new mac pro display setup advice

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by lazlo baloney, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. lazlo baloney macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2014
    Hello all, first time poster here.

    I'm about to take the plunge on a new mac pro, and I'd appreciate a little help.

    Still on a 1.1, but I have a macbook pro connected over LAN (I'm a tv composer), so I manage to make it work...

    Anyway, my main confusion is over displays. I'm finding the Apple support doc -

    unclear. What I'd like to do is connect 3 displays, 2 23" on my desk and another on the wall behind, probably similar size. I'd originally planned on buying a tv for the wall, but the support doc seems to say if I connect a tv via HDMI I can only connect one other display. Is this correct? And where the doc says "third party mini display port displays", does that include adaptors? Say from HDMI or DVI?

    I'm buying everything new, so all options are open. I've discounted the Apple thunderbolt display only because I can't fit 2 27"s on my desk.

    I guess my question is twofold - is it easy to have a 3 display setup without them being thunderbolt; and does anyone have any advice on what to go for.

    I only use music software (and internet) on this setup, so don't need the greatest displays on the market...

    Thanks in advance, really appreciate it.
  2. bxs, Mar 6, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014

    bxs macrumors 6502a

    Oct 20, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    You will not have any problem connecting three displays that you've described.

    If you connect a display such as a TV to the HDMI port, then there's a restriction to how many more displays you can connect to the Thunderbolt ports on bus #0.

    Bus #0 supports two Thunderbolt ports and HDMI. You can only connect one more display to Bus #0 if HDMI is being used.

    You may connect displays to all remaining Thunderbolt ports on Bus #1 and Bus #2.

    In affect, this allows for a max of 6 displays as follows

    1 on Thunderbolt port 1
    1 on Thunderbolt port 2
    1 on Thunderbolt port 3
    1 on Thunderbolt port 4
    1 on Thunderbolt port 5 or 6
    1 on HDMI (such as a TV)

    The issue with displays having mini display connectors is that they must be connected directly to the MP6,1 Thunderbolt port and NOT daisy chained to a Thunderbolt display such as the Apple's 27" Thunderbolt display.

    My setup is

    Large screen TV connected to HDMI.
    27" Thunderbolt display connected to Thunderbolt port 5.
    20" (with DVI to mini display adapter) connected to port 3.

    Here's the Thunderbolt & HDMI layout diagram.


    You should be fine, and hope this helps you understand things.

    You can only connect up to four 4K displays to the new MP6,1.
  3. JQuick macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2014
    There are several things to keep in mind:
    1. Thunderbolt connecters are pin compatible with Mini DisplayPort. You can use up to 6 displays which connect via {thunderbolt, Mini DisplayPort or DisplayPort} (since a Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable changes only the connector not the signal).

    2. Since HDMI and DVI both use GPU resources to drive clock signals, you can directly support only 2 of these at the same time. Straight HDMI, Mini DisplayPort -> HDMI adapters, and passive Mini DisplayPort -> DVI adapters each count toward the same limit: you may only have 2.

    3. Externally powered, active DVI adapters do not count toward the above limit. Using a wall powered USB hub to supply adapter power, you may use up to 6 Mini DisplayPort -> active DVI adapters.

    If you want to buy a TV to hang on the wall behind your system, go for it. It will count against the limit. You may then use only 1 more hdmi or passive DVI display, but still use active DVI adapters, thunderbolt, or Mini DisplayPort to connect additional displays.
  4. lazlo baloney thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2014
    thank you both for the replies, very helpful.

    If I understand correctly, I need to be choosing either 3 displays with display ports; or 3 DVI / HDMI using 2 standard adaptors and one dual link. Is that correct?

    Thanks again.
  5. JQuick macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2014
    I am confused by your use of the word "need" and your phrasing. You can use nearly any combination of displayport, HDMI, or active and passive DVI adapters you want. You just have to stay within the limits described in Apple's support document.

    Mini displayport cables provide the highest ceiling on bandwidth (and thus higher resolution/refresh). They are also inexpensive. If what you want can connect via display port or mini display port then use this.

    If a monitor you want to buy only supports HDMI you can use up to two of them. Using the HDMI port or a mini display port to HDMI adapter will cut into your limit of up to 2 HDMI or passive DVI displays.

    If the best connector on a monitor is DVI, and you will use it at resolutions of 1920x1200 or less, then you can use a passive mini display port to DVI solution. Just know that doing so will cut into your limit of 2 such devices.

    Any DVI display requiring more than 1920x1200 has to use an active adapter. Any DVI display over the limit of 2 (HDMI + passive DVI) devices will also require an active adapter. Note that active adapters will each require USB to provide power, and cost around $70-$100.
  6. lazlo baloney thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2014

    fair enough, should have phrased it differently, must have been very confusing...

    Many thanks for the reply though, much appreciated. Think I understand the situation now. On to external drives....

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