Is 13" Retina is enough to drive 2 1080p external monitors?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jinju32, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. jinju32 macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2012

    I'm a Korean Air Force Staff Sergeant, and I'm about to be discharged.
    It's like haf a year left until then and my mom told me that she would
    buy me a new laptop. I want to get a Macbook Retina but 15" is pretty
    expensive. So I took a look of 13 version today and it looked really good
    except for that there was a little bit of sensible lag when bringing up and
    closing launch pad while there wasn't any lag with 15 version...

    That left me with a question if this would really be able to drive multiple
    monitors ?? I would be doing some so-called day-to-day purpose like....
    translating some articles with Word (or Pages..) with multiple tabs of pages
    opened on another monitor.
    As I'm an English major with translation and interpretation emphasis
    I NEED to have additional monitors... and.. if 13" doesn't seem to be
    capable of that, I think i would just bu 15".

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Elijen macrumors 6502


    May 8, 2012
    I think there won't be any problems in clamshell mode as 2 fullHD screens have almost the same pixel count as the retina and there is no need of scaling/supersampling/etc on the external monitors (unlike integrated retina screen).

    But I wonder why would you spend so much money in retina version if you are not going to use the retina screen? :)
  3. davidlv macrumors 65816

    Apr 5, 2009
    Kyoto, Japan
    I am a professional translator, doing Japanese to English so I believe I have a qualified opinion on what is necessary for that kind of work. I often have several tabs open on a browser, 2 or more Word documents open, and a dictionary open too. Most of your concentration is focused on one document, a dual language work document, and the rest is for reference. I do all of that on a 15" MBP, that's 1 screen only. Having other screens means more eye movement and that can break your concentration easily. Everyone develops their own work flow and methods, so working with 2 or more screens is a viable option, but you don't absolutely "NEED" to have or use them.
    Again, most of your work will be done at a desk, or at the most you may want to move your computer temporarily to another location, so a really portable computer like the Air or the 13" retina is not really required. The 15" inch MBP is great for this kind of work, and the 4 cores makes for a stressless environment. Having used this setup, it would be hard to go back to one of the less powerful 2 core machines. If you do use external screens, having a Retina is not necessary at all. One of the classic HD MBPs, either the glossy or the Matte screen, will be enough. You can add external screens later as the money flow comes in.
    So my recommendation is a 4-core cMBP for the next 2-4 years and then a second or third generation, much more powerful machine.:cool:
  4. jinju32 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2012
    it is because Macbook Air doesn't support more than 1 external display at the same time unless you drive two thunderbolt display.
    I don't mean that I'm not gonna use the Retina display.
    When I'm outside, I'm gonna stick with the retina display but when I get home and do translation things, I need additional work space.. which I guess would be two 1080p monitors. Even if I use externals, I can make use of the retina display as well ... as a sub.... thing.. whatever.


    Thank you!! your opinion helps me decide what to buy so much!
  5. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    You don't need 4 cores to do some text processing :/ it's a total overkill. A MacBook Air would provide more performance that you need and then some.

    To the original question: any reasonably new computer can drive two 1080p monitors, if you can connect them somehow.
  6. davidlv macrumors 65816

    Apr 5, 2009
    Kyoto, Japan
    Explaining "translation" work to a layman (non-professional) is beyond the scope of this post, but it is certainly much more complex than your current understanding of "text processing". Of course, even given the complex work involved, shall we call it "information processing?", that work can be done on even an older 1-core computer. I used to do the same work on a G3 tower! It just makes everything so much slower and adds "stress," and if you had read my original reply correctly, you would have seen that. I also have a good dual core Mac mini, and while it gets the job done, I would never choose working on that machine while I have my 4-core MBP available!
    There are many cultural differences involved in translation work, especially between western- and eastern-based languages like Korean or Japanese. As one example, you would be surprised at the way modern Japanese writers mangle the usage of western (English, French, German, etc.) imported words, and researching what they mean is a major part of translation work. The more power you have at hand to handle multiple concurrent tasks, the faster you get the job done. I say having a 4-core machine is not "total overkill" but rather "common sense", especially when the difference in cost between a dual-core and a 4-core MBP is only a fraction of the total cost of either machine. If you are working in a multimedia, research or translation field, in my personal opinion, you will be better off choosing power over portability.

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