I see this question asked on a regular basis so I thought I would offer my experience regarding using multiple monitors. My setup consists of 3 monitors connected to my edit system, 2-Dell 2406 widescreen and 1- LG NTSC HD reference monitor. I spread the PP interface across the 2 Dell computer monitors and extend the playback onto the LG for reference.
My GTX 470 video card easily handles the two computer monitors with MPE and it works great. The overhead for a second monitor is minimal and does not impact performance in any way (that I have noticed).
There are a couple of options to get playback on the third reference monitor:
One option is to purchase a card from BlackMagic, AJA, Matrox, etc to drive the reference monitor. This is a good solution if you need to supply the signal to other devices such as tape machines, etc because they usually come with multiple outputs or connections. When I had BetaSP decks in the past I had a BM card and it worked great for analog decks and it had an HD SDI output as well. The only thing I didn't like about this solution is that you had to use their codec to edit. The downside of that is that they don't always update their codecs as fast as Adobe might update PP and the fact that we can now edit almost any professional format natively.
The second option is to use a second video card to drive the HD reference monitor. The good thing here is that you do not need an equal card to do this, meaning you can use a cheaper card and it does not need to be a CUDA card. I am using an older nVidia GeForce 9600 card and it drives the HD monitor fine with no skipped frames, etc. What I have found is that you can NOT mix types of cards, for example a Quadro and a GeForce are not compatible but a GTX and a GeForce are fine because they share the same drivers. I love this setup because it works flawlessly and it is inexpensive. Since I don't output to tape machines any more it is my preferred setup, it also works great with After Effects. Also, no need to purchase a high end card because you can only enable MPE on the primary card.
Since my reference monitor is now a consumer HD monitor instead of my good old Sony CRT(no bluescreen now), I purchased a Spyder Pro monitor calibration tool and calibrate/check all of my monitors on a monthly basis. I have verified my output on a friends system and the color reproduction is spot on.
I am sure others can provide more technical expertise on this matter but I thought I would share what I have learned.
I hope this helps!
Thank you for the informative post, it is much appreciated!
If you don't mind, could you please explain the setup within Windows/Premiere Pro after installing the 2nd Nvidia graphics card?
I added a GTX260 card for my HDMI out, expanded my Windows desktop to 3 monitors (from the current dual monitor setup), then opened a Premiere Pro reference monitor window and slid it over to display on the HDTV...is this correct? Is there any way for the video to take up the full HDTV screen and not see the controls of the reference monitor window?
Thanks in advance...
*edit* Nevermind, I figured it out. For reference:
1) From the Program window, right-click on the top-right icon and select "Playback Settings..."
2) For External Device: Select the monitor that's connected to your 2nd graphics card. If you don't see your monitor listed, make sure your monitor is turned on and try re-launching Premiere.
The video should now be displayed.