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HOW TO: Set Up and Troubleshoot Multiple Monitors in a Windows Server 2003 Environment

Support for Windows Server 2003 ended on July 14, 2015

Microsoft ended support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

This article was previously published under Q328312
This article describes how to set up and troubleshoot multiple monitors in a Windows Server 2003 environment. You can configure your desktop to appear on multiple monitors in Windows Server 2003. Support for multiple monitors requires two or more video cards and monitors. This article describes the following topics:
  • What to do before you set up multiple monitors.
  • How to set up multiple-monitor support.
  • How to troubleshoot a multiple monitor setup.
The following terms are defined to help you understand multiple monitors:
  • Primary display adapter: The adapter that displays the computer posting.
  • Secondary display adapter: Any additional display adapters in the computer.
  • Onboard display adapter: A display adapter that is built into the motherboard of a computer.
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  • Check the Windows Server 2003 Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) to make sure that your display adapters are compatible.

    To view the HCL, visit the following Web site: Note that versions of the HCL on this Web site do not specify if an adapter is compatible with multiple monitors.
  • Set up your primary video card by using Windows Server 2003, and then make sure that it is functioning before you try to set up multiple-monitor support.
  • Make sure that the first PCI adapter is installed in the PCI slot 0 or 1. If the primary adapter is AGP, this means that the secondary adapter (PCI) is to be installed in PCI slot 0 or 1. This PCI slot typically is the farthest from the ISA slots and nearest the edge of the motherboard. Some motherboards indicate which slot is designed to host the primary video card. For more information, see the documentation that is included with your computer.
  • Make sure that your secondary adapters support the option to turn off the video graphics adapter (VGA) in the display driver or through a jumper or dip switch on the adapter.

    If you set up multiple-monitor support before you install Windows Server 2003, connect a monitor to all adapters to make sure that you can view the Setup process on the monitor. It is possible for Setup to run on any of the installed display adapters. If a monitor is not connected, you cannot interact with Windows Server 2003 Setup.
  • If you plan to use an onboard display adapter, you must use a secondary display adapter that has jumpers or switches to turn off VGA or the computer's BIOS must have an option to select which card should post. The onboard adapter must be the primary video adapter and post VGA. In most computers that have an onboard display adapter and a secondary adapter, the secondary adapter posts. BIOS have different methods for detecting and turning off onboard adapters so each hardware setup may require different steps for multiple monitors to function.
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Install Multiple Display Adapters by Using Windows Server 2003

NOTE: Windows Server 2003 supports a maximum of 10 adapters.
  1. Turn on your computer and log on to Windows Server 2003.
  2. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then click Display.
  3. On the Settings tab, confirm that your display adapter is listed correctly.

    NOTE: If your display adapter is listed as VGA, you cannot configure your computer for multiple monitors. Contact the manufacturer of your display adapter to see if you can obtain a Windows Server 2003 driver.

  4. Make sure that the color depth is set to at least 256 colors. Microsoft recommends 16 bits per pixel (BPP).
  5. Shut down the computer.
  6. Before you insert your secondary display adapter, confirm that it has the VGA-disabled setting selected.

    This setting is configured by using either a jumper or a small dip switch that is located on the secondary display adapter. If you cannot locate a jumper or switch, see the manufacturer's documentation or contact the manufacturer for more information.
  7. If the primary adapter is AGP install the secondary adapter in PCI slot 0 or 1 (see Requirements earlier in this article). If the primary adapter is PCI, insert your secondary display adapter into any available PCI slot and then connect a second monitor to the secondary display adapter.
  8. Turn on both of the monitors, start the computer, and wait for the computer to start in Windows Server 2003. The computer posts on the primary video card.

    When you log on, Windows Server 2003 detects your new display adapter and installs the appropriate driver for your display adapter and monitor if you are using a Plug and Play monitor.
  9. Right-click a blank portion of your desktop, and then click Properties.
  10. On the Settings tab, two monitor icons are displayed. Click the new monitor, and then click Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor.
NOTE: You can follow these steps to install additional adapters.

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  • If you set up a secondary adapter on the computer and the adapter is not detected when you restart the computer, select either a non-supported secondary adapter or one that requires third-party drivers.
  • You set up the computer with a secondary adapter and when you restart the computer, the Startup screen appears on the primary monitor and your desktop appears on the secondary monitor.

    This behavior occurs for any of the following reasons:
    • VGA is not turned off on the secondary display adapter.
    • A compatibility issue exists between the two display adapters.
    • A resource conflict exists between the secondary adapter and another hardware device in your computer.
  • The display shows only on the primary monitor when you restart your computer.

    Make sure the Extend my Windows desktop into this monitor check box is selected for each monitor. If two monitor icons do not appear on the Settings tab, you have selected a non-supported secondary display adapter or the primary and secondary adapter combination you have selected is incompatible. In Device Manager, look to see if any display adapters have an exclamation point in a yellow box displayed next to them (this indicates a problem with the device).
  • You have screen redraw problems on one monitor, but not on the other monitor.

    Display corruption occurs because of old BIOS revisions, especially with newer computers. If you experience these types of problems, contact your motherboard manufacturer and obtain updated BIOS.
  • If you experience problems getting multiple monitors to work with your onboard video adapter, try to use a supported secondary display adapter that supports the option to turn off VGA (for example, Matrox Millennium, Imagine 128, Imagine 128v2, Revolution32, or Revolution4). Contact the video card manufacturer to see if they support using their video card in a multiple-monitor setup with Windows Server 2003.
  • If your multiple monitor setup works with Microsoft Windows 98 but not with Windows Server 2003, it may be because Windows Server 2003 requires that the video card that cannot turn off VGA is the adapter that posts the system. Windows 98 does not require this configuration.
  • To determine which monitor is being used with each display adapter, click the Settings tab in Display Properties, and then click Identify to identify each monitor with a number on the screen.
  • You cannot view a DVD movie title on secondary monitors, you must view DVD movie titles on the primary monitor.
The third-party products that are discussed in this article are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of these products.

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Article ID: 328312 - Last Review: 02/28/2007 23:04:33 - Revision: 8.3

Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition

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