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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > 27'' iMac + Mini-Displayport = connection nightmare !..

27'' iMac + Mini-Displayport = connection nightmare !..
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nuno1959
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Feb 17, 2011, 11:46 AM
 
Hi guys

this IS a long post , please accept my apologies & bear w/ me...
when i got my 1st Intel iMac ( white, 17''.. ) i built a desk to stash away cabling & peripherals out of sight yet highly accessible/practical, i learned this pays off when i played in a band & ''managed'' the rehearsal room's/instrument's cabling !
recently i sold my alu 20'' iMac & got a 27'' iMac i7 + Ergotron MX wall mount & wasn't too happy because the Mini-Displayport ( mDP.. ) to HDMI adapter for my plasma TV hang sloppily at the bottom of it but....O.K, i guess i could live w/ that !
later, some extra $ came my way & i got a Wacom Cintiq 21UX + Ergotron LX desk arm. that's when all hell broke loose :

the Cintiq has a DVI-I plug, the iMac's mDP to DVI adapters are plain DVI so an extra adapter cable w/ further 2 very boxy/nasty plugs had to be added.
worse, the iMac only having 1 mDP in/out port means i can't have BOTH the TV AND the Cintiq connected, hence more cables + adapters hanging under the once slick & gorgeous iMac/Ergotron combo.....NOT nice ! since the HDMI cable is 15mm & the Cintiq is another 15mm, the bundle coming off the iMac is thick & makes moving the Ergotron around awkward ….
no problem i thought, time to buy a mDP extension/splitter ! this would :

1 - spare it a daily plug/unplug routine thus preserving the iMacs port's health - mDP don't strike me as the sturdiest of plugs + the price repairing it if it went wrong - ouch !…
2 - given the difference in diameter of the cables i have & the one of a mDP, moving the arm around would become A LOT easier…
3 - would place the adapter plugs - by now there are 5, each 1 prettier than the next.. - out of sight w/ the other cabling

considering Apple's, & quality accessory makers catering for this kind of machine, extensive industrial design experience, this can't be BUT straightforward right ?…..well much to my dismay, no, NOT REALLY !

1st frustration :
after EXTENSIVE web search there are a few extensions out there but i only found one splitter cable - Tripp Lite's P584-001-M2M : P584-001-M2M - Mini - Displayport to Mini - Displayport Splitter, Male to 2 x Female, 1ft
however when asked if it would allow to have BOTH my TV & my tablet connected ( but to use 1 at a time..) their answer was :
''....Since the P584-001-M2M is designed for use with devices that will connect direct to the unit via Displayport connection, we cannot guarantee compatibility when using the DVI to Displayport adaptors mentioned in the inquiry...''
in short : it sounds like they don't know & they are NOT alone - so far NO ONE has been able to shed some light on this !!??

2nd frustration :
said splitter is some 20 cm long & the splitter box is as big as a Vicks Vaporub jar : that + the 5 or 6 adapters will look REAL nice & polished hanging from the iMac, right ?

3rd frustration :
the only other way to go ( subject to confirmation it does work.. ) is either this way -
Atlona :: Products :: Amplifiers/Splitters :: DisplayPort & Mini DisplayPort Amplifiers/Splitters :: ATLONA 1x2 MINI DISPLAYPORT SPLITTER at a cost of £250
or this way -
Multiple Monitors for Laptops | Multi-monitors at a cost of £150 + cables - any one knows/has/works with these boxes ?

4th frustration :
in a day & age where Mac Minis & iMacs are ROUTINELY used as home media centers, NO ONE saw this coming ? hence no one produced the necessary hardware to solve this ?……….i understand DVI-I isn't the most advanced plug format out there BUT if Wacom uses it on the Cintiq 21UX, it's not also so ''last ice age''...
so, PLEASE; PLEASE; PLEASE does anyone know where can i get either :

1 - a 1 meter long cable w/ a male mDP plug & a splitter box w/ BOTH a HDMI & A DVI-I i could plug my stuff into without any adapters
2 - a 1 meter long cable w/ a male mDP plug & a splitter box w/ 2 female mDP plugs i could plug my adapters into but out of sight
3 - ANY other solution/suggestion so i can leave my iMac's mDP plug well alone AND not have a cable bundle as thick as a thigh coming out at the back thus making the Ergotron unusable

ANY help WILL be GREATLY appreciated - many thanks for your patience

cheers

Nuno
     
ibook_steve
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Feb 17, 2011, 07:34 PM
 
Welcome to our forums!

No offense, but if you're buying a $2000 pen input display (according to Wacom's web site) with "some extra $", you should be using a Mac Pro, not an iMac, for what you need to do. With a Pro, you have all the expandability you need so you don't have to try to figure out how to connect two additional displays at the same time to a single video output.

With that being said, check out Monoprice: HDMI Cable, Home Theater Accessories, HDMI Products, Cables, Adapters, Video/Audio Switch, Networking, USB, Firewire, Printer Toner, and more!. I haven't done a search there for you, but Monoprice regularly has every type of cable or adapter you could possibly need at really great prices.

As far as cable thickness is concerned, there's not much you can do about that. High speed cables require good shielding in order for them to work, making them thicker. Monoprice might have some options for you, so check them out.

Steve
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alexkent
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Feb 19, 2011, 01:33 PM
 
nuno1959,

the short answer is that the iMac can only run one external display at a time.
as far as i know there is no way to split a digital video cable (hdmi / mdp / dvi) to allow two displays to run independently (different resolutions + pictures on each).

you might think it's ok for them not to be independent, they could just mirror each other... but i'm guessing this will be no use as the Cintiq display is 4:3 proportions (1280x1024?) and the plasma TV is 16:9 (1080p?) so the one of the displays will have to match the proportion of the other (if there is a common resolution supported by both of them at all, which is not entirely likely).

so...

your options are:

get a dvi switch box, so you can hit a button rather than pull cables to switch from one external display to the other:
Gefen, LLC - Mini DVI Switcher
(i'm not actually sure this is exactly what you need, you would have to check with Gefen whether this box will work in 'reverse' as you need it, 1 source and 2 displays).

or get a usb-dvi cable.
this is a cable which runs an entire external display from a usb port, essentially a usb connected video card.
thus allowing you to attach one external display directly to you Mac's mini-displayport and the second external display to this usb cable.
OWC USB to DVI/HDMI/VGA Video Display (Up to... (VIDU2DVIA) at OWC
but there are limitations to this approach, in short there is no 3d acceleration available on the usb connected display, for more detail read this review:
ATPM 15.08 - Review: OWC USB 2.0 Display Adapter

there maybe other things i haven't thought of, the best place to look is the Gefen site:
Gefen, LLC
as they make pretty much every video adapter/splitter/converter imaginable (if you've pro studio experience you've probably come across them already).

if it were me?
i would look for a dvi switcher as i'd be unlikely to watch a film on the plasma, read my email on the iMac, and make a painting on the Cintiq all at the same time.

actually, scratch that, if it were me i'd buy an AppleTV and run the Plasma from that. obviously it depends what you use it for, but if it's just for watching movies on the big screen then separating it from the iMac would be the simplest solution.

best of luck,
alex.
     
CharlesS
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Feb 19, 2011, 02:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by ibook_steve View Post
Welcome to our forums!

No offense, but if you're buying a $2000 pen input display (according to Wacom's web site) with "some extra $", you should be using a Mac Pro, not an iMac, for what you need to do. With a Pro, you have all the expandability you need so you don't have to try to figure out how to connect two additional displays at the same time to a single video output.
Hey, it's not his fault that Apple charges $2500 for the same kind of basic expandability that you could find in a low-end Dell. But with that said, the good news is that DisplayPort does have the ability to connect multiple monitors to a single port. Not sure what resolutions the iMac's video card will be able to handle while doing this, but it might be worth a try, using an adapter like this one:

Newegg.com - Accell K087B-005B DisplayPort to DVI Multi-Monitor Adapter

Unfortunately, I haven't used one of these myself, so I can't personally vouch for them. Hopefully it will work, though.

Ticking sound coming from a .pkg package? Don't let the .bom go off! Inspect it first with Pacifist. Macworld - five mice!
     
P
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Feb 19, 2011, 05:32 PM
 
If it's the current series with the Radeon 5x00 graphics, it handles 3 displays max. Not sure on the exactt max res of each, but I have seen 3 times 1920*1080 working in tests.

That said, there may be driver issues. Never tried it myself.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
machilfe
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Feb 20, 2011, 06:17 AM
 
May have a look at the following webpage.
<http://www.displaylink.com/>
They have a Mac OS X Driver available and a list of products which use their chip.
With this devices you can ad as much as up to 5 additional displays to the USB bus.

Regards
     
Big Mac
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Feb 20, 2011, 01:03 PM
 
I don't think I'd trust a multi-monitor solution that uses USB, personally speaking.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
Spheric Harlot
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Feb 20, 2011, 01:18 PM
 
Hell no.
     
machilfe
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Feb 20, 2011, 02:46 PM
 
As long as you don't play DVD's and movies on those additional screens or do rendering on them, you are fine with this solutions.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Feb 20, 2011, 03:46 PM
 
Actually even the cheap ones work surprisingly well. They can't compete on quality but they are functional and reasonably robust.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
CharlesS
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Feb 20, 2011, 08:51 PM
 
But why would you want to run your video over USB when there exist solutions to connect the displays (relatively) natively via DisplayPort?

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Spheric Harlot
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Feb 21, 2011, 12:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
But why would you want to run your video over USB when there exist solutions to connect the displays (relatively) natively via DisplayPort?
Because there's always room for Yet Another Protocol Type That USB Was Never Even Imagined To Need To Support, Ever.
     
shabbasuraj
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Feb 21, 2011, 06:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Because there's always room for Yet Another Protocol Type That USB Was Never Even Imagined To Need To Support, Ever.
lol so tru
blabba5555555555555555555555555555555555555
     
shabbasuraj
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Feb 21, 2011, 06:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
Hey, it's not his fault that Apple charges $2500 for the same kind of basic expandability that you could find in a low-end Dell. But with that said, the good news is that DisplayPort does have the ability to connect multiple monitors to a single port. Not sure what resolutions the iMac's video card will be able to handle while doing this, but it might be worth a try, using an adapter like this one:

Newegg.com - Accell K087B-005B DisplayPort to DVI Multi-Monitor Adapter

Unfortunately, I haven't used one of these myself, so I can't personally vouch for them. Hopefully it will work, though.
so curious if that thing works.
blabba5555555555555555555555555555555555555
     
shabbasuraj
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Feb 21, 2011, 06:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
If it's the current series with the Radeon 5x00 graphics, it handles 3 displays max. Not sure on the exactt max res of each, but I have seen 3 times 1920*1080 working in tests.

That said, there may be driver issues. Never tried it myself.
Anyone here seen this actually work?
( Last edited by shabbasuraj; Feb 21, 2011 at 07:07 PM. )
blabba5555555555555555555555555555555555555
     
nuno1959  (op)
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Feb 23, 2011, 09:11 PM
 
Hi guys

big OOOPS & first of all i have to apologize profusely !! for some reason i have not been notified i had answers to my post, most likely a setting in my account here ! i promise i WILL read all of them attentively & answer them all
fortunately i ''came back'' to check what was up, because i found it strange i had had no answer at all !
DAMN.....i thought i was a ''computer idiot'' , now it's actually worse.....now i KNOW i'm a computer idiot !!
     
nuno1959  (op)
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Feb 23, 2011, 10:46 PM
 
ok so lets answer some
1st - ibook_steve :
thanks for your welcome & links, they do seem to have something that might be made to work even if with some adapters - For only $14.32 each when QTY 50+ purchased - Video Splitter - MINI-DVI to HDMI Female and DVI-D Female Splitter - Gold plated | DVI Passive & Non-Powered Splitters - i'll ask them...
about getting this iMac instead of a Mac Pro, well it was just out of convenience/lack of space, sheer ignorance & no real need ( until now ?.. ) as the Cintiq came about almost by accident: having seen it being demoed, my brain locked onto ''i got to have one'' mode.
being an artist/silversmith/interior designer, i just lied unashamedly to myself thinking it would be SOOO helpful for my work ( bullshit, a paper pad suffices...LOL... ) meanwhile to get it going i got ZBrush & feel as if sent back to school, only it's a school where i'm sent to the corner daily, wearing the ''jackass pointy hat'' , yup, it's a steep learning curve but i like a challenge & stubborn as i can be, i WILL ''get it''...LOL...
as for thick cables, meanwhile i got a Mini-Displayport extension which spares the iMac own plug at the back & moves out of sight that big unsightly snake...

2nd - alexkent :
thanks also for your input & as far as i can tell you are right about everything you write particularly this : '' if it were me?
i would look for a dvi switcher as i'd be unlikely to watch a film on the plasma, read my email on the iMac, and make a painting on the Cintiq all at the same time....''
so i really might follow down the OWC USB to HDMI converter because from what i read in that review, that sounds like enough to drive the plasma/play a movie or even the Apple TV - have to check that one out...
3rd - charlesS :
thanks to you too & again my 1st post just goes to show my computing ignorance - it NEVER occurred to me there wouldn't be a splitter that would allow me to connect simultaneously ( even if not to use them simultaneously.. ) 3 items to one socket. i just assumed i could have them all physically plugged in just as you can have a vacuum cleaner, a blender & hair dryer plugged into the same wall socket even though you don't use them all at the same time, you know what i mean ?...LOL....
thanks for the Accell link, i had found them myself & wrote to them asking if i could use that exact same apparatus, still waiting for an answer though - when they answer, i will get back to you on that one...
to make this a bit shorter than the first post & no disrespect meant to any of the others who lent a helping hand :
P - my graphics card is a ATI Radeon HD 4850...
machilfe - DisplayLink - i did but talk about a clunky, uninviting website...+ reviews about their driver where not so hot either.... :-(
BigMac, Spheric Harlot, Waragainstsleep, et all - from what i read, you can as long as your use is not TOO demanding - emails, charts...other than that there ARE issues ( DAMN, just when i thought i could have a nice USB fridge to cool my beer... )

on top of this i already adjusted my settings so i AM notified whenever there is an answer to a post i make
again many thanks guys !!
cheers
Nuno
     
   
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