Mac Setups: The Quad Display MacBook Pro Setup of a Programmer
This weeks featured Mac setup is the desk of Stephen G., a web programmer with a genuinely awesome quad display configuration. If you’re wondering how this great setup gets used, or if you’re just curious how on earth to drive three additional screens off of a MacBook Pro in a similarly sweet four-panel layout like this, read on to learn much more…
What hardware is used in your Mac setup?
- MacBook Pro 13″ with Retina Display model ME865LL/A (late 2013 Haswell)
- Two Lenovo 22″ Widescreen ThinkVision monitors (1900×1200 resolution each)
- One HP S2331 23″ Widescreen monitor (1920×1080 resolution)
- Matrox TripleHead2Go
- Connectland laptop cooling stand
- StarTech Thunderbolt Dock
- Belkin powered 7 port USB hub
- Apple Magic Mouse
- Logitech diNovo Mac Edition keyboard
- Toshiba 1 TB USB 3.0 drive
- Modified Dual Monitor Stand from Amazon (more on that shortly)
I’m sure others will be curious how to set up a similar configuration, so here are some additional details on the four-panel display setup and how it all ties together.
Using the stand I got from Amazon as a base, I used a matching diameter piece of pipe and a sleeve pipe with the same inside diameter to effectively make the stand taller to better accommodate the top row of monitors (both the Lenovos are along the top row).
The stand is easily strong enough to handle the additional weight, plus I added some rectangular pieces of aluminum where the base clamps to my IKEA desk for some extra strength.
Monitor wiring & connections
One of the Mac’s ThunderBolt outputs goes to the HP monitor via a Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter, that monitor runs at full resolution.
The other ThunderBolt output goes into the StarTech Thunderbolt Dock, with the Matrox TripleHead2Go getting signal from the Thunderbolt pass through, as well as power from one the StarTech dock USB ports.
The Matrox presents both Lenovo monitors as one big 3840×1200 resolution monitor to the MacBook Pro, this allows me to run all three monitors while making the MacBook Pro only think it is running two displays.
Accessories wiring & connections
The StarTech Dock gives me wired network access, handles sound output to my speakers, powers my Toshiba USB hard drive (used for SuperDuper, Time Machine, and extra storage)… Thunderbolt rocks !
The left side USB port on my MacBook Pro is hooked to a powered Belkin 7 port USB hub that holds the dongle for the Logitech keyboard. It also powers the Connectland laptop cooling stand and gives me easy access to hook up a Lightning cable for my iPhone and iPad.
What do you use this great Mac setup for?
I am Web Programmer by trade and needed a lot of real estate and CPU power to have my programming tools open as well as different browsers for cross-browser testing. The setup is also used for others work things like Instant Message, Email, and Google+.
What are some of your favorite Mac apps?
- Spotify (favorite app on my Mac): The best music service ever ! It’s great to be able to find anything I am in the mood for with no fuss
- Parallels Desktop 9: This is a must have since I do a lot of SQL Server coding and managing, as well as coding in Visual Studio. Parallels has done a fantastic job, it is stable and “just works”.
- Postbox 3.0: My preferred email client, it does such a great job tying together work and personal gmail accounts
- Instacast: An expensive but fantastic Podcast app. Listening to stuff like Daily Tech News and The Morning Stream help get me through my day
- Rogue Amoeba Airfoil: AirFoil allows me to shoot any audio from my MacBook to anywhere in the house. It was nice the other night when we threw a party and I had Spotify running here from the desk but the music was playing in the living room, garage, and our outside speaker setup all at once.
- iStat: A fantastic program to keep tabs on the vitals of your system
- aText: A text expander app for OS X, see below
Do you have any tips or suggestions you want to share?
If you feel that you are putting any kind of strain on your system, then please buy a decent cooling stand setup, it will be such a long term life saver of your treasured laptop. With the cooling stand I have, I keep my overall temps around 120 degrees F° (according to iStat, another great use for that app) with everything up and running that comprises my usual work day.
On the Mac, you can save yourself time by investing in a decent text expander program like “aText”, it’s such a time saver to be able to wire in a simple phrase to spit out a huge chunk of code or text. I bet I save 5-10 minutes a day of typing because of this excellent program.
Got an great Apple or Mac setup you want to share with OSXDaily? Take a few good pictures and answer a few questions, and send them in!