Apple iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015) and Samsung C34J791 Quad HD 34″ Monitor…

This is a little something that I thought that I would put something out there on – as quite frankly, As I was astonished that getting a monitor to work inexplicably difficult (read on and you will understand that I was only being a mild idiot during the process!).

So, a few years ago (I forget when exactly) – I decided to ‘join the dark-side’ and purchase an Apple Mac. For decades, I had only ever had PC’s as home computers and in my work had pretty much worked only with Microsoft – but I just wanted something that ‘just worked‘ and given the financial investment would last me at least five years.

This led to me purchasing a 27-inch iMac – which I have to admit I have never regretted as it has been a brilliant machine and whilst I still work with and love the WinTel platform – I just adore my Mac(s) – yes, I will also admit I have more than one (three now)!

So I purchased a Samsung C34J791 Quad HD 34″ monitor. It is just superb.

Superb 34″ Curved Screen with amazing viewing angles

The specifications of this monitor can be found here however the relevant part for this post is the connectivity.

It comes with Thunderbolt 3 support, as well as HDMI. Mini Display port connectivity is also possible via the Thunderbolt 3 ports via an adapter.

This is where I came unstuck a little and I hope that this helps out someone who find themselves in the same position that I did.

You see, I wanted to connect the monitor to my late 2015 iMac 27″ with 5K Retina display. The iMac has Thunderbolt 2 ports – no display port and no HDMI – so I thought OK – all I need is a Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter and, after a rummage in a drawer I found a Mini Display Port cable which I have no idea I had nor where it came from!

So, I grabbed the adapter from my local Apple store, rushed home like a kid at Christmas and plugged it all in, turned it on, excitedly waited for it to boot and then promptly started at a blank screen on the Samsung. Nothing, nada, bubkiss.

I tried searching all input sources time and time again, tried to get the iMac to detect monitors – absolutely nothing!

Of course, at the time all of my other computers at home either didn’t have HDMI connectivity or were Thunderbolt 2 as well – so I couldn’t test the monitor with them – but I guessed that because it powered up and I could see the it’s configuration menu it was working. So, that only left the adapter or the Mini Display port cable (I knew that the thunderbolt 2 ports were working on the iMac as I had been using them with a TB 2 to VGA D-SUB adapter).

I figured the chances of the cable being faulty were slim – so that led me to take a closer look at the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter.

After some Googling, which gave me a lead (pardon the pun) I actually had a look at the adapter packaging and it hit me like a tonne of bricks (as well as in no short measure a degree of embarrassment).

With the Apple adapter you need a proper Thunderbolt 2 cable. That’s it! This is down to (I believe) that whilst Mini Display port and Thunderbolt 2 share the same interface – Thunderbolt cables can carry their own voltage (from the interface), which is important when using it with Apple adapter.

What you WILL need!

If you have any Mac’s with only Thunderbolt 2 connectivity and decide to purchase a SamsungCF791 you WILL also need the following (or supported variants from other vendors) to get the bugger to work:

  • Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter – this currently (at the time of writing) retails at about £49.00.
  • Apple Thunderbolt Cable (2m) – White – depending on the length that you select – this will be either £29.00 (for the 0.5m cable) or £39.00 (for the 2M). I recommend the two meter cable as due to the way the cable management works on the monitor with the adapter 0.5 is a gives you zero room to manoeuvre if you want any distance between the Mac and the Monitor.

Do not be tempted to purchase a mini Display port cable to save a few pennies – it really won’t work despite the standard being compatible with TB2. The Apple adapter only supports a true Thunderbolt 2 cable!

So that’s it – if you get one of the Samsung bad boys (and I really would recommend it) and you have only ThunderBolt 2 connectivity – you will also need the additional bits above!

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