Thunderbolt to DVI Adapter Better Than Apple’s

I’ve got a 15″ Unibody MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt support and a Dell 2405FPW 24″ LCD display.  The display worked perfectly with my previous generation 15″ MacBook Pro, but when I upgraded to my current model, the first release to offer Thunderbolt (Early 2011 release), I quickly became frustrated by my laptops inability to put the 24″ Dell display to sleep.  When the energy saver settings shutdown the laptops internal display, the external display is supposed to go into sleep mode.  My Dell display stays powered up and displays an ever present “No Signal Present” message.  No power savings there.  No help in extending the life of the display— likely shortening it!

I even went so far as to contact Apple tech support about the issue, something I loathe to do.  Apple support did what seemed to be due diligence and kicked the issue up the support chain for a while but in the end concluded that it was some sort of timing issue with the video signal that was unique to my Dell display.  Apple support suggested that I contact Dell support with the issue.  Perhaps see if there was new firmware for my display.  There was none.

Admittedly this is an older 24″ LCD.  But the screen works every bit as well as it did the day I bought it.  I don’t have the wherewithal to look for the receipt, but it is easily 5 years old, and nock on wood, has another 5 years left in it.  I tried everything I could think of to resolve the issue.  Even some of the more fanciful suggestions from Apple support.  I tried switching to a different DVI cable.  No change.  I tried another Apple Thunderbolt to DVI adapter.  No change.  I hooked up another Dell display to both of my test DVI adapters.  Interestingly, this alternate display worked perfectly.  The screen would go into sleep mode when the laptops energy saver shutdown the internal display.  This alternate Dell display was several generations newer.  It seemed that Apple support could be correct after all.

I went so far as to borrow yet another Thunderbolt display adapter from a friend in hopes that I might have better luck with an adapter from another batch.  No joy.  But I didn’t cut corners, I wasn’t using any aftermarket adapters with my display.  Apple support was very explicit in admonishing the use of non-Apple adapters.  But I toed the line there, though I never really believed it.  Printer manufacturers are famous for saying the same thing about their inks and toners and I know from experience that its just not the case.  Quality third party alternatives do exist in both areas.  I just didn’t have easy access to a third party adapter for testing and I didn’t go out of my way to find one.  So I put up with the issue for well over a year.  Likely shortening the lifespan of my display… certainly putting a great deal of wear and tear on the power button of my monitor.

But last week I was placing an order on for several FireWire 800 cables and a eSATA cable.  I figure that, while I was at it, why not add one of their Thunderbolt/Mini Display Port to DVI adapters to my order.  The cost was a whole $6.65!  It didn’t result in an additional shipping charge.  I didn’t expect it would fix my problem but I had tried every other conceivable option at this point.

Wonder of wonders, the Monoprice display adapter worked and it did solve the sleep problem with my Dell display!  I installed the adapter last night before I went to bed and left the old adapter by my keyboard as a reminder of the change.  I expected to need that reminder since I truly expected the display to be blinking its No Input message when I walked into my office the next morning.  But when I walked in and sat down my 24″ Dell was asleep along with the display of my MacBook.  I was shocked.  I looked at the Apple adapter sitting disconnected before my keyboard and back at my display and got a big old smile on my face.  I FINALLY had my solution!

So, not only did the Monoprice adapter work, but it did it for a fraction of the price of the Apple adapter.  Apple sells there display adapter for $29.00, vs $6.65 at  And to be fair, Apple’s own site doesn’t show great reviews for their brand.  Admittedly I am only half a day into my first experience with the Monoprice alternative but I am already having a better experience.

So, while it is increasingly common knowledge that there is no need to pay top dollar for premium brand USB, Firewire, HDMI, or network cables, the same is holding true for some display adapters as well.  It has been my experience that has a wide variety of quality components at extremely competitive prices.  It is certainly worth the time it takes to consider their offerings when in the market for any type of wire, cable, or adapter.

Update: 3/12/14 9:37am
Melody makes a great point of clarification.  The link provided goes to a Mini Display to DVI adapter.  This is the same adapter that is used for Thunderbolt to DVI.  Monoprice has simply named it somewhat confusingly.

Thanks, Melody!

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5 Responses to Thunderbolt to DVI Adapter Better Than Apple’s
  1. Chris Reply

    thanks for tip! I ordered one today.

  2. Melody Reply

    Your links to to Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter instead of Thunderbolt to DVI Adapter.

    • Melody Reply

      Tried to delete my last reply, but I can’t. Didn’t realize the Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort could be used interchangeably.

  3. Steve Manke Reply


    I’ll leave the comments up because I think you make a point that will help others in the future. I appreciate you pointing that out. I had not considered how that might confuse some people. It’s very likely to be the case and an important distinction that should be made.

    This is the correct adapter for use with Mini Display ports and Thunderbolt ports alike.

    Thank you!

  4. Jason Reply

    Thanks for posting this! This issue has been annoying me for years. It seems like I’d google it from time to time with no luck, but this time found your site. I’ve switched to the Monoprice adapter from the Apple one, and it’s fixed the problem!

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