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…