Early 2008 Mac Pro + Apple 27″ Cinema Display = Possible?


My Mac is an early 2008 Mac Pro – it’s the 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon model that came with the nVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT graphics card. I have since installed 12Gb of (800MHz) RAM in it, and it’s now equipped with 2 x 1Tb and 2 x 1.5Tb internal drives. It’s great. It rarely skips a beat and I haven’t really got any plans to replace it any time soon.

The monitors on the other hand are a different matter. My primary monitor is a Samsung SyncMaster 2493HM running at 1920 x 1200, while the secondary monitor (used mostly for work with VMware Fusion) is a BenQ G2420HDBL running at 1920 x 1080 – that wretched widescreen resolution that’s been lumped on to us unsuspecting consumers. The BenQ was not one of my better purchases, and while it looked good on paper, I have had a devil of a job getting the colour right on it and to be honest wouldn’t mind seeing the back of it.

Having seen a friends 27″ iMac in all it’s glory, I decided I ought to upgrade my main monitor to something larger and that can run higher resolutions, relegate the Samsung to be my secondary monitor and then a family member or friend can ‘inherit’ the BenQ. However the obvious choice of the Apple 30″ Cinema Display was quite simply too expensive. Likewise the few other 30″ monitors around are also hugely expensive, while anything sporting a 27″ or 28″ screen size seems to go back to the same 1920 x 1080 resolution that my current Samsung can already manage. So, when Apple announced the new 27″ Cinema Display, boasting a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, I thought my prayers had been answered. With a US price of $999 it’s still a lot of money, and will no doubt translate to something over £800 when UK pricing is announced.

Cinema Display Connectors

Check those connections

Now the questions start. The 27″ Cinema Display will probably be only around £500 cheaper than the entry-level 27″ iMac. Would it be better to save the extra? Maybe, maybe not, but what if I want to go with the cheapest option and just buy the screen? This is when I started looking more closely at the tech specs, more specifically… the connectors.

Taking a good look at a picture at the rear of the screen, rather than do what most monitor manufacturers do, Apple provides a moulded cable that you have to use. Now the moulded cable they provide has three connections – USB 2.0, MagSafe and… Mini Displayport. Now I’m not too fussed about the first two. I have all the USB I need with the standard Mac Pro ports plus a 3-port PCIe USB card I fitted. MagSafe? Well I don’t have a MacBook so there’s nothing for it to do. That leaves the mini displayport connector. My Mac Pro has two (female) DVI sockets to drive two monitors or one monitor via dual-link. In order to be able to use the new 27″ Cinema Display with my Mac Pro I will need a cable that’s DVI (male) at one end,

DVI MDP

You need the exact opposite of this!

and mini displayport (female) at the other. A quick search of the Apple Store gave me three results, but all three cables were the exact opposite of what I need, i.e. they are mini displayport (male) to DVI (female). A quick search of the web didn’t reveal much either except for one ‘converter’ box priced at over $110. Time to go to the Apple site and click the chat button…

  • You are chatting with Danielle C, an Apple Expert
  • Hi, my name is Danielle C. Welcome to Apple!
  • Danielle C: Good evening.
  • Danielle C: How may I assist you today?
  • You: Hello Danielle C., I’m Robin. My question is about the new 27″ Cinema Display. I have a 2008 Mac Pro and want to know if I will be able to use the new 27″ Apple screen with it?
  • Danielle C: Let me check that for you.
  • You: Thankyou.
  • Danielle C: It has not been released yet but you would be able to connect it with an adapter.
  • You: Does Apple sell the necessary connector? I guess it would be a DVI (male) to mini displayport (female) connector?
  • Danielle C: Yes. However since the display has not been released yet, I recommend checking back once it is available to purchase.
  • You: Ok, many thanks Danielle C.
  • Danielle C: You’re welcome.

There you have it. The indication is that there may well be a suitable connector available so that Mac Pro owners like myself who only have DVI ports on their machines, will indeed have the option of being able to use the 27″ Cinema Display. If that is the case then that’s good news (why is it that whenever I type the words ‘good news’ I can hear it being spoken by Professor Farnsworth in Futurama?!). Anyway, all I have to do now is decide if I can afford it…

Professor Farnsworth

Professor Farnsworth

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4 Responses

  1. sounds good if true, my research so far has led me to nothing but dead ends….

    as the convertion is “signal incompatible” at first, then there’s a few converters outthere at 170$ usd and they do NOT support the current 27″ or anything with a higher resolution than 1920×1200 (24″ Cinema LED)… The 27″ 2560×1440, is not supported and will downscale/size to 1280×720… something to do with the dvi dual/single link compability and so on…

    hoping for something that can pull 2560×1440 female-minidisplay port -> male dvi-d and/or hdmi

  2. Hi

    I have the same computer (early 2008 Mac Pro) and have no desire to upgrade it at this time. But like you, I want this new monitor.
    I was told by Apple that it would work with a Gefen DVI to Mini display adapter.

    After an hour on the phone with apple troubleshooting all sorts of things, she finally said, “Oh, this won’t work with an early 2008.”

    Dead end. Then I asked if I could just replace my video card with one with a mini display port and she said yes but apple doesn’t sell them. She told me to get an ATI Radeon HD4870.

    I discovered next that that particular card has been discontinued.

    Then I started to wonder WHY the adapter didn’t work and began to think that even if I found a used video card that it might not work anyway.

    Any thoughts anyone??
    Thanks!

  3. just get a video card with compatible connections 🙂 that’s what i did and no prob at all..keep it simple:)

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