Welcome to GearZap.com

Search Site

GearZap.com

MacBook to TV Cable – Which One Do I Need?

There aren’t many things more exciting than a MacBook, but one thing that definitely is more exciting is seeing and hearing your MacBook on a much bigger screen. There are a large variety of ways that you can achieve this, and it’s all a little confusing. Here at GearZap, we decided to help you out by creating this fool-proof guide to MacBook cables so that you can look at the bigger picture (no pun intended!) with your MacBook.

MacBook Air with ports

 

There are so many different variations and combinations of ports and cables that can be needed, so please make sure you have checked the ports on your MacBook and on your TV or projector – it is vital that you know which ports you are looking for to ensure that you get the right cable(s) for the job.


The first thing to ask yourself is: “Which port do I have on my display unit?”

 


Which port is on my TV, monitor or projector?

Which port is on my TV, monitor or projector?

 

Your ‘display unit’ can be a TV, monitor, projector or more – whatever you want to actually display the end result on. Example: If you wanted to view your MacBook on your iMac screen, then your iMac would be your display unit.

Please check which port you have on your display unit, as you can never be certain, but here is a short description of each port and whether you are likely to have it or not:


VGA:

If your display unit is quite old or (with respect) cheap, you may have a VGA port. It is, however, important to note that VGA cannot carry audio which in turn means that you will need more than one cable in order to display video and sound from your display unit. The VGA port is now uncommon, but is still around – mostly on the back of your desktop computer monitors.


DVI:

The DVI port was next to arrive after the VGA port, it is on display units that are a little newer but do not are not HD compatible, on some display units you will find both ports. If you do find both ports – DVI is the better port (faster speeds) as it is newer technology. However, DVI cannot carry audio just like the VGA port, which means that again, you would need two separate cables in order to play your sound as well as your picture through your display (that is, if it is capable of producing sound).


HDMI:

The HDMI port is most common in newer display units, particularly (as the name suggests) in HDTV’s. The HDMI port is capable of carrying audio and video meaning that, dependant on your MacBook model, you should only need one cable to display your picture and sound from your display unit.


Thunderbolt:

The Thunderbolt port is present on all of the newest iMacs and is also present on a lot of brand new televisions, there is currently a ‘war’ going on between big names Apple and Sony (with Sony sticking to naming it ‘Light Peak’) so you may find that your port is called Light Peak, but they are exactly the same thing, but who will win the naming war? Thunderbolt can carry audio and video, but it isn’t designed to replace HDMI – but rather, work alongside it.

Why would you use HDMI and Thunderbolt? HDMI is designed to carry audio and video, just like the Thunderbolt. However, Thunderbolt uses the latest technology and therefore is capable of producing the fastest transfer speeds around and has the least loss of compression. If you want the highest quality of video and audio, then both ports may be of use to you.

HDMI adapter

 

The next thing to ask is: “Which MacBook port do I have?”

 

It is important to know which MacBook model you have so that you are fully aware of the other end of the cable that will join to your television port. These dates aren’t 100% accurate for all models and sizes of the MacBook so it is important to still check your MacBook to see which port you have, but these are the ports that you are likely to have:

 

MacBook (Early 2011-Present) Thunderbolt port:

Thunderbolt port

If you own any of the current MacBook models (early 2011 up until now) you should find the Thunderbolt port (easily identifiable thanks to its ‘lightning’ logo). The Thunderbolt is capable of producing the fastest transfer speeds around and can be used in different ways, the main ways being:

  • directly to a display unit – some new display units are being created with a Thunderbolt port on them. This means to transfer the highest quality images, video and audio to your screen, all you need is a Thunderbolt cable.
  • using a MiniDisplay Port adapter – the MiniDisplay Port adapters are compatible in the Thunderbolt port and you can therefore use a MiniDisplay Port cable or adapter to transfer your video and/or audio to your television.

Now is the time to remind yourself of which port your display unit has so you can decide on which cable you would need to view your video and audio on your display unit from your MacBook 2011 – Present:

  • HDMI Port – You will need a MiniDisplay Port to HDMI cable. If you already own a HDMI cable you will only need a MiniDisplay Port to HDMI adapter.
  • DVI Port – You will need a MiniDisplay Port to DVI cable. If you already own a DVI cable then you will only need our MiniDisplay Port to DVI adapter.
  • VGA Port – You will need a MiniDisplay Port to VGA cable. If you already own a VGA cable then you will only need our MiniDisplay Port to VGA adapter.
  • If you have either of the DVI or VGA ports you will also need a 3mm audio cable if you wish to transfer audio from your MacBook and out of your display unit (that is, if it has speakers or is capable of producing audio). This cable runs between your MacBook headphone jack and your display unit headphone jack.

 

MacBook (Mid 2009-Late 2010) – MiniDisplay Port:

 

MiniDisplay Port

 

As previously explained with the Thunderbolt MacBooks, the MiniDisplay port cables and adapters also work in the ThunderBolt port. However, you need exactly the same cables if you wanted to transfer your video and audio to your display unit from a mid 2009 – late 210 MacBook. Here is that list again for you:

  • HDMI Port – You will need a MiniDisplay Port to HDMI cable. If you already own a HDMI cable you will only need a MiniDisplay Port to HDMI adapter.
  • DVI Port – You will need a MiniDisplay Port to DVI cable. If you already own a DVI cable then you will only need our MiniDisplay Port to DVI adapter.
  • VGA Port – You will need a MiniDisplay Port to VGA cable. If you already own a VGA cable then you will only need our MiniDisplay Port to VGA adapter.
  • If you have either of the DVI or VGA ports you will also need a 3mm audio cable if you wish to transfer audio from your MacBook and out of your display unit (that is, if it has speakers or is capable of producing audio). This cable runs between your MacBook headphone jack and your display unit headphone jack.

 

MacBook (Early 2006 – Late 2008) – Mini DVI port:

 

Mini DVI port

If you have a MacBook between the dates of early 2006 and late 2008, chances are that you have a mini DVI port. It is important to note that as the mini DVI uses the same technology as DVI (who would have guessed?) and this means that the port cannot transfer audio. Therefore, even if you have a HDMI port on your display unit, you will be unable to play out audio unless you have a 3mm audio cable. However, to transfer your images and video to your display unit, you will need the following:

  • HDMI port – You will need a Mini DVI to HDMI cable. If you already have a HDMI cable, you will only need our Mini DVI to HDMI adapter.
  • DVI port – You will need a Mini DVI to DVI cable. If you already have a DVI cable, you will only need our Mini DVI to DVI adapter.
  • VGA port – You will need a Mini DVI to VGA cable. If you already have a VGA cable, you will only need a Mini DVI to VGA adapter.

 

Finally ask yourself: “What else do I need to know?”

 

That rounds up our guide for looking for the perfect MacBook to TV cable. We do have a few other cables that you may be interested in, such as our MiniDisplay port extension cable which allows you to extend your MiniDisplay port by 2 metres, meaning you can use your MacBook from further away from your display unit.

Please remember to check exactly which ports and cables that you need; this is only a guide and your ports may differ from any that we have mentioned on here.


 

 

 

2 Responses to “MacBook to TV Cable – Which One Do I Need?”

  1. [...] from your MacBook Air straight to your HDTV. If you don’t have a HDTV, have a read of our MacBook to TV cable guide to see which cable(s) you [...]

  2. Bobby says:

    I was searching online on how I can connect my Macbook to my HDTV. This post provided all the answer I have in mind. I thought my friend was just joking when he said it is possible. Now I can buy a cable that will show my MacBook screen on my HDTV. Thanks!

Leave a Reply