Buying and Setting up a 2010 Mac Pro with 3 Monitors? Read This First!

The 2010 Mac Pro is a nice bump in CPU performance and also has some great new graphics specs.  Be careful though, there are some caveats that Apple doesn’t tell you about before you order your $2,500 to $17,000 new computer.  Just because you can buy Apple adapters to connect three monitors to your 5770 or 5870 doesn’t mean they’ll all work.

If you look at the current 2010 Mac Pro specs, it says that with either one ATI 5770 or one ATI 5870 the Mac Pro can drive three monitors.  In a caveat at the bottom of the page, it says:

2. Connecting more than three displays requires installation of two ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics cards.

This led me (and many others) to believe that connecting three displays was as simple as plugging them in.  The Mac Pro’s 5870 can display on three monitors, but that’s not all the story.  After spending several days working on this and an hour on the phone with two levels of tech support at AppleCare, I’ve learned the whole story (well, most of it).

If you read ATI’s specs on the 5870, it says (in a caveat at the bottom of the page):

Driver version 8.66 (Catalyst 9.10) or above is required to support ATI Eyefinity technology and to enable a third display you require one panel with a DisplayPort connector

Sure, Macs don’t use the PC Catalyst drivers, but this seemed like the 5870 should be able to display on three monitors without much headache.

After my Mac Pro was shipped, Apple posted a support article to their website that talked about supported display configurations of the new Mac Pro video cards.  This was the first indication from Apple that if you used DVI monitors, you were in for a few surprises.  In that article it states that to connect three monitors with DVI, you had to use two of Apple’s Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapters (part number MB571Z/A).  Given the ATI spec on the 5870, it doesn’t make sense to me when you need two of these.  The folks at AppleCare verified this though.  You need two of them.  I asked AppleCare why this appears to differ from the ATI spec on the 5870 and they didn’t have an answer.

A new Apple Support article just showed up that further details the issues with three displays on the new Mac Pros.  In that article, Apple states that if you connect three monitors one of them “may turn black” or “no longer appear in the Graphics tab of System Profiler.”

… one of the following issues may occur:

  • When using a DVI connection, a Mini DisplayPort, and an HDMI connection, the display connected via DVI may turn black.
  • When using a DVI connection and two HDMI displays, the display connected via DVI may turn black.
  • When using a DVI connection and a HDMI connection, adding an additional HDMI connection or a Mini DisplayPort connection may cause the initially-connected HDMI device to no longer appear in the Graphics tab of System Profiler.

The article goes on to say:


When three displays are in use with Mac Pro (Mid 2010), only one DVI or HDMI device should be used.  Note: The Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (different from the Apple Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI adapter) is considered a DVI device.

So, now we know.  It’s easy to connect three DVI monitors to your shiny new 2010 Mac Pro, but it’ll cost you.  The solution is to use two of the $99 Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI connectors.  There are several frustrating things with this however.  First, $200 is a (how shall I say this…) “silly” amount to spend on adapters when that’s roughly what an entire 5770 video card costs.  Because the 5870 uses both of the Mac Pro’s PCIe power adapters, you can’t add a 5770 to a system with an existing 5870.  When I asked AppleCare about adding a 5770, they told me it wasn’t a supported configuration and my system was already “maxed out.”  There may be a way to get power from a non-used SATA power connector to drive another graphics card, but that’s not a supported configuration by Apple.

The second frustrating thing is that Apple isn’t currently upfront about these limitations in their sales information. The only caveat about monitors on their sales pages tells you to buy the two 5770 option if you want more than three monitors.  Two 5770s and one 5870 are in the same order of magnitude in speed.  If you want to drive three (or four) non-DisplayPort monitors, the best way to spend your money is on two 5770s instead of a 5870 with a bunch of $99 adapters.

I sent Apple a request to update their sales information to be more clear.  It’d be much better customer relations if they were upfront about which Mac Pro configurations supported each display configuration.  If you’ve been bit by this, you should do the same.  You can leave feedback to Apple here:

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t the end of the world.  I bought the new Mac Pro mostly for the power.  In my “real world” benchmark tests, the new 2010 8-core 2.4GHz Mac Pro is roughly 5 times as fast as my 2008 iMac at compiling my iPhone games Air Hockey and Doodle Hockey.  It’s loads faster at After Effects renders.  On OpenCL tasks that can jump on the GPU, the new Mac Pro with a 5870 should really shine.  It crushes my old computer in everything it does.  A new $4000 computer better crush an old $1200 computer though.  I won’t be taking back my Mac Pro.  Still, it’d be nice for everyone to know about all the caveats with new equipment before they drop the cash on it.

So, you still want to drive three DVI monitors with your single graphics card 2010 Mac Pro?  Get two Apple Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapters for $99 each.  If you want to stray from Apple branded products, you can try similar adapters from MonoPrice at $67 each (these don’t have USB output though and I haven’t verified that they work).

Now you know.  Good luck!

UPDATE. 18 Sep 2010 – Monoprice was out of their $65 adapters, so I bought two of the $99 Apple Mini DisplayPort to Dual Link DVI adapters.  I’m happy to have three monitors finally working.  Unfortunately, when I use those adapters, the monitors do not properly wake up from sleeping.  The monitor connected directly to the 5870’s DVI output wakes up fine, but the two connected with the adapters show static after waking up.  It takes 2 to 5 power cycles of the monitors to get them working again.  This is apparently a problem with both the 5770 and 5870 Mac Pros:

I thought Apple products were supposed to “just work.”  Hmmm.

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63 Responses to Buying and Setting up a 2010 Mac Pro with 3 Monitors? Read This First!

  1. scott says:

    Great writeup! I'm in the “3 monitor” club and I don't want to wait 6 weeks for another 5770 to ship. Are there any older video cards that I could buy today that are compatible with the 2010 Mac Pro?

    • Bryan Duke says:

      That's a great question. So far, I haven't heard of anyone dropping in another graphics card with their 5870. I have an 8800GT that's getting repaired at the moment that I might try when it gets back. The problem is that there aren't any more 6-pin PCI Express power adapters available once you have a 5870 installed.

      Someone may make a SATA-to-PCI Express power adapter, but I doubt the Mac Pro is really meant for you to do that. I wish there was a good way to do this. It sure would be nice to drop in another OpenCL-capable card to drive the 3rd monitor.

      • Matt says:

        Thanks for the info Bryan. I bought the two dual-link $99 adaptors and still no go.
        I have spent the last three days trying to find an acceptable solution but still to
        no avail. I have two 25in HP’s and my third display is a 42in Samsung so I’m wondering if the blackmagic card will work. Also, pondering the Matrox Dualhead2go. This is very frustrating after spending > 15k on this new system. Whenever I think I’ve found something that will work, it always turns out to be for PC. I’ve been a Mac guy for ever but this is a bit of a bummer!
        but this kind of thing is really

  2. poppthanks says:

    What you fail to mention is that when investing a large amount of money in a product, the “normal” person will get info on all the details. Instead you plunked your cash down and cried later. Not once on Apple's website did they say “setting up 3 displays is as easy 1,2,3!” They list that video card as being capable of driving 3 displays. I can understand if Apple touted the new mac pro as being able to easily handle 3 displays out of the box. But that is not the case here. Funny how you overlook that fact that that video card is designed by ATI. I don't see you beating their door down. In a nutshell……..RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BUY GENIUS

    • Bryan Duke says:

      I totally agree that you should get all the details before plopping down your hard earned cash. That's why I wrote this post. In my opinion, Apple fails to give you all the info regarding the new Mac Pro. I point out here what I found was missing.

      Actually, before I ordered the computer a salesperson at the local Apple Store told me that I would just need two of the $29 adapters to make 3 DVI monitors work. It was only after my computer shipped that Apple posted the support note about the 3 monitor issues.

      I did actually talk about it being an ATI card. There are differences, however, between the ATI spec and what the card will actually do (1 DisplayPort monitor required vs 2). When I pointed this difference out to the AppleCare supervisor, he said “hmmm.”

      • poppthanks says:

        So your real mistake was taking a salesperson's word? Do you do the same at a car dealership?

        • majicDave says:

          Are you seriously saying that a salesperson can just make stuff up and tell you whatever they like and it's your fault for believing them?

          Besides, do you read over every little manufacturers detail of every accessory's compatibility at a car dealership? If you do, you're a very rare and special kind of person.

          If I'd been through Bryan's experience I'd be pissed. Bryan, on the other hand, is just explaining the issue to stop others from making the same (and totally understandable) mistake.

          • poppthanks says:

            What was the salesperson making up??? Did your buddy here ask the salesman if he would need anything special to make certain features work???

    • Triguna says:

      I totally disagree with you. First of all, anyone who's a tad honest who reads on the Apple site that you can can have three monitors hooked on your new mac understands just that, you can hook three monitors. Nowhere it is mentioned that it isn't that simple, that you have to do research, ask people, buy expensive this and that. If they think lure people to think it is simple then it is not the fault of the costumer who is not smart enough, a genius as you say. I am NOT a technical engineer and I don't want to be one. I want a computer that works for my work, be it with an apple or some other fruit on it. But of course what did the snake use to lure Eve into its selfish schemes? While you may have time to research, I don't have it, I have work to do and I don't like cheap tricks. End of it.

  3. audiopost says:

    Thanks for the info Bryan .. there is precious little of it around!
    I think the tech spec page for the Mac Pro is seriously misleading.. under the “graphics and displays” section it states that the 5770 has “two Mini DisplayPort outputs, and one dual-link DVI port” it then says “Video adapters available for: Additional DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (optional).. Additional dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (optional)”

    It would be a fair assumption that you could simply use any adaptor in any combination but instead there's a hidden limitation.

    I've got an 8 core arriving tommorrow and thought I could drive 2 HDMI only monitors with Mini Displayport to HDMI adaptors and an apple DVI monitor as a third. DO you think I'll have any luck just running the 2 HDMI ? anyone???

    Thanks again!

    • Bryan Duke says:

      If you're only trying to drive 2 HDMI monitors, my guess is that you'll be ok. It sounds like those get treated the same as a DVI monitor. So, two should be ok, but 3 won't be ok.

      Please let us all know what you find!

  4. gatz says:

    Do the Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapters require a USB connection for power or are they simply so you can use your monitor as a hub?

    Thanks for doing the early adopter leg work.

  5. Charlespascal7 says:

    Thank you for this precious information Bryan! I have a question : If I have a display connected in the dvi port, one in the minidisplay (using a dvi to minidisplay adapter), and the last one using the pricy 99$ adapter, will it work?

    Am I understanding this correctly?

    Thanks buddy!

  6. Gus says:

    Thanks for the write up. I just bought a 5770 for a 2008 Mac Pro because the 3 2600's I'm using to drive 5 monitors have been acting up for months. I was hoping to get 3 monitors on the 5770, but that looks like it will cost $200 more.

    I've tried using one of the 2600's with the new card, but it seems to not function at all while the 5770 is installed. I tried a few different cards and in different slots, but startup took forever, and any monitors hooked up to the 2600 failed to function. I wasn't exhaustive about trying all the slot combinations, maybe I'll give it another go this weekend. If anyone has used at 5770 or 5870 with a 2600 successfully, please let me know.

    • Bryan Duke says:

      I'm not sure what the 2600 requires, but I think the only two PCIe x16 slots are the bottom two. If the 2600 requires the x16 slot (which it probably does), it'd have to go right next to your 5770.

    • Gus says:

      Just a little update to my post. I bought a GT 120 to use with the 5770, that worked well. 10.6.5 just came out though, and it seems to allow the 5770 to work with the 2600.

  7. Brad says:

    Hey Brian… tks for the write up. I'm trying to hunt down why I'm having a unique issue it seems. Just got a 6-core 2010 mac pro, with the 5780. I have an Eizo cg243w dvi display and a bought a second 24 led cinema display…

    The Eizo works just fine with the mini display port to dvi adaptor.

    But I can't figure out for the life why I can't simply plug the cinema display into the mini display port. In both cases, the usb cables for the monitors are plugged into the back of the computer as well.

    The 24 won't even work just on its own with this video card with the other monitor unplugged… yet it works with my macbook pro!?

    I totally agree with your frustration… even tho I am only trying to run just two monitors. If you have any advice, I'd love to hear it… I'll be writing apple too…


    • Bryan Duke says:

      That seems really odd Brad. If the monitor works fine on another computer, it doesn't make sense why it's not working on the Pro. Have you tried both Mini DisplayPort outputs on the 5870? The cable's seated all the way, right? I wonder if you got a bad 5870.

      • brad says:

        Hey Bryan,
        Tks for the quick reply. I just called apple. I'll post later though as I have added a sonnet e-sata card to it. They want me to pull that card I installed and try the ports again… I've tried both ports and they were seated all the way too. I haven't installed the driver yet for the extra card I put in. Maybe that's it too. I'm not exactly a computer hardware wiz by any means so tks for taking the time to write back. I'll let you know what happens man.

  8. Aa6520 says:

    Bitten here, Even with 2 monitors and the 5870 (V1.03 MDP>Duallink DVI)
    A Samsung 275TPlus is intermittent at best. I prefer the twin Nvidia 120's im my other MP Never a monitor restart to to find my desktop. Poor Poor Poor. Please send firmware ASAP or swap the 5870 for two 5770's

  9. C A says:

    New question.

    New Mac Pro same slightly different dilema with a 5770.

    1 Mac 27″ CinemaDisplay attached via Minidisplay (Works)
    1 NEC 21″ attached via Apple MiniDisplay to DVI (Works)
    1 NEC 21″ attached via DVI (Doesn't work)

    How can I attach two DVI monitors and one Minidisplay? Apple told me to buy two MiniDisplay adaptors to DVI adaptors but that would leave me with three MiniDisplay Connectors??? 1 Monitor would still be left out of the game?

    Should I just buy another 5770 and connect the 3rd DVI monitor to that one? Will it even work? Or is apple correct?


    • Ads Marz says:

      From what I understand, using a single link DVI adapter anywhere will limit you to 2 monitors. You'd need to replace it with a dual link dvi adapter or, I think, a VGA adapter if your monitor has a VGA port. Just replacing that 1 adapter would solve your problem.

      I'm certainly no expert but I think that's correct!

  10. Ads Marz says:

    I fell into the same trap with my 2010 Pro with 5770. Bought 2 of the single link DVI connectors and can only use one. In the apple article though, it says…

    “You can also use the Apple Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI adapter or the Apple Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter… ”

    This appears to indicate that you can use the on board DVI and 2 VGA adapters to drive 3 monitors (provided your monitors have VGA ports!) – these are significantly cheaper than the dual-link DVI adapters. I'm using 3 old Samsung 20″ monitors so this solution would be the cheapest and easiest for me, can anyone verify that I've understood this correctly?

  11. Someone may make a SATA-to-PCI Show strength adapter, nevertheless My partner and i uncertainty the Mac Expert is really meant for you to do that. We wish there was a good way to do this. The idea certain could be good to drop inside another OpenCL-capable card to drive the 3rd monitor.

  12. AlainMikli says:

    Hey guys, I encountered the same problem, I have the 2010 12-core Mac Pro with 5870, at the day when the computer arrived, I was so exited to connect 3 apple cinema display to it, however, one of them black out. I try all the connect combinations the whole night but still failed.

    Few weeks ago I found an article in apple talking about if connect 3DVI monitor need to use 2*mini display to Dual-link DVI adapter..then I decided to give up the 3rd monitor due to the ridiculous price…

    However, yesterday I was lucky to upgrade one of my cinema display to a apple 24″ LED display, so now I have these inputs below
    1 x mini-dispay(24″ LED)
    2 x DVI (23″ & 20″ apple cinema)

    In this case, I was wondering if I only need 1 mini display to Dual-link DVI in order to run my setup?

    I'll go to get a $99 adapter and try it, hopefully they'll work…

    will update once I get the adapter.

    • Bryan Duke says:

      Based on Apple's support article & my playing around with multiple $99 adapters, I'd bet you need two $99 adapters to make all three monitors work. Pain, huh?

      • AlainMikli says:

        Glad that I've a chance to face this problem together with you guys(that means we all have the most update MacPro, haha..)

        Back to the topic, I just went to apple store and confirmed they won't charge restocking fee for the dual-link adapter, so I just get one to test my setup. And it works!!! So I'm going to return it and get a cheaper one…

        Here's how I connect my current setup
        -24″ LED Display @ Plug directly to “mini-display port”
        -23″ Cinema Display @ Plug directly “to DVI Port”
        -20″ Cinema Display @ Plug into “Mini display to dual-link DVI adapter” then to the “mini-display port on 5870”


        Here's what I summarized when “connect 3 monitors with One 5770 or 5870”

        *one of the monitor must be DVI
        *you need 2 mini display to dual-link DVI adapter
        *you have 2 24″ or 27″ Apple LED Display

        *If you're running one 5770, you better get one more 5770 in stead of buying those ridiculously pricy adapter…


        I have a funny question, is it impossible to connect 3 24 or 27″ LED display on one 5870?? because 5870 only got 2 mini display port….

        I guess there is no such “dual-link DVI to mini display port adapter”… I right?

    • Bryan Duke says:

      If you have 3 monitors and two of them are DVI, you need two of the $99 adapters. Ouch, huh?

  13. Triguna says:

    It is sad that as a customer I have not been given the exact informations about using 3 monitors with Mac Pro that i have just bought. Apple states that we can have up to three monitors at once hooked to the MP, but they do not mention in the product description that it isn’t that straight forward and it is a costly option. How do I know I need several adaptors costing almost as the graphic card just to plug in the monitors? My crystal ball isn’t working at the present, so I don’t have a way to guess. If I plug 2 DVI monitors with the miniDVI to DVI connector I have bought just for that they do NOT work properly, or at all. Issues with the mouse are a side effect too. Also, why does the Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI adapter costs $99 for the USA market and it is €99 for Europe? If courrency differences are not arbitrary, it should be €73, am I not right?
    They make wonderful computers but they need to upgrade the costumer care. Please don’t treat us like we should know better.

  14. Triguna says:

    What option is it I should only use one DVI monitor as Apple suggests in their “resolution of the problem”? They think I buy €4000 worth of Mac Pro to play f…… Pac-Man? I need the best monitor quality for work, I don’t care for VGA. VGA? 2010 and I should use VGA? I feel so s…..

  15. Triguna says:

    OK, I bought the Apple Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter, which I was forced to do just to connect an extra monitor (happy Apple?). Now let’s see things I could have bought with €99 ($135): espresso machine (does coffee and cappuccino); external 1.5TB iomega HD (does huge backups); 7′ LCD Mini TV (I can watch telly on the go); portable DVD player (plays dvds); 1 electric blanket (keeps warm), dinner for two in very nice restaurant; 1 small bike for my 8 yo nephew; 1 cell phone; M-Audio 2 audio monitors or 1 audio interface or 1 49 keys musical keyboard; so many things at Ikea; 1 nice watch; 1 pair of trendy sneakers; 2 low cost return flight to a major city in Europe or 2 nights in a bed and breakfast; 7 liters of tthe very best quality olive oil; 750 kilometers worth of petrol for my car; 1 good quality tent; 5 or 6 original CDs or DVDs; and I can go on and on… Made my point? Sorry everyone, I am so p….. off with this whole monitor thing I needed to express…

  16. Javier says:

    The best solution I found is to buy a Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro card $189 that has HDMI output and use any HDTV as the 3rd monitor. This card also captures analog video as well and costs the same as buying 2 Apple Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapters.

    • Sean says:

      Are you able to get the Intensity Pro HDMI out to function as a regular monitor… or just previewing i.e. in Final Cut Pro?

    • Josh Roberts says:

      Like Sean, I am curious about this too. I currently have the 5870 with:
      1 MDP -> HDMI to an HDTV (Carrying audio and video – intended to mirror either of the below)
      1 MDP -> Display Port (My primary monitor)
      1 DVI connected Monitor (MY extended desktop)

      Could the Blackmagic Intensity Pro carry Audio with the video over the HDMI and will it work when not in Avid/FCP? Sometimes I use my HDTV monitor not just as a client monitor but also to show content outside of an NLE.

  17. Oli says:

    I’m in more or less the same boat here as you are – just got the 6 core mac pro after researching the recommendations at the mac performance guide and got a new 27″ LED cinema display – and was planning to connect a 24″ samsung and 24″ acer I have as well – both DVI…. so I won’t repeat the obvious problem that lead me here !

    I didn’t get the 5870 however so could add a second 5770 – but as I could use my other monitors on my other computers still I am wondering whether I should instead (though obviously more costly) get another 24″ LED Cinema display….

    If i understand correctly I COULD have 2 LED cinema displays with their mini display port AND run one of the 2 DVI displays as a third monitor on the DVI port.

    Just wondering if anyone has tried this configuration before I dump even more money into another monitor (I’m admittedly looking at this problem as a chance to spoil myself with another cinema display) but if it ends up I still need another card I should just go with buying a second 5770

    After starting to use 3 displays using these (admittedly very slow) USB to DVI boxes from other world computing with my macbook pro I’ve gotten pretty addicted to the 3 monitor setup and can’t settle for 2 anymore 😉 as it seems is true for all of you as well!

  18. Jon says:

    Thanks for writing such a comprehensive article and thank you for helping me NOT waste days on this! The power is why we buy the computer but the seemingly simple use of 3 monitors is a flat out misrepresentation.

    I’ll send comment to apple – and go to sleep tonight rather than tearing out any hair.

    Many Thanks again!

  19. titan says:

    i got a displayport to hdmi cable at staples

  20. dkaya says:

    Thanks Bryan, I got into the same mess tring to connect these 3 DVI screens to my macpro with no luck.  I bought to griffin MDP to HDMI + DVI connectors costing me $110 AUD from the australia store.  I’m going to send them back, i better be allowed, they are useless now.  Thanks for the advice, i’ll have to purchase 2x MDP to DL DVI adapters then 🙁

    • Bryan Duke says:

      Uggg.  I’m sorry to hear about your pain.  I still need to bite the bullet & throw out my Apple adapters & try the monoprice ones. My Apple ones have severe problems returning from sleep.

  21. JMF says:

    Thank for figuring all this out, I ran into the same thing. I noticed $200 already gets you a cheap 24″ display with display port, odd how those prices work.

  22. Framejunkie says:

    This is how I connected 3 monitors to FCP

    My system is a Mac Pro with ATI HD 5870.

    The monitors are now connected as follows:

    mini DisplayPort 1: 42″ TV 1080p via VGA to mini DisplayPort adapter

    mini DisplayPort 2: 24″ Monitor via DisplayPort to mini DisplayPort cable

    DVI: 24″ Monitor via DVI to DVI cable

    I think Final Cut offers full-screen preview (Digital Cinema Desktop Preview) on the main monitor and one other monitor.

    I think the main monitor is the one that has Mac OS’s menu bar in it.

    You can move the menu bar to different monitors using System Preferences – > Displays -> Arrangement.

    It is not clear to me how FCP chooses which other monitor is available for full-screen.

    But, when I switched the order my displays were connected, FCP made the full-screen preview available on the monitor I needed.

    Hope this helps.


    The reason I use the analog VGA connector on my third monitor is that the Mac Pros with the 5770/5870 require expensive ‘Dual Link DVI to mini DisplayPort’ convertors if more than one DVI monitor is connected.

    It was not possible to connect 3 monitors
    simultaneously when I tried using either the ‘HDMI to mini DisplayPort’
    connector, nor the regular ‘DVI to mini DisplayPort’ connector.

  23. Subrata Sen says:

    I struggled with attaching three monitors to my Mac Pro 2011 and finally found the solution. The catch is: You cannot run three monitors if you are trying to run all of them in DVI or HDMI mode (haven’t tried the display port option though). If you are trying to run monitors in these modes, only two monitors will work, the third won’t. Running all three in DVI/HDMI or in combination will presumably need another graphic card. I do not have another graphic card, and still managed to run three monitors: one in DVI mode and the other two in VGA mode. The monitors that I have used are: Dell 2711, and two Samsung SA350. Have connected the Dell Monitor through DVI and the two Samsung monitors are connected through Apple mini port to VGA convertors (they costed Indian Rupees 1200 or about 25 USD dollars each). 
    I know VGA displays may not be great for viewing, but they are reasonably okay for doing the editing in FCP. After connecting the three monitors, I use the Samsung monitors as editing monitors and the Dell as my playback monitor. I am not facing any problem now. Saved me a lot of cost as, otherwise I would have had to invest in one Blackmagic Intensity Pro card to get the third monitor running.  

  24. Vingtoftoscar says:

    I have just bought Matrox TripleHead2Go Digital Edition, just to find out its not supported by unibody macs. Very frustrating. 
    If anyone finds a 3 display solution that works with TripleHead2Go Digital Edition I believe the internet and I would like to know about it.

  25. Sean__Wong says:

    Thanks for the write up

    5 years on I really appreciated it as I am fighting the FUD now!

    PS > Air Hockey Rocks I used it as a Hand Eye coordination trainer with my 3 year old daughter and we still play 5 years later. I have to try really hard to beat her now !


    • Bryan Duke says:

      Thanks Sean. I’m glad the write up helped. It’s awesome to hear about you & your daughter with Air Hockey! It’s amazing how good kids are at video games. 🙂

  26. Jay says:

    Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, like what happened to you, I found out too late what a pain a multi-monitor setup would be.

    I wanted 6 displays – 5 DVI and 1 HDMI – so i had two video cards installed in my mid-2010 Mac Pro. ‘Can’t do it, though. The card with the HDMI display leaves one of the DVI displays blank.

    I haven’t had the balls to try using an Apple Display Port-to-Dual Link DVI adapter and then attach that to a Dual Link DVI-to-HDMI adapter to see if that would fire up the HDMI display as the 6th display.

    Again, thanks for your post.

    • Bryan Duke says:

      You’re welcome, Jay. It’s now possible to run newer graphics cards in the 2010 Mac Pro, so that might help. I have a stock (PC version) GTX980 in mine now and it’s way faster than the original card. It took some work to get the card powered correctly, but it’s great now.

      (The EFI Apple boot screen thing doesn’t display, but that’s the only issue.with a stock NVIDIA GTX card…once you figure out a way to power it.)

  27. Ben Burford says:

    I just picked up a used 12 core Mac Pro and love it. I did pretty quickly find out that the 5870 cannot run three monitors easily as should be the case. I’m running into a different problem entirely and wanted to ask if you have any idea what is going on?

    I had three monitors running perfectly off of the 5870, they are a 1440p running mDP, 1920×1200 running mDP to DisplayPort and a second 1920×1200 running a DVI to HDMI. These work perfectly, but when I replaced the two 1920×1200 displays with 1440p displays the one running DVI to HDMI stopped working at 1440p and only works at scaled resolutions. Could it be that the controller running DVI on my 5870 can’t handle resolutions higher than 1920×1200? I’ve searched the web for information about this controller and can’t find information anywhere about resolution support differences between the outputs on the card. Hope you ran across this and know the solution. Thanks in advance!

    – Ben

    • Bryan Duke says:

      Sorry, I’m not sure exactly. I never ran over 1920×1080 with my 3 monitor setup on the 5870. Three 1440 displays in that config might be more than it can do…I really don’t know. Good luck with it!

  28. O says:

    fwiw I ran 6 monitors on a MP 2010 using 2 stock ATIs and connecting 2 of them via DVI, and the other 4 via cheap mini display to vga adapters.

    The power consumption was very high though.

    Finally I settled on a laptop + 1 x 4K monitor. Makes more sense, and much cheaper to run.

  29. Israel says:

    I picked up a used 12 core with a 5870. I have:
    -one monitor connected DVI to DVI
    -one connected with a simple “mini display port to HDMI” adapter

    I would like to connect a third monitor. After reading everything on this post thread it seemed by the experience related by Framejunkie that I could accomplish my objective by connecting the third monitor with a simple “mini display to VGA” adapter, however this did not work. Did I miss something? I don’t require DVI or HDMI for my third monitor… VGA will suffice. I assume that going VGA is probably the cheapest way to go. How do I make it happen?

    • Bryan Duke says:


      I haven’t tried that exact configuration, so I can’t say for sure. Your setup would be slightly different than Framejunkie’s, but going with a mini display port to VGA converter might work.

      If you try it, please share if it works here. Thanks,

    • Lulu says:

      3 monitors per one video card will work as long as two are analog and one is digital. 2x VGA and 1x dvi will work.

  30. eLSanto001 says:

    Thanks for the information.

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