For my old MacBook (2,1) I have a mini-DVI to Video adapter that I use to connect to the TV (mini-DVI-to-Composite-to-SCART). It works, but I cannot seem to get the right resolution for the TV display (no wide screen resolutions available at all).

I see there are other options to connect to as well on the TV: VGA and HDMI. How do each of these options perform differently in terms of resolution and quality?

For example, I'm planning to buy a HDMI adapter and would like to understand if this will make it possible to use a wide resolution for the TV from the MacBook.

I'd be very happy if someone can give a detailed explanation what resolutions and qualities each port is capable of.

  • Please provide your make and model of TV. Be sure to include the resolution (1080p, 720p, etc.).
    – user10355
    Jan 15, 2012 at 21:28
  • @cksum, my question is in general what is possible, what limitations a certain technology has etc.
    – murrekatt
    Jan 17, 2012 at 7:35
  • @murrekatt A MacBook 2,1 would not have a mini DisplayPort output and there was/is no mDP to Composite adapter. What you have is mini-DVI. I have edited your question to fix that.
    – Cajunluke
    Feb 16, 2012 at 0:41

2 Answers 2


First: The maximum resolution of your TV is important. Your TV have probably a resolution of 1920 * 1080 Pixel (FullHD).

A (Mini) Display Port can display about 3840×2400 Pixel

VGA is an older standard, an was created for an Analog connection between devices.
HDMI was created for a Digital connection.

So, the HDMI option is the best, because HDMI fully supports FullHD resolution.

VGA could probably be display FullHD or HD Ready (1280x720 Pixel), but it's not recommended.

So, the best decision is to buy an Mini Display Port - to - HDMI Adapter.

It is hard to give a detailed information of the cababilities of each Video-Output, because there are many differnt version of each one out there.

  • Thanks. Why is it not recommended to display HD over VGA?
    – murrekatt
    Jan 8, 2012 at 19:36
  • HDMI is digital, it supports Video & Audio Output. VGA is Analog.
    – ohboy21
    Jan 8, 2012 at 20:04
  • Yes, sure. I was asking if it's possible to have e.g. 1280x720 resolution over Composite.
    – murrekatt
    Jan 8, 2012 at 21:40
  • Yes, it is possible!
    – ohboy21
    Jan 8, 2012 at 21:45
  • 1
    No, 1280x720 is not possible over composite.
    – rwr
    Jan 8, 2012 at 22:10

Just be aware HDMI for displaying videos is fine, but for reading text on a website or working is very bitty and in my personal opinion not usable for long period of time.

I would use VGA. Thats what most TVs have. You're not going to get the best quality video e.g. HD, etc. but will be a lot better for reading text.

Unless your TV has DVI, I would use that but I doubt it.

  • So what do you use instead?
    – murrekatt
    Jan 9, 2012 at 14:06
  • @lennard In general, I would say that HDMI is a better connector for clarity than VGA. How HDMI displays video/text on a screen will be the same as how VGA displays the same content.
    – Cajunluke
    Feb 16, 2012 at 0:46

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