24 Oct 2022

Apple Studio Display from a PC without Thunderbolt

So maybe you have an Apple Studio Display (or possibly even an Apple Pro XDR Display), and you followed my instructions from last time to connect your display to your PC. You may have noticed a shortcoming: it’s impossible to adjust the brightness of the monitor from your Windows PC. Or maybe you noticed that the built-in webcam and speakers on your Studio Display don’t do anything.

In theory, USB-C can provide both DisplayPort for a monitor and a USB channel for software brightness control, the monitor’s USB hub, camera, speakers, etc. In practice, there seems to be only one cable in the world that is a single combined USB-C on one end and DisplayPort 1.4 + USB on the other end. That cable is the Belkin Charge and Sync Cable for Huawei VR Glass. Since the Huawei VR Glass is only sold in China, that cable is also only sold in China.

Several visits to Ali Express and other generic commerce websites later, I spent $90 on this cable plus shipping and waited just over three weeks for it to arrive. The outcome, though, is surprisingly solid.

After I downloaded the latest Boot Camp image using Bombardier and then followed these instructions to install the Boot Camp drivers, the Apple Studio Display not only had working brightness controls, it worked perfectly as both speakers and camera for the PC.

If your PC doesn’t have a Thunderbolt card, this seems like a genuinely good option to get full resolution and hardware support for Apple displays on your PC. It also seems like it’s probably the only option?

Update there is now another option, the USB-C Combiner from LevelOneTechs. You can just buy a box that does the thing, shipped from the US, for $84. No need to wait a month for shipping from AliExpress!