Asus M2NPV-MX, M2NPV-VM and additional graphics card

Mul­ti­ple of our office com­pu­ters are based on the fine Asus M2NPV-MX or M2NPV-VM main­boards. Now one of the com­pu­ters should get a second moni­tor. First attempt: One into the board’s DVI plug, one to the „nor­mal” VGA port. Works flaw­less­ly, the Linux NVi­dia dri­ver allows to set­up both ports inde­pent­ly and wit­hin some minu­tes you have a very nice and wide Xiner­a­ma desktop.

Second attempt: Put an addi­tio­nal gra­phics card into the com­pu­ter with ano­t­her DVI port so that both moni­tors are digi­tal­ly con­nec­ted. I purcha­se a cheap fan­less PCIe gra­phics card with NVi­dia 6200LE chip. Plug in. Boot. Works. Errr. Sort of.

I am not able to acti­va­te both cards at the same time. BIOS allows to defi­ne eit­her onboard or PCIe gra­phics card as pri­ma­ry card. But the non-pri­ma­ry card seems to be total­ly dis­ab­led and unuse­ab­le for the ope­ra­ting sys­tem. Linux’ hard­ware infor­ma­ti­on does always only report one of the gra­phics adapters.

Ok, the BIOS. It’s an ‑MX board and its BIOS 0509 is from Oct 2006. Cur­rent ver­si­on: 1101 from Sept 2007. I per­form the update. Cool. Now the gra­phics opti­on is dif­fe­rent: „Acti­va­te eit­her PCIe or onboard” and „Acti­va­te BOTH PCIe and onboard”. This seems simp­le: Second opti­on, saving, reboo­ting. Hoor­ay! Linux now reports both gra­phics adap­ters available.

Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, it still does not work. the board does always only acti­va­te the PCIe card. Any attempt to access the onboard chip is eit­her unsuc­cess­ful or even cras­hes the sys­tem. We’­re tes­ting and try­ing the who­le after­noon. No chan­ce. Dig­ging through the inter­net brings some reports of simi­lar pro­blems.

Final­ly, we remo­ve the PCIe card and replug the moni­tors to the buil­tin gra­phics ports. Now the work­sta­tion is use­ab­le again with both moni­tors. I see three pos­si­ble solutions:

  • Wait for the next BIOS update which hope­ful­ly fixes the problem.
  • Con­ti­nue living with the cur­rent set­up. But the­re is a dif­fe­rence bet­ween ana­log and digi­tal video signals!
  • Buy ano­t­her PCIe card which con­tains two DVI ports on its own. The che­a­pest are around 80 EUR. That’s qui­te some money, espe­cial­ly as the board its­elf cos­ts less.

Ok, the­re is an oppor­tu­ni­ty that we have over­se­en that one BIOS set­ting which makes the dif­fe­rence. But we real­ly tried lots of them…

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