Are Cinema Displays worth the price?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by davidg4781, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. davidg4781 macrumors 68020

    Oct 28, 2006
    Alice, TX
    I recently purchased a c.2006 Apple Cinema Display 20" on Craigslist for $100 to use with my '10 MBP.

    Now, it's a really nice quality display and I like how it can act as a hub, although it has FW400 and I have FW800.

    For $100, I had no problems going to pick it up, but new ones are $1,000 and I'm not sure if they'd be worth it. They look nice, I'm sure the speakers are great, but that just seems like a lot to drop... or am I wrong?

    I would really love a 24" ACD with mdp but those have been very hard to find. It seems 27" or the older ones are for sale more often.
  2. noodle654 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2005
    Never Ender
    I was in the same boat. I picked up last month a 23" Cinema Display from 2006, but I recently sold it because quite honestly the LCD was not very bright. That is not to say I love bright monitors, but compared to my Dell LED next to it, there was no match. It was a gorgeous monitor though.

    I was contemplating a 24" and the old 27" Cinema Displays but opted against it because I could only run 1 monitor (no daisy chaining, could use a USB converter though). I just can't fathom spending $400-500 on a display with no warranty and 2010 technology. The TB display is really great, I really wanted one, but yet again why would I drop so much money on outdated displays (lack of USB 3 was a deal breaker)?

    In the end I went with 2 Dell IPS panels hooked up via Caldigit Thunderbolt hub (one via HDMI, the other via USB converter). This ended up costing way less and there is almost no difference in picture between the TB Display and the Dell IPS.
  3. cxc273 macrumors regular

    Dec 12, 2012
    I have the 24" display and the newer 27" Thunderbolt displays.

    They're great that they work wonderfully as a docking station for my MacBook Pro and Air. Now whether they're worth it for someone else is really a personal choice.

    However, they're getting a bit long in the tooth. Neither is equipped with USB 3.0, which is a deal breaker for a lot of folks. The Thunderbolt display at least adds some more connectivity with FireWire and Ethernet ports and allows daisychaining of Thunderbolt devices.

    You can get a refurbished Thunderbolt display for $799 directly from Apple.

    There was a lot of speculation that Apple might release an updated version along side the new Mac Pro, but that didn't materialize.

    It's pure speculation as to whether Apple will make the next-gen display 4K and when the updated display will appear.
  4. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Its hard to judge 'worth' because there are no other all-in-one displays with USB, Ethernet, Firewire, webcam, half-decent speakers and MagSafe power supply.

    The display is really, really nice - unless you are allergic to glossy screens.

    However, it is long overdue for an update, the USB is still only USB2 (when USB3 is becoming the norm for backup drives etc. and Firewire drives are becoming less common). The MagSafe connector is the "old" type and needs an adapter (which may not be an issue if your Macs have the old connector).

    There are now plenty of other 27", 2560x1440 displays from Dell and the like for half the price. You could add something like the Caldigit thunderbolt dock to let you dock your laptop with 2 cables - but at the cost of considerable extra desk clutter.

    Not sure when/if we'll see a new Apple monitor or what it will be. 4k/UHD is a problem for them, because a ~27" UHD display doesn't fit well with Apple's supported screen resolutions: icons, window furniture and menu/dialogue text would be too small at native resolution and too big in pixel-doubled 'retina' mode, while "scaled" modes could introduce extra lag and (in theory) sub-optimal image quality.

    Since it looks like UHD is the future, like it or not, It may be we'll have to wait until they've tweaked OS X to be a bit more resolution independent (and third parties have tweaked their software to match) before they'll put their name to a ~27-30" UHD display.

    The other possibility might be a 21.5" "retina" iMac and/or a similarly-sized Thunderbolt display: UHD is neatly 2x the current 1080p resolution of that screen. That's just me speculating, though.
  5. chfilm macrumors 68000


    Nov 15, 2012
    I just got my display today. It looks stunning!!
    And there's a mag safe adapter on the box with it so that's no issue!
  6. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I lucked into a 23" ACD on Craigslist for $140 and love it. Better image than any other monitor I've used. Just added a CalDigit TB Dock so I have a single plug to connect all my devices to my MBP.
  7. willtothewong macrumors newbie

    Jul 19, 2009
    I purchased the 27" LED Display back in 2011 and haven't regretted it from day one.

    Its been with me since my 2009 Macbook Pro and now with my Mac Pro (5,1).

    Of course I've been thinking of adding a second non-thunderbolt cinema display but 1. I am not sure if i have the desk real estate and 2. For the money, I could get two outstanding Dell monitors instead....

    But it is nice to have a single hardware family.

    However, with my macbook, the ability to charge was the main selling point of why I purchased it when I did. With my Mac Pro, I do not think I will go with apple displays anymore since they are just so expensive...
  8. TyPod macrumors 68000


    Nov 2, 2006
    And Yourself?
    I got one for around the same price. I absolutely love it paired with my iMac and another external Dell. It may be showing its age a little bit, but it's still extremely bright and vibrant.

    It's a shame that the power supplies on the ACD's are so damn expensive.
  9. davidg4781 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Oct 28, 2006
    Alice, TX
    Being able to charge is pretty neat. Right now I have my charger in my bedroom but I have the ACD on my kitchen table. To charge I have to take it back and forth so I was thinking of buying an extra. I guess I should take that into consideration when purchasing one.

    Actually, if I could use the TBD with my mdp MBP I may be interested, especially if it had USB 3.0.

    I think I'll definitely wait until they can get everything aligned but keep an eye out for an inexpensive 24" ACD.
  10. theluggage, Jan 16, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014

    theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    True - they're still nice displays - it is really about justifying the price premium: you can get a very nice display with a comparable panel for half the price. The Unique Selling Point is the extra connectivity - but USB2 and the old Magsafe, when most new Macs have offered USB3 and Magsafe 2 for a couple of years now (yeah, some of us would then want a MagSafe2-to-1 adapter - but it would make more sense if it was only us that needed the adapter, not people who'd bought their displays with a brand-new mac).

    …but with only a mdp connection, you'd only get video and sound: you couldn't drive the USB, Firewire and Ethernet ports, webcam and microphone on the display. The only way of adding USB3 is via Thunderbolt or ExpressCard (if your Mac has one - the last model to have that was the 2011 17" MacBook Pro).

    Edit - clarification: I'm not saying you can plug a mDP device into the current Thunderbolt display. You can't.

    That said, yeah, it would be good if any new TB display had an auxilliary Mini DisplayPort or HDMI input, even if that was display/sound only. That's the main thing that stopped me biting a couple of years ago: my own MBP has Thunderbolt, but my work laptop is mDP-only.
  11. davidg4781 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Oct 28, 2006
    Alice, TX
    So I can use a TBD and connect it to my mDP MBP and I'll see the video?? I thought I read that that wasn't possible.

    I'll still wait for USB 3.0 but if that's possible I wouldn't mind buying one when I need it. I do plan on upgrading my MBP in a year or so anyway.
  12. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    No, sorry, what I meant was that if the TB display did accept mDP input (which it doesn't) then there would be no way to drive the other devices it contains.
  13. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    Yes, it can - if you have another Thunderbolt device in between (and presuming your computer can drive two 2560x1440 displays).
  14. elgrecomac macrumors 65816


    Jan 15, 2008
    San Diego
    One man's opinion

    Having purchased a $1800 30" cinema display several years ago, I had significant issues with it during and after my extended warranty period. Brightness was an issue, lines across the screen as well. And then there were actual cable problems where the DVI connector had to be replaced (post warranty). After that, I vowed to never again buy an (what I consider to be) overpriced Apple display. There are MANY alternatives these days that will save you hundreds of dollars if you just avoid the Apple logo on the display. Now, on the other hand, my 2008 MacBook Pro is a BEAST. Yes, I had the motherboard replaced during warranty due to a faulty GPU issue but other than that, it continues to work with 10.9. Going on its 6th year and I remain a loyal Apple computer owner.
  15. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    No, the TBD *can't* accept a MiniDP signal. The setup you describe should work but you'd still be feeding the second TBD a Thunderbolt signal.
  16. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    iMac -> TBD -> another TB device -> mDP monitor.
  17. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Yes, but that's not what we're talking about.

    You can't *input* mDP into a TBD. I.e.:

    Old Mac with mDP -> TBD *doesn't work*

    …and if you could, it would be picture+audio only.
  18. macpro2000 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 20, 2005
    No one seems to be able to concretely say if a 27" iMac can somehow drive 3 thunderbolt displays.
  19. LOLZpersonok macrumors 6502a


    Aug 10, 2012
    Calgary, Canada
    I'm going to drop in my little bit:

    Personally, I don't think they're worth it. Sure, they're more featureful and nicer than your standard fare, but I would personally buy a regular monitor that you'd get with a Windows machine over it. I can buy an external USB hub if I wanted to, and there are some pretty nice PC monitors out there too. My 21.5" LG E2242 with a 1080p resolution is very crisp and the colour replication is very good. It also has a DVI-in port as well as being 'eco-friendly'.

    Besides that, a 21" iMac starts out at $1,350 whereas the Apple Display goes for $1000, I'm sure. The iMac comes with a display that looks just as good plus it comes with the whole works, system and all.

    That's my personal idea, you do what you want, it's your money.
  20. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    No, that won't work. You are correct. I didn't realize that was the question, so I'm sorry if my response confused anyone.

    No Thunderbolt, no Thunderbolt Display... regardless of the presence of a similarly-shaped mDP port. But the nearly identical 27" Cinema Display will work on both pre-TB and TB-equipped Macs (though the USB cable will also have to be plugged to the Mac in for full functionality). But of course, only one of those can be plugged in to an iMac per available TB/mDP port.


    No, no iMac cannot drive 3 external displays.

    It can drive two (IF it's a TB-based iMac and one of the monitors is a Thunderbolt Display and you have another TB device to go in between the TBD and the other external display).

    One external only if it's an iMac without TB...not including USB video adapters).
  21. davidg4781 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Oct 28, 2006
    Alice, TX
    There's a 24" LED ACD on sale in my area for $400. It's pictured sitting on a clean desk next to an Apple external DVD drive so I'm assuming it came from an Apple fan household.

    I'm tempted as these seem rare. But I think I'll wait.
  22. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020


    Jul 21, 2004
    I've had my 23" ACD since 2004 so yeah, I'd say it was worth it. Got a used 30" recently as well. Best displays Apple ever made. Can't comment on the new ones, the glass top is no go for me.

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