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We're about to buy a new family computer with a beefy CPU (for future-proofing) and a beefy GPU (for me). The computer's near the TV, so passing an HDMI cable for couch gaming shouldn't be a problem, but I don't want to take up both the TV and the PC when I play a game.

I know games usually allow full-screen, and nowadays most support full-screen on a monitor that isn't the main one. However, could I play a game on one screen with a gamepad (and still hear it even though it doesn't have focus) while someone else uses the computer normally?

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In general, my experience with Intel and ATI cards is "no". The usual output is full screen on one display with the contents of the other monitor visible but not accessible.

I'm not sure if this is a function of the video card or operating system, or an interaction between them, but something in the implementation of full screen mode keeps the focus within your chosen display.

You can however use full screen windowed mode to achieve the result you're looking for.

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Borderless window may prevent sound from passing through when there's no focus, but I'll give it a shot. Do you have a dual-screen system now? Can you try full-screen on the secondary monitor and alt-tabbing to a window on the other monitor? –  SmileyBarry Feb 16 '13 at 14:02
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Yes, I have a multi monitor setup .. ATI on one system, Intel HD (gen 3 i-3) on the other ... Full screening on the secondary monitor is ocassionally problematic ... I'd rather reverse my monitors in my setup and keep it on my "primary". I also mute my game by it's own sound controls and have never had a problem with my HTPC setup passing sound by HDMI through the TV/surround system. –  Tharius Feb 16 '13 at 14:46
    
Do you own a Xbox controller for Windows (or practically any Xinput controller)? If so, can you give Borderless Window and the controller a shot in any supported game? I'm afraid I can't test it myself at this point. –  SmileyBarry Feb 17 '13 at 23:03
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No, I don't so I can't test that for you. I suspect you'll have a problem here if you're both using the computer and the pc simultaneously ... my answer primarily dealt with the video issue. The issue is going to be, which application is in focus? If your partner is using the pc to do a spreadsheet and clicks a cell will you then die a grisly, horrible death best only recalled in a Living Dead movie? Probably. –  Tharius Feb 19 '13 at 0:49

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