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Configuring The Unit: Intro
When using the Matrox GXM units with Apple Cinema Displays they lock to the native resolution of those units due to a technical control Apple imposes on their displays. With Dell or other monitors this is not the case and the user has more choices available for display resolution under the Change Display Settings software pane of the Matrox PowerDesk for Mac software. We are testing this unit using all Apple gear so we naturally are using Apple Cinema Displays. We want to point this out and a few other differences related to non-Apple displays.
While Matrox sells a lot of graphics hardware to various professionals markets, we realize that some Mac users (CAD and 3D included) may not be as savvy with working with multiple displays and configuring display hardware in general. Assuming that, we want to walk users through the setup carefully.
Configuring the Unit: Hardware
Before configuring the hardware and hooking it up first install the Matrox PowerDesk software for Mac. We will talk further about this software after we discuss hardware.
Next, basic knowledge of cable connection is all that is required to get the Matrox DualHead2Go unit up and running. As noted before you will need a Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter cable which does not come with the unit but can be purchased separately. Get all the cables connected into the GXM unit itself first as shown (in image 01) above. This means the Apple Cinema Displays (or other type of displays) are connected to the unit and the last remaining connections are the Mini DisplayPort adapter cable to the MacBook and the USB connection.
The USB connection to your Mac should be the last connection because this powers up the Matrox unit. Once this step happens your secondary displays will fire up and in the case of the Apple units they will automatically utilize their default resolution in a multiple that relates to the total width of both displays. In our test case our two 20-inch Apple Cinema Displays utilized 1680 x 1050 60 Hz resolution. With two displays connected our total combined resolution (not counting the MacBook’s own screen real estate) equaled 3360 x 1050 pixels.
One final note about the hardware. Because the DualHead2Go DP Edition GXM unit gets its power from the USB port it is important to ideally shut down and restart your computer when disconnecting from the GXM. In our particular case with the Apple MacBook, simply unplugging cables and then reconnecting later doesn’t necessarily result in the connected dual displays firing up properly. That’s because the USB port may not initialize properly and not be able to send the proper amount of power to the Matrox GXM.
Configuring the Unit: Software
The Matrox PowerDesk software for Mac utilizes a standard Apple installer. (see image 02) After the installer is complete you will have two places on your Mac to access the software. A new Matrox GXM Control Panel will be added to the System Preferences (see image 03) and Matrox PowerDesk will be added to your Applications folder. If you are utilizing Apple displays or using an Apple Mac mobile computer clicking on the Matrox GXM Control Panel will result in an error message stating it could not load the preference pane for the Matrox GXM Control Panel. Matrox explained this is because the GXM cannot control the MacBook’s LCD.
Instead launch the Matrox PowerDesk software from the Applications folder. Once launched you will have three key menu options under the PowerDesk menu. The third choice is Open Matrox GXM Control Panel. With this panel you get a list of supported resolutions and refresh rates in a drop-down menu. (see image 04) On the right hand side of the control panel are four empty boxes for Active Resolutions and Refresh Rates.