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Will Thunderbolt allow multiple external displays?

74950 Views 43 Replies Latest reply: Dec 7, 2012 3:03 PM by jacknunz RSS
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Robbie Sinclair1 Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Feb 24, 2011 11:17 AM
The news about Thunderbolt mentions the ability to "daisy chain" up to 6 devices to the port.

Have there been any details released about the potential of driving multiple external monitors with Thunderbolt?

I have two 24" monitors that I'd like to use instead of the laptop display, but the Mini-Displayport only allows for a single external monitor (and yes, I've tried using both Dell's Multi Monitor Hub and Matrox's DualHead2Go devices with no luck).
Mac Pro Quad 3.0Ghz, Mac OS X (10.4.8)
  • captfred Level 7 Level 7 (26,225 points)
    Looks like you can only hook one display at this time.

    "The bi-directional nature of Thunderbolt enables you to daisy-chain to a single jack up to six high-speed data devices or five data devices and a display without the need for a hub. Apple’s wording is quite specific, though: you cannot daisy-chain multiple displays. As a proponent of multiple-display Macs, that’s too bad, but perhaps a future version of Thunderbolt will support multiple displays, or Apple will have two Thunderbolt ports to allow this option."

    From here:

    iMac 27" i7, iMac 20", Mini(2010) Server, MBPro, MBAir, iPhone 3GS, TV, iPad, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • dlunt21 Calculating status...
    I was thinking the same thing! -- To bad they didn't think through that.

    However I've been using a usb connector for another 22 inch screen. So I have two 22 inch screens working side by side an I close my macbook pro. The device I bought was a DIAMOND BVU195 off of amazon. Here is a link to it: sr11?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1298584261&sr=8-1

    This was the best 65 bucks I've spent. Only complaint is that there is a slight response delay on that screen when watching HD videos, but when I watch a video I just move to the main monitor.
    Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • YmerGuer Calculating status...

    I totally agree, it´s a shame Thunderbolt doesn´t open up the possibilities for multiple displays. Seems the bandwidth, etc is no longer the problem.

    But since that is not gonna work, I have some experience with a Matrox-solution (which does the job).

    I am using a Matrox DualHead2Go, Displayport edition. It supports two displays with resolution of up to 1920x1080, out of my MBP (mid 2010). It also gives some extra options concerning moving windows around, etc.

    So, until the Thunderbolt manages to strike life into two or more displays out of a single MiniDP port, I´m more than happy with my Matrox DualHead2Go setup.

    MacBook Pro (i7, 160 Intel SSD, 8 GB RAM), Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • Jeff Tomascak Calculating status...
    I have a late 2010 macbook pro 15" and I am using a matrox dualhead 2 go and 2 Dell 24" monitors at max resolution and it works perfectly. So now I have essentially 3 monitors on my desk including my macbook pro on a stand. feel free to email me for help on the setup
    Mac Book Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • jsrousseau Calculating status...
    I have a MacBookPro unibody 2009, and I have tested it with the following Matrox cards :
    - Matrox Dualhead2Go Analog _with USB cable_ (via the MiniDisplayPort to VGA adapter) = Does Works
    - Matrox Triplehead2Go Analog Edition (via the MiniDisplayPort to VGA adapter) = Does NOT work
    - Matrox Triplehead2Go Digital Edition (via the MiniDisplayPort to DVI adapter, singlelink) = Do NOT work
    - Matrox Triplehead2Go DisplayPort Edition = Does work, BUT creates a glitch with mouse/keyboard (like an interruption every 3 seconds) = so its useless.

    I just hope that Matrox will do their homework with the new versions and make it fully functionnal with MiniDisplayPort/Thunderbolt. I have spend so much money on these cards, its a shame that I can't even use them with my laptop.
    MacBookPro, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • The Deal Calculating status...
    Ditto on the Thunderbolt. I've been waiting for native multi monitor support since 2007.

    I have a very old MacBook Pro from December 2007 (arrived Jan 5, 2008), and I've been using the Matrox TripleHead 2 go. I'm running two NEC 24" monitors at full resolution (1900 X 1280).
  • YmerGuer Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 25, 2011 1:56 AM (in response to The Deal)
    I´m just left wondering WHY they don´t build in support for multiple displays...

    Is there a technical reason, or what?

    Without having read white or red papers on Ligth Peak/Thunderbolt, it sounds strange that, with the capacities we are talking about here, they can´t/won´t make it support multiple displays...

    It seems such a simple thing to do... Surely, the bandwidth requirements for a display is not so huge it can´t fit into this scheme. I might just be an ignorant here, crying out about stuff I shouldn´t, but...

    We should start a "facebook revolution", demanding support for multiple displays on MBP...

    MacBook Pro (i7, 160 Intel SSD, 8 GB RAM), Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • Carl Brutananadilewski Calculating status...
    What about this on the thunderbolt/mbp page?

    "Thunderbolt technology has arrived — and MacBook Pro is the first notebook to have it. Now one connection carries both DisplayPort and PCI Express. With two 10-Gbps data channels, you can transfer data more than 12 times faster than with FireWire 800. And don’t worry about a single drive or peripheral tying up the Thunderbolt port: You can daisy-chain up to six devices, +*including up to two high-resolution displays.3*+ So with one tiny, streamlined port, you get lightning-fast transfer speeds and huge expansion capabilities."

    The little *3 at the bottom of the page in fine print says:
    "+The 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro support two displays; the 13-inch MacBook Pro supports one display.+"

    How do we connect two displays, though?

    Message was edited by: astronomic
  • BigBash57 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hey all,

    I could be completely wrong about this, but my guess is multi-monitor hookups are supported* with Thunderbolt – the hiccup is not currently having monitors with Thunderbolt passthroughs. Current Apple displays don't have Thunderbolt support, so they have to be at the end of the chain – however, a future display with multiple Thunderbolt ports could be placed at the beginning of the chain, enabling the connection of more devices (including additional monitors). I wonder how long it will take Apple to update their displays with Thunderbolt support?

    *Looks like astronomic found the proof that two monitors are supported. Now we just have to wait for a Thunderbolt hub/switch or Thunderbolt-capable cinema displays.

    Message was edited by: BigBash57
    Macbook Pro Core 2 Duo, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • barthq Calculating status...
    Multiple external displays WILL be supported through Thunderbolt, in one form or another.
    If you cant just daisy-chain multiple Thunderbolt enabled displays (which i doubt) there will soon be thunderbolt-> USB3 hubs which will enable various USB2DVI solutions like the ones from DisplayLink.

    In the past those have been crippled by the low bandwidth of USB2, but USB3 versions are just around the corner which solve this problem:

    So just hook one Display up the normal way through mini DisplayPort and anotherone over USB 3.0. Probably someone will release some direct Thunderbolt -> DVI Converter anyway.

    So i am VERY sure that this will work in one form or another and am also really happy about this because it now makes a Mac Pro obsolete for me.
    Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • Rodrigo Zahr Level 2 Level 2 (295 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 26, 2011 12:00 AM (in response to barthq)
    it is supported, all you need is a thunderbolt hard disk with multiple TP ports. you can hook one screen or 2 or maybe 3 who knows!
    Dual 1GHz G4 / Dual 2.3 G5 / MP 2.8 Quad - 8GB Ram, Mac OS X (10.5.7)
  • barthq Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    10 GPBs wont be enough for 3 high res screens, but 2 should work.
    Mac OS X (10.6.6)
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