July 25, 2016

Driving 4 monitors with a mac



I had no idea what I was getting into. Sounds simple right: drive 4 displays with one computer. Shouldn’t be too tough, right?

Warning: this post is going to be a bit more instructional than I’ve done in a while. But this was a super annoying problem for me to solve and I think I might be able to help others get to a solution faster (or avoid the issue altogether).

We have a big wall in this new office at CloverFIN. Since we’re zero paper as a company it’s important that when we meet we have a computer hooked up to a display that we can all use. Given the space of the wall there was no way to get a single screen large enough. A projector wouldn’t work given the ambient light (already tripped down that path in the past). So I spec’d 4 Sony displays, which fill the space perfectly and weren’t very expensive.

We run on Macs as a company. So I looked up apple’s specs. The MacPro can run 3 displays. Not quite what I needed…

I reached out to the Apple Business Team. They put me in touch with some 3rd party consultant. They told me 3 displays. I’d need an external video card adapter to drive a 4th. OK…

I found splitters, but they are really expensive and low res. I found a thunderbolt external video card and ended up buying that. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to instal drivers, get the right cables, etc. But it’s all up and running now. Here’s the rig:

  • 4 Sony 4k screens (Best Buy)
  • 1 Apple Mac Pro (refurb, base specs, Amazon)
  • BizonBox2 (Bizon)
  • Graphics card, NVIDIA GTX970 (Bison)
  • 1 HDMI to HDMI cable (Amazon)
  • 1 HDMI to Mini displayport/ thunderbolt cable (Amazon)
  • 1 HDMI to Displayport cable (Amazon)
  • 1 HDMI to DVI cable (Amazon)
  • (no joke, that’s how you pull this off. Crazy, right?)

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