I want/need more DISPLAYS? pro my only option?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by libskate, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. libskate macrumors member

    Aug 9, 2009
    Hi all,

    I have this desire for more monitors. I have a macbook pro right now, but it can only drive one additional monitor. I want a mac setup where I can drive many more monitors (i'm thinking three or maybe four).

    I know the imacs are an option, but are they the most affordable option? Speed isn't a huge concern for me (programming doesn't require too much). I'd love to be able to throw in a ton of ram though.

    Are the pros a good choice for me? What would be a good previous year's model to go for if i want:

    support for driving many monitors flawlessly
    support for gobs of ram
    good speed

    For of course as cheap as possible...

    The pros are appealing because of their upgradability, but I would want a machine that would last for many many years.

  2. D*I*S_Frontman macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2002
    Lombard, IL
    If all you want is more monitor space and you want to go cheap, you can always do what I did: use a Matrox Dual2Go break out box.

    I have a 2006 MBP running two 1080p LCDs + the MBP's monitor. The Matrox box just fools your MBP into thinking one big 3840x1080 monitor is hooked up to it. The Matrox splits the image in half and distributes the signal to your two ext. monitors. Walaah! Massive desktop.

    Response is slow, though, so this is a bad solution for a gamer. But if you do music production and want to have an entire 48-channnel mixer on one screen and samples on the other, it's great. I use it in that application, and to do basic page layout stuff where speed isn't important but a big canvas is.

    Not for everyone, but you at least should check into it. If my 2006 2.0 core dual (NOT core2duo) MBP w/256 RAM GPU can do it, any later one surely could. Love my mondo huge desktop.
  3. libskate thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 9, 2009
    Good call, but I don't like that it is treated as one huge monitor. I want to be able to use a program like sizeup to move windows quickly from monitor to monitor. Having more makes it easier to organize things imo
  4. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Theoretically there could be external Thunderbolt video cards in the future, which would be the cleanest solution.

    There are existing solutions for laptops such as triplehead2go and usb-to-monitor, but they have their problems.

    There are also Expresscard to PCIe enclosures that allows laptops to use desktop cards such as a video card. These are pretty rare though. Even though it is only single lane PCIe, it typically is a massive improvement in speed over the mobile GPU and of course allows multiple monitors. Expresscard is essentially a PCIe 1.1 1x slot, so every now and then someone makes an external enclosure with it's own power supply that enables you to use desktop cards connected to the Expresscard slot. Usually they fail due to a complete lack of consumer interest though. Here are some examples:


    Obviously the ones that come with their own graphic card are a bit of waste as you'd have to toss the card and use an Apple-compatible graphics card.

    The first one, Magma, comes without card and claims OS X support. Personally my guess is that they'd all be OS agnostic because all they are doing is making a passive adapter from ExpressCard to PCIe.

    Personally, I'd either get a Mac Pro if you don't need to be mobile, wait for a Thunderbolt solution if you do need to be mobile, or get Triplehead2Go if you need it right now or don't have a Thunderbolt MBP.

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