Model A1286. Released February 2011 / 2.0, 2.2, or 2.3 GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7 Processor

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Thunderbolt port not working

I have an early 2011, 15” MacBook Pro. I use it to teach and it has to connect to an LCD projectors. The projectors I use connect via a VGA cable. The MacBook Pro uses a thunderbolt port and only has an Ethernet, firewire, 2 USB ports and a card reader.

I went to hook into a projector and the MacBook could not see the projector. I tested the cable and projector, I tested the dongle (thunderbolt to VGA) and all seem to be working fine. The only thing that it seems to point to is the Thunderbolt port. my profiler does not report that it is connected to the projector. I can not seem to find a way to test the port.

so here are the serious of question,

  1. is there a way to test the port?
  2. is there a replacement port (I understand that this is now vintage)?
  3. is there a work around to still hook into the VGA port on the LCD projector?

One projector has an S-video port and the RYG ports. The other, in addition to the VGA, has a DVI port and an HDMI port.

any help would be appreciated

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2 Answers

Can you give a Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter instead. I think you’ll find it will work!

Gilbert heres what you need Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter

Update (10/28/2018)

OK, so you have the DisplayPort version of the adapter Vs the Thunderbolt version and it won't work either. Sadly your problem is within the logic board.

Your USB ports are only USB2 Vs USB3 which is much faster. I think you’ll find the screen refresh will be so slow you can’t watch video’s and just jumping between slides will be painful. I wouldn’t recommend it.

I guess its time to decide if you’re up to replacing the board your self or getting your system to someone who can. Here’s the IFIXIT guide: MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Logic Board Replacement as far as the logic board you could also install a 2012 board which if you can find one would give you USB3 ports and a better GPU.

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Hello Dan, thank you for your reply, unfortunately, I do not think I either identified the port correctly or the problem is misunderstood. the adapter you indicated, I already have. the problem is the port is not working on the Mac Book Pro. So I am trying to find out if there is another way, perhaps using a USB to VGA or to replace the port with a working one.


Thank you again Dan, that is what I was afraid of, replacing or sobering the board. I am not inept at doing some work inside and if the logic board is slips in and out of a slot, I can do that, I have done RAM chips, PCI cards and HD replacements over the years. I do have a grounding stat and such. the question then becomes is cost. I will watch the video you were kind enough to link me too.


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Most Helpful Answer

Repairing/replacing the port isn’t really the best option we have here because these ports aren’t that modular in the first place. Microsoldering is required to solder a new Thunderbolt port to your Mac’s logic board too. You’re better off using a USB to VGA adapter instead; as @danj stated in his answer.

USB to VGA Adapter

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@ajcooke01 - The issue is the different Thunderbolt versions and when a DisplayPort interface is better.

Most of the newer TB adapters are designed for TB2 not TB1 which is why DP is a better choice for the adapter here. I think Gilbert will find it works!

A USB adapter is useful on a USB3 interface based system like a 2012 MacBook Pro it won't really offer the needed throughput via the much slower USB2 interface this system has.


thank you for your responses guys, it is much appreciated. I am assuming my TB is a version 1 and I am assuming the USB is also a 1. So if I am following you guys, a USB1 to DP, but I do not know what a Display port looks like and will it accept a VGA cable or do I need another conversion from DP to VGA?


Gilbert heres what you need Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter


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Gilbert Taylor will be eternally grateful.
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