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Mac Pro owners have always been able to connect two displays, and if you have an iMac or Mac laptop, you can use its built-in display and connect a second one, for mirrored or extended display options. But if two displays are good, wouldn’t three be, oh, at least 50 percent better?
Cirago’s HydraDisplay X3 is a hunk of black plastic about the size of a sandwich, and it lets you run three monitors on any current Mac without the need for drivers, muss, or fuss. The split cable in the back has USB and DisplayPort connectors that you attach to your Mac—except Macs don’t have full-sized DisplayPort output, so Cirago includes a Mini-DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort adapter. Then the front of the device has three inputs for your monitors. Cirago sells two versions of the HydraDisplay X3, one with DVI inputs and one with DisplayPort inputs, and you just buy the version that matches your monitors.
The HydraDisplay X3 comes in a version for DVI monitors (shown) and in another version for DisplayPort monitors.
When they say plug-and-play, they mean it. That’s really all you do. Your Mac will see these displays as one wiiiiide screen with a resolution of 3840x1024 (that’s 1280x1024 times three). That gives you lots of room to move your windows around, but if you hit the Maximize button, your window will stretch across all three displays instead of just filling one. HydraDisplay also supports display cloning in case you want all three displays to show the same image (say, to point them different ways in a TV studio). It worked like a charm when we used three displays of the same size and resolution, but hooking up two like displays and one different one resulted in the HydraDisplay only “seeing” two.
The bottom line. It’s a plain-looking piece of equipment, but it works as advertised. Next to no latency, no power brick (thanks to the USB connection), no driver required. Works for us.
Mac with Mini DisplayPort output, free USB port, up to three external monitors with DisplayPort or DVI inputs
No power brick—runs off DisplayPort and USB. No drivers to install. Includes Mini-DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort adapter. Can clone your Desktop or expand it across all three monitors. You can even daisy-chain HydraDisplays.
Maximizing a window sends it sprawling across all your monitors. We wanted to put it “backward” on our desks, with the monitors plugged into the back and our Mac in the front. You need three identically sized displays.