Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

Driving Four Dell LCD panels with a single Lenovo ThinkPad T410s Optimus laptop and dock

Driving Four Dell LCD panels with a single Lenovo ThinkPad T410s Optimus laptop and dock

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About three weeks ago a Lenovo coupon came out for 15% off ThinkPad laptops. This combined with our stacked EPP discount put the latest ThinkPad T410s in my target price range. In addition to that discount, you can now order this machine with the Intel second generation SSD instead of the Samsung SSD drives previously offered. That saved me at least another $390 because I would have replaced the Sammy right away. So I bit and ordered the ThinkPad T410s with the Optimus GPU chipset.

For those of you not familiar with Optimus graphics, this is a switchable GPU chipset. You can set the BIOS to Intel HD integrated, discrete NVIDIA or Optimus which uses both and flips between the two GPU chipsets on demand without user intervention.

At the time I ordered the machine, I didn’t know you could drive 4 monitors from the ThinkPad Mini Dock Plus Series 3 dock that came with my ThinkPad W510.  Well, it does.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I am currently driving four flat panel displays with a single thin and light laptop from the docking station.  I am not doing this with the ThinkPad W510.  The tested configuration is using the much thinner and lighter ThinkPad T410s with Optimus graphics.  The ThinkPad T410 and T510 are also now available with Optimus.

See the Lenovo Support article at http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/document.do?lndocid=MIGR-76519&selectarea=SUPPORT&tempselected=5 on this subject.  As usual, I ignored it and just did my own thing and it worked out just fine.

Here’s what the display properties look like with the monitors connected.

Optimus4x

If you want to see my desktop, checkout the pic I took a couple of years ago. It’s essentially unchanged with the exception of the two 24” panels.  I flipped them so the Ultrasharp is now on the right side of the 27” instead of the left.  The fourth LCD panel used in this test is sitting on the floor next to my desk. 

Let me be more specific.  Number 4 above is a Dell E248WFP 24” connected to the docking station via DVI and running at 1920x1200.  Monitor number 3 above is a Dell 2707WFP connected to the docking station via DVI and running at 1920x1200.  It’s the main monitor. Number 2 above is a Dell 2407WFP connected to the docking station via VGA and running at 1920x1200.  Monitor number 1 is a Dell 2007FP 20” display connected to the back of the laptop via DisplayPort and running 1600x1200.  To be perfectly clear about the last monitor, it’s connected to the laptop via a StarTech DisplayPort->DVI adaptor.

I am running Windows 7 Ultimate and it’s the 64 bit version.  The driver for the T410s I am using is located at http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/document.do?lndocid=MIGR-76280.

With all four monitors, that’s 4800 pixels of horizontal screen real estate.  Or for those of you with a small desk, you could stack the monitors in a 2x2 configuration with many of the arms now available on the market.  Pretty impressive for a single laptop and dock with no additional external help via another video card.  And for those of you wondering where my detailed review of the ThinkPad T410s Optimus is, it’s coming.  In the meantime I thought you might be interested in the above information. 

There are a number of new laptops on the market with the NVIDIA Optimus. The Apple MacBook Air isn’t one of them.

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  • It is obvious that you have far too much money.....I am lucky if I can afford two 27 inch dell flap panels. Nice write up - amazing the state of technology when a laptop can drive more than most desktops.

  • Three of the four came out of my own pocket, and had I known I was getting the 27" I would not have purchased the cheap E248WFP. I can easily get by with two monitors and my KVM switch.  The 20" has been relegated to dust collection mode on my file cabinet in the corner until one of the widescreen LCD panels dies. I only used it for the test.  It's back to it corner now.

  • All that technology coupled with the Advil bottle in front of the rightmost monitor.

    Picture perfect. :)

  • LOL. Yea, it's one of the tools of the trade. I rarely get headaches but when I do, they tend to be harsh. The bottle stays in my backpack and has both Advil and Tylenol.

    Another friend noticed the EDS mouse pad on the Dell XPS 420 in the right under the desk. Takes a sharp eye to notice that one. Sold that machine.  The other machine under the desk on the left side burned up and was replaced under warranty with my Dell XPS 630i.  

    I really want ot replace all of my monitors with a Dell 30" but as you can see, I need some serious hardware failures to happen first. Or I need to win the lotto.