On Monday, I set out on a journey to eliminate my normal desktop (a Dell mini-tower) with just the Surface Pro 3 with docking station.
I’ve taken it slow, adding a monitor a day. I now have two monitors running, along with the Surface Pro 3 screen as my third monitor. Today, I hope to add yet another monitor (the one sitting at the top in the following photo).
One of the things I was most worried about was video lag and performance. Based on my selected USB video adapter, that just didn’t happen. After much research, and knowing that Plugable’s products are always stellar and trustworthy, I chose the Plugable USB 3.0 UGA multi-display adapter.
The Plugable adapter comes with a base device and additional adapters for connecting monitors with DVI, VGA, and HDMI connections. Setup was easy. Just plugging the adapter into the Surface Pro 3 docking station was enough for it to install drivers and configure itself. Then, a quick jaunt into the Windows 8.1 video settings allowed me to customize the monitor layout. I have the desktop extended across all the monitors so I can cursor horizontally across the desktop landscape and run different apps on each monitor. Right now I’m watching Windows Weekly on the Surface Pro 3 screen, writing this diary entry on the middle monitor, and have IE11 running on the third display.
So, here’s my setup right now:
- Surface Pro 3 i7 256GB (driving everything)
- Surface Pro 3 docking station
- Stereo audio system (full surround sound)
- 1 HP monitor using the mini display port on the docking station
- 1 Samsung monitor using the Plugable USB 3.0 multi-display adapter
- Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000 (keyboard and mouse running over Bluetooth)
- Wired network (cable plugged directly into the docking station)
- Microsoft LifeCam Cinema 720p HD webcam (USB)
- Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 Headset (USB), primarily for Skype/Lync
Again, I’ll be adding another monitor today sometime.
I stated in my first diary entry that I don’t expect to be successful. I determined to go into this eyes-open and report any glaring annoyances and things that simply don’t work. So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. In fact, from first appearances, this new setup is actually outperforming my original desktop setup. Video is faster and CPU performance is better. Some have reported incessant fan noise and excessive Surface Pro 3 heat attempting to do this, but I’ve not experienced that yet. I’ll also be doing some serious video editing today, so I’m curious how that will work out and if that might tax the setup more.
I’ll be testing more this week to find something negative to report about. Next week I’ll be at IT/Dev Connections in Vegas, and then SpiceWorks’ SpiceWorld conference the week after, so my diary will take a small hiatus, while I’m away from the docking station.