MACBOOK PRO WITH DUAL 24″ APPLE CINEMA DISPLAYS!

by tn on February 12, 2010

in GEAR, TECH

Finally put the second Apple Cinema Display to use after months of waiting for the module and adapters to come in.  Matrox just came out with a graphics module (dualhead2go DP Edition) that allows the Macbooks to run two monitors with a total maximum resolution of 3840×1200 (2×1920x1200).

* EDIT: (Everything finally works!  see below)Well it doesn’t work right!  at least not with my Macbook model (unibody /mid 2009/9400M)  running leopard 10.5.8.  The dual setup will ONLY work if the laptop lid is closed or the laptop screen is off.  It will freeze and choke up if all 3 screens are running at the same time.  I contacted Matrox numerous times, and all they could tell me is to try reverting back to 10.5.7 or wait until Apple does something about it, because the problem is with leopard 10.5.8 and snow leopard 10.6+.  Kinda retarded, but guess I am stuck for now until I find a better solution.  I know there are others running dual 24″ displays on their unibody macbook pros no problem, but haven’t heard of anyone running the same setup as mine that actually works (if it works for you, shoot me an email!).  After spending a whole day trying to get it to work, there was only one method that would work (below)

Anyways, here is what you need:

The module was smaller than I thought

IMPORTANT: before you begin, plug the main power of both displays in and individually connect each 24″ ACD to your macbook and change the brightness setting of them to the same (because the max setting of the ACDs are pretty blinding).  After that is done don’t unplug the main power cables because it will reset the settings on your displays.

Install the software FIRST, then connect all the cables together and plug in ONLY the usb cable from the module to your macbook and leave the Mini DisplayPort connection out for now.

Open up the Matrox Powerdesk control panel

It will have manufacturer settings applied.  Click on “configure based on attached displays” and “apply changes” and close the box.  Close your macbook as well.

After connecting the mini displayport cables to the module, you’ll end up with a usb and power cable from each display (24″ displays have 4 cables each – usb, mini displayport, power to laptop connector, and main outlet power )

  • plug the main power of both displays in
  • start from display #2 (right) and connect it’s usb to an open port on the back of display #1 (left) – there should be 3 open usb ports
  • the power connector for display #2 won’t be needed.  Tuck it somewhere behind the displays
  • connect the usb  from the keyboard (in my case, wired keyboard) to an open usb port on the back of Display #1 (left)
  • connect Display #1’s usb and power connector to your macbook

Now plug in the mini displayport from the module to the macbook (macbook is still in sleep mode and closed) and wake up the displays by pressing any key on your keyboard.  It should flicker a bit and resolve at 3840×1200.

  • Dualhead2go module will treat both displays as one big screen.  So if you were to maximize a window, it will maximize it across the two screens which sucks.
  • Volume can be adjusted on the keyboard and only speakers in Display #1 (left) will work
  • You can’t change the brightness!! if it is still too bright, or too dim, you’ll have to unplug the module from the macbook and connect the displays invidually again to reset it.
  • You can open the macbook lid if you want, but make sure it doesn’t get detected and turn on or else everything will freeze.

There is another option available.  VillageTronic just released a new usb graphics module called the Vibook+ Plus ($139.99) that can handle 1920×1200 (24″-28″) that I may try next.

Since it is a usb to dvi, you will also need to buy either a Gefen DVI to Mini DisplayPort converter ($79 bucks) or an Atlona AT-DP200 DVI to Mini Displayport Converter ($127.99)

**EDIT: it seems Matrox has fixed the problem with the corruption issues.  As of the beginning of December 2010, everything should work like suppose to and now I have the dual displays as well as the macbook display working simultaneously!! =) (for more information visit their site http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/support/gxm/selection/, updated matrox powerdesk software as well as updated firmwire! about time Matrox!)

{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

Henry November 17, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Well, I do have problem with my DH2Go DP edition and my MacBook Pro 17”.
I have a couple of 22″ monitors that I have been using with DH2Go Digital Ed for a couple of years on a PC. And it worked perfectly.
I recently moved to Mac, had to purchase the DP ed. and I an fighting every morning to be able to get my extended screen ‘cos apparently the Matrox unit loses track of my preferred resolution and display configurations and keeps bringing me back a clone 640×480 display on each screen.
I have to reboot, redefine active resolutions 3 or 4 times (and pray because sometimes it is more) until it finally works. Faulty unit I suppose.
Matrox is providing little help.
H.

Fedaa November 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I have the same laptop as you (unibody /mid 2009/9400M) – and i’ve just ordered matrox dualhead2go DP, but i only have 2x 23″ cenima displays with DVI instead of mini display port – do you think that would work?? ofcourse i’m planning to buy adapters DP to DVI – buti’m very cofused after reading different things on the web and matrox’ website says

DualHead2Go DP Edition – MBP/ unibody /mid 2009/9400M
Maximum resolution:3360×1050 (2×1680x1050) witch is not true in your case!!? I hope you can help me out – and nice setup btw..

mean mike December 7, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I have the same question as Fedda I have 2x 23? cinema displays with DVI instead of mini not sure what to do ?

Tom Sound London January 3, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Hey, this is great, thanks for putting it up ive been looking for a way to do this for ages!!
My question is, can the matrox be powered by a DC plug? Using a soundcard, a mac keyboard with a midi keyboard and mouse already uses up all my USB connections!

Thats the one really annoying this about the Mac, other PC laptops have PLENTY of USB ports, why only have two?!

tn January 3, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Hi Tom, thanks for stopping by…

the matrox unit uses a usb and mini displayport. If you are running dual screens, you should have 3 usb ports behind each display (6 usbs)…also if you are using a wired keyboard there are another 2 usb ports on the keyboard. Should be plenty.

Tom Sound London January 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Thanks for getting back so quickly, much appreciated.

Ah i think why im getting confused is because im going for 2 x Acer 22inch montiors, as far as i can see they dont have usb’s on them.

Thats annoying.

Joshua February 19, 2011 at 4:24 am

@Tom
buy a frickin’ USB Hub – lese then 50 bucks and you just have one cable to plug into your Mac :-)

Mitchell March 19, 2011 at 9:32 am

I am having the exact same problem as Henry when using the dualhead2go with my 2×22inch dell monitors.

Jason May 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I have been trying to apply your setup to a MacBook Pro and two 27″ Apple Led Displays with no luck. Matrox has responded to the issue with the following statement “Unfortunately, the 27 inch apple cinema displays will not work with our unit. The reason being is that these displays have a native resolution of 2560 by 1440 and when they are connected to our unit, the unit locks to the display’s native resolution which is beyond the capabilities of the unit. The older 23 inch or even the older 30 inch apple cinema displays will work with our unit because their supported resolution are within the limitations of our matrox box.”
The MacBook Pro should support a dual monitor environment being that it has become common place for most users.

Rex May 28, 2011 at 7:36 am

Hi @all
Is there now a chance to run two 27? apple cinema displays with a macbook pro? Can somebody help? I thought of using the atlona mini display converter in combination with the diamond bvu195, but the problem is, that the max. resolution could be only set to 2048×1154 on the second screen. Any other ideas?

Thanks a lot in advance.

Morgan June 5, 2011 at 5:47 am

Interesting… followed everything mentioned on this page, bought the DualHead2Go DP, downloaded the latest Matrox firmware for mac, and purchased all recommended cables mentioned on this post to connect a pair of 24? cinema displays to a mac mini.

Any nothing happens, I just get two black screens?

Any troubleshooting tips?

Could it possibly be that I am using a mac mini instead of a mac book pro? although this should not make a difference right?, as its still a mac machine with same connectors etc

Look forward to a response : -)

John July 1, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Rex,

Did you ever figure out how to run two 27″ inch ACD’s on a MBP? Can this be done?

John

Jeff Pannell July 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Just a quick question, though I know it’s been a while since this has been looked at I imagine, if we were to do this same setup for a user that is going to be working mostly in Windows XP virtualized via VMWare.. if he maximizes anything it’s going to span across both screens then? I was wondering if maybe there was some sort of software update since then that has since segregated the screens more.

Theo Vavas December 19, 2011 at 8:27 am

I don’t see the need for two 27″ displays when you can have almost as much real estate on a single 42″ LCD, or larger, as the primary display and the MBP as your secondary, thereby avoiding the split screen issue and all the other paraphernalia.
I have been running a 2007 Samsung 42″ LCD at 1360 x 768 dpi ( and 1440 x 900 on the MBP) on my 2008 15″ MBP 2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo with 3 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM and a ATI Radeon X1600 Graphic Card. It has performed without any problems for years, and I work heavily in Photoshop and other graphic programs.
Snow Leopard set it up automatically as soon as I plugged in the Sumsung, I just had to choose from the available resolutions for each display and choose the primary display. The set up pictured above ‘looks nice’ and impressive, but ‘it doesn’t cut the cake’.

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