Thursday, February 28, 2013

HP monitor flickers and makes popping noises when used as a second monitor on a MacBook Pro

I am posting this solution and problem in case there might be other folks who encounter this problem. 

I have a MacBook Pro that I carry around to various places.  At our summer house, we have an HP monitor that I hook the MacBook Pro up to.  It’s a 23” monitor and gives more screen space; in fact I rarely use my MacBook Pro unless it is hooked up to a larger monitor.  When I am traveling, I am forced to use the 15” screen of the laptop, and it is not that bad. 

I’ve had problems with this monitor since I bought it.  Once I hooked it up to my MacBook Pro, the HP monitor would flicker (going black or half-black), and if it was really acting up, it would go black and make popping noises every few seconds.  It was irritating as hell, and it was all I could do to keep from ripping the monitor off my desk and throwing it. 

I looked up all kinds of solutions on the web for the flickering problem.  Here are some notes that I collected:

1.  If it starts flickering on and off, go into the menu and choose factory reset.  This may solve the problem.  Generally do not take laptop off the monitor as this causes the flickering to start again. 

2.  Unplug the monitor’s power cord and hold down the monitor’s power button for 30-60 seconds. Plug the monitor back in and turn on the power button.  If the HP monitor shows "Power Button Lockout: Press and hold the Power button for 10 seconds to unlock the Power button function. 

The above two methods seemed to solve the problem some of the time, enough that I did not look further into the problem.  Today, however, the problem just never stopped. 

I finally started testing the pieces.  The HP monitor accepts an HDMI input but not a DVI or miniDisplayport input.  I’ve therefore been using a miniDisplayport-to-HDMI adapter to connect the miniDisplayport adapter on the MacBook, to an HDMI cable, to the monitor.

I took an Asus laptop with an HDMI output and connected it to the HP monitor.  Voila!  The monitor worked perfectly.  This told me that the monitor and HDMI cable were not the problem.  I had been assuming that the monitor was the problem, but I was wrong. 

Now the problem would be either in the graphics card of the Mac or with the miniDisplayport-to-HDMI adapter.  I’ve been using the MacBook Pro with another monitor back at home, so I had a feeling that the adapter was the problem.  I fortunately had another adapter in my spares kit, and upon using it, the monitor behaved perfectly with my MacBook Pro! 

Moral of the story – perhaps test your cheap monitor adapters first.  Also, I am starting to wonder if I ever will buy another Mac laptop.  I’ve been a loyal Mac user since 1985, when I bought my first Mac, but I am often reminded that we Mac users pay a lot more for the privilege of owning a Mac.  I have two Windows 7 laptops that I use regularly, and they are just great.  Windows 7 is just as good and stable as a Mac.  My Windows laptops cost under $500, do everything that my Mac laptop does, and have features like HDMI outputs and USB3.0 ports, which my 1.5-year-old MacBook Pro does not.  Having to buy adapters for just about frigging everything leads to time-consuming problems like this, and having to carry a box of spares around for everything.  The only reason I am still using a Mac laptop is because I use the Apple-only software Aperture and Final Cut Pro.  I might have to learn Lightroom and Adobe Premiere and start carrying around a PC laptop instead.  But then I’d have to deal with Adobe software, and that is a nightmare all its own. 

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