Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have this Apple Thunderbolt display.

it works fine with my Macbook Pro. I also want to connect it to my Windows laptop via HDMI. I bought this converter, which converts the HDMI signal to DisplayPort. Everything plugs in just fine, but the display just does not turn on. I tried a variety of resolution settings.

Note: this display does not have a power button. It just turns on when I plug it into a Mac. There is no activity when I plug it into the DisplayPort converter.

share|improve this question
Have you tried using another non-Mac computer with integrated DisplayPort, or another DisplayPort/Thunderbolt display with the Mac and adapter? – Daniel Beck Jan 23 '13 at 22:44
You can't, and unfortunately probably won't be able to for a while. Apple requires the input to be "thunderbolt" even though that's very similar to display port (or mini DP), it doesn't work. Macs TB port can do either though. All this info is last I researched a few months ago. Doesn't look like any updates around through a quick browse today. – nerdwaller Jan 23 '13 at 22:57

If the Wikipedia article is to be believed (and I do believe it is correct based on what thunderbolt is), then your configuration will not work.


Apple Thunderbolt Displays, like the video input on Thunderbolt iMacs, drop compatibility with all previous standards, including VGA, DVI, and DisplayPort.3 As such, they cannot be connected to computers lacking a Thunderbolt port, including pre-2011 Macs and the vast majority of PCs.

Thunderbolt is not the same as Display Port. Therefore you can only connect thunderbolt equipped Mac's (or some PC's with thunderbolt hardware and appropriate drivers) to the Thunderbolt display.

From the Apple Mini DisplayPort FAQ

  1. My computer has the same connector but the symbol is different, what does that mean?

Some Apple computer have a Thunderbolt port instead of a Mini DisplayPort. Computers with a Thunderbolt port will have the following symbol next a port although the port physically appears the same as a Mini DisplayPort:

enter image description here

Thunderbolt ports:

Are compatible with all of the Mini DisplayPort adapters referenced below in question 5 and with Apple Mini DisplayPort equipped displays. Support adapters like Apple's Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter and Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter which are not otherwise compatible with Mini DisplayPorts. See Thunderbolt ports and displays: Frequently asked questions (FAQ) for more information on Thunderbolt.

So with your adaptor you can drive a DisplayPort based monitor to your PC, but not a thunderbolt display as it lacks support for DisplayPort. That's why it didn't turn on and work.

Some Googling and I haven't yet been able to find a USB based thunderbolt adaptor, it seems there is talk of such a device using USB 3.0 to thunderbolt although at reduced speeds. There are a few thunderbolt PCIe cards available and some PC motherboards support thunderbolt.

share|improve this answer
USb to thunderbolt seems senseless. It would need to use USB input, create PCI-e data and display port data, and use an expensive chip to merge those into Thunderbolt. – Hennes Jul 21 at 16:28
If there is a need to drive something thunderbolt only then there may end up being a device for it. But I think thunderbolt will die off as being apple only. It's just not gotten widespread support beyond apple. – Matt H 14 hours ago
I disagree. It is in all (both) my desktops. And those are not Macs but regular Z170/Skylakes. And I wish my laptop had it, so I could connect external PCI-e devices, e.g. external graphics cards to 10GBit NICs. In the case of thunderbolt-3 you would not even need those since you could abuse Thunderbolt for very fast point to point networking (e.g. backups, disk imagining, ...). – Hennes 7 hours ago

Because the Thunderbolt connection is designed not just as a display connection and also a data connection it is not possible to use only a display port connection to connect to a Thunderbolt display. Also, if I can recall, the DisplayPort connection that is built into the Thunderbolt display is designed as a output for daisy-chaining a display port monitor to your computer, and NOT as an input.

The reason why Thunderbolt displays require a Thunderbolt connection is because, as you mentioned, they have no power buttons and are turned on/activated by a signal from a computer telling them to turn on. In other words, unless you can get a motherboard or card in your computer that has a Thunderbolt connection and can send the right signals to your monitor, it is not possible to use a DisplayPort connection as an input into your Thunderbolt Display.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .