Using a newer Mac with older monitors


John Emmas

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I'm thinking about purchasing a Mac Pro. It seems to be very well spec'd in terms of graphics monitors (2 x non-Thunderbolt monitors are supported IIRC). However - it's an expensive piece of kit and I can't afford to upgrade both it and my monitors at the same time!!

My current monitors are quite old now (Dell flat panel monitors - I think the model number is 2007FP). I have two of them and they're the older (4:3) format. They offer multiple inputs - but again, quite old fashioned ones by today's standards. Each monitor offers:- 1) Composite video, 2) VGA, 3) DVI-D and 4) S-video.

Would these monitors even be usable with a modern Mac Pro?
 
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John Emmas

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Over on another forum, someone suggested that I buy a used Mac Pro from 2013. Apparently the spec hasn't changed since then - and of course a second-hand one would be cheaper (and allow me to buy a 32 inch monitor at the same time!!)

BUT... for the life of me, I can't seem to get any Mac to display 4K resolution :( I visited my local Mac Store where 3 assistants tried a Mac Pro (cylinder model) plus 2 x laptops (not sure which models) plus 2 different LG monitors (21" and 27"). With some configurations we could achieve 5K resolution (which was too small to read) but the next lowest setting was 3200x1800. There was simply nothing in between (no matter what they tried).

Has anyone here ever seen a Mac running at 4K resolution? It'd be nice to find someone who's witnessed this working...
 

John Emmas

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That's a great article Cory and thanks for finding it. I think it also explains what I saw in the Apple Store (which was a genuine Apple Store BTW...)

Basically... 5K was available with some MacBooks but no matter what the staff tried, they couldn't achieve it from the Mac Pro (this was with a couple of LG UltraFine monitors). But halfway down that page, there's a couple of tables for the LG UltraFine - and AFAICT, Mac Pro is not supported at high resolutions. To get 4K from a Mac Pro, it looks like I'd need to find something called a "Single-Stream Transport" display. I must admit, I've never heard that expression but I guess I'll now need to dig a bit deeper.

Some other kinds of display will also support 4K - but only at a low refresh rate :(
 

Cory Cooper

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There is this too, that they may not be aware of for some unknown reason:

DPI scaling settings on macOS / OS X (HiDPI display)

I know on my MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports), if I set it to More Space in the screenshot in that article on the left, I get 2560x1600 Retina resolution, as compared to the 1680x1050 Best for Display default resolution - i.e. before clicking the Scaled radio button to reveal the other options. Maybe you can get a higher/4K resolution with other display when running macOS Sierra.

C
 

John Emmas

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Thanks again Cory. I must admit, I'm a bit mystified this time... that page shows how to select various resolutions - and it also describes how to change the scaling level for each resolution (which is also referred to as the 'expansion ratio'). There are examples ranging from 100% ratio to 255%. However, I can't see what I'd need to change in order to adjust the ratio :confused:
 

Cory Cooper

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Just above the Scaling level 255% 200% 150% 127% 100% row, you will see Larger Text----------More Space. That matches the Scaled choices in macOS Sierra > Displays > Scaled. So, the farther to the right you pick, the smaller things get and the higher numbered resolutions you will have. Of course, the maximum is dependent on the highest "native" resolution the monitor you are using will support, seen for the two monitors listed in the Equivalent resolution row.

The Dell 2007FP monitors you have have a maximum resolution of 1600x1200, so I would guess the More Space setting would max out at 1600x1200. Of course, that would be with the DVI connection.

Does that help?

C
 
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John Emmas

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Ah,I get it now (!) but that brings me back to the original problem... At the Apple Store they showed me two LG monitors - a 21" monitor (4K) and a 27" (5K). The 27" monitor did offer a setting for 5K resolution - but in both cases, the highest (non-5K) setting we could achieve was 3200x1800. Perhaps they just need to use a different connector?

Don't worry about my current Dell monitors BTW. I'm planning to change them and just use a single monitor (probably 32").
 

Cory Cooper

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John Emmas

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Thanks Cory. Here's one of the monitors I'm considering

I might just email Asus and ask if / how well it works with a Mac pro !

I can't see "Single Stream Transport" mentioned anywhere - so my guess would be that probably won't work too well.
 

Cory Cooper

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No worries.

From what I can tell, it should display at the full 3840x2160 (Ultra HD) resolution over HDMI, which is 4K. Definitely let us know what ASUS responds with.

C
 

John Emmas

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I got a quick response from Asus who recommended these two monitors:-

https://www.asus.com/Monitors/PA329Q/
https://www.asus.com/Monitors/PA328Q/

They also said that any monitor which supports DisplayPort v1.2 should work (assuming it offers a high enough resolution, of course!) Maybe the monitors that Apple showed me (LG) don't offer DisplayPort 1.2?? I looked on LG's web site but couldn't see DisplayPort mentioned.

LG do sell a 27 inch (4K) model (which does offer DisplayPort):-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01JM4E1ZE/ref=psdc_428652031_t2_B01D7OZR2G

but the 27 inch ones I saw in the Apple Store (the LG 5K models) were Thunderbolt only (however - your last link suggests that it'll work with a Thunderbolt 3 > Thunderbolt 2 adapter and MacOS 10.12.4). I'll check again, in case the store's Mac Pro was using an earlier OS version.
 
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Cory Cooper

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Sounds like good news from ASUS.

I guess it would depend on which model LG 4K the Apple Store was using, but I would assume it is the LG UltraFine 4K Display - $699 model. That model has a USB-C connection (Thunderbolt 3), which shows on the Apple document Use the LG UltraFine 4K Display with your Mac above as not being supported by the current Mac Pro.

C
 
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John Emmas

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Yeah, I think I'm slowly realising what the problem is... even with the latest Mac Pros, their 6 x Thunderbolt outputs are only Thunderbolt 2. If the monitor is Thunderbolt 3, it can be used (with a suitable 3 > 2 adapter) but it seems as if that must restrict the available resolutions quite considerably.

It does seem weird though that 5K is achievable but not 4K :confused:
 
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