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I am curious to know if I can take the screen from my Macbook Pro (15-inch, 2010) and somehow use it as a display for an iMac (21-inch, 2012) either through a direct connection to the logic board's display pins or via the mini display port. The logic board is dead on the laptop and the screen is dead on the desktop, so between them, maybe I can have one functional computer.

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  • I'd suggest that you're best off buying a new monitor and plugging that into the iMac.
    – benwiggy
    Aug 21 '20 at 21:32
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I am curious to know if I can take the screen from my MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2010) and somehow use it as a display for an iMac (21-inch, 2012) either through a direct connection to the logic board's display pins or via the mini display port.

Yes, you can. However, it's not a direct connection or a simple case of getting an LVDS cable long enough to go from the logic board on the iMac to the 15" display.

You need a LCD Controller Board specific to that LCD panel. There are a lot of DIY instructions on how to do this very thing, but to summariaze, here's what you'll need:

  • The exact model of the LCD panel (you'll have to dissasemble the display) because you'll need the model number and connector info it when ordering the LCD controller board and cables

  • The LCD controller board itself.

    • HDMI or DisplayPort (or both).
    • LVDS cable(s)
    • Inverter board (if necessary). Depends on if you have an LED or CCFL display
  • Some sort of housing or stand for your display.

If you're going to do this, you'll likely have to custom build an enclosure for your screen - likely in a form factor of a picture frame or shadow box because you'll need somewhere to mount both the panel and the controller board as well as have a sturdy place to mount the control buttons (i.e. power button) and cut outs for your display inputs (HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, etc.) I also recommend going with DisplayPort as you won't need an adapter to go from the DisplayPort out from the iMac.

Is this worth it?

No. You're better off finding used display panels for both machines. In fact, it's cheaper to buy a low spec monitor for the MacBook Pro and use that as a desktop in closed clam shell mode. The displays for the 21" Late 2012 iMac can still be found on eBay or you can part out the machine as it has excellent salvage value.

I recommend repurposing displays only if you have a custom application like a Raspberry Pi project or similar. The cost and effort is much more than what you can source replacement parts for.

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  • Despite the fact that this solution is neither cost or time-effective, it sounds fun to me. Thanks! Aug 22 '20 at 14:05
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No. The internal connectors are incompatible between the two; different size and different pin-outs. And there is no functional way to route the display signal through the mini Displayport from one to the other.

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