2013 MacBook air with two external monitor

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by curiousprgrmr, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2013
    Hi, I am wondering anyone had experience using the new macbook air with a USB 3.0 to DVI or USB 3.0 to DisplayPort adapter?

    I am planning to plug two Dell U2412m as follow:

    1 x miniDisplayPort(thunderbolt) to DisplayPort
    1 x USB 3.0 to DisplayPort OR DVI

    I researched a lot on this topic, however, information are scarce on the Macbook's performance with two external displays, and most reviews are on USB 2.0 versions which seemingly lags on Macbooks. The USB 3.0 perhaps should be more fluid?

    Anyone tried one of these? Or have a suggestion on an adapter that would allow me to display two external monitors with about the same quality as the thunderbolt port would allow (watching hd videos, etc).



    Thunderbolt displays and the rMBP are too expensive for my budget :/

    Thank you!
  2. macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2013
    I use a USB3.0 displaylink adapter to connect to a second monitor. No lag and videos are watchable when I use it at work. Spreadsheets, email, some video, and internet browsing is the extent I use the second monitor.

    This is the one I got...almost all the USB3.0 monitor adapters are based on display link so just download the mac driver on their webpage and it'll work fine
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2013
    Thank you for your answer! But did you use DVI or HDMI with the adapter, also do you notice any cursor(mouse) delays or is it as fluid as the DisplayPort?
  4. macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2013
    DVI but it's connected by a HDMI to DVI adapter. No lag moving between monitors.
  5. macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Supposedly, the Thunderbolt chip Redwood Ridge (that should be in all Haswell based macs) is supposed to support Displayport 1.2 which means it could daisy chain two DP 1.2 monitors....

    Not sure anyone has tried this yet.....
  6. macrumors 68000

    Oct 21, 2009

    I got this


    Its coming tomorrow, has ethernet, dvi and hdmi (can be used simultaneously) as well as a bunch of usb ports (from what i have read the audio ports dont work with osx

    if you go to the plugable website (they use the same displaylink chip) it shows their dock hooked up to a display plus another usb to dvi plugged into one of the docks ports (their dock only has a single video out) powering a second display and the third display being the laptop and it is smooth plus it has gigabit ethernet
  7. macrumors 68020


    Jun 10, 2010
    Does iPhoto work correctly on the USB monitor? I've tried another USB display adapter and images would not display on the monitor. Move it back over to the main and all was fine.

    Didn't know if it was a quirk of it being over USB or just a quirk with my particular adapter.
  8. macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2013
    I'm curious on this too as I'm looking to do the EXACT same setup on the '13 MBA.

    I'm leaning towards trying the USB->HDMI->DVI method on the 2nd monitor as well, but the Toshiba dock method you mentioned seems like a good alternative as well.

    My primary concern is also lag/performance. E.g. Can you play a HD Movie on both monitors simultaneously without lag? (not that one would, just curious as that'd be a good test of the graphics performance capabilities).

    If you guys try out these methods, please let me know what your experience is!
  9. macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2013
    Just tried it...it doesn't open up a new full size photo on the USB monitor. It's fine when I open it from the other monitor first, then move it over and everything else works from there. Not sure why...
  10. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2013
    Is this true?! The new haswell macbook air has redwood ridge/displayport 1.2 which means we can use a displayport mts splitter for 2 external monitors! Can anyone confirm? There are not much info about this
  11. macrumors 68000

    Oct 21, 2009
    just tried a single USB external display, not bad but not as smooth as when hooked p to display port. Playing even youtube video on it has the occasional flickering of the video (not the whole display just the flash element)
  12. macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2013
    newdeal: Which USB adapter did you use? (plugable, startech, etc?) And you only had that one external display running?

    Would also like to know about the Redwood Ridge/DP 1.2 splitting! Anybody know??
  13. macrumors member

    May 28, 2009
    What about 2 thunderbolt daisy chained? Is that smooth?
  14. macrumors 65816

    Jul 6, 2007
    MBA page doesn't mention DP 1.2. No mention of DP splitting in the list of video out abilities on Tech Specs page.

    Only device with Thunderbolt 2 / DP1.2 is the new Mac Pro which was discussed only in the WWDC keynote.

    Wild guess but I bet rMBP gets Thunderbolt 2 also.
  15. macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009

    This years Redwood Ridge has DP 1.2. That was the only update to TB for 2013 (or at least "early" 2013). Unfortunately I haven't been able to confirm that the MBA's have Redwood Ridge rather than the older Cactus Ridge.

    There seems to be a misconception that DP 1.2 is coming with Thunderbolt 2 (Falcon Ridge). This is incorrect. DP 1.2 will be a part of Thunderbolt 2, but is NOT the first controller to have it.


    Apple has never mentioned the video capabilities in their documentation of Thunderbolt. All they ever mention is the data transfer rates. If Redwood Ridge is used then it has it.

    That's also assuming Apple enables 1.2 DP support....
  16. macrumors 68000

    Oct 21, 2009
    It was a toshiba dock but they all use chips from displaylink so it really doesnt matter which you use. I also had ethernet plugged into the dock but having it plugged or unplugged didnt make a difference to the display
  17. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2013
    Is your Toshiba dock USB 3.0 with DL-3500 or 3900? Cause most reviews on the USB 3.0 give relatively fluid displays while it's the USB 2.0 that lags a bit
  18. macrumors 68000

    Oct 21, 2009
  19. macrumors 68000

    Oct 21, 2009
    Oh i just saw the flickering is a known issue with safari when using flash or html5 according to displaylink other browsers dont have the issue
  20. macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2010
    The difference is that Redwood Ridge only supports 4k and DP 1.2 if the display is the first and only device (bar MST devices) on the chain, effectively running the port in passthrough mode, Falcon Ridge will enable DP 1.2 anywhere in the Thunderbolt chain.

    As for whether the 2013 MBA has Redwood Ridge: the Ifixit teardown shows the DSL3510L marking on the Thunderbolt controller, which is last year's controller. Redwood Ridge is DSL4510 for the four channel/dual port controller and DSL4410 for the two channel/one port controller.
  21. macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Do you have any documentation on this? Further, for those who don't use any Thunderbolt devices, that would still be a much appreciated step because they could still use dual displays and/or a 4K device. At least they have the option.
  22. macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2010
    Not documentation, just an AnandTech article: "Redwood Ridge maintains feature compatibility, but you get official support for DisplayPort 1.2 (and 4K resolution) if you're using a DisplayPort monitor. This extension of DP 1.2 support does not apply to Thunderbolt displays or DP 1.2 displays connected to a Thunderbolt chain however. "

    From the photo (yellow frame) in the teardown, we can see the markings which say DSL3510L, which is the designation used in ARK. (See http://ark.intel.com/products/family/29057/Intel-IO-Controllers for a list of all Thunderbolt controllers.) This chip launched in Q2 2012. What the codes beginning with Z means, I do not know.
  23. coolguy1, Jun 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2013

    macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2011
    Ok guys heres my feedback on connecting 2 DEll 24"s (2413 + 2412) to the Macbook Air.

    1) MiniDP => DP on Dell 2413 (this monitor supports DP 1.2)
    Connected 2nd DP-out on 2413 to DP-in on 2412, I get duplicate display, not extended. Also 'Display' just shows 2 monitors (laptop+primary 2413) - second display is not shown.

    Results - Daisy-chain doesn't work.. just get duplicated display on 2nd 24".

    This proves that DP 1.2 "might be" exists on Macbook 2013 Air, but it is probably not enabled in OSX. Probably need Mavericks for this to work to daisy-chain using DP 1.2

    2) Toshiba Dynadock 3.0 from Amazon =>connected to USB port
    DvI -< Dell 2413
    HDMI -> Dell 2412

    Result = Awful.. It is slow and not at all smooth.. Youtube videos suck too!

    *** Also note when I plugged in Dell monitors, the colors are not vibrant and whites are yellow tint ..

    Found a fix online, turns out that MAC only outputs YbYr, so need to fix it to force display RGB

    more details here: http://embdev.net/topic/284710

  24. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2013
    Your experience doesn't look promising :( are you sure you have the latest Display Link 2.0 drivers on Mountain Lion 10.8? Your adapter is a USB 3.0, should run pretty smooth according to reviews on the Display Link forums.

    But according to your sayings, are you running both U2413 (DVI) and U2412 (HDMI) through usb 3.0 from one adapter? If yes, I think a single Display Link adapter is only powerful enough to run one external monitor, one of your monitor should use the miniDP to DP cable.

    Let us know how your awesome gear works!
  25. macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2011
    Yes latest driver 2.0 on old Macbook 2011 and the new 2013 MacAir.. same result really.

    I tested Dynadock in 2 ways:

    1) USB 3.0 from MacAir => DynaDock => DVI (U2413) + HDMI (U2412)

    It's slow and animations are not smooth.. you can notice the lag when moving the mouse pointer alone

    2) MiniDP from Macair => DP on U2413
    USB 3.0 from MacAir => DynaDock => HDMI on 2412

    Even w/ single display it is slow.. DisplayPort <> MiniDP is perfect and fluid.

    Hope this clarifies for u.

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