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  • Confused on adapter cable needed for MAC Mini with Dell monitor

    Home Forums AskWoody support Non-Windows operating systems macOS Confused on adapter cable needed for MAC Mini with Dell monitor

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      • #2379293
        AskWoody Plus

        I am looking at purchase of a Mac Mini M1.  I have a Dell P2014H monitor.  I’ve checked online & Apple forum and seems it will work.  But I am confused about the adapter needed!  I contacted apple support and they recommended – USB-C VGA multiport adapter – which Apple sells for $69! Plus it’s VGA/analog only.  I’d read that DVI (which is the other option on the monitor) is better quality (digital).  And so I was looking at Displayport to DVI (An apple forum post said that will work). From Apple website tech specs on the Mini:

        Simultaneously supports up to two displays – One display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt and one display with up to 4K resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI 2.

        Thunderbolt 3 digital video output supports

        • Native DisplayPort output over USB‑C
        • Thunderbolt 2, DVI, and VGA output supported using adapters (sold separately)

        HDMI 2.0 display video output  – Support for one display with up to 4K resolution at 60Hz DVI output using HDMI to DVI Adapter (sold separately)

        Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports with support for:

        Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gb/s)
        USB 4 (up to 40Gb/s)
        USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s)
        Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA supported using adapters (sold separately)

        It’s a bit of info overload for me!! So if I purchase the displayport to DVI (which I’d have to get on Amazon, I don’t see it on Apple), I would plug the displayport into Thunderbolt USB on Mini & other side into DVI on monitor? Or is there a better solution? thanks! Donna

      • #2379302
        AskWoody MVP

        The USB type C/Thunderbolt port is truly the jack of all trades at the moment.

        My Dell XPS 13 has only two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports also, like the Mac you mention.

        I bought a multifunction USB-C dongle that has several USB 3.1 gen 1 (type A) ports, a SD card reader, a microSD card reader, a gigabit ethernet port, a USB-C PD (Power Delivery) pass-through port, and a HDMI port for video. I can plug the power adapter into the PD pass-through port and plug the dongle itself into one of the type C ports, and from that point on it behaves like each of the ports are actually on the laptop itself, and it will charge that way too. If I unplug the charger from the PD port, the laptop itself will power the dongle and all of its bits, up to the limit of the power it can provide.

        There are lots of other combinations of ports on dongles that are available. There are some that have nothing but one or more HDMI ports, and there are even cables that have a USB C plug on one end and a HDMI plug on the other, so you can just plug it into the computer and the display without any additional adapters.

        HDMI is electrically compatible with DVI, so you need not restrict yourself to the products that have DVI ports on them. I also have a Dell monitor that has VGA and DVI inputs only, but my laptops and desktop PC all have HDMI ports, and certainly HDMI is more convenient than the huge DVI plug.

        I solved this by buying an HDMI to DVI adapter (just a few dollars, as it has no electronics inside) with a neat little hinge on it to cope with the shape of the monitor.  I leave it screwed into the monitor, so now the monitor has a HDMI port that I can use with the HDMI output on my dongle (with any garden variety HDMI cable).

        The lower cost dongles like mine are USB 3.1 gen 1 (USB 3.0) units that transfer data at a nominal rate up to 5Gbit/s, which is good for full HD (1080p) at 60 fps or 4k at 30 fps, on a single display. If you want better than that, you will need a unit that uses the 10 Gbit/s mode of USB 3.1 gen 2 (as they now call it) or Thunderbolt.

        It’s the same physical USB-C port on the Mac that is used for all of these things, but the actual kind of connection and speed is determined by the slowest link in the chain. If the device and the port both support Thunderbolt, you can get Thunderbolt speeds, but if one is Thunderbolt and the other is USB 3.1 gen 1, you’re only going to get 5Gbit/s out of it.

        Also keep in mind that not every USB C port is capable of being a display port. The Mac is, and my XPS is, but my Acer Swift’s USB-C port is just USB 3.1 gen 1, no Thunderbolt, no 10Gbit/s gen 2 mode, and no video output. It also doesn’t have PD (power delivery) capability, so the laptop can’t be charged through the port. It’s strictly a USB 3.1 gen 1 port, nothing else. It won’t hurt it if I plug my dongle into the Swift, but the HDMI port won’t work. That’s okay, though, since the Swift has an actual HDMI port!

        Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.4 User Edition)

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        • #2379364
          AskWoody Plus

          Thank you for the “mini” education on adapters and cables!

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