What Brand of USB Video Adapter works best with the MBA 13” 2011 ?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by macau, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. macau, Dec 1, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2011

    macau macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    Hi everyone,

    I need to run a 2nd external monitor (Dell) on my 2011 13” MBA. I’ve decided to use a USB video adapter because I don’t need a fast refresh rate.

    From my brief research it seems these 2 models are popular:

    Kensington Universal Multi-Display Adapter
    Diamond BVU195 HD USB Display Adapter

    However some people have been reporting compatibility issues with the Kensington model and the MBA running 10.7 which seems to be driver related.

    I was just wondering if anyone has had any experience using USB video adapters on the 2011 MBA.

    Thanks in advance.

    Clarification: I need to attached 2 Dell monitors to my MBA. I'm already using the MBA DisplayPort for one monitor. My plan is to use a USB video adapter for the 2nd monitor
  2. Zudeo macrumors member


    Jul 29, 2010
    Toronto, ON
  3. johnhurley macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2011
    The OP said 2nd external display ... aka already running 1 external display and going to try usb for a 2nd external display.
  4. Zudeo macrumors member


    Jul 29, 2010
    Toronto, ON
    The Apple MacBook Air (2011) supports dual displays.

    This was taken from the Video Support and Camera section of the "Tech Specs" MacBook Air page:

    Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colours

    I believe an Mini DisplayPort to (whatever) adapter will work for the OP.
  5. macau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    I actually need to run 2 Dell monitors from my 2011 MBA.

    I already have one external monitor connected to my Macbook Air’s DisplayPort and that works well.

    My plan is to add a 2nd Dell monitor using a USB video adapter. Then I can pan between the 2 Dell displays and the MBA LCD.
  6. johnhurley macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2011
    Let us know how that works for you ... not doing it myself but curious!
  7. Zudeo macrumors member


    Jul 29, 2010
    Toronto, ON
    There is EVGA's option:


    It's called the UV+. It can do a resolution of 2048x1152 if you get the higher end UV19 model, also, it works in OSX.

    Sorry, I'm running on little to no sleep lately; just trying to help! :)
  8. philxor macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2010
    I've used the diamond one with a 2010 MBA using Snow Leopard with good success.
  9. macau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    Thanks everyone for all the information. Much appreciated.

    I did some more research and it seems that most of these USB video adapter devices (Kensington, Diamond, Pluggable) use a DisplayLink chipset. The drivers for this chipset can be downloaded from the DisplayLink website.

    From what I’ve read, many people are having success when using these devices on mac’s running OSX 10.6, but some have had issues on OSX 10.7 machines. Displaylink have only recently released a beta version of the OSX 10.7 driver.

    At this stage I’m thinking of going for the Kensington model (33928) that supports up to 2048x1152 using the Displaylink’s top-end DL-195 chipset, mostly because I can get it locally, so if I have problems I can easily return it. It’s a little risky because I’m not sure how well it’ll run on my MBA running 10.7. Hopefully this new beta driver has sorted out some issues. If not I guess there’ll be updates in the near future.
  10. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    I used this Displaylink adaptors very successfully on 10.6, but the earlier Betas for Lion caused horrible stuttering when scrolling, even when a second display wasn't connected. Hopefully this latest driver fixes much of that.
  11. macau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    I had a look at the DisplayLink website.

    It seems they've been trying to get the OSX 10.7 driver to work since August, but have been held back by some OSX bugs which they're working with Apple to fix.

    They released their 5th beta version of the DisplayLink OSX Lion driver 3 weeks ago that works with OSX 10.7.2. From what I've read it's generally an improvement but they're still some issues.

    I'm guessing it'll take a few months before this is sorted out. But right now this is the only 3rd display option for the MBA that I can see.

    The other option would be a DualHead2Go solution, but that just stretches the workspace across 2 displays.

    Eventually a thunderbolt type solution might appear I guess.
  12. macau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    Well today I got my 3 display Macbook Air setup running.

    MBA 13"/i7/2011/OSX 10.7.2
    2 x Dell 2311H monitors
    Plugabale USB Video adapter (Displaylink DL-195L chipset)

    It works surprisingly well. I can basically pan between my MBA LCD and the 2 external Dell monitors running at 1920x1080.

    The lag on the USB display is much less than I thought. I really only notice it if I'm running full screen 720p video or above.

    Seems they've fixed most of the bugs with the latest DisplayLink OSX 10.7 driver.

    One thing I did notice is that it's essential to connect the USB video adapter to the DVI input on the monitor instead of the VGA input, otherwise the text looks fuzzy.
  13. BigSaintDogs macrumors member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Rhode Island, USA
    cable vice addapter

    I travel quite a bit and instead of an adapter I take a 10' mini display port to HDMI Cable and use it for monitors and also to the TV in my hotel Rooms. Connect to the Thunderbolt port, it works great!
  14. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    I just tried installing the new driver, and they seem to have fixed the lagging issue that was caused by earlier versions of the driver.
  15. macau, Dec 7, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2011

    macau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    Still really haven't had any issues with this USB video adapter. Works better than I expected.

    Lag isn't noticeable unless I do full screen video or drag windows across the display very quickly. Non-fullscreen Youtube video is reasonably smooth.

    Plenty of idle processing power as well.

    I even managed to run one of the Dell monitors in Portrait Mode.

    I reckon next year someone will create a dual thunderbolt adapter that will work with the Macbook Air. Until then this is probably the best solution.

    Attached Files:

  16. HelsinkiMac, Dec 8, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2011

    HelsinkiMac macrumors member

    Feb 20, 2010
    Hey - thanks for the reports of these in the wild so to speak! Which adapter did you go for in the end? I've been looking at the newertech one, but I've been unable to find out which chipset it uses if it is one of the displaylink ones... Any reports on the HIS multiview 2?

    Oh and do you know if any of these adapters running i.e. the displaylink 195 chipset support OpenGL acceleration, as the Newertech says it doesn't but I wasn't sure if that was universal or not...

  17. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    Unfortunately, the latest driver is causing other issues on my system like a black screen on wake from sleep requiring a reboot. I uninstalled it and everything is back to normal.
  18. macau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    HelsinkiMac, I eventually went for the "Plugable UGA-2K-A USB 2.0". It seemed to have the most positive reviews on Amazon, and it had the DisplayLink DL-195 Chipset. I assume having the right chipset is the most important factor when deciding what adapter to buy, although there may be other factors. I downloaded the OSX Lion Beta 5 driver from the DisplayLink website. Seems fine, but there might still be a few small quirks like TheRealDamager has discovered. I haven't had any issues so far. I have a 13" i7 MBA/2011 running 10.7.2 connected 2 Dell U2311H's. I'm connecting the USB video adapter to the monitor DVI input.
  19. progressweasel macrumors newbie


    Mar 7, 2009
    Best USB Video Adapter with MBA 2011

    I have a MBA 11" 2011 and I am running the Diamond BVU195 and it work fine.

    I needed to download a driver from Diamond and after that it has been smooth sailing. I generally connect to two monitors and this week I am connected to two Dell monitors and it has been working like a charm.

    I like just answering the question without trying to get you to do something else.
  20. HelsinkiMac macrumors member

    Feb 20, 2010
    Thanks - I'm on a 13" 2010 MBA and in Europe - OWC have the Newertech much cheaper than we can get many of the others in Europe, but I can't find much info about what chipset it uses. Will keep trying!
  21. macau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    HelsinkiMac, I had a quick look at the product info on the Newertech website. They also use Displaylink.
  22. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    The 2011 Airs don't have enough bandwidth on the Thunderbolt port to support dual displays (the Thunderbolt controller on the Air is half speed.)

    The MBPs ship with a full speed Thunderbolt controller that have enough bandwidth for two displays.
  23. cwaddell2002 macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2005
    Raleigh, NC
    At this point you have a solution, but I thought I would point out that the matrox dual head 2 go, display port model, could be a good solution as well. I use one on a Mac mini with great success.
  24. macau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    cwaddell2002, the advantage of your DualHead2Go solution would be that both external displays would be at full speed, whereas the refresh rate on the USB display is obviously less. On the other hand the USB solution allows the 2 external displays to have a separate workspace instead of one stretched across 2 displays. Anyway, it's good to know there's 2 solutions that work well on the MBA.

    goMac, yes I remember reading that about the MBA thunderbolt adapter. I wonder if it's possible to come up with a solution by incorporating the display card into a thunderbolt adapter.

Share This Page