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Reader Question: Connecting a Dual-Link DVI-D Display to new Macs with Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C

Mac wish list •  all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2017 models •  MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.
Suggested accessories for new Macs include the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock, the 1TB Envoy Pro EX.

See also Options for Connecting a Display with Mini DisplayPort or DisplayPort input to a Mac with Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C.

Hooking up a dual-link DVI-D display is more complicated. Sean T writes:

After trying unsuccessfully to hook my 2016 MacBook Pro to my NEC PA271W monitor via a TB3 to TB2 adaptor and mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable, I went to bed and woke up thinking…”I think Lloyd has encountered and solved this problem already”.. Sure enough, a check of your site showed your recent comments about solving that problem via an OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock. After a wait of 2 months, my Thunderbolt 3 Dock will ship next week, so that will solve that problem - Thanks!!!

However, I am also struggling with connecting my (older) NEC 3090WQXi monitor which only has Dual-Link-DVI connectors.

I tried a number of cables/adaptors (all claimed to be Dual-Link DVI and capable of 2560 resolution) via a high speed HDMI cable to an SIIG (B&H) 3 port adaptor for USB-C. The max resolution that I can get from these cables is 1920X1080, from a monitor that is native 2560X1600 and works great from my Diglloyd PhotoCheesegrater (5,1). All of the adaptors use an HDMI cable, and unfortunately, the OWC TB3 dock has no HDMI port.

Any advice on getting the old NEC 30in. DVI monitor to work from my MacPro 2016 Laptop?

MPG: somtimes “solutions” are not as claimed, as Sean confirms. That 1920 X 1080 is a non-solution for a 2560 X 1600 or 2560 X 1440 dual-link DVI display is self-evident in the awful stretched non-native image.

The only proven solution for dual link DVI hookup is to buy the $99 Apple Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter, which connects to a Mini DisplayPort port. In Sean’s case, he would need another Thunderbolt 3 Dock in order to get that additional Mini DisplayPort in order to connect that adapter (or some other adapter). MPG has not tested this “adapter to adapter” solution, but it ought to work.

Reader Eric P writes:

I was struggling with the same problem, in my case connecting an old 30” LaCie monitor with Dual-Link DVI connector to the new MacBook Pro with USB-C.

It is indeed true that you NEED to use the $99 Apple Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter for any resolution larger than 1920x1080. But in order to connect the Apple adapter to the MacBook Pro I ordered this USB-C to Mini DisplayPort adapter for $19 on Amazon and it has been working flawlessly and at the full resolution of the monitor (2560x1600).

MPG: sounds useful, MPG has not tested this adapter. But it almost certainly violates licensing agreements and is not certified (a lengthy and expensive process). And as of mid-September 2017, it explicitly states that it is NOT compatible with 2017 MacBook Pro or 2017 iMac 5K.

B&H Photo has a wide variety of Mini DisplayPort and DisplayPort adapters as well as various DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort adapters. DisplayPort (or Mini DisplayPort) is just fine for displays like my NEC PA302W, which has both types of ports (signal is the same, it’s just a cable form factor issue).

See also:

Seen below, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock neatly solves display connectivity issue with its Mini DisplayPort port (1 port), charges the MacBook Pro, and provides gigabit ethernet and other ports, as shown.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock port layout
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