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Armadongleon: Connecting the Touch Bar/Thunderbolt 3/USB-C MacBook Pro to my TV and monitor

I’m still in the middle of the Armagedongleon and today’s task was to figure out connectivity from Thunderbolt 3/USB-C MacBook Pro to my TV and monitor.

Connecting the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C MacBook Pro to the TV

This one was as simple as I imagined. But not cheap.

In the past, there were 2 ways I would connect to the TV from my macOS devices:

  1. a HDMI-HDMI cable
  2. a Mini DisplayPort-HDMI cable.

Based on these, the 2 dongles I thought could help:

  1. the “USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter”: $49
  2. the “Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2”: $29

The “USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter” option is the one that worked. The first time I plugged in the dongle, I was prompted to perform a driver update. Then everything worked as expected.

USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

Please note that the Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 does not work. There is a note somewhere in the Apple pages about this dongle not working/supporting the Mini DisplayPort capabilities.

Side note: besides HDMI, the AV Multiport adapter also has a charging USB-C port and USB-A port. As I don’t need the USB-A port, and having the charging USB-C is nice, but definitely not critical, I’ll be looking to find a cheaper adapter that only support HDMI.

Connecting the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C MacBook Pro to my Monoprice IPS monitor

The Monoprice IPS monitor I’ve been using for the last couple of years requires a Dual-link DVI adapter1.

Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI

I confess that I didn’t have very high hopes. Even if my research hasn’t revealed any potential solutions, I wasn’t completely pessimistic when I walked into the Apple store. But things changed very fast after starting to describe how I use to connect to this monitor. I could tell by the grimace of the sale person that I’m touching a pain point2. We consulted with other technical people in the Apple store and in the end, we decided that the only adapter that seemed like having a slight chance to work is the “Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2”.

Thunderbold 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2

Judging by what we read online — none of the people we’ve talked to could tell with a good level of confidence what can be expected to work or not from this dongle — I didn’t expect much. And I was right, as this adapter didn’t work3.

At this time, there is no way to use my Monoprice IPS monitor with the Touch Bar MacBook Pro.

To make things more complicated and unpleasant for me:

  1. the 4k LG monitor is not on display in the Apple store. Apple wants you to buy it blindly. I’m wondering why?
  2. the 5k LG monitor is “coming this fall” (today is Dec. 11th, but astronomically(?) fall’s ending on the Winter solstice day, Dec. 21st)
  3. I’m almost sure that neither of these will work with my 2013 retina MBP I got from work.

I haven’t made up my mind yet what to do regarding the monitor. If you are in a similar situation, I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or decision.

  1. Apple’s dongles have never been cheap. I had paid $99 for this Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI adapter. Compare it with the about $400 I paid for the monitor. But at that time, it was still a good deal considering the Dells were around $700-800. 

  2. we ended up chatting about the state of dongles and he confessed that 1) he postponed upgrading his own notebook; 2) he avoids recommending the Touch Bar MacBook Pros to non-geeks, and 3) it’s a nightmare.  

  3. right now, I have no idea what the “Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2” adapter is good for. It definitely doesn’t support the DisplayPort features. But I’ve also tried chaining it with the Ethernet-to-Thunderbolt and it did nothing. 

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