Connecting Four 30" Apple Cinema HD Displays to My MacBook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by PROFESS0R, Dec 10, 2018.

  1. PROFESS0R macrumors regular

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    Jul 30, 2017
    #1
    Hi All,

    I am in the process of troubleshooting connecting four 30" Apple Cinema HD displays to my 2018 15" MacBook Pro. I have connected three monitors with no problem, but the fourth absolutely refuses to be recognized.

    I am driving two monitors to one of the right hand side Thunderbolt 3 outputs through a Wavlink Thunderbolt 3 to dual HDMI output. The HDMI outputs go through adapters to convert them to mini display, which then drives two monitors. This works perfectly.

    One left side Thunderbolt 3 output drives a Caldigit TS3 plus. The HDMI output of the Caldigit TS3 plus drives another (identical to the right side) HDMI to mini display adapter to my third monitor... this also works perfectly.

    Here is where the problem occurs. The fourth monitor is known good since I can connect it in place of any of the three working monitors and it works perfectly. This said, when I connect this monitor to a USB3 to DVI adapter, and plug this USB3 adapter into the Caldigit TS3 plus, I get nothing.

    The three monitors that work all use Apple's DVI to mini display adapters, which contain a built-in USB connector that MUST be connected in order for the monitor to work. The fourth monitor does not have Apple's DVI to mini display adapter, but rather, drives a USB3 to DVI adapter. I am plugging in the fourth monitor's USB connector directly into the Caldigit TS3 plus USB A output.

    For the life of me, I cannot figure out why the fourth monitor is not working. All I can come up with is that for some reason, I need Apple's DVI to mini display adapter... the same one I use on the three working monitors. If this is not the problem, then I am at a loss as to why this setup isn't working. The USB3 to DVI adapter could be bad, but I have two of them and neither work.

    Thoughts?
     

    Attached Files:

  2. chrfr macrumors 604

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    Jul 11, 2009
    #2
    Does the USB to DVI adapter support dual-link DVI? That’s what’s required to get full resolution.
     
  3. Thysanoptera, Dec 10, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018

    Thysanoptera macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    That's some sort of displaylink adapter, it doesn't carry video signal from your Mac like the other monitors do, but rather it is essentially an external video card with custom chipset. You need to install drivers from displaylink website before it works. And Apple breaks those drivers from time to time, in couple of latest High Sierra releases they didn't work at all, supposedly they can be used in Mojave again. But I still wouldn't do it, they have low maximum resolution, usually full HD is all they can do, crappy performance - as in you will see choppiness when playing video and eat CPU. Just get another USB-c to mini dp adapter and drive it from your Mac directly, or eGPU to reduce the spiderweb of cables.
     
  4. PROFESS0R thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 30, 2017
    #4
    Thanks. I ordered the Apple dual-link adapter cable that I used on my other three monitors, and I suspect it will work.

    Thanks for the information. I am not going to attempt to use these adapters if they need additional drivers that Apple periodically breaks. I’ll update this thread when the Apple dual-link adapter cable arrives and I test it. Thanks again for posting this information.
     
  5. PROFESS0R thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 30, 2017
    #5
    I received my dual-link DVI adapter today and everything works perfectly with four 30" Apple Cinema displays. My setup uses one left Thunderbolt 3 connector driving a Wavlink dual display adapter driving two 30" Apple Cinema displays, and one right Thunderbolt 3 connector driving a CalDigit TS3 + which then drives a second Wavlink dual display adapter driving two more 30" Apple Cinema displays. I am exceptionally pleased with this setup now since it completely replaces my old Mac Pro desktop machine. The only port that I do not have is a firewire port, but I no longer need my firewire Apple camera since my MacBook Pro has a built-in camera.
     
  6. Qaulity macrumors member

    Qaulity

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    Jul 23, 2018
    #6
    How’s the fan noise and temps running 4 displays?
     
  7. PROFESS0R thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 30, 2017
    #7
    No noticeable change in fan noise or temperatures. The machine is quiet unless I start stressing it.

     
  8. dogslobber macrumors 68040

    dogslobber

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    #8
    The latest Displaylink drivers work superbly with Mojave. Unless you’re playing games then you won’t notice the difference. It’s an incredibly cheap way to add more displays to your Mac. Don’t be put off by people who moan out loud as plenty of us have an outstanding experience with them.
     
  9. Thysanoptera macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    If my memory serves me right, the drivers got broken initially in Mountain Lion, Yosemite, Mavericks and recently just before Mojave in couple of last High Sierra releases. And it still doesn't work and won't work at all in High Sierra 10.13.4 to 10.13.6 - the official workaround is to use AirPlay. Every single of my displaylink adapters and hubs using it is in the recycle bin, the inclusion of Alternate Mode in usb-c specs and ability to transmit display port signal over it makes displaylink simply obsolete. Displaylink makes only sense if you need to connect more monitors than limits imposed by the GPU, which are pretty high nowadays.
     
  10. dogslobber macrumors 68040

    dogslobber

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    #10
    I've not had problems with those pre-HS OS versions so I'm not sure what issues you were having. When 10.13.3 was released with the newest DL drivers then that was when I saw the most amazing smoothness. Then in 10.13.4 it was Apple who broke all these video techs by regressing their OS build. This was a total mess up by Apple and wasn't DL's dong. In the old days, yeah it was that you used DL for static displays but now it's to the point where I was fiddling about with my displays that I left only DL connected to Mojave and forgot about it for a week. I am thoroughly happy to use DL as I think they're superb, IMO.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 20, 2018 ---
    Can the MBP drive 4 native displays without DL dongle? If so then that is the ways to go for the 4th display but if not then DL is worth persevering with to drive the 4th display. The USB3 version is pretty good with bandwidth these days - e.g. I can run youtube on 1920x1200 and not tell the difference between a regular display.
     
  11. Thysanoptera macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    Look at the CPU utilization when you run youtube full screen, the USB3 ones were quite smooth but they were just killing the CPU while displaying dynamic content. The 15 inch MBP can drive 4 x 4k@60Hz AND still display the laptop screen and on Vega the only cost is some 5W on GPU (much worse on RX).
     
  12. dogslobber macrumors 68040

    dogslobber

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    #12
    I tried playing fullscreen youtube video at 1920x1200 on my 2018 Mini and saw the DisplayLink process consumed ~39% consistently for the video playing. That doesn't seem unreasonable to me given what it does. The fact the 15" MBP can drive 4x displays means I'd used those over DL first. I'd ask how much Vega costs (1200$?) but 40 bucks gets you a DL dongle so I would suggest it's a good cheap option of an extra display for minimal output. As they say, you're mileage may vary.
     
  13. PROFESS0R thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 30, 2017
    #13
    I think I caused some confusion... here is the adapter I am using.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Thysanoptera macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    No, it's ok, we are talking about the adapter that didn't work, the USB to DVI one.
    On mini you don't have a choice if you want to attach a fourth display, it's displaylink or egpu. And mini has better cooling than MBP, so those 40% are not as much visible. Interestingly, those powerful 6 core CPUs make displaylink more usable than before, I didn't use it for couple of years already, but on dual core back then it would max out one core completely leaving you with loud and choppy system overall.
     
  15. Cuda392 Suspended

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2018
    #15
    Very nice setup. I wish I had some monitors laying around where I can do that. I have an Ultrawide but thats it. :)
     

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14 December 10, 2018