MBA with Dual Monitors - What's changed?

Discussion in 'OS X Mavericks (10.9)' started by nc11, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. nc11 macrumors member

    Jul 8, 2013
    So I got my new 13" MBA connected to 2 Dell monitors, using a Matrox DP adapter. With 10.8 I've used the matrox software the extend the display across the 2 screens and managed the positioning of the windows between the two.

    I've upgraded to 10.9 DP3 hoping I'll be able to use the 2 monitors as two separate displays, where I can drag a window to one, expand its view to full-screen and continue that with other windows, swapping between those with a swipe.

    I'm baffled as to how that would work though! everything I've tried so far does not yield the right result. The only thing I can do is mirror the display on the two monitors. Coming to OSX from windows this is quite frustrating...

    Does anyone has any ideas? Am I missing a trick here? I know that I can probably get this to work if I'll swap the monitors to TB ones, but that's not an option.


  2. ilkhan4 macrumors newbie

    Sep 28, 2009
    The problem is likely the Matrox DP adapter. Which model do you have? Are you still running the Matrox software on 10.9?
  3. nc11 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 8, 2013
    Its the dualhead2go running on 10.9 dp3


    Oh and the MBA is of course in clamshell mode...
  4. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    The Matrox DualHead & TripleHead products don't work that way.

    You have 2 monitors, but the computer only sees it as a single monitor. So when you tell an app to go "Full screen" on the external screens, for all the computer knows, there is a single 3840x1200 display.

    You will need some window resizing utility (like Moom) to manage the windows in the way you are asking.
  5. nc11 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 8, 2013
    So there's no way to create 2 separate external displays? is there any other product that will enable that? Seems like a big miss if that's the case!
  6. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    Not that I know of while using the Matrox. It's a limitation inherent to the product's design. As far as options:

    1) Continue using your setup. Buy a license for Moom and set it up so that there are commands to expand the window to half a display each (half of the combined monitors equals 1 full monitor). Abandon the idea of using built-in fullscreen modes

    2) Buy a TB-DVI adapter and a USB display link adapter. Upside is 2 independent monitors that you already own. You can use the built-in fullscreen mode. Downside is the Matrox is now
    useless and you "waste" a USB port on a second monitor.

    2b) Buy the USB Display link adapter. Hook it up to one monitor and continue using the Matrox for the other monitor. Upside is the same as (2) plus you are using the Matrox. Downside is the "wasted" USB port.

    3) Buy 2 thunderbolt displays. Abandon all of your existing equipment.
  7. JoeyCloverfield macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2012
    What you need is a thunderbolt hub that has two different video outputs. Unfortunately, all the hubs I know about are all "Coming Soon" and relatively expensive. Something like this where you can use the second thunderbolt port as a mini-displayport.

    You can also try USB to HDMI, but I hear that comes with performance issues.
  8. nc11 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 8, 2013
    OK, have ordered a USB > DVI adapter and will try and connect as suggest. Will report back once it's done...
  9. nc11 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 8, 2013
    A quick update on this... Bought a displaylink hdmi > usb 3 adapter.

    Current setup is:

    MBA in clamshell mode
    Dell p2110 dvi --> tb
    Dell p2110 dvi --> usb3

    Both monitors are identified and working. The tb one is great, but the usb adapter degrades the performance significantly and there's a noticeable lag in everything, especially mouse movements. For me that's unusable.

    Back to square 1 I guess. Any other suggestions?


  10. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007
    jdechko has listed your options.

    The MBA wasn't designed to do what your doing bar via Thunderbolt.
  11. jdechko, Jul 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2013

    jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    There is another, slightly cheaper alternative than buying 2 thunderbolt displays. Given the way that thunderbolt handles multiplexing (is that the right term) data and video signals, you need something to repeat/recreate the video signal once it's been stripped out.

    I think I've read that something like this will work:

    MBA -> TBD -> Any other thunderbolt device -> MDP monitor.

    I'll see if I can find a source.

    EDIT: It was anandtech, just like I thought:

    Still requires spending some cash, but not as much as buying 2xTBD

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