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ainek
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XPS 13 9370 DP to VGA connection not working

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I have a couple of Acer VGA + DVI monitors, one dated 2008, one dated 2017, and they work great with my Macbook Air (2016).  

My wife has a new XPS 13 9370, so we buy a simple DP --> VGA connector (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GBRV1SS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) that has very good reviews.  The good reviews (93% 5-star, 7% 4-star) suggest that a faulty product is not shipped very often by these folks.  The blurb for the product says, among other things, that it supports "supports data and power in as well as video out (DP ALT MODE) functions."

However, neither of the monitors work; they don't show up when Windows 10 attempts to find them, and they show "no signal" when connected to the XPS 13.  When I plug the connector into the DP port on the RHS of the XPS 13, I hear the "device connected sound", and the hub shows up as a "billboard USB" device in the message tray icon list.

I have read a number of older to more recent posts on this forum about similar issues; sometimes they are resolved, sometimes not.  Either the problem is with the DP port on the XPS 13, with the cable, with the external monitor, or with some drivers or settings related to video.

I have downloaded and installed the latest Thunderbird drivers from Dell this afternoon; I have tried all 3 DP ports on the XPS 13, the external monitors work with other laptops right now; Windows 10 sees the Billboard hub, but not the external monitor.

Unfortunately, I don't have a DP --> HDMI connector, because then I would test with my TV, or with some other HDMI capable monitor that I might locate amongst some friends.

So, is it possibly a matter of some settings, like choice of resolution on the XPS 13?  I believe not, as the external monitor would first need to be detected for any conflict there to arise (it seems to me.)

It's very possible I am missing something obvious, so input from people with similar experience would be appreciated.  Thanks for reading!

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ainek
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Re: XPS 13 9370 DP to VGA connection not working

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Success!  The USB 3.1 --> DVI connector worked straight out of the box, and here is the link to the one I purchased (I don't work for Amazon or the hardware manufacturer.)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073M32SSK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

As a bonus, I can still use the IOGear laptop switch in a Rube Goldberg sort of way.  I can toggle the old laptop using Scroll-lock so that its VGA input to the monitor is OFF, and then use F8 on the XPS 13 to output to the monitor.  (In fact, the order doesn't matter: I can turn ON the XPS 13 first, and then toggle off the old laptop, and the 10-year old ACER auto-senses the change.)

Thanks for the help!

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Re: XPS 13 9370 DP to VGA connection not working

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A USB Billboard Device is part of the USB-C spec, and it allows USB-C devices to display messages on the system that might indicate incompatibility issues.  It exists because USB-C has a lot of possible features, but not all devices that have USB-C ports support all of them.  But what do you mean that "the hub" shows up as a billboard device?  If you have a hub between that cable and the system, that could be the problem because most hubs won't pass video from the host through to a cable.  If you're not using a hub, that device should be working.  Converting to VGA requires an active converter chip inside that cable/adapter, so that's a bit of additional complexity, but DisplayPort Alt Mode over USB-C is standardized.  You shouldn't have to change any settings, although if you haven't already, try updating the system BIOS/firmware and also the Intel graphics drivers.  The Thunderbolt (not Thunderbird) drivers wouldn't come into play here because that cable doesn't use Thunderbolt 3.  If it still doesn't work, then unfortunately if you don't have another cable/adapter to test with, it's tough to identify whether the issue is the cable or the system.

And on a minor note, the connector you keep calling "DP" is actually USB-C.  A USB-C connector can carry a DisplayPort signal if the system supports it (which the XPS 13 9370 does), but DP is physically a completely different port.  Additionally, if at all possible you might want to try to use a better connector.  VGA is the worst quality video connector still available because it's the only analog signal still in use, and it looks noticeably worse than any other option, especially with the sharpness of text.  If your displays have DVI, you could use that input by using a USB-C to HDMI cable/adapter plus an HDMI to DVI adapter.

ainek
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Re: XPS 13 9370 DP to VGA connection not working

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jp - to address your points:

1. Yes, I was confusing DP with USB-C 3.1.  For me, these are two new connector-types - I'm used to a mini DP on my MBA, and older USB 2.0 on refurbished boxes for linux use.  Thanks for the clarification.

2. Under "Bluetooth & other devices", I saw 2 entries: (a) BillBoard Device, and (b) USB Root Hub (USB 3.0), and in recalling them in my first post, I conflated them as one device - so that's cleared up also.

*****

3. I don't have any hub, just a direct connection, so it should work, as you say

4. I ran SupportAssist this morning, and updated BIOS and drivers as recommended, then rebooted the system, but still no detection of the external monitor

5. I will return the USB 3.1 --> VGA connector, and instead pick up a USB 3.1 --> DVI connector.  (The reason I went with VGA is that I was reusing an old IOGear switch that connects two laptops to a single monitor, and that switch only has a VGA interface for video, and USB 2.0 for mouse.  The use of this will be dropped in the new config.)

*****

I'll update this post when I receive the new cable and test it (living in the boonies, that may take a while.)

Many thanks for your help.

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ainek
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Re: XPS 13 9370 DP to VGA connection not working

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Success!  The USB 3.1 --> DVI connector worked straight out of the box, and here is the link to the one I purchased (I don't work for Amazon or the hardware manufacturer.)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073M32SSK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

As a bonus, I can still use the IOGear laptop switch in a Rube Goldberg sort of way.  I can toggle the old laptop using Scroll-lock so that its VGA input to the monitor is OFF, and then use F8 on the XPS 13 to output to the monitor.  (In fact, the order doesn't matter: I can turn ON the XPS 13 first, and then toggle off the old laptop, and the 10-year old ACER auto-senses the change.)

Thanks for the help!

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Re: XPS 13 9370 DP to VGA connection not working

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Awesome, glad it works!  I have a somewhat similar toggle setup at my own desk.  I have a pair of Dell U2717D displays, and Display #1 is daisy-chained over to Display #2 so that the source PC only needs to have one cable connected in order to drive both displays.  On that front, I have a Mini-DisplayPort cable connecting my personal laptop to Display #1, and then I also have a USB-C to DisplayPort cable connected to Display #1 that I use with my work laptop as needed.  When I want to use that system, I just plug in that USB-C cable, switch Display #1 over to its DisplayPort input, and presto, my work laptop is now driving both displays.  And since my personal laptop runs Win10 Pro, when I work like this, I just open a Remote Desktop connection from my work laptop to my personal laptop, so I can essentially use both at the same time. 🙂

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ainek
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Re: XPS 13 9370 DP to VGA connection not working

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So the daisy chain is work-laptop USB-C to DP-in of Display #1, and DP-out of Display#1 to DP-in of Display #2.

When you are on your personal laptop, do you drive both screens? 

Also, when you are on the work PC, daisy-chained, do you have different viewports on each monitor? (I would expect so, as why provide a duplicate of the first display?)

I can picture a scenario where the personal laptop goes to Display #2 and stops there, so that you would have the laptop screen and the external monitor, but not Display #1.

Then for the work setup, as you say, you would connect the PC to Display #1, which would drive Display #1, and Display #2 also, once you had somehow disabled the laptop input to Display #2.

Those are very sweet looking monitors btw, the Dell U2717D.

Thanks for info.

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Re: XPS 13 9370 DP to VGA connection not working

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@ainek wrote:

So the daisy chain is work-laptop USB-C to DP-in of Display #1, and DP-out of Display#1 to DP-in of Display #2.

When you are on your personal laptop, do you drive both screens? 

Also, when you are on the work PC, daisy-chained, do you have different viewports on each monitor? (I would expect so, as why provide a duplicate of the first display?)

I can picture a scenario where the personal laptop goes to Display #2 and stops there, so that you would have the laptop screen and the external monitor, but not Display #1.

Then for the work setup, as you say, you would connect the PC to Display #1, which would drive Display #1, and Display #2 also, once you had somehow disabled the laptop input to Display #2.

Those are very sweet looking monitors btw, the Dell U2717D.

Thanks for info.


The daisy chain connection between Display #1 and Display #2 is a DisplayPort cable.  The way it works is that Display #2's source is always set to the DP cable coming from Display #1.  It has no "real" sources like PCs connected to it.  Then both of my laptop cables are connected to Display #1, and the way it works is that whichever source is active on Display #1 also gets to "see" Display #2 through the daisy chain connection.  So when I have Display #1 set on my personal laptop's input, my personal laptop sees both displays.  When I switch Display #1 to my work laptop's input, my personal laptop connectivity both displays, and my work laptop starts seeing both displays.  And yes, both displays are treated independently, so you can use extend mode to have dual displays rather than just mirroring -- although you can of course set Windows to mirror if you prefer, just like you can with dual displays connected the "regular" way.

I could certainly connect my personal laptop directly to Display #2 if I wanted to use the laptop's built-in panel and only Display #2, but then I wouldn't be able to use Display #1, and I don't have a use case where keeping Display #1 "free" in that situation would be useful.  And again, when I want to work with both PCs simultaneously, I just connect my work laptop so that it controls both displays and then open a Remote Desktop window back to my personal PC.  At that point, I can have one display for each laptop when I want it, but when I instead want to use both displays for work purposes, I just minimize the Remote Desktop window and now I've got dual work displays -- and I can switch back and forth at will by simply restoring and minimizing that Remote Desktop window.  But totally apart from that, I've never liked working with a built-in laptop display and an external display simultaneously anyway.  It's not great ergonomically, and since my laptop has a 15" 3200x1800 display, I'd have to use different scale factors for the built-in and external displays, and running Windows with mixed scale factors compromises image quality on all non-primary displays.

Yeah, the U2717Ds are pretty sweet, although honestly 27" 1440p is the bigger deal.  I didn't realize this before I bought them, but it turns out that 27" is JUST physically large enough that when you're in Word or Adobe Acrobat, you can display two 8.5x11 pages side-by-side in either portrait or landscape orientation at full print size and see the entirety of both pages, with room for the Word/Acrobat interface above and below.  The display is just barely tall enough for all that when the pages you're viewing are in portrait orientation and just barely wide enough when they're in landscape orientation.  I didn't realize how useful that capability would be.  Also, I specifically avoided the newer U2718Q because I didn't want 4K resolution.  4K on a 27" display is a high enough pixel density that you'd have to enable Windows display scaling (some applications still don't scale very well even when you're NOT running mixed scale factors) but not a high enough pixel density to give you a really sharp, Apple Retina-esque display experience -- so unless you specifically need 4K resolution for something like 4K video editing, 27" 4K seemed like sort of the worst of both worlds.  Also, running dual 4K displays is more complicated.  On my work laptop I'd have needed an expensive Thunderbolt 3 adapter/dock, and my personal laptop wouldn't have been able to do it at all.