Connecting To Monitor

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mattjackson, Jan 13, 2017.

  1. mattjackson
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    macrumors member

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    Mar 11, 2014
    #1
    Hello,

    Just after a bit of advice on connecting my Air to a monitor. I have a mid-2013 11" Air, so have 2 x USB 3.0 ports and 1 x Thunderbolt port.

    Is the best way to buy a thunderbolt to HDMI adapter and then buy a monitor that has an HDMI port?

    Secondly, I think the answer to this is no, but is it possible to connect a monitor via a USB hub which would plug into one of the USB ports? Just wondered if that was a way to reduce the number of things I have to plug into my Air.

    Thanks for any help :)
     
  2. theluggage
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    macrumors 68040

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    Jul 29, 2011
    #2
    I'd recommend a miniDisplayPort to full-size DisplayPort cable (widely available) and a DisplayPort monitor, which avoids unnecessary conversions. (NB: with these adapters the Thunderbolt is working as a MiniDisplayPort, so you want a "miniDisplayPort-to-whatever" adapter).

    If you're happy with a cheap 1080p "Full HD" monitor, the HDMI route will be fine, but if you go for, e.g. 2560x1440 "QHD" be careful because some "basic" MiniDP-to-HDMI adapters max out at 1080p. QHD monitors usually support DisplayPort, though, so better to take that route.

    There are USB video adapters available, but they are prone to lag/compression artefacts (also, watch out for MacOS compatibility) - they may be useful if you've used up all your "proper" display connections but I wouldn't recommend one as a primary display.

    I think the solution you are looking for is a thunderbolt dock: e.g. http://www.caldigit.com/thunderbolt-2-dock-TS2/index.asp
     
  3. Boyd01
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    Boyd01

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    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #3
    I also have a 2013 11" MBA. Got an OWC Thunderbolt2 dock because I wanted a second screen and the additional ports. But I couldn't get it to work properly, the video would drop out or get distorted from time to time. I tried several monitors and cables but finally gave up and returned it. No experience with the caldigit product, but I would do some research to make sure it works properly with the 2013 MBA, and also buy from a store with a liberal return/exchange policy just in case.

    IMO the only value of a USB video adapter would be if you need to use two external screens, but as noted above, you are going to have some latency and compatibility issues. I have been using a cheap minidisplayport to HDMI adaptor for several years and it works with a number of different screens. Also use my ancient Apple 23" HD Cinema DIsplay at 1920x1200 with a minidisplayport to DVI adapter and it works great.
     
  4. mattjackson
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    thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 11, 2014
    #4
    Ah I didn't know you could get Thunderbolt docks, that looks like exactly what I need thank you.

    I see some of the docks say 'Thunderbolt 2...', but I belive my Air has just a Thunderbolt port not Thunderbolt 2. Does that mean a dock that says Thunderbolt 2 won't work with mine?
     
  5. Boyd01
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    Boyd01

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    #5
    Theoretically, thunderbolt 2 is compatible. But, as I said, I couldn't get one to work properly on my 2013 11" MBA. Caveat Emptor: be sure that you can return the dock if it doesn't work.

    But really, you have not explained what kind of monitor you plan to use. If you are happy with a 1920x1200 monitor, a simple MiniDisplayPort to HDMI cable is all you need (it may also work with higher resolution screens, I have not tried). A cable should cost less than $20 instead of $200 for a dock. :)
     
  6. theluggage
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    #6
    OK, so the MiniDisplayPort/Thunderbolt connector on the Air supports "Dual-mode DisplayPort" or DP++ which means it can operate in either DisplayPort or single-link DVI/HDMI mode (DVI and HDMI share the same video signalling) with just a passive adapter. Single-link DVI/HDMI maxes out at 1920x1200 (adapters that say "max 1080p" are probably good to 1200p but, of course, you have no guarantee). Above that, you need an active adapter that actually converts the DisplayPort signals into HDMI.

    The "native" solution is still a cheap, passive miniDP-to-DisplayPort cable which should support up to the max 2560x1600 that the 2013 Air is physically capable of.

    To re-iterate: there are a lot of cheap'n'cheerful 1080p monitors which only have HDMI inputs, for which a HDMI adapter is fine. Personally, 1080p is strictly for telly and I'd go for at least 1920x1200 or probably QHD 2560x1440. Such displays are more likely to have DisplayPort inputs anyhow so I'd go for a MiniDP-to-DisplayPort cable and avoid any uncertainty over adapters.

    Absolutely. You wouldn't buy a Thunderbolt dock just to connect a display unless price was no object. However, you can also hang your keyboard, mouse, backup drive, speakers, wired ethernet etc. off it and, because a TB dock contains its own USB controller you shouldn't get the performance/compatibility hit you get with a simple USB hub that shares one USB connection between multiple devices.
     
  7. StoneJack
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    macrumors 65816

    StoneJack

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2009
    #7
    1. Buy a display with DVI
    2. Buy miniDisplayPort - DVI cable.
    3. Connect Mac to power and you close the lid.
    4. Use external bluetooth or USB mouse and keyboard.
    Voila
     
  8. Kanunu
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    macrumors 6502

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    Hawaii
    #8
    If one is a consumer as opposed to a producer of video content, is it even possible to ascertain the difference between 1080p and higher resolutions on a smaller television, say 32 inch, connected by HDMI? I have read elsewhere that no one can ascertain the difference between 720p and 1080p on a tablet or phone, so I wonder if the same rule applies with resolutions on the smaller TV screens used as monitors. I'm not talking about some monster that takes up a full wall in the living room. o_O
     

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