I've got a new 2013 MacBook Air 13", with Intel HD Graphics 5000, and it came with a Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter within the box. A mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter is also available from Apple.

An ASUS PB278Q 27" 5ms WQHD (2560 x 1440) only gets 1920x1080 resolution using the VGA adapter. I'm not aware of VGA being limited to 1080p, and this is not advertised at all anywhere on the ordering page.

As per Google search of Apple's quite scattered and incomplete docs on the matter, which, in the end, still don't cover all custom-order options provided immediately on the ordering page for a MacBook Air, both VGA and DVI adapters apparently only support up to 1920x1200 resolutions, with dual-link DVI being required for "resolutions above 1920 x 1200" (what does this even mean, I'm buying a MacBook Air, what's "above 1920x1200"?). http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3382

  • Why resolutions of Mini DisplayPort to VGA and DVI adapters is limited to 1920x1200?

  • What is the maximum resolution of Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI adapter as ordered for mid-2013 MacBook Air 13?

  • Does Apple's official HDMI adapter, "Belkin Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter", support "resolutions above 1920x1200"? Which ones would that be?

  • What resolutions would I get with a third-party miniDP to DP cables or adapters, or miniDP to HDMI?

8 Answers 8


You can get full resolution with mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort or mini DisplayPort to Dual-link DVI. Dual-link DVI supports up to 2560x1600 pixels resolution. DisplayPort supports that resolution or even higher.

You will not get full resolution with mini DisplayPort to DVI. DVI is limited to 1920x1200 or something similar. You usually won't get full resolution with mini DisplayPort to VGA.

I do not know whether you get full resolution with mini DisplayPort to HDMI. I think it depends upon your graphics card.

Bottom line. I would recommend using mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort.

  • Dual-link DVI adapters can go above 1920x1200, although I don't know why you would do this if the Mac and Monitor both support (mini) DisplayPort. miniDP to DP cables are a fraction of the cost of a dual-link DVI adapter.
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 18:44
  • @Mr.Dave, I'm confused. Did you read my answer? That's what I wrote in my answer. See the very second sentence of my answer. I'm not sure I understand the point of your comment -- exactly what do you think I got wrong? Are you perhaps confused about the difference between Dual-link DVI vs (ordinary not-dual-link) DVI?
    – D.W.
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 19:01
  • I entirely agree with your answer and haven't said you got anything wrong. My comment supports your recommendation by pointing out that mini-DP to DP offers cnst a connection equivalent to the Dual-link DVI active adapter at a lower price.
    – Dave
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 2:29
  • @Mr.Dave, Ahh, OK! Thanks for the explanation. I wanted to make sure I wasn't saying something wrong in my answer. Thank you for your note.
    – D.W.
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 5:06
  • @D.W. I own a Macbook Pro early 2013 and got a LG 25UM with HDMI output. I got an HDMI - mini display port adapter and I can't get to 2560x1080. I tried software and nothing. Any suggestion?
    – Camus
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 7:06

You should connect the monitor through DisplayPort. You will need a Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable for this.

You will be able to get the full resolution of the display this way.


I have a MacBook Pro 15" with Retina Display and a Seiki 4K monitor. The monitor works great at 2160x3840 with HDMI plugged into the MacBook Pro's HDMI port. I bought an Accell Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter (Accell says it works @4K and is compliant with HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.2 high bit rate). I can only get 1080x1920.

  • 4
    Do you expect the Air from 2013 to have the same GPU as whatever vintage 15" Pro you have? Perhaps this answer would work better on a MacBook Pro question?
    – bmike
    Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 21:06
  • You will only get 30Mhz@4k maximum over HDMI (see support.apple.com/kb/sp719?locale=en_US). Only if you have HDMI 1.3 and up can you do more for 4k.
    – MacD
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 22:10

You need a Dual DVI adapter to take advantage of the full resolution of your monitor.

With a Dual DVI adapter you'll be able to use "...up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colours"


VGA on the PB278Q is limited to 1080p by the monitor's circuitry (check out the manual). The higher the resolution on VGA, the better the analog circuitry in the monitor needs to be in order to extract the signal. Asus bought a cheaper part, because most people aren't trying to use VGA at 2560x1440.

DVI is limited by its spec to a max of widescreen 16:10 ratio of 2,098 × 1,311 because it just can't signal fast enough. That's why they recommend dual-link DVI for higher resolutions. (It goes over a single cable, just means a somewhat pricier cable.)

HDMI might work for you, but as the manual for the monitor states:

While the PB278Q supports up to 2560 x 1440 WQHD resolutions including DVI-dual link, HDMI and DisplayPort, some graphics cards only support up to 1920 x 1200 resolution content transmission via HDMI. Please check with your local distributor or retailer on the hardware limitations of your laptop or desktop.

Since you have a display-port monitor, it's not really worth trying to figure out how the adapters work. As Nicolás Kim suggests, get a mini-Display Port to Display Port cable, and it'll work perfectly.

  • Though it might be worth noting that even if the monitor had better circuitry, you could still have a hard time getting 2560x1440 via Apple's DisplayPort to VGA adapter. I'm unable to go above 1080p with my late 2013 27" iMac and a Monoprice 2560x monitor, though my Lenovo T430 lights up every pixel with VGA. I'm not sure why the Mac doesn't keep up.
    – ruffin
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 23:39
  • 1
    That's a good point. Since it's analog, I bet the circuitry on both the DP->VGA converter and the monitor matter. Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 4:42

I have a Macbook Air 13 (Early 2014) and have bought the Dell U3415W display which has a native resolution of 3440x1440.

I could connect it with the supplied miniDP to DP port in the native resolution (3440x1440) as well as with a Belkin miniDP to HDMI adapter and an HDMI cable in the native resolution.

I know this does not exactly answer your questions as the resolution is slightly different, but it does prove that with an HDMI adapter (at least with the Belkin one) the resolution is definitely not limited to 1080p (1920x1080) as I am able to get 3440x1440 out of it.

  • Do you get 60Hz with both miniDP to DP and miniDP to HDMI?
    – gerarddp
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 14:12
  • I am now using it with a miniDP-DP cable, and I can already confirm that I am getting 3440x1440 (Dell U3415W) at 60Hz via a miniDP-DP cable. I need to pick up an HDMI cable to test with the Belkin HDMI converter and HDMI cable. Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 13:45
  • Well, I have now tested with the Belkin HDMI adapter and an HDMI cable, and I can only get 30Hz for the 3440x1440 resolution. So if you want to get 60Hz, you need to use a mini-DP to DP/mini-DP cable. Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 13:01

Here is my configuration: 15" 2014 Macbook Pro Retina Apple 27" Thunderbolt display ASUS PB287Q (4k 28" ASUS monitor)

Am only able to get full 4K resolution (3840x2160) by using the HDMI connection directly out of the MBP. Tried Thunderbolt/mini displayport to HDMI adapter and was only able to get 1080p on the ASUS while getting full resolution on the Thunderbolt.

Summary: My experience shows mini displayport to HDMI only gets 1080p (when a Thunderbolt display is included)

Was able to get full 4K when connecting mini displayport to displayport with ONLY the ASUS PB287Q attached (i.e. no Thunderbolt)

Also spoke with Apple Support to verify and they confirmed that in my configuration (w/ the Thunderbolt) I would only be able to get full 4K via HDMI. Mini displayport to displayport gave me a black screen on ASUS when Thunderbolt was attached as well.

The ASUS PB287Q has 2 HDMI and one full displayport, no DVI (likely because it is 4K monitor) so I can't give any details on DVI, VGA or dual-link DVI.

  • 1
    You might try an active adapter if you need to get it to work through DisplayPort. See superuser.com/questions/776288/….
    – cnst
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 21:04
  • You can only get 4k@30Mhz over HDMI 1.2 (which is what your Mac does). That, or 1080p@60Mhz maximum.
    – MacD
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 22:12

Natively, display port uses 3.3 volts to carry the signal. DVI uses 5 volts. If your display port supports "Dual Mode" or "DisplayPort++" it will automatically switch over to use 5 volts if it notices that the other end of the wire is hooked up to a DVI or HDMI port. When it does this, it is limited at 1920x1200.

In order to convert this signal to DVI/HDMI at higher resolutions than that, you're going to need an active, powered adapter, like this one, that actually processes the signal rather than just connecting it along to the right pins.

  • An adapter that costs 85$? It'll be cheaper to buy a better monitor with native DisplayPort support! :-)
    – cnst
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 22:31

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