Ask LH: Where Can I Get A Cheap Mac Screen?

Dear Lifehacker, I am looking to buy a new extra screen for my MacBook Pro for university. However, on my student budget I cannot afford a screen from Apple. So I am looking for a cheaper option. What would you suggest? And how do you get USB ports working on a non-Mac screen if you hook up your MacBook Pro with a DVI? Thanks, Screen Student

Hi Screen Student,

Connecting a Mac to an external monitor is pretty easy and definitely does not require an Apple-specific solution.

First, you'll need the correct adaptor cable for your MacBook Pro. Depending on the vintage of your machine, you'll need either a mini DVI or mini DisplayPort connector to DVI, assuming you're not looking at an older VGA/D-SUB connection.

With monitors, you'll find some cheap options. We recently picked up a 27-inch model for the office for under $400 but the compromise is that the screen resolution was just 1920 by 1080. If you go for Apple's $999 LED Cinema Display you get a resolution of 2560 by 1440, three USB 2.0 ports, a built-in iSight camera, microphone and 49-watt speaker system.

Those specs aren't specific to Apple. If you look at some of the other manufacturers you'll find similar specs at lower prices. You won't get the Apple look but you can get the same functionality at a lower price.

The Mac screens don't deliver USB over the DVI connection. The newer Apple displays have a cable loom with the power, USB and DVI or mini DisplayPort connectors. When it's connected to your MacBook Pro there are actually three connections you make.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Given 'student on a budget' suggesting a $400 27'monitor is overkill. I picked up recently for $140 a 24' 1920x1080 LED monitor. Can't fault it (Samsung) and it apparently has low power use too.

    Don't forget that most Applr monitors are IPS rather than the much cheaper and dodgier TF models. There are a few great sub $300 options from the likes of AOC and Asus, but the rest, like the Dells and Samsungs, start around $400.

      Depends, you can shop around for cheap dell IPS screens or wait for a sale. I bought three 23" U2314h screens and have been very happy with them. Again just 1920x1080 but they have usb and you can get add on speakers. I bought mine for $250 ea delivered

    Dell Ultrasharp U2711 > Apple Cinema Display, slightly better raw specs, not bad looking and cheaper to boot.

    Im a student and i just managed to catch this dell 24" ultrasharp when it was on sale for $280. However i've read that it often goes on sale quite a lot ($40 off at the moment). It has e-ips, a form of ips (ips allows much better viewing angles and better colours/contrast across the screen) which isn't as great as true ips but much better than TN monitors. It's also 1920x1200 giving you the extra high definition and therefore some extra screen space.

      sorry that was the link to the us store, here is the aus one, where it's still $400

    If you want a cheap here's one just over $300, I have the 24" and it's sufficed me. I just recently upgraded to a new 27" cost me $480....

    >Student budget
    >Purchased MacBook Pro

    Smart kid.

      Thats wat i was thinking...
      Correct equation would be.

      >Student Budget
      >Nothing Apple Branded to be Purchased

      =Smarter Kid + More Money in Pocket!

        Exactly. Even if the course REQUIRES an Apple computer of any kind then I'd question the validity of said course since former mac exclusives for certain industries are either available on the Windows platform or equal/better software is available on the Windows platform.

          Im sure someone will disagree with this, but there isnt anything that you can do on a Mac that that you cant do with Linux or Windows. Apple is a complete rip off!

            um, what about Xcode?

            If you want to make iPhone apps, you need a Mac.

            Not to mention a macbook being a solid laptop for a punishing uni schedule - battery lasts all day, no problems with wake/sleep (like I had with linux for sooo long!), often complicated uni wi-fi security works straight up (unlike my experience with many linux distros), solid build due to aluminium body, etc.

            Because Universities often give an extra 10% off for Macs, the Macbook ends up being a great choice - less time screwing around, and more time working. The price difference ends up being negligible, but the time you gain is priceless!

              my friend codes iphone apps in windows, then uses a hackintosh to compile it

              That's probably the best argument I've seen for Apple. Yes, they "just work".
              I guess it's the "just" part being a limiting factor for me, but hey. Different strokes.

                The only reason I can use windows over mac now is for file organization : The explorer beats the finder's ass. But other than that , windows pcs are a sloppy, time wasting nightmare, and apart from a few programs which don't appear on a mac, I could never go back.
                I've had a few windows lappies with better specs than mac pros, and all were slower out-of-the-box than my mac pros, even though they had better processors, faster hard drives etc.
                Macs stay fast, very very few worries.
                Best choice, for someone who is only intermediate-tech, and isn't interested in being a full tech.
                They work, I work, no p*ssing around.
                Love them.

                  My graphic design program required me to purchase a macbook pro and I now realize why. The graphic design industry [and much of the design industry in general] is dominated by macs. My entire firm runs on macs. Maybe I'm generalizing, but it seems like creative industries tend to go mac, while engineers, governments, nonprofits tend to go windows. I can't imagine designing on a PC.

    I laughed when the headline had "mac" and "cheap" in the same sentence.

    Macs don't come cheap :P

    bottom line : buy a windows laptop

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