Easy to install
Videos look great
Does what it says on the tin
USB 2.0 isn't great for HD
Not powerful enough for games
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StarTech.com returns with another snappily-named, though pretty useful, product: the StarTech.com USB 3.0 to HDMI/DVI External Video Card Multi Monitor Adapter - 1920 x 1080. It just rolls off the tongue doesn't it?
The device is a basic external graphics card that transforms a USB 3.0 port into an HDMI or DVI output, enabling you to add a second monitor, or even an HD TV, to expand the desktop of your PC or laptop.
When it comes to desktop PCs, the uses for this device are quite limited. Unless you have the most basic of integrated graphics cards, your PC should have two outputs for connecting multiple monitors. If you want to add a third monitor, however, then this is an option that is both cheaper and easier than upgrading your graphics cards.
Of course older PCs could potentially benefit from the StarTech.com USB 3.0 to HDMI/DVI External Video Card Multi Monitor Adapter, but it's unlikely that they would have a USB 3.0 port. The adapter is also compatible with USB 2.0 ports, but the results aren't as good, due to the reduced bandwidth.
Through both USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, the StarTech.com USB 3.0 to HDMI/DVI External Video Card Multi Monitor Adaptor - 1920 x 1080 did a good job of extending the desktop of our test laptop onto a 1080p-capable monitor. The colours looked good, and even though the laptop's monitor was only capable of 1366 x 768, the monitor displayed 1920 x 1080 resolutions fine.
It was easy to install, with the drivers provided on a CD. However, games couldn't be played through the adapter - it's just not powerful enough. High definition videos looked and played fantastically through the USB 3.0 port, but when plugged into the USB 2.0 port, playback was pretty choppy.
As a cheap way to add a second display, the StarTech.com USB 3.0 to HDMI/DVI External Video Card Multi Monitor Adapter is a decent choice - as long as you have a spare USB 3.0 port.
Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.