Best way to connect a Thunderbolt Display to MacBook Pro

stringerhye

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Original poster
Jul 5, 2010
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My office provides a Thunderbolt Display at my desk and a 15” TB MacBook Pro. However they haven’t given me any dongles to connect it. What’s the best way to connect the two so that I can use only 1 cable to both charge my MacBook Pro and get a picture.
 

venom600

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Mar 23, 2003
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Los Angeles, CA
If it’s the original Thunderbolt Display you need the Thuderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter that Apple sells. However, it won’t power the computer, you’ll still need to plug it into a power source.
 

stringerhye

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Original poster
Jul 5, 2010
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If it’s the original Thunderbolt Display you need the Thuderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter that Apple sells. However, it won’t power the computer, you’ll still need to plug it into a power source.
Right. It is a Thunderbolt 2 Display not the DisplayPort Display. I’m hoping there’s a solution out there for a one cable connection.
 

imaccooper

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May 29, 2014
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North Carolina
The only cable that is currently capable of what you want is usb c which the old thunderbolt displays do not have. If you want one cable, it is definitely possible, but you will need to convince your employer to upgrade your display to one with usb c.
 

stringerhye

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Original poster
Jul 5, 2010
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The only cable that is currently capable of what you want is usb c which the old thunderbolt displays do not have. If you want one cable, it is definitely possible, but you will need to convince your employer to upgrade your display to one with usb c.
Is there not a hub or adapter that would let me plug in Thunderbolt 2 to usb-c and carry power?
 

treekram

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Nov 9, 2015
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Thunderbolt 2 could only deliver a limited amount of power for small external devices - 18V, 550 mA, 9.9 W - according to the Thunderbolt Wiki page. No adapter will change that. Also, the Thunderbolt display was meant to be connected to a computer so it may not put out any power at all.

You can get Thunderbolt 3 hubs that can charge via USB-C and then connect a Thunderbolt 2 display via a Thunderbolt-3 to Thunderbolt-2 adapter to that hub, but it's more likely to deliver 60W vs. the 85W used by the 15" MBP. The CalDigit TS3 hub ($299 list) delivers 85W. The Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter is $49, and that's typically the cheapest one available. So the cost of single-cable convenience is $299 (you'd have to get the TB3-TB2 adapter in any case) unless there's a cheaper 85W charging hub available.
 
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XNorth

macrumors regular
Feb 23, 2018
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United States
My office provides a Thunderbolt Display at my desk and a 15” TB MacBook Pro. However they haven’t given me any dongles to connect it. What’s the best way to connect the two so that I can use only 1 cable to both charge my MacBook Pro and get a picture.
Is the MBP TB 2 or 3? If it's TB 2, just get a TB 2 cable. If TB 3, get the Apple TB 3 to TB 2 adapter and a TB 3 cable.

In either case, as stated above, the TB cable or adapter can't charge your MBP, due to the limitation of TB 2.
 

chrfr

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Jul 11, 2009
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Right. It is a Thunderbolt 2 Display not the DisplayPort Display. I’m hoping there’s a solution out there for a one cable connection.
You need a Thunderbolt 3 dock to do this, as well as an Apple Thunderbolt 2 to 3 adapter. If you can tolerate 2 cables, then you can just use the regular USB-C charger and the Thunderbolt 2-3 adapter.
 

stringerhye

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 5, 2010
534
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Thunderbolt 2 could only deliver a limited amount of power for small external devices - 18V, 550 mA, 9.9 W - according to the Thunderbolt Wiki page. No adapter will change that. Also, the Thunderbolt display was meant to be connected to a computer so it may not put out any power at all.

You can get Thunderbolt 3 hubs that can charge via USB-C and then connect a Thunderbolt 2 display via a Thunderbolt-3 to Thunderbolt-2 adapter to that hub, but it's more likely to deliver 60W vs. the 85W used by the 15" MBP. The CalDigit TS3 hub ($299 list) delivers 85W. The Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter is $49, and that's typically the cheapest one available. So the cost of single-cable convenience is $299 (you'd have to get the TB3-TB2 adapter in any case) unless there's a cheaper 85W charging hub available.
Ah thanks for shedding light on this. The MacBook Pro is a Thunderbolt 3 model with USB-C type connections.

I was hoping that there would be a Thunderbolt 3 dock that could do 85w and allow me to connect the Thunderbolt 2 to 3 adapter.
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
8,304
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Ah thanks for shedding light on this. The MacBook Pro is a Thunderbolt 3 model with USB-C type connections.

I was hoping that there would be a Thunderbolt 3 dock that could do 85w and allow me to connect the Thunderbolt 2 to 3 adapter.
The Caldigit one suggested in that post is a good one. It, along with most other thunderbolt docks, is expensive.
 

stringerhye

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 5, 2010
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The Caldigit one suggested in that post is a good one. It, along with most other thunderbolt docks, is expensive.
Yeah. Unfortunately only having to plug in one USB-C cable isn't reason enough to spend $300.
 

Acronyc

macrumors 6502a
Jan 24, 2011
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Yeah. Unfortunately only having to plug in one USB-C cable isn't reason enough to spend $300.
I agree, and having two cables isn't really a big deal. I've been using a Thunderbolt Display for almost 5 years now at home and when I got my 2016 MBP I looked into thunderbolt 3 docks. They are indeed expensive and I decided it wasn't worth it. It turns out plugging in two cables doesn't result in any decrease in efficiency or productivity. One cable is just nice for convenience. Though right now my 2018 mini is hooked up to my Thunderbolt Display so I don't really dock the MBP anymore.