Second Monitor.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by MBPro825, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. MBPro825 macrumors member

    Oct 4, 2009
    I'm looking to get a second monitor for my unibody macbook pro and I'm trying to figure out what would best suit my needs. Obviously I would need to get a mini-display adapter regardless of the connection (VGA, DVI, HDMI) but I also have a Linux file server that has an ancient CRT hooked up to it presently. I would like to replace the CRT and just have the one external monitor but I'm wondering how I could switch between the two. I have heard of a KVM switch or something of the sort, but I don't understand completely how that works.

    From the Macbook pro would it be mini-display adapter----HDMI cable----KVM switch? Then I also connect the server to the switch as well? Is that how it works?

    Also are there any monitors you recomend (looking for 22" or larger under 220 about)
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    More likely it'd go MDP adapter -> DVI -> KVM.
  3. Potatochobit macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2011
    the 2008 macbook pro does not support audio over hdmi, so it depends on your model
    honestly, a KVM switch with hdmi might cost half the price of a new monitor
    just donate the CRT for recycling...
  4. txhockey9404 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2008
    A KVM switch would be exactly what you need. It's just a matter of whether you want to use DVI (generally much more expensive) or VGA (generally cheaper, but limited in resolution). You would need to get one with USB rather than PS/2 for mouse/keyboard connections obviously, so that would add even more expense.

    A good starting place is

    If you want VGA, this seems to be a good choice: VGA

    If you want DVI, this is a pretty good choice, but rather expensive comparatively: DVI (has 3 inputs, Monoprice doesn't sell a 2 port DVI switch with USB)

    As far as monitors, I'd take a look at Dell. They are generally pretty good quality with good prices and many hookup options. My monitor is a 20" Dell Ultrasharp with an IPS panel, and it is about 4 years old (I have had it 2) with zero problems.
  5. MBPro825 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 4, 2009
    Mine is a Late 2009 Model. Is that ok for audio/video?

    But DVI seems to be the way I'm leaning pending on cost. What is typically better HDMI or DVI? If I have the second monitor next to the laptop do you think they would look out of proportion or should I mount the second monitor above the laptop?
  6. davidinva macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2009
    Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, USA
    External monitor

    I have a Samsung 21.5 inch that I bought at Staples for $149.00. My Macbook is 2008 and doesn't support HDMI, but I have an extra for adaptor for that and can use the 37" flat screen when I want (just listen to the external speakers that I have for the Macbook. Switch between the Samsung cable and the HDMI cable as desired. I only use the Samsung when at home and keep the Macbook closed. I do photo editing and the Macbook screen (13") is too small for much of that. Oh, I did run a HDMI cable from the 37" around the wall (about 16'). WiFi monitors would be nice.
  7. Potatochobit macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2011
    DVI is fine and cheaper but still more expensive than VGA
    I'm not sure about the 2009 models but there is an adapter that has two lines with a built in USB sound card, that will let you run HDMI sound from the older macs but those adapters are very expensive 60-80$ I do use one to watch internet on my LCD TV like hulu and stuff
  8. brucem91 macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2009
    You do not necessarily need a KVM switch. I currently have a Dell Monitor that is plugged into both my iMac and my Dell Laptop. It has 2 inputs on back, VGA and DVI. I have a button on front that allows me to switch easily. You might want to consider something like that vs a KVM. How are you planning on controlling the Linux server, from a separate keyboard or one that switches between the MacBook and the Server?
  9. MBPro825 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 4, 2009
    I was thinking of using a separate keyboard and mouse for the linux box. I don't need dvi or hdmi for the linux server, I would really only like it for the Mac. Do you have a link to that monitor or one like it?
  10. brucem91 macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2009
    Yea, sounds about right. I am running MDP->DVI from my iMac, and VGA from my Dell to Laptop. I checked, and it seems my monitor is a 17" Dell 1908 wfp. It's kinda older, but it works fine. Again, I like it because of the two inputs in the back, and a button on front that allows me to switch easily. You should be able find one on dells website with multiple inputs.

    I found one that is similiar.

    It's a 17" 4:3 monitor, with a resolution of 1280x1024, which I believe is pretty good for that size. It comes with DVI and VGA inputs, and from the screenshot, looks like it has an input switch on the front. Be careful when looking at monitors, I noticed quite a few on dells site that were 19", but with a resolution of 1366x768, which is not really good for that size, considering my 17" external is 1440x900.

    Also seems like a pretty good monitor, but costs $230 after instant savings.

    Also, don't worry about getting a mini-displayport to dvi adapter, unless a dvi cable comes with your monitor. If not, you can get a mini-displayport to dvi male cable on monoprice for about $12. It bypasses the need for an adapter, as it plugs straight into the monitor port. If your monitor does come with a provided dvi cable, you can find a mdp-dvi female adapter for about 1/2 of what apple charges on monoprice or amazon.
  11. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I hate KVM switches. For years I've been using VNC running as server on Linux and a client on the Mac (and on Windows). I also use Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection for "headless" Windows boxes and the built in Remote Desktop (actually VNC) for headless Macs. This has the advantage (besides less wires) that the remote system doesn't even have to be nearby.

    Regarding the monitor, some Dell monitors support the DisplayPort interface. You still need an adapter, but it just a physical adapter without any electronics.
  12. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    I agree with this. I've done it in the past too.

    Put the Linux machine in an out of the way place & connect to it via VNC.
    You may even be able to set it up such that you can access the Linux machine from Starbucks :D (or where ever)

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