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Background: I purchased an LG Ultrafine 5k monitor per Tim Cook's recommendation. This only has a Thunderbolt-3 input. Awesome monitor, but very limited when it comes to what you can drive it with.

Goal: I'd like to use it with a non usb-c video out source. I.e., I'd like to get an eGPU and use a video card that has Displayport output (or HDMI) with that LG Ultrafine. I do understand that the Blackmagic eGPU has Thunderbolt output, but I want a better price to performance ratio than that offers.

Question: Is there a displayport (or HDMI) to USB-C adapter on the market? Searching for this is not easy because everything points to the opposite (USB-C to Displayport, etc.). Alternatively, is there a MacOS compatible video card with Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C out?

I'm ok with not getting full 5k video.

My apologies in advance if this has already been asked. I did search for this question but everything that comes up is about usb-c to displayport (or hdmi, etc.).

  • RX 580 Gaming Box is $200 cheaper – Ruskes Sep 29 '18 at 4:03
  • I think that’s just hdmi and dp outs with thunderbolt 3 in. – jpoveda Sep 29 '18 at 4:07
  • it claims to have T3 output – Ruskes Sep 29 '18 at 4:29
  • ? I think it’s just tb3 input. Look at the specs section under video output. gigabyte.com/Graphics-Card/GV-RX580IXEB-8GD#kf. – jpoveda Sep 29 '18 at 4:33
  • @Buscar웃 I guess it sort of does have Thunderbolt "output" (back through the "input") but imo there's no way it's driving an external display connected to a different TB port through the bus. – user3052786 Sep 29 '18 at 6:07
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Short answer: no, and I wouldn't expect to see one on the market anytime soon. I think the shared connector specifications may contribute to some of the confusion, but an HDMI to USB-C adapter like you describe should seem like an impossibility, when you think about it for a second.

HDMI and DP are basically DVI, and USB is, well, USB. You wouldn't expect to be able to plug in a display with HDMI output into a USB port through any sort of adapter and expect it to work...

Except in 2018, many products (several of which you mentioned) seemingly do exactly this, through an addition to the USB specs called "Alternate Mode", which as you might expect, allows alternate modes of transport over the USB connection.

But these alternate mode connections have to be negotiated and configured by the devices themselves, and the implementation of this is up to the vendors. There is no direct mapping between the pins in an HDMI or DP connector and a USB-C connector.

Theoretically, you could design an adapter that would take the HDMI input, pass it through an HDMI-DP adapter, decode the DP signal, handle the USB-C alternate mode negotiation, translate signal levels, and output DP alternate mode over USB-C, but by this point you are looking at $15+ in the controller chips alone, not to mention it would most likely need to be externally powered.

...which is what the Blackmagic eGPU essentially does, through Thunderbolt, not USB, though (the LG Ultrafine 5K has a Thunderbolt connector, I believe it is the 4K that uses DP alternate mode). The graphics card inside is a regular RX580, and the Thunderbolt controller takes the DP signal and multiplexes it into the TB3 chain.

The MacBook Pro's also do this internally, and the circuitry involved takes up a significant amount of real estate on the logic board. All in all, it's not an inexpensive thing to accomplish.

  • do you know something about cables, plugs and signal transfers ? :) – Ruskes Sep 29 '18 at 6:14
  • are one of those things not like the others – user3052786 Sep 29 '18 at 6:30

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