Help me understand Thunderbolt

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Internaut, Nov 12, 2011.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    So preparations (and research) for buying a new Macbook (probably an Air) are ongoing. One thing that intrigues me is Thunderbolt. At the moment, I have the following setup on my bog standard white MacBook of yesteryear (well, 2008):

    - Lacie Eye-O'Sauron 1TB drive, connected to the Firewire 400 port (data storage and Aperture library)
    - USB2 HDD connected to one of the USB ports, used for Time Machine backups
    - Other USB2 port is connected to a hub and is used for camera cables and iPhone/iPad syncing.

    Now, on a MacBook Air, it seems I gain a Thunderbolt port, and lose DVI and Firewire 400 which, along with Firewire 800 appears have gone the way of the dodo. Perhaps not an immediate problem (the Lacie also has USB2) but:

    Are there any reasonably priced Thunderbolt drives out there at the moment (I believe the performance increase will benefit my Aperture editing)?

    What about connecting more than one thing to the Thunderbolt port. For example, I may wish to add an external display (in fact, I intend to do this as soon as I can)? I see a Belkin hub has been announced but can't find a release date.....

    Since I take the MacBook to the office from time to time (sometimes, two computers are nice, even though we are a PC environment), is there a Thunderbolt to VGA adapter (or a Thunderbolt to DVI adapter that can then be plugged into a VGA adapter)?
  2. macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    I wouldn't bother with a thunderbolt drive, as the performance benefit is hardly worth the price. As for the video adapter, just use a miniDisplayPort to VGA adapter, as it is the same connector. I wouldn't try the DVI adapter then a VGA adapter, as that doesn't work with that particular connection. With the Air being short on ports, maybe a 13" pro would be a better bet, since it still has the firewire port.
  3. macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2009
    I wonder if they will make Thunderbolt-USB 3.0 adapters since USB 3.0 ext HDDs are so cheap . I use a 1TB ext WD portable USB 3.0 HDD on my i7 MacBook Air plugged into the USB 2.0 port.
  4. macrumors 6502a


    May 6, 2008
    Raleigh, NC
    I disagree with the prior post regarding Thunderbolt drives being no faster than what you have... they are as fast as internal drives, so depending on your needs, they may very well be appropriate.

    The bottom line with the MBA is that you lack gigabit ethernet and firewire if you don't play the Thunderbolt game. I simply bought the TB display, which gave those ports to me, along with USB, with the connection of a single cable. I like the convenience.

    There are none now, but there should be some TB hubs coming early next year. Belden has announced one that looks pretty nice. There will be TB to GigaE and other such adapters too.

    Yes, you can daisy chain TB devices.
  5. macrumors 68000


    Oct 30, 2008

    +1. That's the point of Thunderbolt-- it's PCIexpress-on-a-wire.

    I'm chomping at the bit for more TB peripherals. The moment a bus-powered, >500GB drive such as the Western Digital Passports becomes available, I'm upgrading my whole system. I currently run virtual machines on a FW800-equipped Passport and yearn for even more speed and responsiveness.

    Make that a bus-powered >500GB SSD drive, and I'll upgrade again!
  6. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2011
    There are thunderbolt SSD drives already, and they are insanelly fast...expensive tough

    Honestly, with thunderbolt you have all the conections you can put 10 USB devices on it, it can handle it.....we are just missing the right hub

    As mentioned, belkin will release a complete hub soon, and already available, there is the crazy expensive thunderbolt hub display.

    It is my belief that with thunderbolt, you can daisy chain hubs, so that you greatly expand your hubs capabilities...

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