How-to: Split your video signal to multiple monitors.

Difficulty: 1.5

TradeshowThere are many ways to replicate a signal across multiple monitors. Some methods work much better than others. The price difference varies greatly as well. The more money you spend, the more control you will have and the better your results will be.

Generally, there are not a great deal of consumer reasons for wanting to do this. It is much more suited for commercial trade shows where you have multiple screens all around a stall. The reason I looked into this was because I needed to split my signal between my TV and a second monitor.  

This article will explain some hardware options you can use to get from one video source, to multiple screens, replicating the same image on each screen. This is not a true dual screen setup.

There are three ways I have successfully been able to send a signal to multiple displays.

  1. VGA Y-Splitter Cable – Ok
  2. Video Splitter – Great
  3. Another Video Card – Best

I have used all of the above methods over the years and had varying results.

VGA Y-Splitter Cable:

Y-splitterVGAThis is a cable that sends the signal to multiple outputs. The problem with this method is that you halve the signal going to each output. I have been using one of these for a long time and the quality has been a little rough. There is a little bit of shadow/ghost on the images and it is not as bright as it should be.

The best thing about these cables is the price. They cost only a few dollars. Worth keeping in mind is that the signal will only drop off if both the output sources are turned on. If you are using only one of the outputs at any time, the signal will remain sharp.

Video Splitter:

VideosplitterA video splitter does as its name implies. It is designed to split the video signal without any signal loss. These have amplifiers built in to keep the signal strong on both sides. These are also ideal if you are sending your signal to many outputs. The standard outputs are 2, 4 and 8 VGA outputs, but they are cascadable meaning you can send the signal from one box to another, allowing for an unlimited amount of monitor connections.

Video Card:

DualvideocardMost video cards on the market these days have two outputs. This will let you use the second connection to replicate your screen to multiple displays. If you do not have a spare output on your card, you can add in another card. Many of todays motherboards will allow you to install two cards easily. If your motherboard only has one slot for a video card, you can use a PCI video card or a USB video output.

The reason why I believe this is the best option for splitting video is that you can use your Windows or Linux video software to manipulate each screen. You can turn the individual screens into one huge screen, or run each screen at a different resolution. This gives you freedom at a later date if you want to change your configuration.

This method is great if you want to connect only a few displays, but if you want to get your signal to many displays, a video splitter is a better choice. This is an expensive way to achieve something that is relatively simple.

I hope you have found this article helpful, and that sometime in your lifetime you will be able to enjoy playing with these options. We could well end up having screens in every room of our house in the years to come. Please stick around and check out some of the other articles at Inspect My Gadget.

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2 comments so far »

  1. matt said, on December 1, 2011 @ 7:45 am

    you should also write that the y splitter will not extend your desktop. it will only mirror the images on both monitors. the video card will only provide a view for an extendable desktop

  2. David Bandel said, on July 13, 2015 @ 9:48 pm

    re: matt

    Why would he need to add that? Duplicating the displays is what this entire article is about.

    It would make more sense for him to mention if one of these solutions *could* extend your desktop since that would be in addition to what this article is about.

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