External Graphics Vidock

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Rmafive, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. Rmafive macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2008
    Richmond, Virginia
    Hi guys,
    I just received a 23 inch apple cinema display from a friend. I currently have a macbook pro (2008 uni) and a 24 inch LED ACD. I was wondering if I could create a diy vidock for much cheaper:


    Would this even be mac compatible, I was thinking I could use an nvidia gtx 120 (from apple) with a mini display port on it for the led display. Also, would connecting a card through the express 34 slot slow the speed of the computer down? Thanks for your help! :D
  2. m85476585 macrumors 65816

    Feb 26, 2008
    I see a few problems with that. First, when OS X installs on a MBP, I think it only installs drivers for the hardware present or the hardware it expects. It might or might not have drivers for all video cards included in that, and my guess is it won't. Second, there are already two video cards in your computer, and I don't know if it can handle a third. It might not have any way to switch to the external one. Finally, the expresscard slot is limited to PCIe 1x, so the bandwidth of any video card you plug in will be severely limited.

    Generally, connecting stuff to the Expresscard slot doesn't slow the computer down, and in the case of a graphics card, it wold normally speed the computer up (in a normal configuration). The only way something in the expresscard slot would slow the computer down is by requiring CPU or memory resources, which an external video card doesn't.
  3. antifish macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010
    I got your suggested setup working on a MacBookPro 4,1.
    I used a the PE4L V1.4. They now sell V1.5 http://www.hwtools.net/Adapter/PE4L.html
    and a flashed ATI Radeon HD 4870 with 1 GB VRAM.
    It works under Windows 7 only with 2GB RAM and if attached after booting.
    It works under Mac OS 10.6.4 with 4 GB Ram and if attached before booting. Otherwise it causes Kernel Panics. Of course you cant get the power of the card through the PCIe 1x adapter. But HD video playback runs smooth.

    For more information:
  4. pedromendes27 macrumors newbie

    Oct 19, 2010

    Hi antifish,

    I have the same mac as you have, and i'm searching hard to find someone with the successful "DIY VIDock" configuration!

    Did the gaming improved with the Vidock? or you only use it to saw movies in the external monitor?

    My scope is to improve the gaming experience, by using the internal monitor as well as an external monitor! Is that feasible?

    Is the flashed ATI Radeon HD 4870 good for gaming? And you used the PE4L V1.4, which is only x1, and the graphic is PCI Express x16? You should use the PE4H, right?

    looking forward for your reply! :)
  5. antifish macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010

    My usecase for this was to use 3 external screens like a video wall.

    In lack of Mac games i cant tell you anything about gaming experience under mac os x.

    Gaming under Windows seemed to be better. But i have not benchmarked it.
    You can find a bunch of benchmarks in this thread: http://forum.notebookreview.com/gaming-software-graphics-cards/418851-diy-vidock-experiences.html

    The bottleneck is the expresscard slot. It is only x1 so if you buy the PE4H which can handle x16 your expresscard is still only x1.

    There are PC laptops with expresscard 2.0 but our macs got expresscard 1.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExpressCard

    To use the internal screen with your external graphic card seems to be impossible.
  6. pedromendes27 macrumors newbie

    Oct 19, 2010

    I really appreciate your reply!

    Can you just help out with the setup? I mean, in the forum.notebookreview.com has several setups, but i can't find a a mac based setup.
    So my system is:
    MacBookPro4,1 2,4GHz
    4 GB ram
    GeForce 8600M GT

    Do i need some special software to make it run? like DIY ViDock Setup 1.x or so??

    There are any allocation resources errors?

    Or it's just plug-in and and everything works properly?

    So there is no benefit if i buy the PE4H right? So the PE4L should do de trick for me, right?

    Sorry for all the questions, but i'm really interested in doing it. If you could just do a step by step for me would be nice:):)

    Thanks antifish!!
  7. antifish macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010

    My setup is exactly the same as yours.

    MacBookPro4,1 2,4GHz
    4 GB ram
    GeForce 8600M GT

    speaking for using it under mac os 10.6 i did not need any extra software and it also worked with 4gb of ram. But the graphic card has to be plugged in before booting and can not be removed while running, otherwise you get kernel panics.

    under windows 7 64 bit via bootcamp i got allocation errors when using the graphic card with 4gb of ram. when unisntalling 2 gb all worked fine. I did not try any of the methods described in that forum to fix the allocation problems with 4gb ram.

    As far as i understand it, yes.
  8. pedromendes27 macrumors newbie

    Oct 19, 2010
    Due the internal monitor work, i mean, can i still use it? I know that the power of the graphic is when an external monitor is connected! But with the external monitor connected, i'm still able to use the internal one ,i.e., use both at the same time?

    Thanks once again!
  9. antifish macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010
    Sure, you can still use it. Both graphic cards work paralell
  10. crashnburn macrumors 6502

    Nov 18, 2009
    Between me and my bro, we have a MacbookPro and Thinkpad. How do I determine whether the PCIe / Express card adapter on these are 1x or 16x?

  11. antifish macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010
    Referring to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExpressCard the expresscard connection can't be faster than x1 or x2 in the expresscard 2.0 standard.

    On my machine, MacBookPro4,1 2,4GHz the expresscard speed is x1.

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