Having dual monitors for your PC can make your work experience more efficient and your gaming experience more lively. However, if you are new to setting up a dual monitor display, you may rightly ask, “do you need two graphics cards for dual monitors?”
The simple answer to that question is NO. You do NOT need to have two graphics cards for two monitors. Almost all graphics cards these days, integrated or dedicated, support three more monitors.
However, you need two ports on your PC to connect the two monitors. This is an issue particularly on laptops since many laptops now only have a single port for an external monitor.
In addition, you need to have a port compatible with your monitor and the resolution you seek to achieve. For instance, 4K resolution is NOT supported on all ports.
In the following text, I will discuss whether you need two graphics cards to connect two monitors to your PC.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
All Modern Graphics Cards These Days Support 3-4 Monitors
You must understand that almost all GPUs easily support three or more displays. Even the weakest GPUs out there can support three monitors.
The latest dedicated and integrated graphics cards can support as many as four displays!
In other words, one graphics card can support two monitors reasonably easily.
Intel HD 3000 was released in 2011 with the 2nd generation Intel Core series supported two displays. We are talking about more than a decade-old GPU!
Intel HD 3000, released in 2011, supports two monitors. Source: Intel
Look at the specifications for the Intel HD Graphics 4600 released in 2013 as found on the Intel 4th Gen CPUs. Despite being a relatively old integrated graphics card, it supports upto three monitors:
Intel HD 4600, an iGPU alone, can support two monitors easily. Source: Intel
The newer iGPUs, such as the Intel UHD Graphics 770, support up to 4 displays! This iGPU is found on the newer 12th Gen CPUs released in 2021:
As seen on Intel Core i7 12th Gen CPUs, Intel UHD supports four displays!
The modern dedicated graphics also support as many as four shows.
For instance, a lower-mid range dedicated GTX 1660Ti supports four displays. Hence this alone can run two monitors efficiently.
A mid-range dedicated graphics card supports four displays. Source: ASUS
The point I want to hit home here is that almost ALL integrated and reliable graphics cards support two monitors.
So Do You Need Two Graphics Cards for Dual Monitors?
The answer is a resounding no!
A single graphics card alone can easily support 2-4 monitors. Therefore dual monitors should not be an issue for modern PCs.
The only caveat is the ports:
Graphics Card Ports are the Biggest Limiting Factor for Dual Monitors
Having the correct ports is a more significant consideration than whether a single graphics card supports two monitors.
Even if the graphics card’s chipset supports two monitors, you need the right amount and type of ports to connect two monitors.
Right Amount of Ports on Dedicated Graphics Card
You must have two ports on the dedicated graphics card and the right type to plug two monitors into a single graphics card.
Take, for instance, the back I/O panel of one of the weakest and entry-level graphics cards, the NVIDIA GT 710.
Gigabyte NVIDIA GT 710 Video Output Ports
This dedicated graphics card offers only one DVI and one HDMI port.
If, in the unfortunate scenario, one of your two monitors is missing the input for either of these ports. Then you will be in a predicament.
Say you have connected one of your monitors to the DVI port, but your second monitor is missing the HDMI port and only has a VGA port. In that case, you will need to get an HDMI-VGA adapter (which often gives unsatisfactory results), and your whole setup can get messy.
As such, when building a dual monitor setup, you must ensure that your monitor and graphics card have the right amount of ports.
Amount of Displays is Limited by the Number of Ports
Even if your GPU’s chipset supports multiple monitors, you need to have as many ports on it as well.
The NVIDIA GT 710 above itself can support up to 3 displays. However, because this graphics card only has two ports, you are limited to installing a maximum of 2 monitors with this!
Also Read: Does Dual Monitor Use More GPU?
Right Amount of Ports on MOTHERBOARD with iGPU
If you are relying on the integrated graphics card of your CPU for display, then you need to make sure that the MOTHERBOARD has the right amount of ports to support dual or more monitors.
An integrated graphics card is NOT a standalone device like a dedicated one. It does not have ports of its own. Instead, the motherboard ports rely on the iGPU for connecting to monitors.
Note that if your CPU does not have an iGPU, the motherboard video output ports will NOT work.
Video output ports on ASUS Prime H510M-E. The iGPU powers these.
The motherboard above has three ports, i.e., VGA, HDMI, and DP. And hence it can support three displays. However, your monitor must also have compatible ports; otherwise, you must invest in an adapter.
Motherboard Video Ports Get Disabled if You Install a Dedicated Graphics Card
If you wonder whether you can use the video output port on the motherboard for one monitor and the video port on the graphics card for the other, then this arrangement WILL NOT work.
This is because when you install a dedicated graphics card on the motherboard, the integrated graphics card gets disabled.
And as mentioned earlier, the video ports on the motherboard are powered by the integrated graphics card. If that gets disabled, the motherboard’s video ports will NOT work.
On some PCs, you CAN enable both, but it is not recommended. Here is a guide on how to help both dedicated GPU and motherboard video output ports at the same time.
For 4K and Higher Resolution, The Port Version Also Matters
You must have the correct port version to connect 2 x 4K resolution monitors to your graphics card.
For starters, VGA and DVI ports will not carry 4K resolution. For HDMI, you will need at least HDMI 2.0 to display 4K at 60Hz or a DP 1.2 or better.
|Port||4K Support||Max Resolution Support||Max Refresh Rate|
|VGA||No||2048 x 1536||60 Hz|
|DVI||No||2560 x 1600||60 Hz|
|HDMI 1.4||Yes||4096 x 2160||120 Hz @ FHD Resolution
30 Hz @ 4K (3840 x 2160)
24 Hz @ 4K (4096 x 2160)
|HDMI 2.0||Yes||4096 x 2160||60 Hz @ 4K Resolution|
|HDMI 2.1||Yes||Upto 10240 x 4320 (10K)||Upto 120 Hz @ 10K resolution|
|DP 1.2||Yes||3840 x 2160 pixels||60 Hz @ 4k Resolution|
|DP 1.3||Yes||7680 x 4320 (8K)||120Hz @ 4K
30Hz @ 8K
|DP 1.4||Yes||7680 x 4320 (8K)||Upto 60 Hz @ 8K|
|DP 2.0||Yes||Upto 16K||60Hz @ 16K resolution
80Hz @ 10K resolution
Also Read: Does My Graphics Card Support 4K?
Do you need two graphics cards for dual monitors? No, you do not. One graphics card can easily support two monitors these days.
However, having the right amount and compatible ports on the graphics card to support two monitors would be best.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. How can I check if my graphics card supports dual monitors?
To check if your graphics card supports dual monitors, you can go to the manufacturer’s website and search for your graphics card model. The specifications page for your graphics card should indicate whether it supports multiple monitors.
Alternatively, you can check your computer’s documentation or use the Device Manager on your Windows computer to see what graphics card you have installed.
2. Is there a specific type of graphics card that is required for running dual monitors?
No, there is no specific type of graphics card required for running dual monitors. However, your graphics card should have multiple video outputs (such as HDMI, DisplayPort, or DVI) that are compatible with your monitors.
Some graphics cards may have more video outputs than others, so it’s important to check the specifications of your graphics card to make sure it supports the number of monitors you want to use.
3. How do I configure my computer to use dual monitors with two graphics cards?
To configure your computer to use dual monitors with two graphics cards, you will need to connect each monitor to a separate graphics card.
Then, you will need to configure your computer’s display settings to extend the desktop across both monitors.
To do this on a Windows computer, right-click on the desktop and select “Display settings.” Under the “Multiple displays” section, select “Extend desktop” and choose which monitor you want to be the primary display.
4. Can I run more than two monitors with multiple graphics cards?
Yes, you can run more than two monitors with multiple graphics cards. The number of monitors you can run will depend on the number of video outputs on your graphics cards, as well as the capabilities of your computer’s processor and memory.
You may also need to configure your computer’s display settings to extend the desktop across all the monitors you want to use.