Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter, Improved

As mentioned in March, there were serious problems using Apple’s Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter to connect my MacBook Pro (Unibody) to a 30-inch display. This seemed to be a software problem, as other users reported that everything worked properly under Windows (via Boot Camp), and Apple’s support specialists suggested that it might be fixed in a software update. After Mac OS X 10.6 shipped, the problems continued, so I contacted Apple again and they agreed to ship me a newer version of the adapter, with firmware 1.0.2. (You can check your firmware version using System Profiler.) The new adapter seems to fix the major problems with distortion, snow, and flicker.

It’s hard to quantify, but I still feel like the video quality is not as good as connecting via Dual-Link DVI directly. Sometimes gradients and areas of solid color appear a little fuzzy or with a slight pattern of lines.

I’m still seeing the problem where the system forgets the display’s ColorSync profile, making everything appear lighter and washed out. Under Mac OS X 10.5, I could fix this by opening the Displays pane in System Preferences. Under Snow Leopard, I need to open the Displays pane and then click the Colors tab.

It’s still a mystery me why Apple doesn’t ship its own 30-inch display with built-in Mini DisplayPort support. Additionally, despite lots of problem reports in the store and forums, Apple’s phone and retail support staff seem to be mostly unaware of the problems. At least for me, though, they seem to be mostly fixed.

Update (2009-10-05): The flicker problems are not resolved, after all.

Update (2010-07-26): The update to firmware 1.0.2 has reduced the frequency of the problems, but I still see snow, flicker, distortions, and partial screen blackouts at least once a day. This is with a 2010 MacBook Pro, and others are reporting problems with desktop Macs. 9 to 5 Mac suggests that it might be Apple’s worst product ever. Apple is no longer selling 30-inch displays so I doubt this will ever be fixed.

Update (2011-03-08): Apple has released a new version of the adapter with firmware 1.0.3. I’ll post another update after I’ve received mine and had a chance to test it.

Update (2011-04-20): The 1.0.3 adapter is by far the best yet, though still not perfect: the display problems have occurred with it twice in the last month.

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Even when you use a plain vanilla MacBook Pro, just with the integrated LCD, I experience the problem with the ColorSync settings. Once in a while my colors are completely wrong and I have to do the steps you describe (opening System Preferences and going to the Color tab...)
So I think this particular problem might not related to the Mini DisplayPort adapter.

Same here using a late 2007 MBP and 24" Cinema. I have the colour sync problem on one or the other display at least once and sometimes twice per day.

I don't remember having this problem at all on 10.5.

I should probably create an automator action to reset the colour profile, I seem to have to do it often enough.

You have described the same symptoms that I'm seeing with my brand new MBP 17 and Dell 30" monitor. I've only had this a couple of weeks and I'm already tired of unplugging and replugging the connector to fix the distortion each time I resume from sleep. And, I have the 1.02 firmware!

And, I've installed Windows 7 on BootCamp and it simply won't boot while the lid is shut and relying on the 30" display as the primary monitor. I have to unplug it when booting, then plug it in after Windows starts to boot.

I've owned a MBP since 2006 (previous ones were 15" MBPs) and have loved the fact that I could plug in my 30" display directly into the notebook. Everything worked great until this Mini DisplayPort redesign. Now I have to carry around 3 different dongles in case I need to plug into something else.

These kinds of issues with a new redesign just compound the problem. I expect more from Apple. After all, it's their hardware, their OS. Aren't these kinds of issues supposed to be alleviated by going with their top-of-the-line hardware?

I'm still not happy, even with the 1.02 firmware update. I'm headed to the Apple store to voice/vent my frustrations.

I have the same problem with ColorSync on my 2.5GHz Penryn MacBook Pro (non-unibody). Half to 2/3 of the times I wake my laptop from sleep, the ColorSync settings are gone and I have to go into System Prefs and reset them. I also have had to click on the "Color" tab since upgrading to Snow Leopard.

I figured I was the only person having this problem. Good to know I'm not.

You can remind the OS of the fact that the monitor has a ColorSync profile by putting the display to sleep and waking it. The easiest way to do this is control-shift-eject. Hth.

Ben: That helps—thanks.

Michael, Does this problem also occur while running windows on the macbook pro? Is it an OS issue or simply an issue with the adapter? Any updates in this matter? I would like to get a new macbook pro but definitely will not unless this problem is fixed, as I use a 30" monitor.

You are describing the problem since I have purchased my new MBP with the Dual Link monitor a week ago. I am such a MAC junkie. I love their stuff. This really has been quite troublesome. As others have reported, their local Genius Bar, which is normally fantastic basically denied the issue and wanted me to drop off my MBP and cable. My biggest problem seems to be vertical snow on my monitor a few times a day. Someone on the MAC board suggested plugging the Dual Link USB into an externally powered device such as a hub or I purchased the Iphone usb wall plug adapter. None of these things have helped. I found this link by searching for mac book pro 30 inch dual flicker. Thanks again for documenting this so well. I have never minded paying extra for quality. In my previous examples, MAC stood for quality. This issue just sux....
Raleigh, NC

I'm another Dell 3007, MBP 15, and DL DVI adapter victim... I tried using the 9600GT graphics option, with it working for about a day before it crapped out. The suggestion of using CTRL+SHFT+Eject is fantastic. Losing the window position and having to pull cables was driving me crazy.

[...] Tsai (developer of EagleFiler and SpamSieve) My 15" Powerbook & Mini DisplayPort Improved By Alec Tags: apple, hardware, [...]

I have the Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter. It has firmware version 1.03.

I have an iMac 27" (ATI 5750) connected to a Cinema HD 30".

I am seeing a little bit of "snow lines" (flickering lines), briefly, here-and-there around the monitor. Very annoying, and distracting. The lines are always horizontal, and vary from about 3 pixels to about 100 pixels long.

By "briefly" I mean the duration of the visual artifact is about 1/60th of a second long.

Maybe time for a 30" LCD that has a DisplayPort as a standard connector, like the HP ZR30w. Harumph.

Or maybe there is a 1.04 firmware update...?

I've got the same symptoms running a Dell 30" with a 24" iMac purchased in July of '09. The Dell ran perfectly with my old Mac Pro. I've had the problem since the iMac was new. I finally called Apple Care this past weekend and they had no idea what the problem could be. I only suspected the adapter when I had the identical problem with my laptop driving the same monitor. I bought a new adapter and the problem persisted. Sounds like there's no real fix, though control+shift+eject may be a promising workaround.

I owned a 1.01 Apple adapter which was useless as you will no doubt have seen from the comments.

Now I use a 2010 MacBook Pro (although it was also fine with a 2009 17") with a Dell Bizlink DisplayPort to DVI-D Dual Link Adapter Cable (XT625) together with a short mini-display port to display port adapter cable. I use it for about 50 hours / week with a Dell 3007 and very rarely have issues (~1 / month).

Hi, after several years of massiv flicker problems with MBPs 17"/15" 2010/2011 on a Dell 3007 WFP-HC with two Apples Mini-DisplayPort Dual-DVI adapters (FW 1.01 and 1.02) and now a LogiLink Mini DisplayPort and USB to DVI adapter I now bought an:

INLINE DVI-D Kabel PREMIUM 1m Gold Connectors Dual Link digital 24+1 m/m
Single-link bandwith 165Mhz (4.95GBit/s) up to Dual Link bandwith 340Mhz (10.2GBit/s) !!! !!!

and now the picture quality improved significantly while I don't observe any flicker problems anymore!
HTH Kurt

[...] I mentioned before that I upgraded to a Retina MacBook Pro earlier than I would have under normal circumstances. However, it’s been a very pleasant upgrade. Subjectively, it feels much faster. And in terms of benchmarks, it takes 4m26s to build on the 2010 MacBook Pro (2.66 GHz dual-core i7, SSD) vs. just 2m2s on the Retina MacBook Pro (2.6 GHz quad-core i7). Backups and restores using a Voyager S3 are between 2 and 4 times faster since the new Mac has USB 3. It also has more internal storage, so I can now put VMware Fusion on the flash drive, which makes a huge difference. So far the only hiccup has been that it wouldn’t recognize the native resolution of my external display until I Option-clicked the “Scaled” radio button in the Displays preference pane. I’m also looking into using an HDMI cable to connect my Dell display, so that I won’t need the flaky, USB-powered Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter. [...]

I just bought one of these adapters, and it came with firmware 1.03.

I was getting snow just about out of the box, I had the display just go dark on me a few times for no reason, general weirdness.

I read a review on monoprice for their adapter that had the secret - plug the usb for the adapter into a cell phone or ipod charger. The usb only carries power, no data. If you're having issues, it's most likely an issue of the computer's usb bus not pushing enough power to keep the adapter happy.

Hope that helps.

@James I’m glad that worked for you. I found that plugging the adaptor into a good powered USB hub helped but did not eliminate the problems.

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