Dual Video Card Dilemma

This is just one example of the many problems I’ve been facing with Windows 7 and why it infuriates me. Things that used to work under XP without incident, don’t work under the "new and improved" OS.

I recently bought a Dell Inspiron 630 to replace an older Dell Dimension 5150. The Inspiron is an AMD Athlon II X4 chipset since I didn’t want to go with Intel this time around. Instead of using the onboard video I installed an Nvidia 8500GT PCIe video card and an Nvidia 6200 PCI card. I have two monitors plugged into the 8500GT card and one into the 6200 card for a total of three monitors across two video cards.

The funny thing, the system and Windows both recognize the cards. The drivers are installed and updated. And, when Windows initially starts it can see both cards and puts a display across all three. On the surface everything looks fine.

Until I start arranging windows. Within a minute or two of trying to use this configuration all three screen will lockup and it looks like the entire machine is hung. However, most of the time I can press Ctrl-Alt-Delete, lock the machine, log back in, and the video will respond again (at least on the main monitor, the video on the other two is completely locked and unusable). This usually gives me enough time to get to Control Panel and disable the 6200 video card. Once that card is disabled, everything works fine. I can drag and drop across monitors without issue and it doesn’t lock up. As soon as I enable the card, the problem comes right back.

As I mentioned, the drivers are updated and they use the same driver download. Windows doesn’t show any conflicts or errors in Device Manager. And since it can power that card and monitor it appears everything is fine. But alas, it simply can’t use it correctly.

Under Windows XP these same cards in this same configuration worked correctly. It just baffles me that Windows has a handle on the card to begin with then fumbles all over itself.

Is this a problem with Windows and dual video cards or is this some hate between an AMD mother/chipset combination and Nvidia? I’ve noticed hundreds of articles about problems with Windows 7 and multiple video cards and no one seems to have a solution. Since multiple monitors is extremely common, and multiple video cards is just as common I can’t see why Windows 7 can’t make this work. I’ve seen all sorts of comments about buying two identical cards, but Win7 isn’t worth $100 bucks to me, it’s certainly not worth me spending a few hundred more on video cards just to get it to do something an older version could handle.

Anyone else running into something like that? For the time being, I guess I’m just SOL and this is another problem with the latest and greatest Microsoft has to offer.

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