Can I Add a Second Monitor to My Retina MacBook Pro?

Alan Dickinson writes:

Hi, Chris. I was wondering what you would recommend as an external monitor for an rMBP; is it as simple as the Thunderbolt display, or are there other good (if not better) options out there? Primarily I’m looking toward a 27″ monitor; there is wiggle room on this figure, but I’d prefer to not go much smaller.

You often say to include as much information as possible. The best choice for me is dependent on my circumstances, so I hope you don’t mind me giving you my life story in the following paragraph.

I’m 18 years old and I’m a media, film, and photography student at university in England. This means that I’m often producing HD videos both for university as well as my own projects and therefore spend a lot of time behind my Mac editing them. The reason why I’m looking into getting a bigger external monitor is I’m actually blind (yes, I know I picked a beautifully ironic thing to enjoy doing/studying!); I still have enough sight to get me by and produce content, however, it can be a struggle working on a 15″ monitor, especially when it comes to fixing smaller details, as well as running two windows side by side. I was also looking into getting an iMac, but the RAM concerns me; only 8 GB seems mediocre at best, especially when it comes to editing HD video. I guess a bonus question would be: am I being overly concerned regarding the iMac RAM? Or is it possible to upgrade an iMac’s RAM myself?

Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading and thank you for all the support and work you put into the community.

can I add a second monitor to my rMBP

Can I add a second monitor to my rMBP?

Yes, get a second display. Absolutely. I’ve been waiting for Apple to refresh the Thunderbolt displays (if only for USB 3.0 support), but there’s no telling when that’ll happen. You could (obviously) use that second display for any task that’s not being managed on the rMBP’s screen, or find that it suits you better for addressing video production needs.

I think you are being overly concerned with the 8 GB of RAM for the iMac. You can upgrade the RAM yourself, or your local Apple Store can do it for you if you are really that concerned, but realistically, 8 GB is enough. I know one of our writers can video edit in 720p with 6 GB of RAM with no problems and 1080p with little to no problems, but that is on a Windows machine. Your iMac idea would be fine.

Whichever way you go, I hope this has helped you. Thanks for writing!

Image: 15″ Retina MacBook Pro by wrayckage (via Flickr)

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.

  • Martin Eriksen

    Regarding the RAM part… It can NOT be replaced as it’s soldered to the motherboard on the late 2013 MB’s (both Airs and Pros).