Dual Screen vs Single Screen Setup

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by -BigMac-, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. -BigMac- macrumors 6502a


    Apr 15, 2011
    Hi Guys.

    Im a university student, i work a fair bit with word excel and do my fair share of gaming and video editing.

    Was wondering how many of you are using a dual screen setup and whether you recommend the transition.

    Does it make a big difference to your daily workflow?
    Was a second screen a worthwhile investment for you?

    I want to get a broader sense of how people are utilising their dual screens, so i can see whether it would be a worthwhile investment for me. And if you're content on using a single screen, share your thoughts on why you prefer this setup (maybe 1 larger screen > smaller screens?) let us know :)

    Some photos here and there wouldn't hurt too :D

  2. throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    2 screens for the win
    it's much easier to have a document open on one screen (e.g., checklist, instructions, etc) and work on another. Or code on one and running result on the other, etc.

    Mavericks finally fixes OS X dual screen use mostly, too.
  3. ClassObject macrumors 6502


    Mar 1, 2010
    I use four. Pretty tough sometimes using the mbp
  4. wonderspark macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2010
    I have dual screens for video editing. I can get by on a single screen, but it's much nicer with two, because I can use my old refurb 30" ACD for the timeline and editing tools, and the second one for a large playback monitor.

    When you try to edit on one screen, you have to either flip on fullscreen mode to playback, or squint at the tiny little playback window amongst the other edit windows, which can result in missing details in the edit, such as an idiot sound guy's boom mic shadow in the frame, etc. :p

    I think a full screen playback is well worth it, myself.
  5. -BigMac- thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 15, 2011
    wow. do you have a photo of your setup?

    why so many?
  6. Neodym macrumors 65816


    Jul 5, 2002
    Can't speak for "ClassObject", but i found it pretty convenient to have some kind of a hardware implementation of the spaces concept Apple offered with former versions of OSX. With my MacPro i had a three screen setup arranged in cockpit style (i.e. standing next to each other in a slight arc, with the middle one in front of me).

    You could easily work on one monitor, have a second as preview and the third for finder or internet activities. And if your games allow for it, three monitors can be pretty immersive ;-)

    I would never again want to work with less than two monitors.
  7. GermanyChris macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    I traded 2 24's for a single 30" and 20"

    The 30" & 20" was a no-go so I'm on a single 30".

    Dual 1200p's would be ideal or 3 1080's in portrait.
  8. Erasmus macrumors 68030


    Jun 22, 2006
    Hiding from Omnius in Australia
    I've been thinking for a while now that it would be good to have a large central screen (i.e. 27" 1440p) with two smaller screens in portrait, one on each side.

    Unfortunately, it would optimally require two 15" 900p monitors to fit the 27", which is getting a bit small.

    Doe anyone use something similar to this?
  9. throAU, Jul 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013

    throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Yeah, more is better to an extent, but once you start going past 2, expense and more importantly in my case, desktop real estate starts getting tight (i actually have 2 external monitors and am only using one for this reason).

    I think the benefit gained from 1 to 2 is MASSIVE, adding additional screens after that is nice, but you'll start hitting diminishing returns the further you go after that - but it does depend how much you multi-task and how much brain power you need to commit to each task.

    In my job for example, its rather technical (scripting/router configs/technical problem diagnosis) so I can only concentrate on one, maybe 2 tasks at once. Most of the stuff I do has immediate feedback - i'm not waiting extended periods of time for background tasks to complete.

    If i spent a lot of time rendering, video editing, or waiting for background tasks to complete, having more screens would help me get more things done whilst background tasks carry on where i can easily keep an eye on them.
  10. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020


    Jul 21, 2004
    Two is better than one!

    I personally like one large central monitor and one smaller one on my right.
  11. tuxon86 macrumors 65816

    May 22, 2012
    I'm going from a dual monitor setup back to a single one.
    I'll soo replace my two 23" for a 27".

    The reason? I'm starting to get neck pain from going right-left-right-left all day long. That, and the fact that it's easier to work with a tablet when you have a single screen.
  12. jasonvp macrumors 6502a


    Jun 29, 2007
    Northern VA
    Two for me. At work, my Macbook Pro drives two 1920x1200 24" LCDs. At home, my Mac Pro drives 2 2560x1440 27" LCDs. I could do a single large(r) LCD in each case, but I'd rather have the freedom of different things on different panels.
  13. Tesselator, Jul 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    • Yeah, I guess everyone will recommend it. I do. The only down sides are the $15 to $20 a month is power bills and the heat generation in summer months if you don't have an industrial strength air-conditioner.

    • Mmmm, it makes things more pleasant. It's like walking a mile is shoes you like compared to an uncomfortable pair. You get there in the same amount of time but one feels like it goes by quicker and affords you more enjoyment on the journey. :)

    • Yes! For your stated purpose TN is fine and they go for $250 to $300 for a 24" (at least here in japan) so that's well worth it. And it costs about $200 or so per year in power if you have it on all the time - still very worth it IMO. Some IPS panels are also now very cheap - around $400 for a 24" to start so if you do any serious photo editing, need to color-correct or color-match anything, or you wanna watch videos while laying on the floor then that might be worth the extra.

    • I use them for all kinds of stuff. Video editing, Photo processing, Web design, Web Based Research, Music composition, Character animation and modeling for feature films, Book and tutorial authoring, etc. For games I turn one off and just play on one of them. Usually the config editing to get games to utilize dual screens is a pain so i usually just skip it. And three would be better than two for that anyway - otherwise the cross-hairs are split between the screens. :(

      I think 23" or 24" monitors running at 1080P are just perfect! But then I'm an old fart too. When I was in my early 20's and writing video games for a living I used two mammoth CRT screens and went for the highest non-interlace resolution possible - somewhere close to 3,000 pixels till IIRC. So if you're young a higher res larger monitor might be the ticket. Prices go up accordingly of course. :p

    • Here's a couple I took for other reasons. These monitors both died almost immediately after the warrantee expired so now I'm using two others which I don't have photos of. And prior to these I had a different pair yet. Whatever you do, do NOT get a glossy type! UG! Go for a matte screen instead! YAY!



  14. omvs, Jul 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013

    omvs macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2011
    I prefer one single huge monitor over multiple small (but multiple huge monitors is even better). A high res 27" goes for about $399 these days, which is nice. For what I do, more pixels is better - I have a ton of windows open and shift between them rather than having programs run full screen.

    I do find that multiple desktops doesn't work for me well with multiple displays. It sounded like Mavericks will support independant workspace switching for multiple monitors, which sounds very nice.

    Since you asked for photo's, here's my work setup - the left screen (39" Seiki 3840x2160) is basically a virtual desktop (over NX) of our unix servers where I do VLSI work. The right screen (27" EQ276W 2560x1440) is purely mac - email, web, etc.

    Attached Files:

  15. macpro2000 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 20, 2005
    More than one display is where it's at. :)

    Attached Files:

  16. chris.k macrumors member

    May 22, 2013
    2nd monitor: Useful for your XHSI glass-cockpit display..!

  17. djholman macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2013
    3 is optimal for me.

    2012 27" iMac in the middle, two 23" 1080p left and right on Ergotron Arms. This allows one to rotate either of the 23" into Portrait mode for coding/log analysis.

    Attached Files:

  18. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2013
    I've done many experiments and found that 3 screens of the right size is optimal. That's one larger (27") center screen with two flanking smaller ones (24"). The symmetry is beautiful, and it gives the most real estate to the center workspace with the sides containing accessory windows. Three 27" is too much real estate and forces you to move your head too far left and right, also it takes up too much desk space.

    The next best is two equal screens side by side. It places a center bevel line right in front of you but it's not hard to learn to ignore. Two 27" inch monitors works here. Unfortunately Apple most commonly supports only two monitors (on the non retina MBP, Mini and I believe most iMacs). Why does Apple hate three monitor setups?

    Suboptimal is having a MBP 15" or 17" next to two 27" TB monitors. The disparity between the screens is too much, and there's no way to avoid the screen asymmetry. Either the stupid MBP is in the middle, which is David next to two Goliath's, or it's off the side and is equally stupid.

    More than 3 monitors is too much, I've done up to five monitors and it provides too much space to manage and look at.

    I have a circular wrap around sit-stand desk, about 18" of linear desk space if stretched out? Anyhow three desks and stations and three computer setups.

    Basically one of the main reason I buy Mac Pros is so I can have multi-monitors.
  19. flat five macrumors 601

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    lol. i can imagine what i'd have to pay in rent alone to work with 4 displays
  20. IC3D macrumors regular


    Feb 15, 2008
    Fairfield County, CT
    I have dual ACD 30's, and it does increase productivity, as you get more real estate to use and make productive.

    Here's a pic.

  21. applegeek897 macrumors regular

    Aug 23, 2011
    Iv'e been using a Apple 30" and a BenQ 24" 1080P display for almost two years but a couple of days ago picked up a Dell 2007WFP 20" and using it as a vertical display which has also been nice for things like web, iTunes, Spotify, Photoshop, Lightroom and Final Cut


    I wish I had a second 30"
  22. D*I*S_Frontman macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2002
    Lombard, IL
    I use two 22" 1080p + the display on my MBP '06. To get an MBP that old to do that I had to use a Matrox splitter and software that made the Mac think the two displays were actually one monster 3840 x 1080 monitor.

    FWIW I use this set-up for audio production and page layout. I am a believer in the maxim that the #1 greatest productivity enhancing upgrade is more screen real estate. This is especially true for page layout and working with several publishing programs at once (InDesign for layout, your favorite word processor, etc.).

    In the coming months I hope to upgrade my studio with a Mac Pro (the new "smoke stack"/"waste paper basket"/"hot tube" version). When I do, I might opt for a new 27" Apple TB Display in the middle and the two existing 22" monitors on the left and right. I've also been kicking around the idea of using a pair of touch screen monitors at desk level as a mixing control surface (I'm still waiting for early adopters of that tech to work out all of the bugs before I jump in). Not sure the stock GPU can run one 2560 x 1440 and four 1920 x 1080 displays, but I'm sure I can rig up something that will work.

    One problem when using massive monitor real estate--keeping track of where the cursor is!!
  23. GermanyChris, Jul 16, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013

    GermanyChris macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    It looks nice but is too much for me and my desk is bigger.

    Attached Files:

  24. djholman macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2013
    The latest 27" iMacs with Thunderbolt (since Mid 2011) have supported dual external displays.
  25. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2013
    Yes that is the one exception.

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