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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