I need DUAL monitor, medium POWER

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by nmaxcom, Jun 28, 2015.

  1. nmaxcom, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015

    nmaxcom macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2014
    Hi! Hey ;)

    Long story short:
    1. I'm a lifetime windows + linux user, always using dual monitor. So space, so sexy. Oah.
    2. I bought a rMBP 13", first Mac I ever touched and... Yes, I like Mac OS X, there. I said it.
    A few months ago I asked for this same advice and got great feedback and got convinced to stay with my powerful Windows machine with some enhancements that I made. My machine is an i7@2'7GHz, 12GB RAM, 500GB SSD and AMD Radeon HD5900. I guess I could sell it online and amortize this buy.

    Still, when I use my tiny rMBP everything just goes smooth, flies. But when I sit down to work in my two powerful screens, I struggle. I guess my workflow isn't that compatible with Windows.

    So I'm thinking: having a dual monitor Mac, with the bootcamp thing so I can do 90% time Mac, and 10% in Windows (BF3 or C# devel, whatever) or even do it in Parallels which I have in my laptop and works very nice.

    I have a flexible budget, meaning that I could spend cash (like 2000€) but I don't want to get ripped off, nor I need everything to be shiny new. If you recommend me eBay or something like that, works for me. I need the money to fix my living room too so I'd really like to spend smart, hence the thread :)

    From what I see in apple.com, Mac mini seems too mini, but Mac Pro seems like an overkill.

    What to buy? What configuration? Is dual monitoring an issue with Mac? Where to buy?
  2. jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    I have a dual monitor retina iMac setup.. One screen is a bit inferior (ok, more than a bit) to the 5k screen, but it's still useful.
  3. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    It's hard to suggest because with an iMac, you're going to have trouble finding a display to match it (even the non 5K) considering it is an all-in-one. The mini seems underpowered for you given only being dual-core this time around. If your budget doesn't allow a Mac Pro the only suggestion I can make is living with the iMac and a separate display along with it or swapping your current notebook for a more powerful one to run in clamshell mode to power the two displays and handle your usage while still being able to take it on the go - namely a top spec 15''.
  4. jerwin, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015

    jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    Do they really need to match?

    I'm working on CAD drawings on my main screen, I'm replying to this thread on my smaller 1920x1080 screen. As far as I'm concerned, having two monitors allows me to prioritize my activities according to their graphics requirements.

    A 4k monitor would be nice to have, as it would allow my developing prejudice against low resolution displays to flourish unimpeded. But I like having stuff in my peripheral vision.

    What is your workflow? And what advantages does the extra space give you?
  5. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    Not necessarily - but I am assuming that the iMac wasn't even mentioned in the initial post for this reason or that fact that the OP already has two monitors and is looking for a more traditional desktop, although I wanted to mention it anyway.

    In any case, I'm sure if you were in a specific field of work that requires color accuracy then you would want them to be matching to avoid confusion.
  6. nmaxcom thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2014
    I guess it's not a must in the sense that I could live without them matching... but how hard is it to get another retina display? Don't they sell them?

    I could get an iMac and then the closest display possible (or just reuse one of mine, maybe in vertical fashion for the code), even though I'd really like two identical displays.
  7. jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    It is our fondest wish. Alas, they are naught but rumors at this point.

    The imac's video out is not capable of 5K-- only 4K. The Mac Pro may have this capability, though I don't know the details.

    The imac is quite a bit faster than any mac mini, at this point.
  8. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Well there is currently only a couple of 5K monitors available and they need a dual cable setup to run, they are also almost as much as buying a 5K imac you might as well just buy 2 imacs at the moment.

    If you plan on using your current monitors then just connect them to your rMBP and away you go, grab a bluetooth keyboard and mouse and voila. You could even look at a thunderbolt dock and have all your screens and external HD's etc set up with one thunderbolt cable to connect your macbook to it all. (total cost around $350-$450)

    If a more powerful desktop is a priority (heavy video editing, high end gaming etc) then go with a 5K Imac refurbished and a 4K screen or the screens you already have for a 3 screen set up!!! . (Total cost around $2500-$3500) Or a refurbished Mac pro and 2 4K screens (or use you current screens). (around $3000-$4000).

    You have a lot of options.

    Without knowing your use case (what apps you run etc) it is difficult to do more than give you options.

    If you sold your computer and your rMBp you could also upgrade to a 15 inch pro with discrete graphics and connect that to your monitors and have proper mobile desktop system using a thunderbolt dock.

  9. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I use two dual-screen Macs.

    The first is a 27" retina iMac with a 20" 1600x1200 (4:3 aspect ratio), 11 year old Dell display. Just pointing out that there is nothing that says the displays have to match! I'll frequently run a Windows session under Parallels on the Dell display "full screen".

    The second is a 2009 base Mac mini with a SSD, with two 17" 1280x1024 monitors. I use that at work for programming and documentation. The monitors actually don't match. One is an Acer about 8 years old connected via VGA and the other is a really old Dell (manufactured in 2001) connected via DVI. I have a book under the Acer to equalize their heights and calibrated the monitors so they would be reasonably in tone.
  10. nmaxcom thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2014
    That's curiously weird :confused: (within my no-knowledge of apple of course)

    But also much more pricey for the difference IIRC.

    Well, I have to replace my two monitors for new ones anyway because they have been used a lot and they need to be retired.

    But I'm liking this idea a lot. This way is not only a bit cheaper but I also get rid of all the damn sync between workstations, different configurations etc etc. So I think the smart thing will be doing something in that direction.

    Now I'm just afraid (aka ignorant) that the rMBP that I buy won't be powerful enough for my dual monitor work.

    I understand. My use case is very mixed. I use:
    • A lot of Chrome (tabs everywhere and for development too)
    • Light stuff like Sublime, nodejs etc. Sometimes an IDE like Visual Studio.
    • Adobe apps (Ai, Ps, Au, ocasionally Pr)
    • Low end 3D work (meaning my rMBP 13" i5 2'7Ghz 8GB RAM handles it okay).
    • And I'd like to use Windows from time to time. With Parallels the experience has been very good using light tools, but I'd like to have access to Windows games (like Battlefield and whatnot) to disconnect my mind a bit. I guess the answer is dual boot, I'm fine with that as long as the game works smooth.

    Why is everything so expensive in Apple? Damnit :(

    Now the 15" cheaper option is the i7 2'2GHz 16GB RAM and a bit scarce 128GB space. And that's already 2000$. The total would be about 2000$ + 300$ (Dock) - [sell two old 22" acer monitors, a powerful tower and a 2014 13" 128GB storage rMBP] + 2 monitors

    I have no idea how much can I make from selling all that... Around 1000$ ish? And the two new monitors about 400$ both, roughly.

    So with the cheaper option 15" rMBP connected to two monitors would cost about 1700$.
    And the expensive option (the expensive 15" rMBP) is 500$ more, so 2200$.

    That hurts, would the cheaper option work good enough for my needs?

    Yeah, I'll have to pass on the retina thing for the monitors...will just have it on the laptop screen.
  11. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Well until you mentioned gaming the lower end 15 inch rMBP was a fine choice, unfortunately any sort of decent desktop gaming needs a dGPU in my opinion. I'm not saying that you can't game on an IRIS Pro graphics card but they really aren't geared towards it.

    To be honest that workload screams 5K Imac to me. Remember don't discount refurbished apple computers, they are as new and have been extensively tested they also have exactly the same warranty options. If it was me I think my set up would be this:


    and this


    It's a fair old whack of cash but it's about as about as good as it gets for macs specs wise and the 5K screens are stunning.

    If you want the mobile workstation, then it's the the high end 15 inch rMBP with the AMD graphics card really.

    Then maybe a dock, and 2 screens.
  12. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I dunno, but a retina iMac and a 27" IPS 2560x1440 monitor is a nice combo. I use the lower resolution screen with my riMac and it's nice for previewing how stuff looks on a lower res screen, and they are very affordable. And very nice screens, except in comparison with a retina. Depending on whether you have access to refurbs, etc, that would be within your budget I expect.

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