Friday, November 4, 2011

Triple Monitors on a Dell Latitude e6520

I have just recently started using a triple monitor setup and I've got to say, it's pretty bomb. I've used 2 monitors before and never thought I would make use of a 3rd one, but low and behold I am addicted. Now i have a Dell latitude on a port replicator, a.k.a. docking station. Because of the way the computer is designed it can only support 2 monitors. On the physical computer it has a VGA output and a HDMI output. The port replicator has two DVI outputs and one VGA. Looking at it i assumed you could use three monitors easily. I was clearly wrong. The drivers installed only support 2 monitors. The solution is pretty simply but not the most reliable. Using a Star Tech USB to DVI adapter that creates another driver for the computer to install a 3rd monitor. So now I run 3 monitors, one on HDMI, one on VGA, and another using the USB to DVI adapter. The only problem is with the reliability of the adapter. It is relatively cheap (around $45) and does allow the third monitor but has displayed some problems coming out of sleep. Once Windows goes into sleep mode or the screen saver comes on the adapter has been known to not come back on. Solution usually is a restart of the computer or sometimes unplugging and plugging the adapter back in. While this creates the occasional inconvenience, the 3 monitor setup is awesome! A different solution may also be to get a better, more expensive adapter, however this solution works for me and I do enjoy having email on one screen, research on another, and documents I am working on the other. Highly effective and great for getting work done.

Update

This is due to a limitation of the video card that is in the 6510, 6520, 6530 models because they don’t have a discrete video card.  The new models 6540 have 2 video cards, the “run of the mill” Intel graphics card only supports 2 monitors but the discrete video card (Nvidia) that was added to these supports 3 or more monitors by itself.

If you order this make sure you get the discrete Nvidia cards.

38 comments:

  1. It is a little dated, but you can get the E6520 and I believe the 6420's as well, with the nVidia 4200m chip, having the Intell HD and the nVidia chip, using the E-port plus replicator, you can get 3 monitors without the need of the startech adapter. The only problem I have had with this so far is about every 15 minutes all of the screens blink, only for a bout a milisecond, but it is rather annoying.

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    1. Thanks for the useful information. I use the Startech USB2DVI adapter and it works quite well for me. It would be nice if they would just allow the three monitor support off the one video card. Is seems like all you need a an updated driver to fix that problem but it doesn't look like Intel will be supporting that.

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    2. Can you give a few details on how you got this setup to works. I have an E6420 w/ nVidia 4200m chip (new drivers downloaded). I just want to extend the desktop to the laptop display in addition to the 2 monitors connected to the DVI ports, but I do not see any options for doing so in the nVidia CP or in Win7 Display/Screen resolution even though all 3 display are listed.

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    3. The nVidia chip will not support 3 monitors. It will show that they are available but it won't allow display to be shown on more than 2 monitors. That's they way the manufacturer created those chips to prevent an overload. The solution I am offering is using an adapter that has it's own video card. I use the Star tech USB2DVI and it works perfect. The simple answer is that you can't use the nVidia chip for more than 2 monitors at a time.

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  2. Any idea how to get the dual monitors working with the Laptop monitor at the same time? I've tried VGA / DVI but it will only let me enable 2 of the 3 at a time. Also have HDMI and Display-Port connections available and can get an adapter if necessary.

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    1. The unfortunate answer is you can not run 3 monitors off the video card that comes stock. It won't support it no matter which way you try it. The only way to get the support of more monitors is to get a new video card or to just simply use an video adapter that has it's own card like the Startech USB to DVI adapter. I have not seen any driver updates that would show this to be possible with the card that is currently in use.

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    2. Might be time to start looking at registry edits =P

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  3. Going to have a play when I get home to my E6420 w/4200m, as at work I have a E6530 w/5200m and it's running the laptop (1920x1080) and 2 externals (1440x900) all off the built-in ports (no docks or usb) - works a treat

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  4. At work I use a E6420 with 4200m in a dock and it was possible to extend the desktop on 2 external displays (DVI, HDMI) + the laptop display without any adapters.
    Unfortunately, after an issue IT cleaned the hard disk and made a new system installation. Now a message in the settings claim that it is NOT possible to use more than 2 displays. I am confused... Do you know of any solution?

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    1. The easiest thing to do is to get a USB to DVI adapter. So you had it on a docking station with the laptop open and displaying on the main LCD and HDMI plugged into the side of the computer, then the DVI was plugged in the docking station?
      That model has the 4200m which should support that but it's possible the proper driver is not installed. I'd check that and see if there is an update for your driver.

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    2. Julian, did you ever find a solution to your problem, other than buying a USB to DVI adapter?

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  5. Since this thread is rather recent, I should point out that I've used the Dell E6520 for over a year running Windows 7 Professional with 3 screens (laptop screen + 2 DVI-connected external SyncMaster 2443) without anything else than the E-Port Plus (PRO2X) replicator.

    However, about a week ago I booted my laptop without the E-Port Plus replicator, and Windows had switched to 800x600 resolution without Aero. Needless to say there was something wrong with the graphics drivers. After a restart the graphics was okay again, but I haven't been able to run 3 screens since, and I have no idea why. The Windows 7 screen setup simply will not allow me.

    When I got the computer it was preinstalled with Windows 7 Pro. I do not know what drivers or hacks Dell had installed, but whatever it was it is broken now, and I am desperately trying to get back 3 screens again. Naturally I want it to work without any external adapters or graphics cards, except for the E-Port Plus replicator.

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    1. I've run into the same situation. A video driver upgrade has killed my LCD+2 external setup and I've tried every driver that was on the image but only the dell original image seems to have what I need.

      Trying to figure out how to get to the drivers on the recovery partition at the moment.

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  6. I have had the E6520 for over a year now. Running fine on three screens:
    2 Dell Monitors
    1 laptop screen

    All perfect.

    Restored PC due to an issue with boot. Symantec backup was supposed to just restore as is.

    3 displays not working. Can only display 2.

    Really frustrating.

    Get the GPU only supports 2 screens error if I try to initialise a third screen.







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    1. It seems that some people did have this option prior. For the two dell monitors were you running off a docking station, and what type of connections did you use (i.e. VGA, DVI, HDMI)? I am still looking at some registry edits on this. It seems that the most recent version of the Intel driver disables the 3rd monitor option.

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    2. Same problem here. No docking. Just laptop + 2 screens.
      Previously, Intel HD Graphics 4000 handled one monitor and nVidia nvs 5200M the other two. For some reason, the Intel driver stopped working. I've tried all types of install / uninstall / different versions - nothing.

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    3. Gil. Are you using 1 HDMI and 1 VGA?

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    4. If you are running Windows 7 try enabling Optimus, a BIOS video setting--worked for me on both 32- and 64-bit Windows 7.

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    5. Thanks Craig, I will try that and let everyone know how that goes. It may not be an option on the Dell BIOS but I'll check

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    6. The Optimus option only work with the Nvidia GPU amd only in certain versions of the BIOS will this work A08 appears to do so. Not everyone has the nVida chip.
      Here is some wiki info on it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nvidia_Optimus

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  7. Do you connect the third monitor (USB) to the laptop itself, or can you can you connect it to the docking station?

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    1. on the monitor setup screen, does it recognize the third monitor, as if there were a third DVI port, as if it were supposed to be that way?

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    2. Correct. It would be as if you plugged a DVI into it but it is just running of a different video card. If you use the change graphics properties option it will not show in there. Only the change screen resolution option.

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    3. where did you get it for $45? Im only seeing it for upwards of 90-120.

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    4. http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19&sku=A3389666&dgc=ST&cid=61341&lid=4401528&acd=i3f4hznd

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    5. Also Newegg.com, Be sure to install the driver before plugging in the adapter.

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    6. Well this is pretty cool. Ill be submitting a po on this soon. Thanks!

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    7. have you heard about this one?

      http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19&sku=A6146588

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    8. Yes that is USB 3.0. It's important to note that these computers come with 2.0 standard. You would have to get an additional adapter if you wanted to use that version with USB 2.0. So what I am saying is unless you know for sure that you bought an upgraded 3.0 system don't by that version. USB 2.0 is standard. It's cheaper as well

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  9. Running a Latitude E6430 Windows 7/64-bit at work with dock. Initially I could only use 2 external monitors. When I went to arrange the monitors the first monitor was fused with the second. Hard to explain so I'll try to draw a picture. Ideally we want to see 3 monitors:

    [display 1] [display 2] [display 3]

    But what I could see originally was as follows:

    [display 1 | display 2] [display 3]

    Where the notebook is display 1 and the first screen is display 2. This would only allow the same thing to be displayed on display 1/2. If I had extended desktop, it would duplicate on both laptop and first screen, for example. So initially I set so laptop screen would blank because external displays were bigger and higher resolution.

    One day I turned on the machine to resume from S3/standby and I got a Windows tray balloon telling me the driver had crashed and Windows had recovered. Video was only being shown on 1 of the two external screens and the other two were off. So I returned to display options and there saw I could now control all three screens independently!

    I am not using any external USB gadgets, just the stock notebook and dock. Because at first I could only control 2 screens I was locked out like everybody reading this. What this should suggest at the very least is the hardware supports it, you just have to know how to trick it into doing it. Perhaps the manufacturers didn't want to have to support 3 screens, or maybe they had occasional issues and disabled it, but the hardware and drivers CAN directly support it. Unfortunately I can't say how it happened other than the driver crashed and my desktop configuration was lost.

    Device Manager shows my system with the following video drivers (2 of them...never seen this on a notebook before):

    + Display adapters
    Intel(R) HD Graphics 4000
    NVIDIA NVS 5200M

    Going to driver details I find the following versions:

    Intel: Driver date 2/1/2012 version 8.15.10.2639
    NVIDIA: Driver date 12/7/2012 version 9.18.13.768

    I was hoping to find out how to do this intentionally because there are several of us in the office with the same hardware and everybody would rather have 3 screens.

    All I can say is it can do it. I can be reached by those who can decypher this bot-proof hyrogliphics: [letter s]angat[letter s][letter t]er[THE_JOLLY_AT_SIGN][the letter GEE]mail.[the letter c]om

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  10. I have a E6520 with Optimus. I currently run 4 screens total. There is a 20" HP widescreen LCD 1440x900, Dell 24" 1920x1080, Dell 19" 1280x1024, and the laptop display itself 1600x900. All run with the port replicater plus. Two DVI + 1 VGA. The optimus setup actually has 4 outputs - two for each video card. Both video cards support dual output. Used with the dock you are using DVI+DVI+LVDS+VGA. Both video cards are active on the dock. I have yet to get it to use 4 displays as there are not 4 physical connections in total that can be activated. I have had this setup for over a year. At home I am going to be running 3 24" LCDs with it + the built in. 3 displays is easy, 4 was the goal originally.

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  12. Success!!! i have 2 DVI monitors running off the dock and the onboard laptop monitor is active as well.
    Dell E6520 63 bit windows 7. 4200M Nvidia card.

    1 update drivers manually from the Dell and Nvidia sites. their support/download section will help.
    2 turn on Optimus in bios
    3 right click desktop, screen resolution, find 3rd monitor and extend to 3rd monitor. apply

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  13. Hi Kevin/Kathy - What from the Dell website did you install?

    Windows automatically installs for me Nvidia NVS 4200M drivers. But none of the other drivers from the Dell site install for me.

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  14. Nice and very helpful information i have got from your post. Even your whole blog is full of interesting information which is the great sign of a great blogger.

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  15. I also appreciate with this valuable information. Docking station is very useful to need 2-3 monitor. A well trained computer tech can provide you an easily, best and efficient service in this circumstances. To know more about the docking station of your laptop, click here

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