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Chris Pollock

Chris Pollock - web developer & ecommerce entrepreneur
undivided… my thoughts on world, family, church, business, technology and Jesus Christ (all in all)

Dual & Triple Monitors with a Mac Book Pro – Matrox DualHead2Go

When I pondered my conversion to Mac, one of the biggest issues for me was the ability to operate two large computer monitors side by side.  As a developer this is a huge issue for me, so you can imagine my dismay when after going to the Apple store and talking to “genius” they simply turned around and Googled my question (something I had obviously done many times before).  After looking around I did discover that there was a device that would do what I was looking for. 

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This tutorial applies strictly to Mac Book pros (Mine was new in Sept of 2011 and is running 10.6.5).  If you’re using a desktop mac or another mac book I can’t promise similar results but here’s what I did.

The Device

The device that allows you to go dual and even triple screen on your mac book is the Matrox DualHead2Go DP Edition.  Some of the other device versions will work, but they won’t give you the resolutions you want to run 24” inch monitors.  If you want to go big on you monitors you’re going to need to use the DP (display port) edition.

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The Adapters

Because I was operating DVI monitors I needed three different adapters!  2 DP to DVI adapters to connect the unit to the monitors and 1 Mini DP to DP adapter to connect the Mac to the Matrox unit.  I definitely didn’t appreciate all the extra costs of the adapters, but I was a man on a mission so I did it anyways.

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Mini DP to DP Adapter

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The Software

The software Matrox PowerDesk allows you to tell the OS what monitor (laptop or “dual screen”) should be the primary.

Screen shot 2010-11-18 at 10.15.58 PM

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Screen shot 2010-11-18 at 10.14.45 PM

 

Little Annoyance, but Working Great!

One of the primary annoyances is that it treats the dual monitor setup form the device as a single monitor, so you can see that the task bar is completely stretched out across the top.  This really doesn’t cause too much pain except when I need to get to the file menu and I’m using the left monitor.

On the other hand the great part about this is you can stack a ton of stuff in your application bar at the bottom – fill it up as it will stretch all the way across the bottom if it needs to. 

Lots of cords need to be plugged in when you “dock” your mac, but nothing too overwhelming there.

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Other Tips

You’ll need a USB hub.  The Matrox unit takes up the mini display port AND A USB port for power. 

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Overall

Overall I’m very pleased with the results.  I work primarily off the two main monitors, but I can put secondary applications like script logs and skype on the less dominant lap top monitor.  If you are a developer you’ll definitely benefit from this arrangement.  Also, if you like my desk, check out this post.. I made it myself.

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  • Jay Janssen

    Reviews of the DualHead2Go DP on Amazon (and similar models) aren't totally positive, complaining of flickering on the monitors, etc. Any similar issues in your experience?

  • http://web.simplifiedbuilding.com cwpollock

    I haven't had a single problem with it so far. It has worked flawlessly. I did see another blog review where someone complained that it crashed unless the lid of their mac was closed. I have experience no problems like this. I think some of those issues might be tied to the non DP versions. There are like three or four different versions of the adapter. So for me, right now, I've got nothing but good things to say about the DP version running on my pretty much brand new mac. Those maybe factors that affect the review.

  • Mike

    Just wondering why not use

    Dual Link DVI Cable would that work? see cable below

    http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=&q=Dual+Link+DVI+cables&cid=6633518581110417809&os=sellers#scoring=p

    Based on my research that should work unless I am wrong.

  • http://web.simplifiedbuilding.com cwpollock

    @Mike,

    I think the only thing that it might succeed in doing is splitting one screen into two screens (mirror image).

  • http://roaksoax.com Andres

    Hi there!

    I was wondering what video card does your Mac have?

  • http://web.simplifiedbuilding.com cwpollock

    @Andres NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M

  • http://roaksoax.com Andres

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for your response.

    I have couple more question though…

    1. What resolution are you running? Are you on 1080p on each monitor or are you running the maximum supported by the video card? (2560×1600 according to [1])

    2. How's the image quality? (Can you work 2 hours in a row without having any issues eye-wise? :))

    [1]: http://www.nvidia.com/object/product_geforce_gt_330m_us.html

    (I'm a software engineer myself and looking for the best solution to dual monitor 24inchs, I work on Linux though)

  • http://web.simplifiedbuilding.com cwpollock

    1. I'm running it at 3360 x 1050 .. it treats both monitors as one big monitor

    2. Image quality is fine. Not flickering problems. I work all day (8-10 hrs) without any problems at all.

  • http://roaksoax.com Andres

    Cool. Thanks for the info!!

  • blackghost

    Do you have the links to get the cables (DP Male to DVI Female) and (Mini DP male to DP male?) thank you

  • Davide

    Hi, i bought this solution for me but i wouldn't use my two monitors as big large monitor because i use the laptop closed and i work only with two monitors(with space limited is enough to use the two monitors). do you know any mode to split the monitor of 3840 pixel width into two of 1920???
    I also asked to Matrox support

    Thank you very much

  • Raissa Freitas Noronha

    Does anyone know if this is possible on a Macbook Air 11″?

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Chris Pollock

Web Developer - proficient in both PHP and ASP.NET.
Rochester, New York

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Day 2: the back yard is swarming with fluffy tailed rodents. The boys are delighted. There is ample GoPro footage of inquisitive squirrel faces. Caleb was even hand feeding. #lifewithboysOwl pellet dissection is an interesting experience!! It was almost like archaeology, but different in the “this was puked up by a bird” kind of way :stuck_out_tongue:. #lifewithboys #owlbranddiscoverykits #biologyDoes baiting squirrels with Cheerios and observing their behavior count as biology? We are studying mammals after all. :smile:#citysquirrels #lifewithboys #backyardwildlifePhotoSushi for 9 courtesy of @amylpollockSomewhere, deep down inside, I’m thankful that they can cook their own breakfast:raised_hands:. But parenting is filled with such conflicting emotions. :yum: #lifewithboys #cleanupyourmess #wafflesShearing my sheep today :sheep:! #lifewithboys #This is for my friends who don’t live in upstate ny #snowCaleb’s birthday lunch. Now I have two teenagersBeautiful upstate NY #home#Repost @andrewpetersonmusic ・・・ The Burning Edge of Dawn is on sale for $5.99 through this Thursday, anywhere you buy music online!Classic PhotoDinner with the Jobs :grinning:Worn down by the world.