secondary monitor in an attractive manner (in other words, not a blocky box that looks like something from Windows NT, nor a giant flashing 'gamer' interface that takes up half the screen.) I'm leaning toward Rainmeter, but it's a hassle to use.

But the main thing is that I hate that any file I save, or any shortcut that it gets made defaults to the secondary monitor.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Kasey Chang »

Blackhawk wrote: Wed Jul 19, 2023 1:59 pm But the main thing is that I hate that any file I save, or any shortcut that it gets made defaults to the secondary monitor.
Fences, the free (or nearly free0 Stardock utility for organizing desktops. You can designate a fence on the desktop where ALL new programs, shortcuts, etc. gets filed to. So just move that around.
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Re: Running a second monitor?

Post by Blackhawk »

Huh. I've been using Fences for years, but hadn't paid any attention to that particular functionality as I didn't need it. In fact, I could probably also make a folder portal to a downloads folder to solve the other half of the problem, thanks.
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