Two 5k Ultrafines, Parallels, Windows10 and Excel

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by TJC PE, Jan 20, 2017.

  1. TJC PE macrumors member

    Mar 17, 2012
    I have two 5K Ultra-fine displays, connected to 2016MBPro, 2.9 16GB,Radeon460 2TBSSD.
    Top of the line everything.

    I solved the monitor random disconnects by moving the wifi router 4 feet from the monitors - thanks for that suggestion.

    Now dual 5K monitors work fine - except when going into Parallels, booting windows, and running Excel.

    I can do this fine with only one 5k monitor connected (doesn't matter which one), but no matter how I try to connect and configure two 5k monitors, once I bring up Parallels, booting windows, and running Excel the parallels monitor display goes black and occasionally , briefly displays the excel content. When I do move cursor to that screen, the cursor becomes the blue windows 10 spinning circle.

    - EVERYTHING works fine with either 5K monitor (only one connected) including Parallels/Windows/Excel.

    - EVERYTHING works fine with both 5K monitors connected for all things under Mac OS.

    - The problem comes when trying to run both 5K monitors connected and then going into Parallels/Windows10/Excel

    Any ideas on proper configuration settings for Parallels, to use the best approach to memory, graphics card settings, etc?
  2. sidewinder macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northern California
  3. TJC PE thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 17, 2012
    sorry - Don't know if this problem would occur with bootcamp.
    I haven't ever used bootcamp. I've been using Parallels since 5 or 6.
    I really don't want to reboot just to use a few excel files.
    I will leave that to someone else that is a bootcamp user to comment on.
  4. sidewinder macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northern California
    It was a troubleshooting question to try and help you figure out where the problem might be. I will leave you to your problem to solve on your own......
  5. Macintosh IIcx macrumors 6502

    Macintosh IIcx

    Jul 3, 2014
    To be honest, I would just get Office 365 Personal or Home and run it native on your Mac (and iPad etc.) The new Office for Mac apps works really great on my Mac which certainly wasn't true in the past.

    Might not be the answer you're looking for, but why cross the bridge for water?
  6. TJC PE thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 17, 2012
    Sidewinder - I appreciate your suggestion and help. I have just never tried the bootcamp route. How much time would you estimate it would take for me to set up bootcamp, install windows and office and give it a try? a couple of hours? is it easy to undo?
    --- Post Merged, Jan 21, 2017 ---
    Macintosh IICX - I've got 1 install left in Office365. I will try the Office for Mac route as a simultaneous effort.

    I do have reasons for running Parallels/Windows/Office for Windows.
    There are a few Excel files I need to use that have some VB functions that are not well supported yet. I also run MS Visio and MS Project files with some clients. Thanks.
  7. Macintosh IIcx macrumors 6502

    Macintosh IIcx

    Jul 3, 2014
    Aah, good point I didn't think about that. :oops:
  8. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    I'm not an owner of those displays, but I am an owner of dual 4k displays and longtime user of Win Excel in Parallels VMs. My tips are related to Excel and MST displays. You did not indicate which version of Excel being used (although this isn't significant with where I'm going here), which version of PD being used, and which version of Windows being used. You also didn't indicate whether you're focusing on one workbook, one workbook plus a VBA window simultaneously, or multiple workbooks/VBA windows simultaneously - whether you're spanning or opening multiple instances changes the approach…

    I'm sure you know that those 5k displays employ MST - as I understand MST, essentially stitching two display streams into one display. Excel has pretty much been a one-window-instance application as long as I've used it, needing workarounds or Registry hacks to enable spanning. By using one display with MST with the software that comes with that display and/or the OS, you're already "fooling" Excel to span two display spaces, keeping in mind that Excel is designed to work in a single display; IMHO you're already putting Excel into a space that makes it unstable - in my offices we use Excel in one huge display, having experienced the BSOD many, many times over the years (I started using Win Excel in 1993…). What I see you attempting is getting Excel to span across 4 displays via the driver/MST workaround, and this leads to the BSOD issue - IMHO. I use Win Excel on two displays - very carefully - but I use a workaround… and back up my work often, and use Excel on 32-inch display at the office. Excel is a single-window app AFAIK, and always has been with the caveat that I haven't changed my workflow in Win Excel 2016.

    Don't bother changing to Excel 2016 for the Mac - it's missing many features from the Win version and, it too is a one-window-instance application. Start using multiple displays/Spaces with Excel 2016 for the Mac and you'll wish you'd backed up your work…

    I have PD's two recommendations bookmarked:

    To display Win Excel across multiple displays, you need to do it "manually": (1) Make sure that the Excel window is not maximized. (2) Drag Excel's window to the upper left corner of the first monitor. (3) Drag its left and bottom borders to fill all of your virtual screens. I used to use a VBA routine for setting this up, but now reserve my larger display needs for my 32" display at the office…

    To open multiple Win Excel files, opening multiple instances of Excel in separate windows is the only means I've used for years for working on multiple Excel files (workbooks/VBA windows). I generally use the Start Menu for this (I use Win 10 Pro): (1) Open Excel (the first instance), and then right-click the Excel tile on the Start Menu. (2) Hold down the "Alt" key and click "Open New Window" on the Start Menu task bar. (3) Continue holding down the "Alt" key until you see a prompt asking you if you want to start a new instance of Excel - click "Yes" to open the new instance of Excel. I've been doing this since XP/Excel 2007.

    I'm not keen on Regedit hacks any longer, I've got better uses of my time… Cheers, and good luck!
  9. TJC PE thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 17, 2012
    Thanks for the detailed reply.
    Things are getting better. Not sure I understand if, why, or how displays need to "settle in", but that may be whats going on.

    I'm running:
    macOS Sierra 10.12.2,
    Parallels 12.1.1 (41491),
    Windows 10 Home, Version 1607, OS-Build 14393.693,
    Office 365 Version 1611 Build 7571.2109.
    Right now, I'm not trying to span Excel across 2 displays. I'm happy to get one workbook open on one of the two LG 5K displays.
    I can get two instances of Excel open side by side on the same 5K display.

    I checked out both Parallels recommended posts:
    I do have "Displays have separate spaces" checked on.

    However, I am actually having better luck running counter to the second suggestion.
    The Parallels post recommends "use all displays in full screen", but I find that leads to the full Black screen on all three screens. When I un-check that box, I am getting better performance.
  10. craig1410 macrumors 65816


    Mar 22, 2007
    Hi, I'm seriously considering buying a pair of the 5k displays and beside the issues you've described above, how do you feel about the displays? Any regrets or are you happy with them? Like many people I'm a bit disappointed that there is no Apple cinema 5k display available but having seen the Ultrafine 5K in store it looks really nice except for the bezel of course. I've got a 2016 MBP 2.7/16/1TB/460 so it should be able to drive the monitors almost as well as your machine. Have you had any issues with shifting all those pixels? Any stuttering when scrolling or dragging windows etc?

  11. TJC PE thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 17, 2012
    Hands down LOVE the displays.
    Crystal clear text, great brightness (really helps watching video and editing pictures)
    Like the speakers, and the adjustable height and tilt.
    Problems continue to dissipate as I play with settings for parallels 12.
    They just released a new update for parallels 12 today soI have installed MacOS update and Parallels update this afternoon.
    So far no problems, but I need to give everything a good test.

    When the displays are on - the black bezel disappears.
    When the displays are off - both the screen and the bezel are black so you don't notice either.
    really not a problem.

    Regarding specific questions:
    I have not had any problems with shifting the pixels. No stuttering with dragging or re-sizing windows.

    I came from a 2012 rMBP and then a Late 2013 rMBP and travel a lot and use the laptop at client sites.
    However, I wanted a set up that I could work more comfortably and spread out when I am working at the office at home.
    I bought the 2016 laptop and the 5k monitors to work as a package and I'm getting more comfortable that between MacOS and Parallels - things will settle out. There are a lot of options between MacOS, Parallels, Windows 10, and Office 365. just need to get all the parameters nailed down.
    just spent 3 days working on client work at home and still happy with the decisions.
  12. craig1410 macrumors 65816


    Mar 22, 2007
    Thanks for taking time to reply, really encouraged to hear you're enjoying the displays.

    It sounds like we have similar needs as I too work from my home office for clients but also need mobility to travel to client sites. Sometimes I just like to work downstairs while keeping my dogs company during the day or in the evening if I'm doing low-level work which I can do while watching TV with my family. I work as a web developer using Ruby on Rails in case you're wondering. I'm guessing perhaps you work in the financial sector given the mention of Excel but in either case, having lots of screen real estate is important.

    I currently also have a 5K iMac (2014 model without P3 colour) and I switch between that and the MBP but I find myself using the MBP even when in my office now because I just love using it quite frankly and the difference in performance between the new MBP and 4GHz iMac with 24GB RAM and 1TB SSD is not as big as it was with the late 2013 MBP with 16GB RAM and 500GB (much slower) SSD. I think the SSD in the new MBP makes a huge difference and I also have the 460 GPU which I think is faster than the iMac's GPU. The iMac CPU is certainly quite a bit faster than the new MBP but so few tasks are CPU limited that this is less of a problem. I have the 2.7GHz CPU in the MBP which, according to geek bench is about 88% as fast as the iMac for raw CPU speed.

    What I use a lot currently is the 'Spaces' feature in macOS to swipe between virtual desktops and I think even with a 3 display setup I would probably still use this to some extent but it would be great to have those 3 displays for each virtual space. A luxury certainly but I believe it would increase productivity considerably and as you know, time is money! I would probably sell my iMac partly as I would have almost no need to use it if I had the 3 monitor setup but also to fund the new displays.

    The only thing that worries me are the reports of quality problems with the new displays, from bad cables to DOA machines to interference from WiFi routers and dead pixels. Perhaps I might buy one display initially and see how it works out before going for the second. Then again, perhaps I should just get the two to be more likely to get one that works!

    Anyway, thanks again for your time, much appreciated.
  13. MrX8503 macrumors 68020

    Sep 19, 2010
    Try the new Mac OS update. The update solves graphics switching and may solve your issue. I recommend that you detach all peripherals when updating.
  14. TJC PE thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 17, 2012
    After I got the tip about the wi-fi router issue (I moved it from 1 foot away to 4 feet away) I have had far fewer issues.

    Updated MacOS 10.12.3 and Parallels to 12.1.3 (41532) last night.
    Seems to be going well.

    Still one problem with Excel in windows 10 with 5k display
    - locks up in full screen and coherence, but just when I move to an Excel tab that is a full graph.
    very narrow issue.
    Does not happen on macBook alone.
    Still playing with Parallels settings for graphic memory allocations.
  15. poorcody macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2013
    Have you tried fiddling with the amount of graphics memory Parallel gives to Windows? It might need a lot more than it's getting. [EDIT: see you just mentioned that... I have found giving too much memory can actually make Parallels run very choppy too.]

    Also have you tried playing with the Retina support settings in Parallels? Even if you like them how they are, it might offer a clue...

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