How to: Get your 30-inch Apple Display to work with your new Mac Pro
What’s another $100 when you’ve already spent $10,000 on a Mac Pro, am I right?
Here’s another tip from my “this might only affect me but I’ll throw it out there anyway” department (and I suppose this could also be filed under “First-World-Problems” too)… So after over 2 months of waiting, I finally received my super cool Mac Pro, (12-core, 64GB Ram, AMD FirePro D700 etc.). I connected it to a crappy 21-inch DVI monitor I had laying around while setting it up, with plans to move it over to my 30-inch (DVI) Apple Cinema display once all my apps and plug-ins were up and running smoothly. Well, today was the big day for the switchover, and imagine my surprise when my super cool top-of-the-line Mac Pro looked like absolute crap on my 30-inch Apple cinema display.
For some reason, the monitor was stuck at a resolution of 1280 x 800, and would go no higher despite the display’s native 2560 x 1600 resolution. Everything looked pixelated and blurry. It reminded me of when I would need to help my Dad with some tech support issue on his iMac, and I would see he had his resolution set to 800 x 600 so he could read the text (from the moon, apparently). Apps like Microsoft Word would have drop down menus that he never saw or even knew existed because his resolution was set so low that it cut them off entirely.
Well, suspecting that there had to be a reason for this, I did a little sleuthing and it turns out the reason is the Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter I bought (for $30) for some reason isn’t powerful enough to connect the 30-inch Cinema Display to at full resolution. What I apparently needed to buy was the ($100) Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter. This adapter comes with a USB plug which I assume gives the adapter a little move juice so it can support the full 2560 x 1600 resolution. This is actually the FOURTH Mac Pro I have had hooked to this monitor, and I guess I didn’t realize my previous graphics cards all supported Dual Link DVI natively. I always thought the supported resolution of a monitor was dictated by the power of the graphics card, but it appears the limitation here is the super-lame, underpowered Mini DisplayPort technology Apple loves.
I have to say, while this doesn’t exactly shock me, it certainly does annoy me. As a long-time Apple user, I am used to them sacrificing features and performance for shrinking inches and millimeters off their products (even professional products where we couldn’t care less what it looked like on the outside) just so they look cool. Sadly, while this monitor worked FINE on the previous generation Mac Pro with a worse graphics card, connected directly by the ancient DVI technology, it wasn’t going to work on the new “garbage can” Mac Pro. While dropping DVI may have let Apple make the Mac Pro look cuter, the move to Mini Display port doesn’t seem to have any benefit to the end user aside from us being able to give Apple an extra $100 for an adapter.
And while all that Mac Pro shrinking looks great on their webpage, it quickly looks a lot LESS nice from the back with all the cool adapters (and I have more coming).
OK, rant over. Anyway, if you are having trouble connecting your new Mac Pro to your “old” nice monitor, odds are its because your Mini DisplayPort adapter is not expensive, er, Powerful enough.
(Oh, and btw, this computer is crazy fast. Other than this annoyance, I love it).