Dual external displays (3480x1080) on macbook pro late 2008: Done!

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by appleaphid, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. appleaphid macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2009
    Hey everyone,

    I would just like to share my successful setup with dual external monitors on a MBP late 2008. It's not perfect, but I'm quite happy with it :D. Hopefully it will be useful for others, although I have now way of knowing whether it will work for you (disclaimer).

    I know there have been other setups posted, but I have not seen this one. Other things I've seen:
    USB graphics: cheap, but usually poor performance. I was also told the color can not be calibrated.
    ViDock: not compatible with my macbook pro 5,1 (& later?)
    Matrox DualHead2Go: some people had trouble with higher resolutions (http://www.codza.com/triple-monitor-setup-unibody-macbook)

    My setup:
    OSX 10.6.6
    Macbook Pro 5,1
    15", 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo, late 2008
    NVIDIA GeForce 9400M & 9600M GT
    Two Dell Ultrasharp 21.5", 1920x1080 monitors (U2211H); they came with DVI cables.
    Dell Multi-Monitor Hub (MMH11)
    Accell Mini Displayport to Displayport adapter

    Dell mmh11
    I had now way of knowing whether it would work; Dell only mentions compatibility to PC (even on the phone). I bought it and the second monitor on the condition that I can return it with no charge (including shipping) for any reason. Got everything during Dell's frequent sales :)

    Turns out other companies sell something that looks identical (Startech & Accell). Accells mentions compatibility to macs and even has an all DisplayPort version!

    How to... for my setup

    1) Make sure to use the graphics card with dedicated memory (GeForce 9600M GT): System Preferences>Energy Saver>
    - Graphics: select "Higher performance"
    - Computer sleep: drag the slider to the right (never)
    !The 9400M graphics (256MB shared memory) could not handle it
    !Waking up from sleep mode resulted in one monitor not being

    2) Connect everything:
    I connected all the video cables first, then the usb to power the mmh11 (with computer on).
    !I had to connect to ports 1 & 3 of the mmh11. connecting to 1 & 2 made one monitor flicker every few seconds.

    3) Set the resolution:
    By now the mac has recognized one external monitor called "DELL MMH11"., but it does not behave exactly as one monitor.
    By default, I had the display arrangement on mirror and all three displays showed the same thing.
    Go to System Preferences>Displays>Arrangement: Uncheck "Mirror Displays"
    Now, there should be different window ("DELL MMH11") across the two external monitors. Select 3480x1080 and you're done! :D

    How does it do?

    Movies play nicely, but there is a split in the middle in full-screen mode (like any dual display setup). That being said, clicking the green "expand window" button of Quicktime fills in one screen nicely.

    Photoshop & Lightroom work great on them. All the space is great to compare images, or browse a large library of images (or other documents).

    I don't play graphic-intensive games, so I will not be able to answer questions about that.

    The NVIDIA 9600M graphics does get hot! 70degC idle and high 80s when working it, at which point the fans are working hard as well. NVIDIA's website reports a tolerance to 105degC so it should be ok... as long as it's not on your lap!

  2. matyhaty macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2011
    Macbook Pro with 2 24" Montors

    Hey appleaphid

    Thanks for doing that write up.
    Im also looking for this exact setup with two externals for my recent 17" mbp.

    Where did you get the adapter cable from?

    Are you still using this setup and happy with it

    Again, thanks for the write up!


  3. appleaphid thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2009
    Hey Matt,

    Sorry for the late reply; I did not get a notification; must be off...

    It turns out that my mac even switches automatically to the dedicated graphics if the monitors are plugged in before turning it on, so yeah, happy with it :)

    I got the adapter/dongle from Frontier PC (I'm in Canada)

    Hope it works out for you too.

  4. npgall macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2011
    Dual external displays (3480x1080) on macbook air 2011

    I know I'm resurrecting a several month old thread here, but just wanted to update it with my experience doing the same thing with the 2011 MacBook Air.

    Basically the Dell Multi-Monitor Hub (MMH11) also works with the 2011 MacBook Air (11") running OS X Lion 10.7.1. However I had some trouble at first getting it to work at full 3840x1080 resolution. I'm using it with 2 x Samsung 24" BX2440 monitors (each 1920x1080), i.e. using only 2 of the 3 outputs on the monitor hub (which allows 1080p bandwidth to each monitor).

    With the two monitors connected, for some reason Mac OS would not display 3840x1080 in display settings however - the max resolution it displayed was 2560x1024. The solution I found was to install SwitchResX (yes it costs €14), and add 3840x1080 at 50Hz as a custom resolution. The 50Hz vertical refresh rate is important, 60Hz does not work.

    Once this custom resolution is added, Mac OS displays the new resolution alongside the previous ones in Display Settings. So it's possible to toggle between 1920x1080 and 3840x1080 (clone mode and extended desktop mode respectively) in that dialog, or using its menu bar icon.

    Incidentally I've also used a Matrox DualHead2Go DP Edition device with this laptop and same monitors (and also with a MacBook Pro 13" and different monitors) and I can confirm for that device and other (Iiyama) monitors it was also necessary to use 50Hz refresh rate for 3840x1080 resolution. It must be due to DisplayPort bandwidth or the Intel graphics cards in the 2011 MacBooks.

    The setup basically allows 2 x 1080p external monitors plus the laptop built-in screen to be enabled simultaneously for a 5 megapixel desktop, and I'm very happy with it. I'd recommend Divvy by the way for tiling windows on large desktops.
  5. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
    I’m also using a dual monitor setup with a late 2008 macbook pro with :
    - 2 X ASUS PA238Q (gorgeous 23” 1920x1080 IPS monitor)
    - 1 MATROX DualHead2Go
    It’s working great, with a 60Hz refresh rate, the MBP is in clamshell mod.

    However, the 2 monitors are recognized by the MBP as 1 monitor with a 3840x1080 resolution, therefore some windows which use to appear in the middle of screen are splitted between the 2 screens and separated by the screens’ bezels. It’s particularly apparent for the login textfield or the cmd + Tab apps swapping window.

    Is there a way to tweak the dualhead2go to be recognized as 2 monitors by the MBP ?
  6. npgall macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2011
    I'm using Window Catcher from the App Store to prevent windows appearing between the two monitors.

    It won't help with the login screen. However I leave the laptop screen as the primary screen with the menu bar, and I use another app called MenuEverywhere which displays a menu drop-down in the title bars of windows on secondary screens. The login screen and CMD+Tab popup therefore appears on my laptop screen. There are other apps like SecondBar which display an actual menu bar on secondary screens if you prefer.

    Not really AFAIK, although that would be great. The Matrox software for Mac is very limited compared to its Windows counterpart. I actually don't use it at all and I use various apps to work around the various niggles individually.
  7. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
  8. jtara, Nov 3, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011

    jtara macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2009
    I bought Window Catcher, and it doesn't do a thing for me. Windows still come up in the middle, split between the two screens. And I don't really understand how to set it up, I don't really understand what the "target" and the box mean.
    But I suppose that's partly because it doesn't seem to do a damn thing, so I can't experiment to understand what the controls mean.

    Do I need to disable the Matrox PowerDesk to use Window Catcher?

    Edit: Window Catcher does work as long as you check "Include Unknown Window Types". I suspect this is a Lion issue. Unless you check this, there aren't ANY windows that it will re-position.

    Still can't really make heads-or-tails of how to set it up. It's very confusing. Only thing that works for me is to align the left of the box with the target, and select "center left side of new window". This will bring up new windows on the left edge of the right screen. I've no idea how to center new windows in the right screen.

    Would be nice if it would "cascade" windows, rather than just opening them up right over each other... Is there other software like this?

    P.S. did not have to disable PowerDesk.

    Edit 2: I didn't realize you can move the target. You move it with control-click-drag. Also, you can resize the area in which it "catches" new windows.

    For DualHead2Go, what makes sense is to put the target in the center of either the left or right half. Then, make the "catch" box full-height, and make it a band over the center of the two screens. Leave at least 1/2 of each screen uncovered. That way, windows that happen to open up on one screen or the other will stay there. Windows that open up in the center between the two screen will be caught and moved to the target, if you use "center of new window".
  9. jtara macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2009
    Ack! Horrible flashing/blinking on one screen when you scroll on the other. The DualHead2Go probably goes back. They STILL don't have it right after all these years of trying to make this product work!

    Apparently, with GForce 9400M, it doesn't really support 1600x1200x2 at 60Hz. You have to drop to 50Hz. Only my monitors don't support 50Hz.

    Matrox doesn't disclose this in their compatibility matrix. It only says you have to drop to 50Hz for 2x1920. But there's a tech note on GForce 9400M "corruption", though they don't exactly say what they mean by "corruption". The solution is to drop-down to 50Hz.

    I have a tech support ticket in, but not expecting any solution. Will have to go with a USB adapter.
  10. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
    Been there, done that and it's a good surprise ! I use the eVGA UV19+ and I don't regret my Dualhead2go.
    Sure there is some lag, you'll have to watch your video on the primary display, but overall it's an improvement compared to the textfield-splitted-in-half-and-no-more-fullscreen DualHead2Go.
  11. jtara macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2009
    Thanks, I'm going to return the DualHead2Go and try the USB route. I use my Macbook primarily for software development, so no issue about playing video. I just need more screen real-estate for editor windows. I have a separate Linux system with 2 screens that I use for web browsing, reading documentation, etc. as well, but 1 screen is just too constraining when doing cut-and-paste from one project to another, etc. I'm dong iOS development, so need to use a Mac. Otherwise, I would just add a second video card to my Linux system and use all 4 screens there.

    I've gone round-and-round with Matrox tech support with the final conclusion ambiguous and I'm left with "try different monitors". They won't give me a clear answer as to whether or not it is required to drop to 50Hz for 2x1600x1200 with the GeForce 9400M. The compatibility wizard doesn't show a 50Hz requirement, but there is a tech note about "corruption" on 9400M that says you have to drop to 50Hz. I have asked about this tech note, and they keep avoiding the issue.

    They won't SAY that I need to drop to 50Hz. Just "try different monitors". I don't know if that means try monitors that will sync at 50Hz, or that the flashing/blinking might go away with different monitors.

    It's a waste of time dealing with Matrox tech support.
  12. jtara, Nov 4, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2011

    jtara macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2009
    Got a Diamond BVU195 at Fry's, $54.95 after $15 rebate. Usability-wise the heck out of the Matrox DualHead2Go that I paid almost $250 for.

    I'm running one 1600x1200 display on the Mini Displayport output of my Macbook, and one on the BVU195. I can also use the built-in display, but normally use it with the clamshell closed. (I use the keyboard and mouse on my Linux system, controlling the Macbook with Synergy software.)

    Wasn't immediately obvious that I needed to get the driver from the DisplayLink web site. DisplayLink makes the chips for most of the USB video adapters currently being sold. They have beta drivers for Lion.

    Works fine despite the fact that my machine is on a list that isn't supposed to play well with this. Some posts on their support board indicate that the recent Lion update fixed these issues.

    The tradeoff is, of course, you are not going to get the accelerated performance of the built-in video card that the Matrox box is able to utilize. There is some noticeable lag when dragging windows, and, surprisingly, cursor lag. (I just can't imagine it takes much bandwidth to update the cursor...) And the current Lion driver can't set a separate color profile for the USB device. Change color profiles, and it changes the other screens to the same profile. (Of some concern to me, because 1 of my 4 Samsung 213Ts is "off" from the others, color-wise. I'm not doing graphics work, so it's just a bit annoying.)

    On the other hand, there are NO annoying flickers, stutters, or flashes like I get with the Matrox. And it is seen as a REAL separate display. (With all the advantages and disadvantages of that...) You can even play video on the USB display without fully saturating the CPU. Of course, it would be silly to play video on it, when you can just play it on the built-in display adapter. You're not going to do serious gaming on this. But for general office use, software development, etc. it is fine. I can see where the lag could be excessive, though, for any kind of interactive graphics work. Too much disconnect between hand and screen. Oh, and it actually works, with the monitors that I already have.

    The driver losslessly compresses changes to screen content, and the chipset decodes the compressed data and updates an onboard buffer. DisplayLink says that it's sufficiently compressed that you can use several adapters on one system and it will not saturate the USB, and certainly with only one adapter it has little impact on overall USB performance.

    At less than 1/4 the cost of the DualHead2Go, the BVU195 is a no-brainer.
  13. WAM2 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2011
    United States
  14. jtara macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2009
    Anybody know how to uninstall the Matrox PowerDesk software? Apparently, there's a driver involved, I don't think it's just as simple as removing the application. The damn driver keeps crashing PostBox.
  15. jtara macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2009
    Matrox has refused to RMA the DualHead2Go, saying it "is not defective".

    They did, at least, finally acknowledge that there is a 50Hz requirement for 2x1600x1200. They didn't specifically state that that's a requirement only for the 9400M, so yet another ambiguous response from them:

    "In order to get an RMA we have to declare the unit defective, your unit is not defective. In order to have an image displaying on your monitors they need to support a 50 Hz refresh rate."

    BTW, the issue is not that an image is not displayed. It's that there is blinking/flashing on the opposite display when you scroll on either one.

    I asked them repeatedly if a 50Hz rate was a requirement, but they only said "try different monitors" until the last correspondence.

    The problem I have with this is that their Compatibility Wizard shows that 2x1600x1200 works at 60Hz. I did check the Compatibility Wizard before purchase. This is a misrepresentation - in the U.S. at least, products have to conform to marketing material.

    Provantage (where I purchased it) has promised to take the DualHead2Go back. They still need to hear from their distributer.


    Otherwise, you will get stuck, (as many others have reported online) or at least have to go through a great deal of hassle to return.
  16. npgall macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2011
    Pity I missed these replies, this thing wasn't sending me notifications.

    About Window Catcher, sorry this thing didn't notify me about your problem setting up that up, I could have helped, but you ended up with the same setup as me anyway.

    Just to add that I've found that Samsung BX2440, and Iiyama E2473HDS monitors accept 50Hz. However as I mentioned earlier, with the Dell MMH11 and the Samsung monitors, it wasn't automatic, I had to force 50Hz see below. It's possible 1080p monitors in general might be more likely to accept 50Hz than the 1920x1200 ones, because 1080p@50Hz is a standard broadcast TV resolution in PAL TV regions AFAIK, and they might want to ensure these monitors are compatible with that.

    Also I'd add: just because your monitor doesn't include 50Hz in the list of resolutions that it reports to Mac OS, doesn't mean that it actually won't accept 50Hz if it's sent 50Hz :) For my Samsung monitors I had to use SwitchResX to add 3840x1080 at 50Hz as a custom resolution on my machine (via the Dell MMH11), basically forced Mac OS to use 50Hz and then it worked.

    In the old days I'd force custom resolutions all the time, and it was riskier with older monitors, but I never had a problem. And monitors these days should validate the resolution and safely just display out of range if they really don't support it. But beware that you can possibly damage your monitors by forcing unsupported resolutions. Worked for me but there are no guarantees. SwitchResX is free to try for 10 days if you want to take the risk :)
  17. Examinus macrumors member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Hi npgall, thanks for your posts.

    I'm about to get a 13" MacBook Pro at work with two 1920x1980 and I think I'll use the same solution as you.

    When using a resolution so high have you seen any performance drop? I think your MBA has the same graphics as the 13" MBP so I'm curious how it's performing for you.
  18. npgall macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2011
    No, performance seems fine with 2x1080p + the laptop built-in screen on at the same time. I've used the 11" MBA, 13" MBA and a 13" MBP, haven't noticed a difference between the laptops.

    At work I use a 13" MacBook Pro or a 13" MacBook Air with the DualHead2Go and 2 x Iiyama E2473HDS monitors, this is a solid setup.

    At home I use an 11" MacBook Air with the Dell MMH11 and 2 x Samsung BX2440 monitors, this is an acceptable but not perfect setup. With the MMH11 I find occasionally that if my external monitors go to sleep, sometimes they won't wake up until I switch them off an back on again. It's occasional but not a big deal, and probably due to the MMH11.

    Actually I got the MMH11 really cheap on eBay as an experiment (£75) [after my home DH2Go developed a fault] so actually I was pleasantly surprised that it worked so well given it's half the cost of the DH2Go. :)
  19. Examinus macrumors member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Fantastic, thank you very much.

    Any chance you could post a screenshot of your SwitchResX custom resolution setup so I can copy it perfectly?

    I'm a little cautious about going for the DualHead2Go...there seem to be a few different models and I don't want to risk asking for the wrong one considering the price! My only other nagging point is the port I'll be using will be a Thunderbolt one, but I believe this is really just a Display Port.
  20. npgall macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2011
    Yes sure here is my SwitchResX config, for the MMH11 with 2 x Samsung BX2440 monitors:


    All of the laptops I've tried actually have thunderbolt and my Dell MMH11 is plugged into a thunderbolt port, no problems.

    Yes setting up the DualHead2Go indeed is a PITA, it needs a ton of adaptor cables for DVI monitors since its outputs are DisplayPort. Whereas the MMH11 is simpler because it has regular DVI output sockets.

    For the MMH11 you'll need one adapter cable. The device has a hard-wired input cable with a full-sized DisplayPort plug on the end, but the MBP will have a mini DisplayPort socket. So you need a mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter cable - one end is a mini-DisplayPort plug (goes into the laptop), other end is a DisplayPort socket (the MMH11 plugs into this socket).

    Like this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/StarTech-Di...42?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1327270747&sr=1-42
  21. Examinus macrumors member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Thank you ever so much for helping. :)
  22. npgall macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2011
  23. Wongers1 macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2012

    I have a triplehead2go DP a and I wanna hook it up to my 3 Samsung 2343 VGA monitors. Have you ever tried to hook it up with the VGA rather than DVI?

    If so, what cables will I need?

  24. npgall macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2011
    @Wongers1 No I'm afraid I haven't tried VGA. Matrox might have instructions for how to do that. Good luck!
  25. msim20 macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Reviving this old thread - hoping somebody can share some insight on this question I have.

    I have a circa 2009 Macbook Pro - MacBookPro5,3 is the model.
    It has the discrete graphics card that was available then, provided I logout and login into the Performance mode.

    Now, I have a 1920*1200 monitor connected to the display port.
    I want to add a monitor in portrait mode - eyeing this one. May be I should go for a lesser monitor, but this one has pivot capability built in.

    Now, it appears to be, that if I use a USB display link adapter, I will be loading the primary CPU to run the monitor. True?

    So I am left wondering, if I can run the second monitor using the processing power of the discrete graphics card?

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28 March 16, 2011