OWC Best Practice: Active Display Adapters

Created on: January 31, 2024


Display adapters bridge the connection between a computer’s Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and connected display. The adapter allows connecting displays with differing video connections beyond the connections offered on the computer. A display adapter would allow the connection of an HDMI display into a DisplayPort.


Passive Vs. Active Adapters

Passive and active display adapters vary in their video signal conversion methods.

  • Passive adapters rely on the computer’s GPU native capabilities for basic signal transfer. They are simpler and more economical than active adapters but have limited performance capabilities.
  • Active adapters use electronics for active signal processing which enables advanced features like signal boosting, higher resolution, and faster refresh rates. They deliver increased flexibility and performance that is suitable for demanding signal conversions.

Whether the display adapter is active or passive should be verified with the manufacturer.

Active Adapter Use with OWC Devices

OWC strongly recommends using an active display adapter when connecting a display, or multiple displays, that do not match the port on the OWC dock or solution being used. While passive display adapters are functional in many cases, using an active display adapter helps to ensure the video single is properly being passed between the computer and display.