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4-7 High-Resolution Displays Capable Laptops


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4-7 High-Resolution Displays Capable Laptops

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  #1 (permalink)
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Considering their rarity and newness, I thought I would start a thread where we could mention the laptops we come across that are capable of 4-7 high resolution displays (including the internal display). I'd like us to leave out "low resolution" USB connected monitors and stick to greater than 1024x768 capable laptops and displays. This will mean the external displays will be connected via VGA, HDMI, and/or DisplayPort.

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The Lenovo ThinkPad W540. This will be Lenovos next flagship "mobile workstation" class high performance laptop.

Some high-lights of its capabilities:
  • Capable of 7 displays total (1 internal, 6 external) with BIOS enabled "Advanced" mode and new ThinkPad Ultra Dock.
  • 32GB RAM (Quad-Core CPUs), 16GB RAM (Dual-Core CPUs). (Its not clear if Dual-Core models can be end-user upgraded to 32GB.)
  • Built-in dual HDs RAID-0 (stripe) or RAID-1 (mirror) support.
  • New Precision Keyboard with Number Pad and 2x larger TrackPad.
  • 2GB discrete NVIDIA GPU.
  • 2880 x 1620 15.5" "3K" internal display.
  • Thunderbolt v2/DisplayPort port.
  • Fingerprint Reader features: Power-On, BIOS Pre-Boot Authentication, and Windows Login.
  • PCIe connected M.2 format SSD cache drive (1.5-2x faster than SATA3).
  • Always on USB 3.0 ports for laptop charging (up to 1.5A) and mobile device charging (up to 2.1A).

Links:

Lenovo ThinkPad W540 Product Page
Lenovo ThinkPad T540p and W540 Product Training Document

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I'm interested in similar laptops, although not the W540. I have a W520 and it's a complete POS.

What are the options out there for reliable mobile workstations that can support 3-6 high res external monitors?

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EON17-SLX Pro Extreme Mobile Workstation | Details and Features | ORIGIN PC

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HI, i'm not sure if too late for this.

you dont need a powerful laptop for the external monitor, you need the USB external connector you can buy few of them.

$59.99 each.

diamondmm.com/product/48-diamond-bvu195-usb-external-video-display-adapter?gclid=COK0oKqxgb0CFanjwgodHg8AHA



Fully integrated into Windows XP™, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and MAC OSX
1080p output picture resolution
Supported Windows Aero mode
Stand alone device
Fully USB 2.0 bus powered
Compatible with all flat panel monitors
Compatible with all CRT monitors, up to 2048x1152 resolution
Standard and wide-screen ratio aspects
High-definition displays
Easy plug and play installation
Mirror or extend in any direction
Supports up to six displays 1 display per device. Maximum 6 devices per system
80% less power than a dual-head video card

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Has anyone used the USB adapter setups, with say 3 displays? Does it work well, any issues?

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Has anyone used the USB adapter setups, with say 3 displays? Does it work well, any issues?

It might depend on your overall hardware/software environment, but the USB 2.0 display adapters can be quite hit-and-miss, including stability and reliability. Due to the much lower bandwidth of USB 2.0 screen redrawing can be noticeably slow even with something as relatively static as charts, and the more of these USB 2.0 adapters you try to add, the more possible it might be for Windows to sputter and die.

If you have at least 1 USB 3.0 port (or can install one some way), you can much more reliably get at least 5 external monitors running, with little to no performance hit, and with fairly solid reliability.

Check here for a start: Plugable USB3-HDMI-DVI USB 3.0 to HDMI/DVI Adapter (Supports Monitors up to 2048×1152) | Plugable

And this video demonstrates 6 such adapters/monitors running; I've talked to folks who are pushing 4 or more external monitors via USB 3.0 from a laptop, that were endlessly frustrated in a USB 2.0 environment.


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Do the USB adapters use the CPU for processing power to the external displays, instead of a graphics card? Would a discrete graphics card solution be more stable/reliable than using adapters? It would seem logical that adapters are inherently less stable. I am looking to buy or build a new system, and considering stability, and even the cost of multiple adapters likely not being cheaper than a graphics card, seems a dedicated card may be better.

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Do the USB adapters use the CPU for processing power to the external displays, instead of a graphics card? Would a discrete graphics card solution be more stable/reliable than using adapters? It would seem logical that adapters are inherently less stable. I am looking to buy or build a new system, and considering stability, and even the cost of multiple adapters likely not being cheaper than a graphics card, seems a dedicated card may be better.

I think it entirely depends on the particular device that is being used. If the device is only using USB as the OS/driver interface and physical connection then in theory it shouldn't be using the CPU to implement hardware functionality (which is what you're referring to).

In the video they show 3 cores being very active and I suspect that is a result of the 3 videos being played without a dedicated hardware decoder. My thinking is that majority of the hardwares rendering functionality is built into the device and a driver is being used to interact with that hardware.

Another interesting comment they made is that the driver is provided by Windows Update (which I'm in favor of: convenient, reliable, single source for updates). So either they are using their third-party vendors driver (which customers would rely on for bug fixes) or they are providing their proprietary driver to Microsoft for distribution (ideal). You might give that particular manufacturer a call. I would ask them about CPU overhead and whether the Windows Update driver is a driver provided by a third-party or their proprietary driver.

Either way, so far, these devices and the manufacturer look very promising and more appealing compared to a docking solution like those provided by Lenovo. Unfortunately the W540 mentioned above and other Lenovo laptops, compared to their previous versions, have not been getting very favorable reviews by IT professionals. Maybe I'll consider another vendor or I'll have to settle, not sure. At least these USB 3.0 devices give us many more options to choose from. My search continues.

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Either way, so far, these devices and the manufacturer look very promising and more appealing compared to a docking solution like those provided by Lenovo.

What is the benefit of such a solution using multiple additional adapters, ports, and drivers vs a simple docking station or discrete graphics card which seems more proven/stable/simple?

Also with the docking station/discrete graphics card options, how do they physically connect to multiple screens using a laptop?

Also, same question as above with multiple screens on the Thunderbolt solutions?

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@tigertrader, are you using one of these laptops? I tried to configure one and it looks like they come with two monitor outputs, ie an HDMI, and either a DisplayPort or Thunderbolt. Additional screens would still need an adapter/hub solution.

Is this how all multiple monitor laptops are set up, or are there any that support multiple outputs natively without adapters?

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What is the benefit of such a solution using multiple additional adapters, ports, and drivers vs a simple docking station or discrete graphics card which seems more proven/stable/simple?

I wouldn't consider these 4-7 display capable laptops and docks "proven". They use the latest and greatest GPU hardware and drivers and docking connections. I have read that some IT professionals have had issues with some LCD displays being recognized by the dock for multi-display capability, others have no issues. Which means you would have to seek out specific tested displays or go through trial and error and hope you get lucky.

They may be considered more simple in the sense that all you need to do is slide your laptop into the dock, but that also has the potential to break or become damaged. Then you're stuck.

One thing about docks that doesn't appeal to me at all is that the multi-display laptop + dock PC solutions I have come across require the usage of multiple adapter type connections. Meaning, you may have two or so screens connected by DisplayPort, two or so by DVI/HDMI, and two or so connected via VGA (Source: Lenovo W540 documentation). I've yet to come across a laptop 5-7 display solution that allows you to use only one or even two digital connection types. Given I don't know if this also applies to the USB 3.0 solutions, but I doubt it. I suspect the reason the dock solutions do this is to accommodate customers still using VGA displays.

Most multi-display capable laptop PCs (as opposed to certain Macbook Pros) only allow up to two daisy chained mini-DisplayPort conected displays without a dock.


Quoting 
Also with the docking station/discrete graphics card options, how do they physically connect to multiple screens using a laptop? Also, same question as above with multiple screens on the Thunderbolt solutions?

As mentioned above they provide multiple displays using multiple adapter types via the dock: DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, VGA (Source: Lenovo W540 documentation) . The only alternative and the only way to connect a display via multiple mini-DisplayPort connections is to use a dock that provides a PCI slot which you could install a graphics card. These seem pretty rare.


Just to clarify, most PC laptops, docks, and PCI graphics cards do not provide Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt and mini-DisplayPort connection types are compatible, but Thunderbolt allows DisplayPort to traverse the wire, but DisplayPort alone doesn't not allow Thunderbolt to traverse the wire.

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@tigertrader, are you using one of these laptops? I tried to configure one and it looks like they come with two monitor outputs, ie an HDMI, and either a DisplayPort or Thunderbolt. Additional screens would still need an adapter/hub solution.

Is this how all multiple monitor laptops are set up, or are there any that support multiple outputs natively without adapters?

i have 2 of their desktops and have not purchased a laptop from them, yet. i would imagine you could get a laptop with multiple video cards and hence multiple ports, but i am no techie. give them a call -they are great to work with.

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Due to complications/issues with adapters and such, decided to stick with a desktop for primary trading workstation, and a simple laptop with just one external output for backup and travel purposes.

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DELL Precision series/lineup with their dock can have multiple monitor capabilities. (sorry can't post link yet)

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