I bought the new Retina MacBook Pro, which has an HDMI out and two Thunderbolt ports. I have an external display that I've been using that has a DVI input. Should I get the Thunderbolt/mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter or an HDMI to DVI adapter? Presumably, an HDMI adapter would be cheaper, because I wouldn't have to buy the Apple one. Is there a reason to go for mini DisplayPort instead? I remember reading that DVI and HDMI are the same as far as video quality is concerned. Any other pointers or recommendations in this area are also appreciated. I guess one consideration could be that they are on opposite sides of the computer so I could pick the one that is on the side I plan to put the monitor.

And yes, I do know that my old display will look like crap next to the retina display.

  • get the cheaper one - both ports will provide the same signal to your monitor
    – Jason
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 4:45
  • I have bought both, and I had trouble with my macbook pro (not retina, this was before I bought the retina) picking up the DVI adapter. Not sure if apple has fixed the problem, but I know that when I had the problem, it had been around for a while. I'd go with the hdmi-dvi adapter, even though it might be a little more expensive, depending on where you buy it.
    – John Davis
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 4:59

5 Answers 5


Additionally, don't forget that Thunderbolt really means mini DisplayPort where video adapters are being considered. Since a DVI connection is required for your external display get something that will end in a DVI connection. Additionally don't forget to shop around for adapters, places like MonoPrice can help you save a bundle on adapters and Cables when compared to retail prices.


  1. Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter (from MonoPrice)

  2. HDMI to DVI adapter (from MonoPrice)

  • Nice. I am definitely buying an off brand. Apple's cable is $30 and is crappy (I always have problems with the connectors coming out on those things). These cables are $6-7 and don't look like they will have that problem.
    – asmeurer
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 17:20

It should be noted that an adapter isn't even necessary, they generally add bulk because it's a device needed in addition to the cable. You should consider an HDMI to DVI cable (very common, simple, cheap) which just has those 2 connectors, and doesn't require extra bulk in the form of an adapter(hdmi's video is hardware compatable with dvi, the connector is just different).

  • There seems to a blurred distinction between short cables and long adapters. I'll remember to search for both.
    – asmeurer
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 23:32
  • example: amazon.com/Cables-Unlimited-PCM-2296-06-HDMI-Cable/dp/…
    – Alexander
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 23:36
  • Oh I guess there's an obvious difference between an adapter and a cable: an adapter has a female DVI end and a cable has a male end.
    – asmeurer
    Commented Jul 7, 2012 at 17:50

An alternative is to use the retina MacBook Pro's HDMI port and use a HDMI to DVI cable or HDMI to HDMI with a HDMI/DVI adapter.


So I just noticed How many external displays can I power with the 15" retina MacBook Pro?. I actually have two displays that I can use, so I'm thinking that what I'll do is get one of each (since the ports are on opposite sides of the computer). Thanks to all for the advice here.

  • 1
    As a follow up, I've been using both HDMI and Thunderbolt, and the HDMI has been much more reliable. The issue I reported at apple.stackexchange.com/questions/65359/… only happens with my Thunderbolt displays, even if I only have one plugged in. The HDMI display never has this issue.
    – asmeurer
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 1:10

I would go for HDMI; when I connect an external monitor to the Thunderbolt port on my retina MacBook Pro, I loose my WiFi signal. I have no such problems when using HDMI.

The issue is discussed here https://discussions.apple.com/message/19380075

  • 1
    If you have a different question, feel free to ask it using the Ask Question button at the top right.
    – Daniel
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 14:17
  • As I noted in my answer, I use all three, and I have never had wifi problems.
    – asmeurer
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 14:52
  • I don't see how Thunderbolt and WiFi should be related.
    – nohillside
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 15:54

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