MBP with One 30 inch Monitor vs MB with Three 20 inch monitors

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by afuturestrader, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. afuturestrader macrumors member

    Feb 29, 2008
    Setting up a new computer system and planning to go with a notebook. I need to consider monitors because 90-95% of the time the notebook will be used in a desktop setting.

    For roughly the same money I could purchase

    A) A MBP (last generation 2.2GHz) and a 30 inch monitor (Dell or HP) or

    B) A MB (current generation 2.4GHz) and three S-IPS panel 20 inch monitors plus the necessary 3rd party equipment to connect the extra 2 monitors to the MB

    It is unlikey I would make full use of the MBP discrete graphics card as I don't game, watch movies or do much work with 3d graphics on my computer. The potential advantage for me from the MBP is the ability to use a 30 inch monitor.

    So a big factor is the 30 inch monitor vs three 20 inch monitors.

    Advantages of MBP plus 30 inch monitor
    - Traditional connection of computer to monitor, no potential 3rd party equipment/performance issues
    - Could use 15 inch screen of MBP for additional space
    - Might prefer the continuity of single screen

    Advantages of MB plus three 20 inch monitors
    - 30% more screen real estate vs one 30 inch monitor
    - Faster CPU
    - Might prefer seperation of work on different screens
    - Less resizing of various application windows

    Any thoughts?

  2. chinarider macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2008
    Dont forget about Footprint - 3-20" will take up a heck of alot more space on your desk.
  3. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Shropshire, UK
    Why not go with a MB and single 23" screen and use your MB as an additional screen. Then you could spend the money you saved on something else
  4. fluidedge macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2007
    3 screens take up 3 times as much electricity (give or take...) remember...

    I'd go for one 23" and the MBP screen as a secondary.
  5. afuturestrader thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 29, 2008
    I should have mentioned my reasons for wanting lots of screen real estate. I run an Internet business and trade the financial markets. Therefore I have a lot of applications open at the same time.

    For example, if I were to use three 20" screens -
    screen #1 would be used for web browsing (I do lots of research), online videos and presentation creation
    screen #2 would be used for text - email, IM, word docs
    screen #3 would be for financial trading software - quote screens mostly with some chart flipping

    To answer Phil, currently I run dual external CRT's and I really need more space. The 13inch MB screen plus 23inch would be a slightly less space.

    Thanks for the thoughts so far.
  6. fluidedge macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2007
    what about having the MBP in the middle and then a 20" either side of it.
  7. f1 macrumors 6502

    Oct 11, 2007
    Running one extra monitor on a Macbook can already make certain things sluggish, like expose and dashboard, it can only get worse with 3 monitors.
  8. sturigdson macrumors regular

    Apr 3, 2006
    This is VERY true. The macbook drags with a second, non-mirrored display. In fact, I don't think you can even use the macbook running over three spanned monitors.
    If I'm not mistaken, you are limited to one external monitor in total.
  9. fluidedge macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2007
    to be honest why are you not looking at a mac pro?

    You can run 3 monitors at proper resolution, and if you're a financial trader you obviously plan to make your living off this.

    You can afford a Quad Core Mac Pro and 2 monitors, go for that i'd say.
  10. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    Dude, a 24" iMac with an external 23" Monitor would be a great setup. I suppose portability plays into the need for a laptop? If not, forget the 'Books.
  11. afuturestrader thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 29, 2008
    Thanks for pointing out this fact. That the MB drags with an external monitor is information I did not know. Why does it drag? The integrated video card cannot handle it?

    Normally you cannot run multiple external monitors off a notebook. New technology from DisplayLink uses the USB port to connect a monitor.

    But if the MB drags with an external monitor I will need to focus on the MBP.
  12. ribbonthecat macrumors regular

    May 23, 2006
    Chicago, IL
    1 MBP + 1 30' Monitor is going to be more expensive than a 24' iMac and a 24' screen. So I suggest go for that, and use the remaining money to buy a cheap laptop for when you need portability. Or an iLugger.
  13. fluidedge macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2007
    if the thing is going to be sitting on a desk 95% of the time you really should be looking at a proper desktop. Then in a few months buy a second hand iBook or something for when you're on the road.
  14. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    I would be very interested in hearing how well this works, and what sort of performance trade-offs in terms of sluggish video response, degraded USB performance due to bandwidth saturation, etc.
  15. afuturestrader thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 29, 2008
    An interesting idea, thanks

    The reason I have been looking at notebooks is portability. I tried to keep my post short and did not mention this factor.

    My extended family has invited me to become involved in the family business (seperate from my own). This would mean 5 to 8 hours a week at a second location outside my home office.

    My preference is to use 1 computer for continuity, files all in one location etc. Two desktops in the two locations is possible but not ideal.
  16. fluidedge macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2007
    yeh i can see that a laptop would be the best thing.

    However, these days if you're good with your file management - you can get huge portable hard drives you can move between computers. So you need never be without the documents you need. But like i said, you have to be good at backing up all documents and filing things on the ext HD properly for this system to work properly.
  17. ntrigue macrumors 68040


    Jul 30, 2007
    Its ridiculous to use three monitors with a MB. I'm glad your internet business is doing well but this is not an ideal setup. Fundamentally, your foundation (a laptop with integrated GPU) is flawed.
  18. afuturestrader thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 29, 2008

    It is question mark to me as well.

    Reviews of the DisplayLink technology is mixed. They suggest it works reasonably well with XP (sans 3d or HD movies). However the Vista reports are less flattering.

    The Mac version is not due out at the end of the month. So this technology is a bit of a question mark in my mind at this time
  19. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Oct 31, 2006
    It's not going to work with integrated graphics. You really should go with a mac pro. Buy a cheap portable.
  20. jeremy.king macrumors 603


    Jul 23, 2002
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    After today, you should be able to upgrade to a Mac Pro with 2x30" ACD :)
  21. fanbrain macrumors 6502


    Jan 31, 2005
    So. UT
    I've never liked having multiple small monitors. I like having at least one monitor 24"+ so you have some real estate when you need a lot of detail. You can easily run two apps side-by-side on the 24", then run the other apps on the secondary screen.

    I have a 24" Samsung as my main screen, and a square 19" NEC for my secondary. I love the setup. Another guy here in the office has a 24" Dell as his primary and a 15" no-name as his secondary. My other co-workers all have dual 19" screens, and I don't like it.
  22. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    3 monitors on one MB won't work. It'll be fiddly, have issues etc.

    I suggest buying an old iMac or iBook and using that to drive the display with the stock charts on. Maybe also drive a second monitor with other info etc.

    Use the MB or MBP to drive the central monitor for your files, IM etc.

    One thing I've learnt is if you have a laptop at the centre of your work process / earning money, always have a spare laptop ready to take over. Laptops are fragile things and break / get stolen / go wonky easily.
  23. astudentis macrumors regular

    Oct 7, 2007
    i am thinking, you will enjoy you setup more if you have the more powerful MBP (i'd recommend the base model = 1899 with edu discount; better GPU power + standard screen resolution more pleasing to look at for secondary display purposes + those LED displays are alot more brighter) with the 30incher (quite large enough to do anything visually demanding)

    i know when i used my macbook with a 22in samsung widescreen display, transitions on the OS (ie for dashboard, expose) became choppy, i dont know how well it'll perform with 3 displays... personally i'd have a computer with things run more smoothly...

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