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I just bought a new monitor (an Asus XG35VQ), but when I try to use my MacBook (Pro 13", mid-2014) with it, I can only get 30Hz on the native 3440x1440 resolution.

At first I thought there was something wrong either with the monitor or with macOS (running Big Sur), but then I realized the issue is probably with the connection.

I want to avoid using the DisplayPort on the monitor to connect to the Mac because there is only one of them in the monitor and it's being used to connect to a different machine. All I have left is an HDMI 2.0 port. I'm using the cable that was supplied with the monitor.

Would it help me get a better refresh rate if I used a Thunderbolt->HDMI cable instead of an HDMI->HDMI cable? Or would it not make any difference?

And what about a Thunderbolt->DisplayPort? Or a HDMI->DisplayPort?

My monitor supports up to 100Hz, but if I can get it to 60Hz I'll be super happy already.

Thanks!

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For this connection you could have four bottlenecks:

  1. Input connector on your monitor
  2. Output connector on your Mac/PC
  3. faulty cable/lower-spec cable
  4. GPU (graphics processing unit) limitation

  1. As you state, the input connector on your monitor is an HDMI 2.0 port, which is capable of 4k@60fps.
  2. A mid 2014 13" MBP does only support 3840x2160@30fps output over the HDMI port. This may be at least one of the reasons you are not getting the higher refresh rate.
  3. You can simply test the cable with another device. I also would not really suspect it, unless you have a reason to believe it is physically damaged.
  4. The MBP specs also state that the output is too limited for your high refresh rate monitor. There has also been a similar question on AD:

Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on up to two external displays, both at millions of colors

What this means for you

You will not be able to get a higher refresh rate, since you are using an older HDMI port and the MBPs video output is too limited. So even if you would get a Mini-DPHDMI 2.x cable, you shouldn't be able to get a higher refresh rate.


Note: On your machine the Thunderbolt 2 connector can act as a Mini-DP connector, which is capable of higher resolution/refresh rates than some older HDMI ports. Yet, this depends on the exact comparison. Have a look at the Wikipedia page about the different HDMI specifications and Display Port connections.

Double check which MacBooks support what monitor resolutions and refresh rates on Everymac.

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  • Thank you! This is super clarifying to me. One thing I still don’t understand is regarding to your Note: would I or would I not be able to get a better refresh rate if I somehow managed to connect my MBP to my monitor using the Thunderbolt port? I never used my Thunderbolt por for anything. – Fabio Bracht Jan 4 at 5:11
  • No. TB 2 (Thunderbolt 2) is a connector that can be used for data transfer or display Output and more. Yet, the MBP has a Limit of how much Displays it can Connect to at different resolutions. So Even though the TB 2 is capable of delivering higher refresh Rates/ Resolution it is the MBP limiting the Video Output. – X_841 Jan 4 at 8:17
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You are unlikely to see a difference in quality on the screen, but DP does over higher data throughput than HDMI 2.0 and on my mini I eliminated a problems of my HMDI connected screen not coming back after idle (some of the time) by replacing the cable with a DP -> USB-C.

As long as HDMI is involved, you are limited to the behavior and limits of the HDMI port.

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Thunderbolt to display port could offer a better performance in refresh rate like you said, however I would believe it to be quite minimal. I recently switched from HDMI to thunderbolt for my monitor and I don't notice a difference.

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  • Welcome on AD! Please have a look at the tour: apple.stackexchange.com/tour Further, it would be great if you could add some sources to your answer and be more specific and precise. – X_841 Dec 29 '20 at 21:11

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