Some of you might be wondering why PCI video cards are even being made anymore -aside from the poor souls who are stuck on older Pentium systems without AGP slots. Surprisingly, the low-end PCI market is actually fairly large.
The only other reason for getting a PCI card that we could think of is for dual-monitor support. So far there has been one mainstream video card that offers two outputs on one card, the Matrox G400. A second dual output card, the GeForce MX should be on store shelves in the very near future.
Of course, you still have the ability to run dual display without one of these specialized cards. You just need two video cards. For people who want dual display and already have an AGP video card, the perfect dual monitor situation involves a second video card, a PCI video card that is. The Voodoo 5 5500 is currently the only current generation video card available in PCI format. A few months ago, we heard reports that ELSA has a PCI GeForce 2 in the works, but we haven't heard anything since.
Boy this feature is a beaut -a lot of this has to do with Win98 though. We plugged in a GeForce2 AGP and a Voodoo5 PCI into the same motherboard and let it rip. Installation for dual monitor support was pretty much instantaneous. Aside from installing video card drivers we didn't have to do much else -Windows handled everything else.
Playing around with dual display was pretty fun. You could maintain two different resolutions on the monitors at the same time, very cool. The best part was when we placed a window partly on both monitors, the left one was at 1024x768, the right at 1600x1200 -instant magnification.
Playing games was the only drawback. For Quake III to load properly, we had to disable one of the video adapters in the display properties. This wasn't too hard to do though. Our problem was trying to play games on the secondary adapter. It wasn't possible.
You can change which card is designated as the primary adapter in the motherboard bios in case you wanted to switch between your video cards for gaming. We did just that and made the PCI slot the initial display adaptor. Everything worked out just fine, although, this does increase the time it takes to start a game on a different video card since you have to reboot.