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Apple 23" Cinema Display and Windows XP

July 18, 2008

Update: This page seems to get a surprisingly-high amount of traffic, seemingly from Google searches, so I thought the least I could do is polish it up and add some links…

I bought an Apple 23″ Cinema Display for our Windows XP desktop. Here’s what I’ve found:

  • The display has a DVI-D connector, plus a firewire and usb hub, and is advertised as suitable for hooking up to a Windows PC
  • There aren’t any Windows drivers. Apple rely on the generic monitor drivers that Microsoft provides.
  • The generic monitor drivers don’t support the power button on the monitor (and quite possibly the brightness buttons too).
  • With the generic monitor drivers installed, when I shut down the PC, the backlight would stay on, and pressing1 the power button on the monitor had no effect. The only way to turn off the light was to turn off the mains.
  • The open source WinACD project offers some help2, but even after installing the drivers, I still had the backlight staying on after the PC had been shut down.
  • Lots of people seem to have had this problem, including people with Macs. For the XP people, the general advice is install the WinACD drivers, unplug the USB and firewire cables, and if all else fails, reboot the monitor.
  • At the moment, running the monitor with the WinACD drivers installed and the usb/firewire cables unplugged seems to be doing the trick.
  • If the backlight-staying-on problem comes back, I’ve already come up with the better and cheaper solution than my initial thought of buying a mac mini. I’ll get one of those “energy saving” extension leads that turns off slave sockets when the device in the master socket turns off. If I plug the computer into the master socket, then that should make sure the monitor gets shut off every time, without me having to crawl under the desk…
  1. I say “pressing”, but the power and brightness buttons on the monitor are actually capacitance switches that you just need to touch to activate.
  2. According to the WinACD project page, they provide an “Apple Cinema Display HID driver and control panel for Windows XP”. HID stands for Human Interface Device and, in this instance, refers to the Firewire and USB hub that is embedded in the monitor. As such, the drivers should have nothing to do with the screen and backlight. But they do.

Update: 4th January 2009
I’ve had to take it back. The (on loan) replacement has exactly the same symptoms – power button doesn’t work and lcd backlight won’t turn off if the usb hub is used. You can read more about that here.

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