Thanks to my employer for hooking me up with a beautiful MacBook Pro and two huge external monitors.
If you’re trying to do the thing mentioned in the title of this post, you’ve probably already found the perfectly comprehensive post I’m going to link to. If not, it’s this guy right here. The Cliffs Notes version is as follows:
* Your MacBook Pro has one Mini-DVI port. You want to drive two external monitors. *Problem*.
* So buy two Diamond BVU195 USB display adapters. These allow you to connect DVI cables to USB cables, of which your MacBook Pro has a few.
* “But wait!” you might say here, “I only have two or so USB ports, and I want to drive two external monitors. How will I plug in an external mouse *and* an iPod/iPhone, *and* those two monitors?” Fear not: here’s where you buy a USB hub. I got a 7-port Belkin external USB hub for $28. I run a cable from there to a USB port on the MacBook Pro, and I’m done.
To review: up to here, you’re running one DVI cable from each of your monitors into a DVI-to-USB adapter from Diamond. Then you run the resulting USB cables into a USB hub. Then you run one cable from the hub into your MacBook Pro. Now both your monitors, in summary, are being run off a single USB port on your MacBook Pro. *Sexy*.
The final step, again as detailed in that article, is
* Download and install the DisplayLink OS X drivers. Now you can use System Preferences to arrange your three monitors — two external, one built-in — in any configuration you like.
I would include pictures of how these things all work on my end, but the fellow who wrote that piece included everything I would have.
My only question now is how to get control of the ridiculous quantities of cabling I have laying on my desk at work as a result of these contortions:
I got a little lost in the chain of tech, but I think USB ports on your monitors might’ve saved you some cabling. Perhaps a bluetooth mouse, too?
And then we wrap it all in a Chicago-style pizza.
Interesting. I started seeing those USB display adapters recently. The protocol for that must be really interesting. Like they must setup a SW framebuffer on your machine and then speak the equivalent of VNC or some other highly-compressed protocol over USB to the display adapter hardware, which reconstructs the image and displays it over DVI. Or they hook into the display routines directly and ship commands over the USB link and the display adpater HW does the work of rendering into the HW. Basically, how do you push video over a link that tops out at 480Mbs and probably gets more like 320 in real-life? Clearly, not impossible, but it would be interesting to see what the protocol does for sure. I’d be curious to see how much bandwidth they actually use.
Also, I would caution you with USB hubs. It seems unless you know the super-secret handshake, they all have a lifespan of some number of months…at least if you power them using the power adapter. So if they up and die one day, don’t be surprised.