An old mon­i­tor as a sec­ond screen

Mac Format - - MAC SOS -

I have an Acer V223HQV mon­i­tor I would like to re­use as an ex­ter­nal dis­play for my 2012 Mac­Book Pro (Retina dis­play). I’ve tried us­ing a VGA to DVI adap­tor con­nected to a DVI to Thun­der­bolt con­nec­tor but I get no pic­ture. The mon­i­tor is de­tected in Sys­tem Pref­er­ences, but the screen stays blank. Can this work? Jack Maslin

Yes, but not with those ca­bles. The Thun­der­bolt port on your Mac­Book Pro can out­put both ana­logue and dig­i­tal video, but when you connect it to the DVI to Thun­der­bolt adap­tor, only the DVI-D por­tion of the sig­nal is car­ried, which is dig­i­tal only.

The VGA to DVI adap­tor plugged into that is ex­pect­ing the DVI-A (ana­logue) part of the sig­nal, but hears noth­ing, be­cause those pins aren’t con­nected.

To fix this, you need a sin­gle Mini Dis­play­Port to VGA adap­tor. Mini Dis­play­Port uses the same con­nec­tor as Thun­der­bolt and is back­wards com­pat­i­ble with it – you can use a Thun­der­bolt port to connect any Mini Dis­play­Port de­vices.

Ap­ple sells th­ese adapters for £25 but there are clones on Ama­zon for around £6. Con­nect­ing a VGA mon­i­tor to a Retina Mac­Book isn’t go­ing to give you a fan­tas­tic pic­ture though. The sig­nal is con­verted from dig­i­tal to ana­logue and back again and si­mul­ta­ne­ously down­scaled from Retina res­o­lu­tion to what­ever the mon­i­tor sup­ports. Ex­pect small fonts to look blurry.

Ap­ple’s VGA adap­tor ca­ble seems over­priced, but there are some ac­tive con­ver­sion elec­tron­ics in­side and cheaper clones may have cut cor­ners there.

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