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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Apple confirms death of Thunderbolt Display

Apple confirms death of Thunderbolt Display
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MacNN Staff
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Jun 23, 2016, 08:35 PM
Apple on Thursday confirmed that it was no longer producing the only independent monitor it was still making, the 27-inch Thunderbolt Display. The $999 high-quality device was popular with graphic artists and other large-monitor enthusiasts in its heyday, and was designed to promote the then-new Thunderbolt port on 2011 and later MacBook Air and Pro models. The peripheral featured a 16:9, 2560x1440 display that was well-regarded in terms of out-of-the-box color fidelity, and included a built-in FaceTime HD (720p) camera, mic, speakers with subwoofer, a built-in MagSafe cable, and a design intended to complement the iMac and MacBook Pro lines.

The monitor also included a Gigabit Ethernet port and Firewire 800 port, and used a permanently-attached combination "octopus" cord that combined the MagSafe and Thunderbolt connectors. The Thunderbolt Display also included a separate Thunderbolt port, three USB 2.0 ports, and in later models a MagSafe to MagSafe 2 adaptor for the cable on the back. The monitor could not be used with pre-2011 Macs that only had a Mini DisplayPort, despite Thunderbolt having a compatible connector and working with mDP in other products.

"We're discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display," an Apple spokesperson confirmed to The Verge. It will be available through Apple.com, Apple's retail stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users." The Thunderbolt Display was also a popular add-on for Mac mini buyers, as the budget computer fit nicely on the stand underneath the screen. The company did not say if it was planning to replace the monitor itself with any form of successor, though a number of Mac Pro buyers have speculated that Apple would eventually produce an updated 4K Retina version of the hardware, following the release of the 5K iMac last year.

As with the Mac Pro itself, the standardization of the 40Gb/sec Thunderbolt 3 connector with the physical form factor of the USB 3.1 Type-C port could give Apple motivation to produce both a new Mac Pro (which has suffered from a lack of updates since 2013) and the Thunderbolt Display (which has likewise not been updated since 2011). However, thus far the company has expressed no indication that might do so, and an opportunity to clarify its plans for the two products at the Worldwide Developers Conference came and went without any mention of the products, suggesting Apple is finally fully out of the monitor business apart from its built-in displays.

The Thunderbolt Display remains compatible with the Mid-2011 MacBook Air, the Mid-2012 MacBook Air (which can drive up to two Thunderbolt Displays alongside its built-in display), the 2011 and 2012 MacBook Pros (the latter of which can run up to two Thunderbolt Displays as well as an external HDMI display alongside the built-in one), and the 2013 Mac Pro, which can run up to six Thunderbolt Displays on its six Thunderbolt ports. The 2011 MBP can chain two Thunderbolt Displays, but the built-in LCD display may turn off in that scenario, according to Apple tech notes on the matter.

Rumors had also recently appears that believed Apple was planning a 5K-compatible version of an updated Thunderbolt Display that would use a built-in video card of its own, rather than relying on the one in the computer it was attached to, to foster the ability to give users an external 5K option, but this was seen as likely to result in an even more-expensive model.
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Jun 23, 2016, 11:10 PM
...is this kind of surprise announcement why ~85% of desktop users say 'no thanks' to anything dependent on Apple hardware...? Like the RAID support silently & suddenly dropped in Disk First Aid for El Capitan, now proposed as restored in the current beta ? Is this simple lack of predictability (for mainstream users & business) Apple's desktop Achilles heel ?
( Last edited by bobolicious; Jun 23, 2016 at 11:25 PM. )
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Jun 23, 2016, 11:26 PM
Still waiting for a 4K monitor for my very expensive MacPro... thanks Apple...
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Jun 24, 2016, 07:21 AM
Dito. Want a 4k monitor for my MacPro.
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Jun 24, 2016, 07:30 AM
Tim Cook for many years wasn't able to remove the processor from the iiMac and sell it as a 5k monitor. He kept selling this outdate piece of garbage display also called "the mirror"

Oh I forgot, he is busy traveling the world peddling political causes and taking selfies.

The outdated MacPro and MacMini are next.

Tim should learn from Intel. The newly released NUC skull canyon should have been the new mac mini. I wish the person who designed the skull would be the current Apple CEO.
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Jun 24, 2016, 08:05 AM
Mac mini owners are budget conscious and I doubt they will buy a monitor that is more expensive than their computer. For the pro users, yes.
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Jun 24, 2016, 08:23 AM
In the tech world, a five-year-old display was already in an assisted care facility on life support. More and more, Apple is the market trailer in hardware, with a limited line of products years behind anyone else. At Apple the engineers are treated like Harry Potter at the Dursley's, meaning they're forced to live under the stairs. In contrast, the artists, particularly Sir Ives, are like Dudley Dursley, spoiled and proud.http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Dursley_family
Author of Untangling Tolkien and Chesterton on War and Peace
Mr. Strat
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Jun 24, 2016, 10:28 AM
We have about six of these things on campus and, with the exception of one, they have all been a PITA. They've had to go in for Ethernet problems and several other issues. They're outrageously expensive for what they are, and you can get as good of a display if not better buy just getting a 27" monitor from Dell. Thunderbolt - whoopee.
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Jun 24, 2016, 11:29 AM
You can buy a 5K iMac for $1800, so it hardly makes sense to pay $1000 for a 2K monitor. They don't even use them in the Apple Stores anymore. There are a ton of 27" 4K monitors out there for under $500, including from Dell and Samsung, and NewEgg is selling the LG 27UD68P-B for $90!
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Jun 24, 2016, 12:10 PM
bobolicious: RAID is back in disk utility in 10.12 (Sierra)

Mr. Strat: weird, We have about 15, and in the last 3 years none have needed any repairs, ethernet, USB are used on all of them, and a couple use the firewire ports as well.

I do agree that they are now expensive for what they do with $200-300 thunderbolt docks, and as others have mentioned $500 4K displays. It was nice having everything in the screen with just 2 connectors to the computer...
hopefully with Thunderbolt 4 intel will finally support 5K+ displays and it can be simplified down to a single connector to the laptop to supply power as well as the data connection.
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