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Repair guides and disassembly information for the 16-inch MacBook Pro released in October of 2021, featuring Apple-designed M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs. Model A2485.

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Is there a dongle to connect the display to another computer?

Hello,

is there a way to connect the display panel of 2021 16" MacBook Pro to another computer - for example via HDMI or a 30-40 pin connector from Windows laptops? It's clear to me that the display has a proprietary connector, I'm wondering if you happen to know of any reduction that would do it.

Thank you for every answer

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Hi Andrej,

I have never heard of an adapter that lets you use the internal retina display of a MBP on another device.
Certainly not HDMI, but no other dongles either.

It is possible to reverse engineer it, but unless you have extensive knowledge in electronics, protocols and communications, I'd say it's unfeasible.

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@geirandersen

He could use a app but it will use the whole computer:-)

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As @geirandersen explained you can't treat the MacBook as an external display via the HDMI connection. HDMI is a Master-Slave architecture and can't be connected in the reverse.

With that said, we do have an ace up out sleeve!

You can leverage a peer connection over Ethernet between the two systems (Mac's are setup with signal discovery so you only need a straight Ethernet cable between, don't need a Tx-Rx flipped pairs cable).

So that solves the physical connection but we still need a means via software to transmit the signal to the Mac to allow screen sharing! If you had two mac's the service is part of macOS. Windows will require a suitable app and have the needed app for the Mac as well.

This setup does have its limits the PC's graphics is what the Mac will use so having a lower resolution PC you won't gain the better Retina resolution. The second as there is a bit of lag if you where thinking using it to playing online games as an example.

I use this to manage my headless Mac Mini from my other Mac systems and share music from it via iTunes.

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It can certainly be an interesting solution for someone, but my problem is a bit different. I will try to explain it. I need to use Windows on x86 architecture for my work (Parallels ARM Windows is currently not sufficient for my use cases). I really like the new mini led display with 120Hz frequency and sustainable brightness of up to 1000 nits, which is used on MacBook Pro 16" 2021. In the world of windows laptops, instead of mini LED, OLED displays are used and they have low brightness and flicker gently, which would give me a headache if I worked for very long, which I often do. With classic laptop displays, it is possible to add a battery and a printed circuit board to the display panel, which converts the 30-pin connector into an hdmi input and thus build an external portable monitor. I have the opportunity to buy a very very cheap MacBook after water damage where the logic board is damaged, so I wondered if it could be made into a very high quality external display for my Windows laptop.

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@Andrej - You're diving at this point in time it to an unknown! What we do know is Apple has tightened up the ability to use displays swapped over from another MacBook system within the series in the case of the M Series systems. The Intel CPU'd series systems we could do that. So its not a simple project nor cheap!

Intel models: Reference Step 19 in this guide MacBook Pro 16" 2019 Screen Replacement You also have a custom wired iDP connection to the T-CON board which then connects to the LCD panel via the ribbon cables to the display assembly. So you would need to figure out the signals at the T-CON board single ribbon cable connection to the main logic board.

M Series models: Reference Steps 25, 26 & 38 in this guide MacBook Pro 16" 2021 Screen Replacement Unlike the Intel models the T-CON logic is now within the display again! So we have the smaller iDP ribbon cable connection but Apple has also altered the connection to a much smaller cable and this one cable only carries the video signal not the T-CON power or Backlight power or the camera that's what the other two cables offer.

Without deep engineering to decode what Apple has done at the physical level and then designing the needed logic to interface between a HDMI input to drive the display this is really not practical.

The vastly cheaper solution is just get the Intel iMac Retina display (4k - 21.5" or 5k - 27") build a case to house the available bare LCD to HDMI adapters. You'll still need power for the display and the driver logic (AC or battery)

Frankly, I would just wait! This fall Apple is expected to offer new stand-alone 24" & 32" displays or just go with the 27" Studio Display

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@danj Thank you for answer. Unfortunately, the only display that achieves the same quality as the display on the Macbook Pro 16" 2021 is the Pro display XDR, and I can't afford it. I am interested in this sentence: "What we do know is Apple has tightened up the ability to use displays swapped over from another MacBook system within the series in the case of the M Series systems. " Does this mean that the display would not work even if the motherboard was replaced in the macbook? Is it paired with the board in some way like touch id? I also somehow missed the fact that the t-con is now integrated into the display. On my old Macbook Pro 15" 2016, the display went out because the t-con board failed due to the heat from the cooling. New Macbooks also suffer from this problem, or the problem with the wear of the flex cable on the display or is it solved yet?

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@Andrej Pracovný účet - Did you not check the 27" Studio Display? Its not bad and is equal to the 16" MacBook Pro's display. If you are looking for something in the XDR space there are hints Apple will also intro a 2nd gen XDR soon as well. I can't tell you if the price will be lower but the bloom issue it has should be reduced.

The M series displays are keyed to the given systems logic board so swapping them around is not possible!

Look at the images of the two displays that circuit board that is present on the 2019 system is not present on the 2021 system, If you jump back to the older 2015 15" you'll also won't see it dangling either. This circuit board is called a T-CON is translates the eDP/iDP video signal so the LCD panel can be written to.

Think how a data stream is like a string of tiny balls with different colors how can you get this string to fill the X-Y space of the screen? Zig-Zagging across is the only way so you need something to cut the string into shorter lengths that fit the horizontal space in a collection of rows. This is the function of the T-CON in the most simplest way to express it. Its present in all of these displays its just a matter where it was mounted inside the lid or dripping outside so it could be held in the main systems body. The placement of the T-CON externally was a very bad design choice as the placement was nearest the hottest areas of the system killing them. So this is better!

So Apple took a step forward with the T-CON and a step back keying the display to the logic board! With the M series systems.

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Thank you, you provided very useful info. I changed the display myself on my 15" 2016 MacBook Pro using the instructions on this page. I also read the display replacement manual for the new M1 pro model, but I couldn't find any info that the display should be paired with the logic board. Small note regarding the quality of the displays: Apple Studio Display is the same level as 2019 MacBook Pro - it is IPS panel with DCIP 3 color gamut and peak brightness 600nits (2019 MacBook pro is only 500 nits, but other than that, they are same). 2021 MacBook Pro is 120Hz screen with mini LED technology - it has 1600 nits peak brightness, 1000 nits sustainable brightness (400 nits more than Studio Display) and thanks to mini LED technology, it can display truly black color (Studio Display use IPS, so the whole panel always shines with the same brightness regardless of the content, so black is just a shade of gray.). MacBook Pro 2021 has better display than Pro Display XDR (more zones and Pro Motion).

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Andrej Pracovný účet will be eternally grateful.
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