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  1. #1


    Member Since
    May 01, 2014
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    7
    Cable to connect an iMac to a PC tower
    Having had a particularly awful experience trying to buy a Dell XPS 2720, I am now considering an iMac. However I want to know whether I can also use it as a monitor to be able to use my PC tower from time to time; for example to use Memory Map which does not have a mac version.

    Advice appreciated.

  2. #2

    chscag's Avatar
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    Jan 23, 2008
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    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    Yes, you can use a new iMac 27" or 21.5" machine as a spare monitor with the proper connector adapter and cable. It will depend of course on what video output port your PC tower has. The 27" iMac has 2 thunderbolt video ports, whereas the 21.5" machine only has one.

  3. #3


    Member Since
    May 01, 2014
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    Brilliant, thanks. It is a VGA output from the (rather old) tower. I have no idea what a thunderbolt is so I will have to do further research to see what connectirs might work.

  4. #4

  5. #5

    chscag's Avatar
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    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    Yes, you can use that adapter. The MiniDisplayPort adapter is backward compatible with the Thunderbolt connector. However, I'm not sure what the quality of the video will be from the VGA output port of your old PC. I suspect the resolution will be low and possibly blurry.

    Make sure you test it with the adapter and can return it if the results are not satisfactory.

  6. #6


    Member Since
    May 01, 2014
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    Ok, thanks.
    Sorry, I am not particularly savvy as far as hardware is concerned. Upgrading to a first-ever Mac seems a bit daunting trying to work out whether I can do all the things I am usec to.

    Is there a better alternative cable?

  7. #7

    chscag's Avatar
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    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    Is there a better alternative cable?
    Unfortunately no. It's the quality of the video signal that is coming out of your old PC that's in question. VGA is low quality as it is, but when the output is of low resolution it will really not be of viewable quality for things like movies. A new iMac screen has a very high resolution display. For example, I'm currently typing this on a 2013 27" iMac which has a native resolution of 2560 x 1440. Your PC likely will output video at 1024 x 760 or maybe lower.

  8. #8


    Member Since
    May 01, 2014
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    7
    Ok thanks. I dont need high quality for watching a video, just to use Memory Map for example, so presumably it may work OK.

    As far as I have been able to work out, the only other alternative solution would be to use something like bootcamp and load my old windows XP onto the iMac in order to use non-Mac software. Seems a bit cumbersome. And what I don't know is whether operating the iMac in windows XP partition opens it up to any of the potential threats that may ensue now that it is no longer being supported (one of the reasons for deciding to upgrade in the first place!)

  9. #9

    Slydude's Avatar
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    AFAIK it doesn't open the Mac up to any Windows threats. An infected file could infect other Windows files on the computer or in some cases send the infection to other Windows users. Mac files wouldn't be affected.
    Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

    "Got Time to breathe. You got time for music." Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling

  10. #10

    bobtomay's Avatar
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    I don't believe that adapter is going to work. It is a mini-displayport "to" VGA. Meaning it takes a digital signal and converts it "to" analog.

    AFAIK, none of those will work the other way - VGA "to" mini-displayport - to convert an analog signal to digital.
    I cannot be held responsible for the things that come out of my mouth.
    In the Windows world, most everything folks don't understand is called a virus.

  11. #11

    chscag's Avatar
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    AFAIK, none of those will work the other way - VGA "to" mini-displayport - to convert an analog signal to digital.
    Good point. I never even thought about that. If the only output she has on that PC is VGA she won't be able to use the iMac as a spare monitor.

  12. #12


    Member Since
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    I'm probably misunderstanding something, but this sounds like a LOT of work, research and probably expense for no reason to me.

    The OP, as I understand it, has *one program* that isn't available on the Mac that they'd like to run. Answer: CrossOver.

    What Runs? - Memory-Map - CodeWeavers

    (though in truth there are dozens of charting apps for the Mac and probably at least a few that are superior to Memory Map, though I know people like to use what they are comfortable with)

  13. #13


    Member Since
    May 01, 2014
    Posts
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    The plot thickens! But yes, AFAIK if I get a iMac I definitely want to use Memory Map as I have lots of maps that I think would be hard to replace. I also definitely want to be able to use GSAK, as I understand that Mac-based alteratives are not as versatile. It seems that GSAK and other downloadable Wndows-based programmes can be used via Parallels.

    So for around 38 it looks like Crossover might do the trick. Thanks

  14. #14


    Member Since
    Oct 15, 2009
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    Specs:
    iMac 27" 5K, ElCapitan 10.11.3, Airport Extr, 15" MacBook Pro, Mavericks, 10.9.3, iPad 3, iPhone 6S
    I was a "died in the wool" PC user for a couple of decades. I reluctantly tried the Mac world three years ago when I purchased a used iMac. A year later I purchased a new MBP 15" . I purchased and installed Parallels and Windows 7 for the MBP. So now l have the best of both worlds. I use the Mac software 95% of the time. There are a few windows programs I need to run, and so do with Parallels. That works very well. I recommend you look into either Parallels or Bootcamp and put Windows on it. I'd suggest going to Windows 7 rather than Windows XP. Not sure you can legally install your copy of Windows XP on your Mac computer. I am now really into the Mac world, still using the old iMac (still running Snow Leopard because it can't be upgraded to Mavericks) with an external monitor, my MBP 15". also with an external monitor (two computers side by side with four screens, nice computing station), and use an iPad and iPhone. I have a PC with Widows 7 installed, but never turn it on. Windows 7 on the MBP runs very well. If you do that, I suggest getting 8 GBytes of memory. Don't be afraid of the Mac world, jump in with both feet and you will love it!

  15. #15


    Member Since
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    Taylorsville, Utah
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    Specs:
    iMac 27" 5K, ElCapitan 10.11.3, Airport Extr, 15" MacBook Pro, Mavericks, 10.9.3, iPad 3, iPhone 6S
    One more suggestion. You can purchase a good quality HD monitor for the iMac for less than $200, if you want to run two monitors on the iMac. I'd do that rather than try to use the iMac as an external monitor for the PC tower. You could use the external monitor on either the PC Tower or as a second monitor on the iMac. I really like having two screens!

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