You don’t necessarily have to spend $1,200+ on a new MacBook Pro to get a computer with a Retina display. Providing you’re happy to pull apart your iPad and you know what you’re doing with a soldering iron, you can build your a Retina display for your PC.
That’s what Polish hacker Andrzej did.
Andrzej took advantage of the eDisplayPort interface on his iPad’s Retina display — which was manufactured by LG — and turned it into a traditional DisplayPort using a connector he found online for $14. Soldering everything together was the hardest part, Andrzej describes on his blog, but the effort was well worth it.
Creating the PCB was fairly straightforward, I just had to route all the FPC connector pins out to pads where I would solder DP cable wires. It was possible on a single-sided home-made board.
I tried to make the traces for DP lanes to be of the same length (that’s very important for high speed differential signals), and as it turns out, either my PCB design is pretty good, or DisplayPort is very forgiving. :)
Soldering everything was a little difficult, the FPC connector has tiny pins, but they stick out a little bit, so it’s doable with a regular soldering iron.
After the PCB was done, I cut open a DP cable and soldered all the wires in their places.
Unfortunately there is no standard for wire colors, so I had to open up the DP plug to trace them to the correct pins.
Andrzej was left with a Retina display for his PC that runs at full resolution. The whole thing cost him around $70 in parts, he says, with the display itself purchased from China for just $55. Andrzej says that this is just a prototype, and that he’s working on a “professional PCB with a DP connector so no wire splicing will be required in the future.”
Maybe you’ll soon be able to buy a readymade adapter from Andrzej that’ll do all the hard work for you. But in the meantime, you can try out the hack yourself by following the instructions on Andrzej’s blog.