Running 3 Monitors by Installing Second PCI Express Card

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Intro: Running 3 Monitors by Installing Second PCI Express Card

I wanted to run 3 monitors on my PC but it only had a single video card slot. That meant I could only run 1 video card and a single video card usually only supports 2 monitors. Some high end cards support 3 or more monitors but of course I wanted to do this on the cheap! I'd heard it was possible to install a second video card by cutting most of the pins off a 16x PCI Express card and installing it in a 1x slot. It sounded like a bit of an internet myth but it turned out to be true and has been running in my PC for many months.

The photo below shows the available slots for my motherboard. The blue one on the left is the 16x PCI Express slot that takes a video card. The next 2 slots are the old style PCI slots. Installing a video card in one of these slots would be possible but I don't have one, they can be hard to come by and tend to be very old cards. The 4th much smaller slot there that is labelled "PCIEX1" is the PCI Express 1x card. This is effectively the same as the blue slot except cut short. A video card won't physically fit in this slot because its pins are much longer. However, it is actually possible to simply cut the extra pins off the card and it will work.

Step 1: Marking the Location to Cut

The first step is to obtain a PCI Express video card. Decent cards can be obtained from ebay for around $10. Before cutting anything it's a very good idea to mark the pins that should be cut off. We want to cut all the pins off the larger section of the card except for the first 7 pins. In the second pic here I've used a marker to mark the 8th pin. This pin and everything to the right needs to be cut off.

Step 2: Cutting the Card

The next step is to actually cut the pins off the card. The best tool for this is a Dremel with the mini angle grinder blade. I guess you could use a full size grinder or maybe a hacksaw but I haven't tried either of those. Note that I have created a notch just near the 7th pin. Without this the card doesn't sit fully down into the motherboard. I have also cut off the lug towards the back of the card for clearance. This may be necessary to clear capacitors and other items that might be attached to the motherboard. After cutting the card use a razor blade, screw driver or kitchen knife to clean up the edges along the cut. I did this to dislodge any pieces of metal that might be hanging around. Then I cleaned off any dust/metal fragments.

Step 3: Install the Card

After this is just a matter of installing the card into the computer. You can do this with or without the main video card installed. This is really just like installing a standard video card. The only difference is that you should take extra precaution to make sure the card isn't in contact with anything metal. Remember that there will be very small points along the cut that could be live. If metal is sitting close to where you've cut the card then maybe place some electrical tape along the cut.

Now just hook up a monitor to this card and power on the computer. There is no need to install the other video card and no need to run 3 monitors just yet. If you get anything showing on the screen then it has worked. Now just shut off the computer, install the main video card and you're done.

Step 4: The Results

The end result is a computer that will run up to 4 monitors quite nicely. In my case I am running 3 monitors via DVI connections. I don't play games but I believe the 3rd monitor will be slower for games because the bandwidth between the motherboard and the card is reduced to 1/16th of it's original speed. This is still more than fast enough for windows though.

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    56 Discussions

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    nandoi2c

    8 months ago

    goood, what is the model of two videocards?

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    batvanio

    8 months ago

    And does the processor have an embedded video card? This will save the addition of a second one.

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    Gabse

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Oh thanks!!!!! I only have 2 questions:
    How can i put the taskbar over three monitors, and does it supports Nvidia SLI?

    Gabs'e

    17 replies
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    duceducGabse

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    I just found out about DisplayFusion. I believe you can add taskbar to every monitors with this program.

    This is not SLI as both cards are been used for monitors in SLI one of the primary things that goes on is Both cards are been used for one monitor in terms or processing.
    keeping it very simple.
    this is dual video cards used for multiple montor support and this does work, how ever i do not think its wise to cut the PCI-E pins in this manner due to the fact you will have to be very carefull as you will have expossed pins, to avoid this use tape or some insulation especially where you have a board that has a pci-e in front of the a south bridge or other controller that has a heatsink that can short the card.
    Best option if you have the money, USB to DVI, its basically a video card on usb and with usb 3.0 i think we might even see one with 3D support.
    Or USB Monitors these montiors run directly from USB (including power)
    you can also buy a PCI or 1x PCI-E video card.
    PCI cards are very cheap second hand if your board has a PCI slot spare.
    Most Expesive option is to get a Video card that supports 3 or 4 monitors but the cost can be a little too much due to the fact the cards support 4 monitors and not much else (poor 3D performance).
    PS there is also Hybrid SLI never tested it but that allows you to have two different Nvidia GPU's, or you can have a Nvidia Card as Video and the other card set as PhysX card in this you can use 2 different cards. Research.....

    I didnt say this is SLI. I said that is Gabse wanted to use SLI, he would need 2 of the same card, and the hybrid way around that, may become an issue

    thats where your wrong again hybrid SLI or Crossfire has not been an issue for years.
    if your 13 why is your avatar of an older guy and looks like his wife?
    i started messing with computers when i was 6. "back in dos"
    if you have any problems or want to ask questions your welcome to contact me or this guy who made the Instructable as i agree with him he seems to know his stuff, well apart from the gigabyte heater lol.
    Oh here is one thing that many young people don't get or starting to learn Apple makes cheap Devices "as it has limited functions like a DVD player" a Computer does anything you want it to you just have to know how.
    also give ubuntu a try in live mode it is a good os and plenty of info to get it running.

    Thats my father and me :/ i had very long hair at the time.. I am not new to electronics.. Im slightly new to PC building. I very much agree you have more knowledge than me. This is simply our age difference. I respect you. And i know the stuff i needed to know how to build a PC. Not much more. You are kind enough to help young with technology. But im less in need to be taught. And i am a PC loyalist. I have some knowledge of C++ and arduino programming. Im not a mindless little twerp who says "swag" "yolo" or any
    Junk like that. Im in fact the one to be picked on... So please support me.

    could not see that detail of the pic until i enlarged it, i have an Arduino as well, not done to much with it other then use it as an invertor controller and L.E.D cube C++ is good to know but i think you should start learning Java as many programmes are writen in java, its good your a pc man. keep in touch and if you have any questions about stuff just message me and that goes to anyone else too. Talk to you later bro.

    Yes, i am well aware of that. I wont be doing this instructable anyways. (My computer is custom built, and less than a year old) i was actually telling the comment above me how SLI works. My graphics card supports 4 screens. It costed only 300

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    GabseTheParacorder

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for your answer. I have decided not to use sli (too expensive :-)) still have a question: what graphics card do you use?

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    TheParacorderGabse

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    No problem! And i currently run two amd radeon 6870's in sli :) i have a video on youtube. Look up FSstudios1 and my video will be under there. Take care
    -Evan

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    Blackice504Gabse

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I would not take advice from this guy due to the fact he does not seem to know what he is talking about as there is errors and wrong information about things.

    First off I use Nvidia due to the fact they have more fuctions then ATI and i like Nvidia Drivers for what i do.

    Speed last time i checked it was Nvidia but ATI may take that crown from time to time.
    Compatablity. from my years of experience in I.T i would say Nvidia but ATI has come along way since so this may not be such a big problem as it used to be, but many games now days do support Physx or writen with Nvidia cards in mind and i still believe that is the case but i have found some games writen more towards ATI but run on Nvidia cards just fine.
    LIFE SPAN i will have to say Nvida wins this due to the fact my oldest Nvidia card that still works is an old Nvidia TNT "2002 ish" my oldest still running ATI is an Radeon 9700 Pro "herc" sure these cards don't play the lastest games but should give you a good idea how long the cards last, but that been said it can vary on who made the PCB which the chip sits on and this i have to say you can never go wrong with ASUS they can cost 10 or 20 bucks more but they last and Peformance is very good, and run nice and cool, also come with a good Warranty i have never had a problem with Asus Warranty Ever, but that has been rarely used.....
    Functions: i would have to say one of the reasons i use Nvida is because i have been using multi-monitors for years ( over 15 years ) and found that Nvida has more support for Multi-Display more so then ATI especially when using a TV as second, thus i stuck with Nvida.
    Mid Range cards like 660 TI or an ATI mid range will be the way to go as they would support gaming for at leased 5 years and don't have heat issues as most of the High end cards always have from both companies.
    Heat = short life, also energy loss.
    just a few degrees above room temp and your system will last for years and if you selected the right parts you be gaming for at leased 5 years, then upgrade your graphics and you will have another 5 years. I hope this helps.

    Sir, you have to understand im only 14, im still learning. I built my own computer at age 13. Ive built a 16bit computer on a breadboard. Im way ahead of my game already. One thing i noticed is the AMD drivers always cause issues, sometimes my driver quits, my screens black out, and GPU usage spikes up to about 98%. Then jumps back to normal. Ive tried my best to help this person. Please give me respect. I realize you have worked as an IT. So just correct my mistakes.

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    TheParacorderGabse

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Sure thing! But at the time i only had 1 card

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ij40wByWXgM