mini-displayport to thunderbolt adapter?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by luckycharms, May 6, 2012.

  1. luckycharms macrumors member

    Nov 25, 2010
    Hi Folks,

    My sister-in-law has an older macbook pro with a mini displayport. My brother just bought her a thunderbolt display for her birthday (whoops). Are there mini-displayport to thunderbolt adapters? 90% of what I've found online says that you can't connect the two. Anyone know if there's an adapter that will make it work?

  2. WardC macrumors 68030


    Oct 17, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    I believe your info is right. If you have a Thunderbolt display, you must have a computer WITH a Thunderbolt port. The Apple Cinema 27" LED (previous generation) used a MiniDisplayPort and would work. The newer display is only compatible with computers with a Thunderbolt port, as far as I understand. The display data is sent through a new bus interface (Thunderbolt), this it won't work with a MiniDisplayPort computer, even though the connection is the same size -- the bus is different.
  3. luckycharms thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 25, 2010
    thanks WardC - any idea if there are mini displayport -> thunderbolt adapters out there, that would allow the thunderbolt display to be used by the older macbook pros?
  4. pgiguere1, May 6, 2012
    Last edited: May 6, 2012

    pgiguere1 macrumors 68020


    May 28, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    It's not technically possible to have such an adapter. The display will still work, but you won't be able to use is as a Thunderbolt hub an use the ports behind, the webcam and speakers. There might be a way to enable the webcam, speakers and USB ports by connecting the Thunderbolt display to your Mac by USB, as that's the way it was done with the older (non-Thunderbolt) Cinema Display, but I'm not sure.

    Even if it's impossible to use the speakers/webcam/ports, the Thunderbolt Display is still an amazing display. IPS displays with that size and resolution from competitors cost the same price, don't offer a webcam, speakers, and a Thunderbolt hub either and don't have the good design and build quality of the Thunderbolt Display.

    I can suggest returning the Thunderbolt Display (if it has been bought less than 14 days ago) and ordering a refurbished 27" Cinema Display for 150$ less, which is basically the same screen (same panel and enclosure) but will be compatible with older Macs, including the data part which will go through USB (USB ports on the back, webcam and speakers). Basically all you lose by choosing the Cinema Display over the Thunderbolt Display is the extra Thunderbolt port on the back of the display, the ethernet port and FireWire port.
  5. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    I think you would be best off to return the Thunderbolt display and order the Cinema display, which Apple still sells for computers without Thunderbolt:

    The Cinema display is forwards compatible with Thunderbolt computers (just doesn't use any of the thunderbolt features), but the Thunderbolt display isn't backwards compatible with devices without Thunderbolt.
  6. luckycharms thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 25, 2010
    thanks for everyone's replies! i've advised him to return the thunderbolt display, and to pick up the refurb cinema display instead.
  7. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    Or..get a 3rd party display. Dell, for instance, has some very very nice monitors.
  8. perryazevedo macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2012
    MacBook Pro (mid 2009) MDP to Thunderbolt Display

    I just got off the phone with Apple Support. Both the technician and his supervisor verified that the Thunderbolt display does not "officially" support directly plugging into a laptop with MDP. You won't get a picture.

    However, they also said that there are adapters that will enable you to use the display only. But they wouldn't tell me what adapters.

    I just bought a Thunderbolt display and am trying to get this to work. Has anyone figured out which adapter works yet?

    I'm planning on upgrading to a new Retina MacBook Pro within a few months. But I need to make the Thunderbolt display work as just a second monitor for the time being. I have a late 2009 15" MacBook Pro with Mini DisplayPort.
  9. Cool Hwip macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2012
    Any luck finding MDP to Thunderbolt adapter?

    @PERRY: I've got the same issue. I have a 2010 Macbook Pro with MDP out and I'd like to use the newer Thunderbolt displays. I don't care if the audio or camera doesn't work. I just want the display to work. We're you able to get an adapter to work with the newer TB display?
  10. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    If you don't care about audio, camera, or ports on the back, why not get the 27" Cinema Display? It has the exact same display panel and will work with your Macbook Pro.
  11. perryazevedo macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2012

    No. Unfortunately, I was not able to get an adapter to work. I ended up deciding to just bite the bullet and upgrade my machine.

    The LED Cinema Display is really the only option Apple makes for older machines. The plus side is that you can get a refurbished one for $829 and it will be compatible once you upgrade to a thunderbolt Mac.
  12. jimmychimp macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2006
    I am also looking to buy a new 27 inch display and want a solution to use the thunderbolt display now until I can afford to upgrade my (mid 2010) macbook pro..

    I also often need to process a lot of video material and having an extra computer would be handy. The Mac mini is pretty affordable.. and correct me if I am wrong.. but would it not be possible to boot up off my macbook pro HD through the new mac mini via firewire which does have a thunderbolt port and thus be able to use the thunderbolt display whilst showing the system from my macbook pro???
  13. Wen Tien macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2018
    --- Post Merged, Oct 27, 2018 ---
    Hello, I have the opposite problem: I want to connect my 13 in MacBook Pro (thunderbolt) to an older bigger screen iMac (Mini-display). I found online a cable from China that is mini display to thunderbolt. Do you think it might work?
  14. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    Your connection, thunderbolt out to mini displayport, would work. Your iMac must be one that supports Target Display mode. The oldest iMacs that support Target Display, 2009 or 2010, 27-inch models only, then most any iMac between 2011 and 2014.
    If your iMac is mid 2011 or newer, then you need a thunderbolt cable, not a mini displayport cable
    The connectors look the same, but the thunderbolt cables have extra electronics in the connectors.
    After Mid 2014 models, no iMacs support Target Display mode, dropped when retina displays were introduced.

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