If you were disappointed like us that old non-Thunderbolt Apple Cinema Displays didn't work, we might just have a solution. A simple cable swap around and our old 30" lit straight up from a new 15' MBP.
Our old 30 inch Cinema Display is getting long in the tooth and will probably be replaced by one of this gorgeous new LG UltraFine 5K models.
But until then, we really missed not being able to hook the new 15 inch MacBook Pro up to the display. As we reported in our MBP review, the new models do not support non-Thunderbolt displays when using Apple's USB-C to Thunderbolt (and thus not mini display) adaptor. All the third-party dongles/adaptors on Amazon we found only went up to 1920x1080.
So when FCP.co reader Robert Das told us he had found a way to hook an old 23" Cinema Display up to his new MBP, we just had to try the trick out.
And it worked! At the correct resolution too.
All you have to do is run the Thunderbolt connection through a GRAID storage unit. The one we used has Thunderbolt 1 in and out.
So plug the Apple USB-C/Thunderbolt dongle into the new MBP, Thunderbolt cable to the RAID, then out of the second Thunderbolt port of the RAID to the mini display connector of the old display. Easy. (Using the Apple Dual Link adaptor in line for the 30 inch.)
Now, this brings many interesting questions that Robert brought up:
1. Would the display work if looped through another Thunderbolt device with two thunderbolt ports, like a thunderbolt dock for example?
2. Would the display work if looped through another harddisk?
3. Would a display from another vendor work if looped through a Thunderbolt device? (We know G-Technology don't scrimp on engineering.)
Our big question is why is this possible? Has Apple missed enabling a passthrough protocol that the GRAID makes available? If it is this easy to get a display hooked up, then why not make a new dongle that supports non-Thunderbolt displays? Or could this be a real opportunity for a third party product?
Many thanks to Robert for this very interesting find. If any other readers would like to test the trick out, please publish your findings below. We have a sneaky feeling that other Thunderbolt peripherals might work as well.