Mitch’s Multi-Monitor, Over the Top Home Office

published Aug 4, 2011
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

It’s not always easy to create a multi-monitor setup with 3 or more screens, but Mitch Haile’s updated attic home office sees your three monitors and raises you two more. Not many people use 5 monitors all at once, but the overall look and feel of his home office accommodates for the wraparound display with some thoughtful planning (if not a little obsessive). Many of us would love to have a similar setup, but as Mitch mentions, this is an over-the-top version of a home office built both for function and as a hobby.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Mitch explains the method to his madness:
“…it’s fun and probably qualifies as a hobby at this point. I’ve tried to create a space that is pleasant in which to work. I’m in here 60-80 hours a week during crunch time. It’s way less depressing than long hours at an uncomfortable desk and phone books to boost the monitor height.

After many years of working at tables that were the wrong height, looking at small monitors, listening to loud computers, typing on cramped keyboards that hurt my shoulders, sitting in falling-apart chairs, I decided enough was enough.

Some people have over-the-top cars, I have an over-the-top office.”

This outrageous arrangement of 5 monitors, one for every finger, ends up almost encircling the user with a whopping overall resolution of 11440 × 1600 pixels. This enormous screen real estate is attained with four 30″ Apple Cinema Displays plus an additional 20″ monitor, arranged in a semi-circle. Two monitors are plugged into the original ATI Radeon 5770. Only an extra ATI Radeon 5770 card is needed to drive the extra three monitors.

All of this available screen real estate does come with its own set of problems. Finding the mouse cursor can be problematic with 5 screens to span across, but by accessing a system setting in the mouse preferences (System Prefs -> Universal Access -> Mouse) he was able to adjust the cursor to an easy to find 96×96 pixel size.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Mitch uses a twofold desk system. The main desk is from Bush Furniture (Series C Collection), comprising of a credenza and a recess, allowing him to keep the monitors eye-level, while using the lower surface for his keyboard. His second desk is a Design Within Reach Dordoni Worktable.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The front desk is used for administrative tasks, like paying bills and paperwork. We won’t get into the details of his Mac Pro, but if you’re curious it’s an 8-core with 32 GB of RAM and 38 TB of storage (in RAID drives 8 TB + 12 TB + 18 TB Drobo Pro).

Lastly, Mitch doesn’t just code in his attic home office. An Eames lounge chair partnered with a Toto Cube Lamp allows him to put up his feet and read some of the many books creates a comfortable space to enjoy even when not surrounded by 5 monitors.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Readers wanting to try and get a similar setup should be wary of the overall cost needed to follow Mitch’s footsteps. A more affordable route would consists of a (perhaps Apple refurbed) Mac Pro with two new 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Displays. The Mac Pro can drive two 27″ monitors out of the box.

As such, you’d be looking at half the total resolution of Mitch’s setup, but you’d still be spending at least $4,300. The only way to cut costs further would be to switch over to a PC with 24″ monitors instead of 27″ or 30″ screens. That would whittle down the cost to about half of the similar Mac setup ($2,000). Alternatively, an iMac could be hooked up to another 27″ Apple Display, for around $2,200 USD. Multi-monitor displays are possible with laptops, but usually the more performing graphics card of a computer desktop is needed to drive 2+ screens.

Herman Miller Embody chair
(2) Eames DCM chairs
Eames Lounge Chair
Bush Furniture Series C collection desk
Design Within Reach Dordoni Worktable
(2) 30″ storage cabinets
36″ lateral file cabinet
Ergotron LX monitor arms
(2) Artemide Tolomeo Lamps, (2) Tolomeo Minis, (2) Artemide Open Table lamps

Apple Mac Pro 2.8 GHz (32 GB of RAM 38 TB of storage, and a external Blu-Ray burner)
(4) 30″ Apple Cinema Displays
HP 20″ monitor
1 GHz Athlon PC
MacBook Air 13″ 2.1 GHz
DroboPro connected over iSCSI with 18 TB of storage
12 TB Mercury Pro quad disk enclosure
Mac Mini Server acting a HTPC
(2) Kinesis Freestyle keyboards
Linksys RV082 router
HP ProCurve 1800-24G GigE switch
Verizon MiFi
X10 home automation throughout
Onkyo TX-SR573

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

How $500 in Graphics Cards Can Run 5 Monitors
Simple 3-Monitor Setup Maximizes Screen Real Estate
Multi-Monitor Homes
Pahana Alo’s Multi-Monitor Setup
IKEA Jonas Workstations

(Images with permission: by Mitch Haile)