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Connecting Old DVI-D Displays to Modern Macs

re: computer display

Displays these days fall into 3 general connectivity categories: Thunderbolt, DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort, and HDMI. These are easy to connect with various adapters.

Older displays with DVI-D are more of a challenge.

James G writes:

The OWC PCI SSD in my vintage 2009 Mac Pro gave up the ghost maybe three years ago and as it was my boot drive the machine was unusable and most of my data inaccessible without a bunch of work. I also had a 17” MacBook Pro and enough of my data was on DropBox that I could get by and life got in the way. Circling back now with a three year old 2019 MacBook Pro and enough of a kludge with firewire Mac Pro to firewire 17” laptop to external SSD to MacBook Pro 2019 and I’m now good to go.

But I miss that NEC monitor.

Trying to mate that old NEC 3090WQXi monitor’s DVI-D technology to a more modern laptop has proven a challenge but I finally got it to work. I am attaching the details in case any of your other readers come up against the same problem.

1. Use the DVI-D port on the NEC closest to the center. I presume this is port 1. I could not get port 2 to work.
2. Connect a quality Dual Link DVI-D to DVI-D cable (preferably the one that you were using with your original setup) to the monitor port above.
3. Connect an Apple model A1306 Active DVI-D-to-mini DisplayPort adapter to the DVI-D cable.
4. Connect a Mini DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort adapter between the Apple adapter and the DisplayPort on your dock. I am using a CalDigit TS3+.
5. Go to System Preferences/Displays/Display_settings, select the LCD3090WQXi monitor, click “Scaled” and “Show all resolutions,” click "2560 x 1600” from the dropdown menu, and click "Done.”

These steps and devices worked for me but there are probably other combos that might also work. However, it took me over a month of consulting with CalDigit and trying multiple devices before I found something that would work. Most of the things I tried would only allow 720P resolution and/or would allow the laptop to find the monitor, then drop the connection and repeat that cycle every fifteen seconds or so.

MPG: more patience that I’d have. Few displays would be worth the bother, but the NEC 3090WQXi was a good one, the predecessor to the outstanding NEC PA301W/NEC PA302W.

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