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.

  • 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, 2013 at 22:44
  • 6
    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, 2013 at 22:57

4 Answers 4


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 computers have a Thunderbolt port instead of a Mini DisplayPort. Computers with a Thunderbolt port will have the following symbol next to 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.

  • 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, 2016 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.
    – hookenz
    Jul 24, 2016 at 22:27
  • 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
    Jul 25, 2016 at 4:56
  • @lulianOnofrei - Thanks for the edit. That was a direct copy from the FAQ, grammar errors and all.
    – hookenz
    Jul 1, 2018 at 23:42
  • 1
    @MatthiasArras - Sorry I think that is wrong. My Lenovo Thinkpad Laptop supports Thunderbolt. It might work with an Apple Thunderbolt display but I'm not sure. Not tested. My Thinkpad docking station is connected to the laptop via Thunderbolt. The displays are not thunderbolt displays, they are connected to the doc via display port.
    – hookenz
    Jan 12, 2021 at 23:39

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.


Thunderbolt is not mac exclusive, so you can do that, if your laptop/pc has a thunderbolt port. Some people have done it.


You will need a windows driver for this monitor.

This driver can be obtained from Apple's Bootcamp software package (the one Apple provides so you can run Windows on a Mac natively. This package includes Thunderbolt Display driver among other things. But you might need a mac to download it.

Because currently, Boot camp 6 is available through "Apple Software update" windows tool only. And it won't run unless you have a real mac.


I tried to connect my 27" Apple 4K Thunderbolt display to my Voyager laptop and initially it didn't work.

I ended up buying two Samsung 28" displays and because of the configuration of my ports, they had different resolutions. Following the Voyager manual, I was able to go in to BIOS and change the Thunderbolt 3 port to Display Only, so with one connected to HDMI to HDMI and the other connected with a T3 to HDMI adapter, I was able to get both to display 3840 x 2160.

I had purchased a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter to fit the mini cable on the Apple (StarTech TBT3TBTADAP) from StarTech.com before going in to BIOS and it didn't work. Once getting the Samsungs to work through the BIOS change, I tried the Apple again, and it worked. The resolution is 2560 x 1440 and is crisp and beautiful.

Unfortunately, I can't remember if I had downloaded something from Apple or elsewhere (I did read the StarTech directions and followed them) when I tried before and it didn't work. If you have a Thunderbolt port on your laptop or PC and you go into BIOS and change the port to Display Only, and it still doesn't work, you may need the Startech adapter and additional downloads.

You may have to restart your computer after connecting.

Now they all work at once, but at different resolutions - not a big deal in my situation.

Hope this helps.

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