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Dual-heading and WoW: a how-to guide


There's been many a time when I have been tempted by the lure of a larger monitor. I just never seem to have enough room on the screen in WoW, between all my toolbars and chat windows and party member icons and such. The actual window into the world seems to get more crowded the more I play. Now, since I am ultimately a geek, what would be better for me than one big monitor? Two monitors. Yessir, I've been planning to dual-head my system for a while now, and when Bill wrote WoW Insider asking for help on this, I jumped at the chance. I know it's been a long time coming Bill, but here it is.

First, some caveats. I run a nVidia graphics card, so these steps are using their drivers and control panel. I don't have access to an ATI card since they are not allowed within 100 yards of my house, so I cannot give any advice with that side of things. However, the setup within World of Warcraft should pretty much be the same. For the purpose of this article I set up my system using two 18-inch monitors: a Samsung and a Sony, so it doesn't matter what brand of monitor you use. Being left-handed I configured the left-hand monitor as my main game space, and the right-hand monitor as my toolbar/bag/chat window space.

Also, in order to complete this dual-heading setup within WoW you'll need to download CT Mod 2. I used the CT_Viewport feature within the mod to configure the play space within the game. There might very well be some other options out there, but this seemed the simplest since I already had the mod running on my system.


Once I had my two monitors installed on my system (configuration of ports will vary between boxes. I run a custom built PC off an Aspire X-Cruiser case) I launched the nVidia control panel by right-clicking on my desktop. I selected the Display option and that brought up a fairly simple menu. Your system should already recognize the two monitors, but if it doesn't just reboot before you continue. I chose the option "Change display configuration" and from there received a menu with some radio buttons asking me to select my preference. I selected "as one large horizontal desktop" after which I received a prompt asking me if I want to keep the settings. As long as you can see your desktop stretched across the two displays, click Yes. I closed the control panel and launched World of Warcraft.

You'll notice that the game's video settings revert back to default now, and you can appreciate exactly how bad the game will look with the settings turned down. With the character select screen I chose a character with few options (i.e. an alt) to start with so that I had a minimum of windows to adjust. Once my character loaded I opened the Video Options menu. In the upper left-hand corner is a drop-down box for resolution. Now this is another point in the configuration where things will vary. Each monitor supports a different resolution, so you need to find the common ground between your monitors. I run my monitor at 1280 x 1024, and so double that width brings me to 2560 x 1024. So that is the option I selected. If your monitors support a different resolution, it will just require a little basic math on your part to find which of the "wide" resolution options will be best for you. After selecting the resolution I hit okay and closed the Video Options menu.

Next came CT. I opened CT and then CT_Viewport, the last option on the dialog. This brought up a little box that was split between my two monitors, and it's one of the few windows you can't move around the screen, which makes it a bit more challenging. The Viewport screen is a yellow box within a red one. The yellow box represents the game space, the rendered area where WoW runs. Currently you'll see that the game is twice as wide as before, and you have a lovely panorama shot of wherever you happen to be. This would be fabulous if we were triple-heading, but since the character runs in the middle of the rendered area, everything will be split between the two monitors.

To change the rendered area I dragged the yellow box over to the left (if you prefer you can also do this the opposite way, see earlier comments on left-handedness) to the resolution of one of my monitors, in this case 1280. You will see the number change on the right side of the Viewport window when you do this. Another sign that you have the right resolution will be the yellow box's outer edge. It will only be on one monitor or the other, not both. I hit Apply and Okay.

This will actually take the most amount of time, since you need to configure all your characters separately. I know, it's a pain, but that's the way it is. From here I used the CT_BarMod to move my toolbars around to where I wanted them to be. Now, I wasn't able to get all my mods onto the right-hand screen since I use Titan Panel, but I did clear out most of it. What you leave on your rendered game area is up to you, and far be it from me to tell someone how to set up their UI.

If everything is setup correctly, your system should look like this, minus the Wii controller of course. That's a whole other kettle of fish.

A note about undoing the dual-heading: If you should decide that this isn't the game play experience for you, make sure to move all your windows back before you remove the second monitor from your system. Otherwise you will lose windows/toolbars etc. since the game will not reset those automatically for you. But personally, I don't think you will. This setup is lovely, and I can't imagine wanting to go back to a single monitor system after having experienced dual-heading. This, on the other hand, is what I truly pine for.

Filed under: Tips, How-tos, Add-Ons, Guides

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