Dual Ext Monitors on 2015 13 MacBook Air?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Melrose, Dec 27, 2015.

  1. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    I have a single external monitor set up for my MBAir that runs in clamshell mode - and I'm wondering if it would be possible to have a second monitor connected while it's in clamshell mode. What I'm aiming for is a landscape monitor for the visual end and the portrait monitor for "code mode" so I can see the bulk of the PHP doc all at once.

    NOTE: I don't need to have *three separate screens* - that is, two externals and the Air itself; every question I've found online they all want to use two monitors AND the laptop screen all at once. I don't need this. :) I'd prefer them all connected through the Thunderbolt port, but if it needs to be done via USB I can do that. Better via USB than not at all. HDMI splitters, I'm guessing, won't do the trick - e.g., it can't possibly be that easy, can it?

    I'm just after two external monitors for my MacBook Air running in Clamshell mode.

    Is this possible without spending $1k on Apple Displays,
    and if so, What equipment would I need to get it up and running?

    Thank you very much in advance! :)
  2. Melrose thread starter Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    After spending a hill looking into it yesterday, I'll answer my own question for those who may follow.

    It is possible to run dual external monitors but it requires some expensive setup to get working. The Air is more than powerful enough but it doesn't have the capability to handle it easily. The limitation isn't power or graphics cards, it's simply a matter of how many ports it has.

    So there's two options:

    1. Daisy-chain two Thunderbolt monitors together.
    Easiest, most pricey, least cords. Good Thunderbolt displays can't be had for under $200 or so a pop.

    2. Connect one Thunderbolt dock into another Thunderbolt dock. Complicated, least pricey, cords all over the desk. Link

    The reason it's difficult to do is because the Air has only one Thunderbolt port, and HDMI/DVI/VGA cannot daisy-chain. Only Thunderbolt can do that - so you have to buy either the fancy monitors or the fancy docks to make it happen. HDMI splitters, while a perfect solution were it feasible and only $10-15, results in duplicated screens - the computer will view both monitors as one peripheral and put the external screen on both of them - the Air can only send one signal per HDMI port. This is a limit on the HDMI technology, not the computer.
  3. v3nom macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2010
    There is a way… but I am not sure you will like it ;)
    Externel graphics cards (eGPU) can add another GPU to your Mac over the TB connection. With the new GPU you can use all the connection the eGPU is providing. I tested that with two eGPUs (daisy chained) and managed to connect 8 displays (even some 4k) over one TB cable. 4 monitors each eGPU:

    eGPUs are still a DIY project and require some investments. A simple eGPU should be feasible for 450-500$ US.

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