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TheCardiologist

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 18, 2013
6
1
Brisbane, Australia
Apologies if there is an answer in here already but I'm struggling to find it despite the amount written on this issue.

I have the problem of owning a 27" MiniDisplay monitor and now also a 27" Thunderbolt monitor and I want a dual setup for my Mac Mini. What I do know is that I can't simply plug the MDP monitor into the TB monitor. This issue garnered a lot of interest when the TB monitor was first released in 2011. At the time it was shown that placing a Pegasus RAID between the monitors allowed both to be run (I assume in extended mode, not just mirroring).

Since that time a number of TB 'docks' have become available and I'm wondering whether these will take the role of the 'device inbetween' the monitors. I figure that either the Belkin or the Elgato TB hubs could do this (with 3 TB ports (1 In and 2 out) they certainly have the connectors. But I can't find a definitive description from anyone actually running this setup (plenty of... it should work!?)

Also with three ports there are two potential ways to set this up - either MacMini to the TB display on to the hub and then on to MDP display (ie linear), or alternatively the Mac Mini into the hub and then both monitors (more of a 'hub and spoke'). Obviously the first would have some advantage in leaving one TB port available.

So I'm looking for advice as to whether either or both setups will work? Preferably from someone running such a setup. And then, if anyone has any advice/experience of either the Elgato or Belkin hubs?

I'm pretty reluctant to shell out for these boxes without knowing it'll work.
 

carlsson

macrumors 6502a
Jul 18, 2001
574
492
This is crazy.

Every cheap Windows Machine (well, most of them), have support for dual monitors with a dock. But not our MacBook Pro's. Well, at least not mine from 2011.

As far as I understand it I have these options:
- Two Apple Thunderbolt Displays. Too expensive.
- USB to HDMI-adapter. Too slow update on the USB monitor.
- Displayport to DVI splitter. Creates one hugh monitor, I want two.

I just want to separate monitors, is it really that hard? I thought Thunderbolt was going to give us all this? I haven't seen any Thunderbolt dock that also have two DVI/HDMI or Thunderbolt out.

*sigh*
 

ColdCase

macrumors 68040
Feb 10, 2008
3,358
276
NH
You need a newer MBPpro with two TB/DP ports and an HDMI. Perhaps could do three monitors, well four if you count the built in display.

What bugs me more is that just about any windose machine can handle two network connections where MacOS only one.

----------

Since that time a number of TB 'docks' have become available and I'm wondering whether these will take the role of the 'device inbetween' the monitors. I figure that either the Belkin or the Elgato TB hubs could do this (with 3 TB ports (1 In and 2 out) they certainly have the connectors. But I can't find a definitive description from anyone actually running this setup (plenty of... it should work!?)

Where are you seeing three TB ports? These so called docs have one TB in and one TB out, along with HDMI and several USB maybe firewire and eSATA along with audio in/out. Its just another device in the thunderbolt daisy chain.

I use this one:

http://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-...id=1411071279&sr=8-6&keywords=thunderbolt+hub

Most of these will allow a HDMI monitor and a TB monitor, not sure if DP could be substituted for the HDMI, but I don't think so. There was a long discussion a few months ago about which of these new docs can handle two monitors and how to connect them up. The vendor web site usually provides clarification, there were a lot of complaints about misleading adds when they first came out.
 

carlsson

macrumors 6502a
Jul 18, 2001
574
492
What startles me is that Thunderbolt has an extremely high throughput, and still we don't see any TB Hubs, or TB to DVI etc... ?

----------


You just made my day sir!

"High Definition Video Output

Expand your screen real estate and increase productivity, using the integrated monitor outputs. With support for resolutions up to 1920 x 1080 (HDMI) and 2560 x 1440 (Thunderbolt / Mini DisplayPort), the dock provides several options to add external HD displays. When connected to a Thunderbolt display, the HDMI port can be used simultaneously to add dual displays through the dock."



Cheers! :)

Edit:
...and Startech.com just ruined it...

"Note: When using a single display, the dock lets you connect one HDMI, DisplayPort or Thunderbolt monitor. The Thunderbolt™ interface on the dock is backward compatible with Mini DisplayPort and when connected to a DisplayPort monitor, only a single display can be added as HDMI will be disabled. For dual display configurations, you can connect one HDMI monitor and one Thunderbolt monitor simultaneously."

:(

How hard can it be, really!??
 
Last edited:

ColdCase

macrumors 68040
Feb 10, 2008
3,358
276
NH
That is typically how all these docks/hubs work with multiple monitors. They don't build in a graphics card to support multiple monitors.

Thunderbolt is more like PCI, it and what you may think as hubs don't mix. Its a bus architecture.

You can buy a Thunderbolt expansion chassis and plug in a PCI graphics card, then several monitors if you like; whatever the graphics card supports. Similar to what you would do to a desktop when you want to add more monitors than the base graphics card can support.
 

theluggage

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2011
7,435
7,243
How hard can it be, really!??

Its a fundamental limitation of Thunderbolt: you can only have 1 display device per peripheral (or, rather, 1 display device per Thunderbolt peripheral controller chip).

PC docks either use a proprietary multi-pin connector that carries several video signals or are USB based and use something like "Displaylink" to compress a video signal and send it over USB - which is liable to be laggy, with artifacts (especially if you only have USB2). I believe the latter will work on Macs, but if you have a 2011 MBP then the lack of USB3 is an issue.
 

carlsson

macrumors 6502a
Jul 18, 2001
574
492
Interesting yes, but it's for the Retina Macbook Pro, you can see the two thunderbolt inputs on the side.

Thunderbolt work the same, no matter the version, right?

With three thunderbolt ports you could use mini display and an adapter, was my thought...?
 

ColdCase

macrumors 68040
Feb 10, 2008
3,358
276
NH
Unlike your mini, the rMBP has two thunderbolt ports built in as well as an HDMI. So, in theory, you could connect three external displays plus the laptop, which gives you four displays out of the box without any dock.

That dock may need all those laptop ports, so it wouldn't work they way you want with your single TB port laptop. In your case only one of the dock's three ports could be active.
 
Last edited:

JasonR

macrumors 6502a
Nov 11, 2008
958
2
I agree that it's frustrating that we can't go from MBP --> 27" Thunderbolt Display --> Thunderbolt/MDP Adapter --> non-thunderbolt display
 
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