Apple Thunderbolt display with 2013 MBA?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Boyd01, Sep 7, 2016.

  1. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #1
    Thinking of getting one of these for my 2013 i7/8gb/512gb MBA while they are still available but not quite clear on a couple details. Anyone here using one of these?

    The USB ports are 2.0 but I need to use USB 3.0 disks with my MBA. Do you need to connect the Thunderbolt Display to a USB port on the MBA for everything to work properly? My old Cinema Display uses the USB connection to support the brightness buttons, for example.

    If I do plug the TBD USB connector into the right side of my MBA, will I still be able to use a USB 3.0 disk at full speed on the MBA''s left port, or would the TBD slow both of my MBA's ports down to 2.0 speed?

    I think the power cord is the old style MagSafe, isn't it? So I'd need an adapter to use that with my MBA?

    My understanding is that you can plug a second Thunderbolt Display into the pass-through port, but a regular DVI monitor with and adapter won't work. I have read, however, that if I plug a thunderbolt disk into the TBD port, then plug the DVI display into the disk, it will be recongnized as an additional monitor. Can anyone confirm this? And does my 2013 i7 8gb (Intel HD Graphics 5000/1024mb) MBA have the "chops" to drive it acceptably?

    One attraction of the TBD is that I could plug my Sony DVCAM/HDV deck into its firewire port. The deck drives a monitor so that would give me two external monitors in Final Cut Pro, along with the built-in screen. Currently I use a thunderbolt to firewire adapter and am limited to only one external screen (the one attached to the deck).
     
  2. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a

    jmoore5196

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    #2
    The MBA provides the motive power for the display, so for everything to work, the laptop needs to be attached to the TBD. Unlike the old 24" Cinema Display, however, everything except laptop power is routed through the Thunderbolt cable.

    If a USB 3.0 drive is connected to the MBA, which supports it natively, it should run at 3.0 speeds. Connecting it to the 2.0 ports on the TBD would obviously slow the hard drive appreciably.

    The power adapter is indeed the 'old style' MagSafe adapter.

    I have a TBD that I use with my 5K iMac; before I bought the iMac, I 'docked' my MBP or MBA to the TBD. I cannot confirm daisy-chaining TBDs to a Thunderbolt drive, so I'm not much help there.

    The Firewire 800 port on the TBD is a handy thing from time to time!
     
  3. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #3
    The TDB won't affect the USB ports on your Mac. The USB 2 ports on the display are run by a completely separate controller, off the Thunderbolt bus.

    However, if you want to make the most of the 1-wire docking thing, you could always hang one of these off the back of the TB display to get USB3: http://www.kanex.com/thunderbolt-esata?ref=isp_rel_prd&isp_ref_pos=1

    I think TB displays sold after ~2013 had a MagSafe 1-2 adapter in the box. If not, they're in the Apple online store.

    I'd think carefully before spending money on a TB display today - for some people, it will do what they want when they need it so its fine, especially if you get a good price. The docking with sound, ethernet, webcam, microphone, magsafe etc. can't be beat, just be aware that
    (a) they're very inflexible in that they only work with 2011-2015 Macs (and maybe a handful of PCs with Thunderbolt) whereas a cheaper, third party 1440p display will have a range of inputs and can be used with Macs of all ages, PCs, games consoles etc.
    (b) future macs are (almost) certain to switch to TB3, which will need a $100 adapter brick to connect to a TB display (if its supported) and
    (c) By the time it was dropped, the undiminished ~$1000 price was a joke considering the no-longer-cutting-edge display, the obsolete USB 2, Thunderbolt 1 and Magsafe 1 connectors. So look for a good deal.
     
  4. Boyd01, Sep 8, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016

    Boyd01 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
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    #4
    Kind of funny, today when I go to Best Buy, the TBD is no longer listed and the page I was viewing on their site yesterday is also gone. Last week I was on their site and am pretty sure you could actually add it to your cart so I guess this is a case of "he who hesitates is lost". :)

    All things considered, it's not a bad thing anyway, for the reasons @theluggage stated above.
     
  5. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a

    jmoore5196

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    #5
    The only real problem with the TBD is that it hasn't been updated in four years. That said, I'm not sure what sort of updates would have been available in the pre-TB3 world, other than producing a tapering display a la the iMac.

    If you have purchased a laptop since 2011, the display is compatible with it. There's still nothing on the horizon that won't work with the TBD. I, for one, have been too swept up in the rumor mill in the past to believe it now.

    I'd certainly agree with theluggage's main point ... that the TBD is overpriced at $1000. $500 or so would be more like it. For what it does, however - providing additional screen real estate and various (albeit aging) connectivity options to MacBook Air and Pro - it does it very well.
     
  6. Boyd01 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
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    #6
    Thanks for all your thoughts. You know, I still can't get used to the way this forum software handles replies. I wrote a long response earlier, then went to quote one line of it in my post above. It came out as a long thing with multiple quotes that looked like a mess, so I deleted the extra stuff. Now it appears the forum software had combined my old and new posts, so the original one is now gone. :confused:

    Not worth typing it all again… I think you guys are right that the TBD isn't a very good choice anymore although it would have perfectly fit what I need. I suppose a dock could do that also, but I'm confused by what's available. They all say "thunderbolt 2", is that compatible with the original thunderbolt on my 2013 MBA?
     
  7. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a

    jmoore5196

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    #7
    Yes, TB2 is backwards compatible ... just like USB2 would still work with USB1.
     
  8. Boyd01 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #8
    Thanks again. Gave up on the Thunderbolt Display and just ordered the OWC Thunderbolt 2 dock https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/Thunderbolt/Dock/OWC/Thunderbolt2-Dock/

    Has all the ports I need and it's $800 cheaper than a TBD, it will be here tomorrow with free expedited shipping from B&H. Will just keep using my antique 23" Apple Cinema Display that I got back around 2004 with my Power Mac G5. :D Still has a very nice image and I like 1920x1200 more than 1920x1080.
     
  9. Left4DeadBoy macrumors regular

    Left4DeadBoy

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2015
    #9
    hi Reacting to the question whether the ports work; its a Mac and they do! if anything were somehow inexplicibly to not work when plugged in it would be the fault of that products manufacturer; rather than Apples!
     
  10. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a

    jmoore5196

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    #10
    I'm not sure that question was actually asked, but you keep right on reacting!
     
  11. Boyd01 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    Feb 21, 2012
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    #11
    Following up on this in case it helps someone else in the future. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock to work properly on my 2013 MBA. The firewire and other ports seemed to work fine but the video was a mess, wouldn't sync with the monitor. A Google search found a post saying that a PRAM reset fixed the problem for someone, so I tried that. It helped a lot, I was able to get a normal image after that. But it still wasn't stable or reliable.

    I tried a 1080p monitor with both an HDMI cable and thunderbolt to HDMI adapter and also tried my old Apple Cinema Display with both a DVI to HDMI and DVI to thunderbolt adapter. Same problem each time, the video would flicker at times and eventually the screen would just black out. Only way to get it working again was disconnecting/reconnecting the dock. Same results using both Mountain Lion and also booting into a clean install of El Capitan.

    It was clear that this wasn't going to be a usable solution for extensive video editing, so I sent it back. Have re-purposed my 2012 Mini, it has all the ports I need and the benchmarks are very close to the 2013 MBA. It's working very well, but I'm disappointed that I couldn't find a way to do this on the MBA. Perhaps the OWC dock works better on a newer MBA, but it doesn't appear to be a practical solution for adding monitors on the 2013 MBA. :(
     
  12. loby macrumors 6502a

    loby

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2010
    #12
    Have the same Mac Air 2013 and it works great with the thunderbolt monitor if you can get a good deal on it. I also purchased a Belkin thunderbolt Express Dock (first version with the firewire port) when I purchased my Air back in 2013. This worked well for doing general video on the Air and works with multiple monitors. the Thunderbolt monitor with the air (and my mini 2012) can handle multiple monitors, but again if you can get a good deal on the thunderbolt monitor it works well. One of the Dell 27" has 2x displayports and about three or 4 USB 3 (forgot the model) and might be a good alternative, but look around on Amazon or Dell and you can get a good price on it now since everyone wants 4k or higher.

    https://www.amazon.com/Belkin-Thund...1473863794&sr=1-2&keywords=belkin+thunderbolt
     
  13. Boyd01 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
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    #13
    Thanks, but I have moved on and am very happy with the 2012 Mini as a dedicated video editing station. I can still edit on the 2013 MBA, and it's perfect for when you need to be mobile, but I'm not going to spend any more time or money on peripherals for it.
     

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