2011 MBA with Thunderbolt Display *AND* Cinema Display?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by NMF, May 6, 2012.

  1. NMF macrumors 6502a


    Oct 27, 2011
    Hey all. I've been racking my brain lately trying to think of the best solution to my computing woes. I currently have an iMac and love it, but I used to be a huge PC gamers until last year when I made the switch, and I'm really starting to miss it. I've thought about going with a Mac Pro (if there's ever a refresh) and wouldn't mind spending the extra dough, but I also am in need of a MacBook Air for school. Then it occurred to me that if I built an inexpensive PC who's sole purpose was gaming, I'd be able to get by just fine with the MBA as my primary computer. Gaming is literally the only demanding thing I do with my machine.

    Great! Except, of course, I can't plug my PC into the new Thunderbolt Display. Ugh. Dammit Apple. :( I really don't understand their reasoning for that, but whatever. Then I started thinking that I could go with the Cinema Display and just tolerate having to plug in 3 cables on two sides instead of 2 cables on one. Fair enough, I could deal with that. Except, of course, the PC would need some sort of extension cable when I wanted to use it, and there's no way to have everything plugged in at once and simply switch inputs when I wanted to use the other machine. I really want a "sexy" solution that allows everything to be hooked up at one time, making switching devices simple.

    SO, at this point I'm thinking that I might as well just go with a two monitor set-up, with one Thunderbolt Display and one Cinema Display. Except I'm having trouble wrapping my head around how that would work. Is such a thing possible? Could I have the Macbook Air Thunderbolted to the ATD, and my PC plugged in to the ACD? To be clear, I wouldn't want both machines running at once. If I was using the MBA I'd want it to be in control of both monitors, same with the PC. Is there a way for that to work or am I just reaching too far for a solution that doesn't exist? Any help would be appreciated.

  2. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    MBA can only support a single external display thru thunderbolt. Only alternative solution is a USB monitor.
  3. Oli3000 macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2009
    And the PC would not be able to drive the thunderbolt display!
  4. chipchen macrumors 6502

    Oct 30, 2002
    Do you mean that you want the MBA to drive the TB monitor, then have the MD (mini displayport) monitor daisy chained... so that you can un-daisy chain the MD monitor and plug it into the PC?

    Why not just buy a nice MacBook Pro and run bootcamp?
  5. GeekGuys macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2009
    Go for a Dell U2711 !!!


    Whilst I love the Apple monitors, the Dell U2711 might solve your problems.
    It has loads of connections and you can switch inputs at the press of a button on the front.

    As your MBA won't need the ultra high res of a TB connector you can use the DisplayPort on the monitor to give you native resolution of up to 2560 x 1440

    It is IPS and is pretty close, or possibly the same quality picture as the ACD/TB monitors. A lot cheaper too.
    Certainly worth a look.
  6. NMF thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 27, 2011
    I used to have a Dell U2410 and it was a decent monitor, but ugly as all get-out. Part of the appeal of the Apple displays is how well designed they are. And as for getting a MBP... that wouldn't really solve my gaming problem, especially at native 2560x1440 resolution. I either need a full gaming PC, or I'll just upgrade the iMac at the next refresh and then buy the lowest-model MacBook Air.

    I was just really hoping to find a solution that didn't have the computer components built-in to the monitor like the iMac does. The fan noises really bother me.
  7. Outrigger macrumors 68000


    Dec 22, 2008
    The Dell actually offers 102% color gamut, while the TBD offers 72%. Dell uses 12-bit internal color processing with the ability to output 10-bit color. That means you can get 1024 levels of grey instead of just 256, reducing the amount of banding present in certain situations. 24-bit vs. 30-bit color also means you get a color palette of 1.07 billion instead of 16.7 million. Not all IPS displays are created the same. But the OP isn't after true color reproduction, he/she is after aesthetics.

    The Air would not be able to drive both the TBD and the ACD. You would only be able to use one at a time. So if you want to have dual displays, it would be the AIR - TBD, and PC - ACD. Neither would be able to drive both of these displays simultaneously.
  8. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    The Intel 3000 only supports one external display.

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