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I'm about to buy a new desktop. I would like to be able to use two monitors. I am not sure what features will be most important here. I will probably run Ubunbtu, although I haven't decided (I might try Arch). The computer will mostly be for simple tasks: email, writing, though some occasionally more strenuous task (editing photos, some R analysis...)

  • I believe I will need two distinct outputs (One VGA, one HDMI, probably)
  • Is a separate graphics card important, or will the inbuilt graphics manage it?
  • How much RAM should I be considering?
  • Is the processor speed important?
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(Is this on-topic here?) FWIW, even an older on-board graphics chip (Radeon HD3200, Catalyst drivers in my case) will handle dual-screen fine, and in many cases not require yet another fan. – Ulrich Schwarz Oct 16 '11 at 16:32

my graphics card has three outputs (vga, hdmi and dvi), with ubuntu 11.04 and 11.10 i am able to connect two screens to one card. After connecting them, i can setup dual screen under screen options. I think in build graphics can manage it. AFAIK RAM or Processor is not important.

It's no pain.

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+1 for Ubuntu and no strain. – l0b0 Dec 16 '11 at 12:54
I got Arch work to fine with dual screens with both Nvidia card, and the built-in Intel video from Sandy Bridge chips. Just keep your kernel and video drivers updated. – Marcin Dec 16 '11 at 18:11
  • You don't need different outputs; my screens are both attached to DVI ports.
  • Depends on the card. You should check its manual. Obviously it should have two outputs, but if they're the same type of port you can be 99% sure it supports dual screen.
  • RAM or CPU will not be an issue as long as it's enough to run modern distros.
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