XPS

2 Bronze

Work laptop with six 4k monitors

I'm looking for a work laptop that can support six 4k monitors.

This is my current laptop I want to upgrade:

YearModelDisplay size (inch)ResolutionTouch display?Active pen?ProcessorRAM (GB)GPUGPU RAM (GB)TB3 countUSB-C countDisplay outputsMax external 4k display countPower adapter port? Cost eGPU build 1eGPU build 2
2015Precision 751015.6FHD (1920 x 1080)NoNoIntel Core i7-6820HQ Quad Core 2.70GHz, 3.60GHz Turbo, 8MB 45W32GB DDR4 2667MHz SuperSpeed memoryNvidia Quadro M2000M1002 (HDMI, mDP)2    

 

Here's what I'm looking for in a new laptop, starting with the most important & descending.

  • I would like to at least maintain the same performance as the previous laptop.
    • 32 GB of RAM
    • GPU with 4+ GB of RAM.
  • Ability to drive six 4k monitors (more on this later).
    • A docking station would also be great so I have to plug in fewer cables when returning to my desk.
    • I couldn't find any docking stations that would let you drive more than three 4k monitors.
  • A touch + active pen display would be best.
  • Under $2500.
  • Preferably a 4k screen or better, on the laptop itself.

I don't care about:

  • Weight
  • Battery life

Yes, I did consider a desktop. I need to attend meetings frequently though.

I could get a desktop + laptop, but here's why I can't do that: OneNote synchronization is unreliable.

OneNote is critical to my work & we have no WiFi or Office 365 to synchronize changes with a laptop. It's guaranteed that one day I will edit my OneNote content, without internet, & I fear the changes won't be merged correctly.

The only way to share OneNote between computers on our subscription (no SharePoint, no OneDrive due to security restrictions) is over a shared network drive.

It is possible to synchronize changes (mostly real time) by sharing a OneNote notebook over a shared network drive (I tested it), but it appends the initials of the editor everywhere, & is overall a risk I'd rather not take.

I did not test editing offline & trying to merge the changes.

Regarding the six 4k monitors: my productivity/workflow could be much improved. I already have 3 monitors & find myself crowding them very frequently. I have worked with 5 monitor setups before & more benefits could be had.

I would probably get the Dell P2415Q 24" 4k monitor.

I don't need more than 30 Hz on each 4k monitor.

Here are the laptops I looked at already:

YearModelDisplay size (inch)ResolutionTouch display?Active pen?ProcessorRAM (GB)GPUGPU RAM (GB)TB3 countUSB-C countDisplay outputsMax external 4k display countPower adapter port? Cost eGPU build 1eGPU build 2
2018?Precision 753015.615.6" FHD IPS 1920x1080 AG, No n-touch, 45% color gamut LCDNoNoIntel Core i7-8750H (Six Core 2.20GHz, 4.10GHz Turbo, 9MB 45 W)32GB,2x16GB, 2666MHz DDR4 Non- ECC MemoryNVIDIA Quadro P2000 w/4GB GDDR 54202 (HDMI, mDP)4  $    3,680.63   
2019XPS 13 739013.4UHD+ (3840 x 2400)YesYes10th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-1065G7 (8 MB Cache, up to 3.90 GHz)32GB 3733MHz LPDDR4x Memory OnboardIntel® Iris Plus Graphics-2006  $    1,999.99sadxps 
2018 XPS 15 957515.64k (3840 x 2160)YesYes8th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-8705G (8 MB Cache, 4 Core, up to 4.10 GHz)16GB DDR4-2400MHz IntegratedRadeon™ RX Vega M GL Graphics with 4GB HMB2 Graphics Memory42206 with USB-C monitors  $    1,899.99wahausafballer
 Precision 754015.64k (3840 x 2160)NoNoIntel Core Processor i7-9750H (6 Core, 12M Cache, 2.60GHz up to 4.5GHz Turbo, 45W)32GB,4x8GB, DDR4 2666MHz Non-ECC MemoryRadeon Pro WX 3200 w/4GB GDDR54202 (HDMI, mDP)6Yes $    2,379.11   
 Precision 774017.34k (3840 x 2160)NoNoIntel Core Processor i7-9750H (6 Core, 12M Cache, 2.60GHz up to 4.5GHz Turbo, 45W)32GB,4x8GB, DDR4 2666MHz Non-ECC MemoryRadeon Pro WX 3200 w/4GB GDDR54202 (HDMI, mDP)6Yes $    2,566.79   

 

To compute the "max external 4k display count", I used the following resources.

  • One Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) port can drive two 4k monitors at 60 Hz. Source.
  • One USB-C port can drive one 4k monitor. Source.
  • HDMI, Mini DisplayPort (mDP), & DisplayPort (DP) can all drive one 4k monitor each. Source for DP.

Some examples:

The XPS 13 7390 has 2 TB3 ports & no other display outputs. So it can support 2 x 2 = 4 4k displays.

The problem with this is that it doesn't have a discrete graphics card. The bigger problem is that it can't support six 4k displays.

The XPS 15 9575 has 2 TB3 ports & 2 USB-C ports. So that's 2*2 + 2 = 6 4k displays.

This is perfect assuming all six displays actually work, with the exception of the maximum 16 GB of RAM on any configuration.

The Precision 7740 has 2 TB3 ports, 1 HDMI, & 1 mDP. That's 2*2 + 1 + 1 = 6 4k displays.

No touch + active pen display.

Open questions:

  1. The biggest question of all is thus: does having some combination of TB3, HDMI, mDP, & USB-C ports, alone, mean the laptop is fully capable of driving all six 4k monitors?
  2. How many monitors can I daisy chain via DP, with the seed monitor being connected via TB3?
    1. Could I use this to get around have not enough TB3 or video ports?

I want to use eGPUs as a last resort only, due to extra hardware, cost, complexity, & potential for troubleshooting.

There are other options, like MST hubs to split 1 DP to 4 DP, but those are limited to 1080p max. Their reliability seems suspect, computer to computer.

Obviously this is a very expensive thing to test & find out it doesn't work, so is there is Dell expert who can demonstrate it or guarantee it works?

Replies (5)
2 Bronze

i feel your pain, since there is very limited discussion on this topic. i am really into multi-display workflow and also value one machine setup due to similar sync and data management requirement.

Just for your reference, currently i use four 4k screens running 60hz on a Alienware 17 R4 (old design i believe) . they are connected via miniDP/HDMI/USBC(on board) and a HDMI port on a Thunderbolt dock. Here is my findings:

1.having available physical connections not necessary means you get signal through. there are more usbc/HDMI port on that dock, i tried various setup during my 4 years of using that Alienware, try connecting more than four monitor resulting either flicking, lower refresh rate or black screen (i need 60hz minimum for my work). and i need to turn the integrated 4k screen on alienware off in order to make external four to work.

 

2. dpi scaling issue: windows system level dpi management is trash. my external screens are in different sizes (16/24/27/27), and in different dpi scaling settings. sometimes application window flicking or have blur image when moving across monitors with differ ent dpi setting

 

I am also looking for a possible updated  for the alienware laptop with no changing on my current 4K60hzx4 setup:

A dock solution easy to plug and play is ideal

A eGPU may work but they sometime require system restart or at least a dozens second to mount. 

@aiber  I can think of two solutions here.

The main limitation here is that laptop GPUs will drive at most 4 displays, and often only 3.  Even most desktop GPUs are limited to 4 displays, although of course desktops make it easier to install multiple GPUs.

The easiest solution if you want more displays than your laptop's GPU supports would be to run the additional displays through "indirect display" technology such as DisplayLink -- not to be confused with DisplayPort.  DisplayLink displays are not driven directly by the GPU and therefore don't count toward its max display count.  And since DisplayLink transmits display data as compressed USB data, you don't have to worry about native GPU video bandwidth concerns, which are significant when dealing with 4K displays since most laptops don't have the necessary GPU outputs to push enough bandwidth to run more than 3x 4K displays.  So for example you could get a laptop with Thunderbolt 3 with a Thunderbolt 3 dock, then connect dual 4K displays to the native dock outputs.  Then get a USB 3.0 hub to connect to the dock, and get a pair of these DisplayLink Dual 4K adapters to connect your remaining 4 displays.  The main drawback to this setup is that DisplayLink has some inherent limitations, which I wrote about in the post marked as the answer in this thread.

If DisplayLink's drawbacks are a problem for you, then the only way to get more displays all driven natively by a GPU is to add a GPU.  If you get a system that supports Thunderbolt 3, you can add an external GPU.  In this setup, you'd still get a Thunderbolt 3 dock (like the Dell WD19TB), connect your two 4K 60 Hz displays to that, and then get an eGPU enclosure like the Razer Core X, then install a desktop GPU into that enclosure that supports 4x 4K displays, and connect those displays to that GPU.


@aiber  Just a quick follow-up, while I commend you for having done your research, there's more to the story here.  You've got a lot of the pieces here -- such as TB3 being capable of running dual 4K 60 Hz displays -- but that doesn't mean a system with 3x TB3 ports can run 6x 4K 60 Hz displays.  As I mentioned above, GPUs have maximum display limits that apply in addition to and on top of any limitations around bandwidth, ports, etc.  And even from a bandwidth perspective, many systems with dual TB3 outputs share a common link back to a single dual port TB3 controller, so you would be able to run dual 4K 60 Hz from either port, but your max across both ports would still be dual 4K 60 Hz.  And a laptop having more ports does not necessarily mean more displays can be run simultaneously.

As for daisy chaining or MST hubs, the issue there is that the total bandwidth requirements of all displays on that chain or MST hub can't exceed the bandwidth of that source interface.  Most systems, MST hubs, and daisy chaining-capable displays on the market today still only support DP 1.2/HBR2, which only has enough bandwidth for a single 4K 60 Hz display, or dual 4K 30 Hz.  A system that supports DP 1.2 and TB3 is capable of running two full DP 1.2 interfaces across a single cable, but to do that you need Thunderbolt-capable hardware to take advantage of that, such as a native Thunderbolt display (rare) or a TB3 to Dual DispayPort adapter, or a TB3 dock.  There is such a thing as Thunderbolt daisy chaining, but it's rare because Thunderbolt displays are rare.  Most daisy chains, and all MST hubs, just use a single DisplayPort interface.  And again, a DP 1.2/HBR2 interface is good for a single 4K 60 Hz display (or dual 4K 30 Hz), while a DP 1.4/HBR3 interface is good for dual 4K 60 Hz (or I suppose quad 4K 30 Hz if you can find an MST that supports DP 1.4 and offers the required number of outputs.)

But again, the main constraint you're missing here is the max display limit on the GPUs, which is why your solution will involve either DisplayLink adapters or an additional GPU.


@BehindMike  I just realized that the original post in this thread is about a year old at this stage, so the posts I just wrote above may be more relevant to you than the OP.


Thanks for the sharing. I will definitely try WD19TBS out in my new setup. So far based on my experience, 4K60px4 is kind of limit for a Laptop/Docking solution (GPU link only, without DisplayLink or USB based Display)

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