Modern MacBook Pro drives vintage displays [Setups]


Modern MacBook and vintage displays setup
In the old version of the setup, the vintage displays were far apart.

Multi-display computer setups with asymmetrical placements — aka, screens oriented in landscape and portrait orientations — are so popular that even vintage Apple displays are getting in the action. Today’s featured rig uses a modern MacBook and vintage displays. A M1 Pro MacBook Pro from 2021 drives a Cinema Display and Thunderbolt Display from many years earlier.

This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.

Modern MacBook Pro and vintage displays make retro-cool setup

Redditor thatvirtualboy showcased the display-heavy setup in a post entitled, “Landscape + Portrait Layout.” In the photograph above, he has a Thunderbolt Dissplay on the left (landscape mode) and a Cinema Display on the right (portrait mode). They’re both from around 2010 and both feature 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution (2K quad high def, or QHD). His 2021 M1 Pro MacBook Pro is hidden behind the screens.

We first covered his setup in January 2023, when he kept his vintage displays far apart, and before he filled out the setup with some new items. Those include a Magic Mouse 2 and an EppieBasic LED Desk Lamp mounted next to the monitor arm and arching over the webcam atop the monitor on the left.

“I’ve already replaced the all-in-one cable on the Thunderbolt display,” Boy said. “Planning to keep using these until they either die, or the Studio Display gets refreshed. So probably a long time. With the right adapters, they work just fine with the M1 Pro.”

Boy noted the Thunderbolt Display can use the regular Apple Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 display adapter, “which I have directly plugged into the MacBook Pro.” And he added the Cinema Display works with a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter using a CalDigit dock.

Experiment ‘for science’

“Can you connect the [Cinema Display] to the [Thunderbolt Display]’s TB2 port or do you have to connect them each by its own to the Mac? Always thought of that as I had 2 TBDs and they were flickering,” a commenter asked.

“I had never even considered trying that, assuming it was data only,” Boy replied. “For science, I just gave it a go and confirmed that it doesn’t work!”

Old-school bezels on Cinema Display, Thunderbolt Display

Another commenter lamented the rather noticeable bezels bordering the vintage screens.

“Nice but those thick borders giving me anxiety,” they said. “It’s interesting how technology has evolved, I don’t think multiple displays were as common as they are now right?”

Boy’s reply:

The bezels appear prominent when viewing the entire setup at a distance like this, but in use, they’re hardly noticeable, and are actually quite beautiful when you do stop to notice them. For my profession, I’ve used everything from a single display up to 4 displays. I think macOS makes it really easy to use a single display for most work (through the use of multiple desktop spaces and/or Stage Manager). However the two things that keep me using 2 displays for the time being is programming, and giving Power Point presentations over Zoom.

Shop these items now:

Here you get a closer look at the mini Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad 2, M1 iPad Pro and, on the left, AirPods Max.
In the old setup: Take a closer look at the Thunderbolt Display as well as the mini Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad 2, M1 iPad Pro and, on the left, AirPods Max — not to mention the Autonomous standing desk underneath it all.

Computing gear:


Input devices:


Furniture and lighting:

If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches or challenges.

Answin HDMI to Mini DisplayPort Adapter

This 4K HDMI to Mini DisplayPort adapter with Active HDMI 1.4 works with Xbox One/360, Mac mini, PC/laptops to Mini DP 1.2, monitor out with DisplayPort/Mini DisplayPort.

Buy now
05/16/2024 02:06 am GMT


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.