Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort

At the moment, I’m just doing a little bit of research at the moment for a possible desktop upgrade this year. In my efforts to ensure that my 30″ Apple Cinema HD display is compatible with the new kit and the Virtu MVP functionality on Z77 motherboards I’ve looked at the video connectivity options.

Normally, you would connect a display directly to a discrete video card but with Virtu MVP you connect one or more displays to the video ports on the motherboard. However, the Intel Z77 motherboards all seem to have the following maximum resolutions per interface:

  • DisplayPort: 2560 x 1600
  • DVI: 1920 x 1080
  • HDMI: 1920 x 1080

Given that the 30″ Apple Cinema HD has a resolution of 2560 x 1600 I would usually only have one choice of interface, the DisplayPort interface. I would have to get a DisplayPort to dual-link DVI adapter to get things working but that’s not a big deal.

However, some of the more recent motherboards are shipping with one or two Thunderbolt ports as standard. One neat thing about Thunderbolt is that it’s compatible with Mini DisplayPort (otherwise known as MiniDP or mDP) plus it can support up to 2560 x 1600 resolution. That’s perfect for myself and others wanting to use super high resolution displays through use of a dual-link DVI adapter. That said, such setups will require that DisplayPort displays be the only device connected to a Thunderbolt port or the final device on a chain of Thunderbolt devices. Just use your Mini DisplayPort cable or adapter and you should be fine.

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