Tech Note: Computer Monitor Flashes Black

Posted on by Larry

[This article was first published in the July, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.]


I rearranged my office last week. Generally, this is a good thing, but this time it turned into an adventure.

I needed to reposition my MacPro farther from the Apple 24″ monitor I use. Since Apple thinks that these monitors are only used with laptops, they only provide about 24″ of monitor cable — a good foot short of what I needed.

So, I went to my local Apple store, only to discover that they don’t carry Mini-DisplayPort extension cables.

“How am I supposed to use this monitor without holding a MacPro on my lap?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” they replied.

Time to visit my favorite computer reseller — this one NOT owned by Apple — and bought a Belden six-foot Mini-DisplayPort extension cable.

Everything worked great… for a day. Then, periodically, the computer monitor flashed black. Sometimes for a full second or two. Not good.

Fearing I’d damaged the graphics card in the move, I took the computer and monitor to a local Apple store for a complete checkup. After running diagnostics for the better part of six hours, the Apple Genius couldn’t find anything wrong.

Brought everything home, plugged it all in. The flashes of black started almost immediately.

Since I can’t connect the monitor to the computer without using the extension cable — stupid short monitor cable!! — I can’t say conclusively that the extension cable was the problem.

However, when I removed the 24″ monitor and replaced it with a 23″ monitor connected via DVI, everything worked (and continues working) great.

Moral of the story: Be very careful adding extension cables to Mini-DisplayPort cables.

Second moral: Always check the length of cable that comes with a monitor before spending hundreds of dollars on a monitor you can’t connect.


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