Dual-head and how to make it useful

I enjoy my triple-head system, as you might have noticed from the screen shots, but not everyone has US$299 to drop on a black box, plus the cost of the extra screens. However, many people have a video card that can do dual-head. Mostly, for games, this sucks pretty badly. In FPSs dual-head puts the crosshairs on the join. In 3rd person perspective stuff like WoW it splits your character in half.

I have previously posted about a compromise between one/three screen(s) and two screens. This was done before I started raiding and discovered the amount of data on-screen that’s part of the UI rather than the 3D world. So, I’ve put together a little guide on how you can use a dual-head system to, basically, move your CT_RaidAssist and chat windows out of the way.

After my first raid I thought I’d just quickly put together a guide on how you can use a dual-head video card in WoW to give you more space for UI elements, such as CT_RaidAssist, while not putting your character on the join of the two screens.

First, plug in a second monitor and configure your system to display in horizontal spanned mode. This means that Windows sees one desktop. You can see that the task bar is stretched across the entire width of all the screens.

It may be possible to get WoW to run in widescreen mode without this step, but probably not. Heck, when I did it the first time I had the screens around the other way (that’s just how I happened to plug them in) and WoW wouldn’t give me a 2048×1024 option until I had them specifically in this order. I don’t have an ATI card in the house, but I hope the options are much the same.

Now, the major players when it comes to configuring WoW are:

We start by logging in:

Ignore the HUD for the moment, that goes away later.

Now, the screenshot looks nice, but the break between screens is in the middle. That sucks. So we type /viewport and we get:

We take the left hand side of the yellow box and drag it as far to the right as possible. It stops at the half way point.

(Unfortunately this still leaves a single line of 3D rendered image on the left hand screen, which may adversely affect frame rate, depending on your hardware.)

I didn’t take a screen shot between closing this window and opening the next, sorry. Just before this next shot was taken I typed /move

That’s the interface for MoveAnything on top of our reconfigured viewport. Start checking off the Move boxes of anything you want to move…

Some things are connected. You don’t have to move party member pets separately, they come with the players. Ignore the fact that the main bar has gone missing, I had a UI error. (At this point I relogged, turning off the HUD.)

And once we’ve moved everything we want to, we’re finished:

You can see the default location of the top-right CTRA party members. I don’t use my dual-head for raids, so I just quickly took a shot with a couple of guildies. CTRA can be enlarged, I just haven’t played with those options yet. What I have done is maxxed out the size of the chat window and picked the largest font size available. I find this helps in raids with a lot of typed instructions.

So, there you have it. Dual-head won’t give you surround gaming like Triple-head will, but you *can* use it for extra UI space. And because there’s a clear break in function from one screen to another, you don’t *have* to match them exactly. You will need to use the same resolution (or at least have the same vertical pixel count), but you can, for example, pair a 17″ screen up with your main 19″ display.

3 Comments so far

  1. Sabocat (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 6:16 am

    I wish macs had the ability to work as one big screen with WoW instead of the useless black screen that I currently have on my second monitor.

  2. Alex (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 7:33 am

    Go and buy a 20″iMac with the widescreen display. Wonderful for WoW!

  3. Nick (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 2:59 pm

    Or better yet, use your PC and buy a 24″ Dell widescreen monitor! :P

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