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Is this an active or passive converter and what is the difference?
This is a passive video signal converter.
A passive video signal converter changes the type of connection that is being used but does not change the signal that passes through the converter. Because the video signal is not modified, passive converters tend to be smaller, simpler, and less expensive than active video signal converters. Examples of passive converters include DVI-I to VGA, HDMI to DVI, and DisplayPort to Mini-DisplayPort converters.
An active video signal converter modifies both the type of connection that is being used and the signal that passes through the converter. Because this type of conversion can be complex, active converters tend to be larger than passive video signal converters and sometimes require additional power. Examples of active converters include DVI-D to VGA, HDMI to DisplayPort, and VGA to HDMI converters.
For more information about passive and active DisplayPort video signal converters, refer to the following FAQ: https://www.startech.com/faq/DisplayPort_Converter_DP_Multi_Mode.
For more information about which type of video signal converter you should use when you convert video signals with an MST hub, refer to the following FAQ: https://www.startech.com/faq/mst_hubs_passive_vs_active_adapters.