May 16

MacBook Pro Retina with Windows 8: projector issues

When I started my great MacBook Pro with Windows 8 via boot camp adventure, my intent was to use the machine for hosting client meetings and demonstrations while connected to a projector. Imagine my horror when the first few projectors I tried to connect to could only support a 640 x 480 screen resolution! It’s incorrect to say the projector was the limitation, as I had other laptops available to me that could output higher resolutions to the same projectors.

The MacBook Pro only has HDMI, or mini-DisplayPort ports (Thunderbolt actually, but it supports mini-DisplayPort) available for outputting the video. Sadly I’m yet to find a projector (in use) that supports HDMI in, so of course the tried and tested VGA cable gets a workout. To connect to these VGA cables I had purchased the official Apple adapter for the Thunderbolt port to convert to VGA. This was the beast that only allowed me to output 640 x 480 under Windows 8 though. I have a colleague who uses the same adapter under OS X and it works at much higher resolutions – no good for me, my work was in Windows.

After some research (sadly now which I’ve lost the link to), I found out there is apparently a concept of an active adapter and a passive adapter. The official Apple one was passive only, but it works fine in OS X because the OS handles it. Windows isn’t as aware of this adapter. I found an alternative adapter which was cheaper even with shipping and I’m happy to report it works a treat. I even managed a 1600 x 900 resolution on one projector over a VGA cable.

The alternative adapter can be found here: https://dx.com/p/mini-displayport-male-to-vga-female-adapter-1080p-27603