Multiple Displays

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by seepel, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. seepel macrumors 6502


    Dec 22, 2009
    Hello all, maybe this isn't the best place to post, but I'm running a MBA right now so I thought I'd put this here. I'm looking to get 2-3 27" displays going. It seems like I may have 3 routes to go and I'd like to hear some opinions. I primarily do development work, iOS and Mac Apps, maybe some 3D Game Development down the road. I really dig my MBA as I need to drag it around with me often, and it is plenty powerful enough for my development needs. Anyway here are the options I'm considering.

    1) Pickup a Sonnet Echo Express when they release them and stick an HD 5770 or HD 5870 from the Apple Store, merely to KNOW that it will work with Mac OS X. Then hook it up to 2 27" ACDs and maybe throw in a 27" Thunderbolt or 27" Dell (DVI port). Most of what I've read about these PCIe expansions cards and GPUs is focused on gaming, as I'm looking at a somewhat different angle I thought I'd see if anyone thinks it would be up to the task. I saw another thread where someone was running 2 27" ACDs off a ViDock on a 17" MBP with a Thunderbolt display on top, so it seems like it should get the job done. The second uncertainty with this card would be that the specs say it has a 150W power supply, would that be enough for one of these cards? Third unknown, no price yet, and I'm not amped on spending a grand on one of the Magma boxes.

    2) Pickup an iMac and attach a couple of Thunderbolt displays. This would obviously work just fine, but might be a bit more expensive and would separate my life onto two computers. Also, somewhat cosmetically and perhaps practically I like the idea of having identical displays in front of me. Ideally I would also like to get 3 going in portrait mode side by side, and I don't necessarily see the iMac fitting in well there.

    3) Just tuck it in and wait for the Ivy Bridge Macbook Airs and update that with a couple of Thunderbolt displays. This may be the least desirable as I already have an ACD so I would have to try and sell it and trade up for 2 Thunderbolt displays or try to hack my way around by daisy chaining Thunderbolt Display -> some other Thunderbolt peripheral -> ACD. And even then I assume I will be limited to 2 Displays as I doubt Apple will be kind enough to throw 3 Mini Display Port signals into next year's Macbook Air Thunderbolt Controller, if it's even possible.

    So let me hear your thoughts, good and bad, and feel free to let me know if you think I've missed something.
  2. jsolares macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2011
    Land of eternal Spring
    The iMac might be the best way to get 3 27" displays going, until the pcie boxes come out you won't be sure of the price, so it still might be cheaper to go with an iMac rather than the pcie box and video card.

    And until the ivy bridge Air comes out we won't know which chip apple decided to use for it's thunderbolt, the thunderbolt chip is what is limiting the Air to one external display, if it had the beefier thunderbolt chip you could use 2 externals and have the internal shut off like in the 13" macbook pro.

    So to sum up, if you want it now, go with the iMac, or keep waiting and see what thunderbolt devices show up and their prices.

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