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brucerb

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 13, 2013
26
1
Replacing a 2014 MacBook Pro with a 2020 MacBook Air. Want to connect an Apple Thunderbolt display and an Apple Cinema Display using Mini DisplayPort to the new computer (was using both displays on the old computer).
Best solution I can figure out:
To one of the computer's Thunderbolt ports: connect a Thunderbolt hub with power pass through and a DisplayPort port (a few to choose from) to charge the computer and connect the Mini DisplayPort display via a Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter.
To the computer's other Thunderbolt port: connect the Thunderbolt display via an Aple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.

I don't think there is any way to connect both displays to a hub and only use one of the computer's Thunderbolt ports.

Any better idea (short of replacing displays)? Thanks
 

joevt

macrumors 68040
Jun 21, 2012
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A Thunderbolt 3 dock will have a DisplayPort output and a Thunderbolt output.
Connect the Cinema Display to the DisplayPort output (you may need a DisplayPort to mini Display Port adapter).
Connect the Thunderbolt Display to the Thunderbolt port of the dock using the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
 
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brucerb

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 13, 2013
26
1
A Thunderbolt 3 dock will have a DisplayPort output and a Thunderbolt output.
Connect the Cinema Display to the DisplayPort output (you may need a DisplayPort to mini Display Port adapter).
Connect the Thunderbolt Display to the Thunderbolt port of the dock using the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
Got it - but I need a TB3 dock that has TWO TB outputs, right? I need one TB port to connect to the computer and a second for the TB3 to TB2 adapter. Seems like most TB3 hubs only have one.
Looks like if I want a TB3 dock with two TB ports, an SD card reader, Gig-E, and USB-C, the CalDigit TS3 or the OWC TB3 may be the only ones that have all of these. There are other TB3 hubs that have most of these but lack the second TB3 or lack USB-C or SD card reader.
Thanks
 
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joevt

macrumors 68040
Jun 21, 2012
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Got it - but I need a TB3 dock that has TWO TB outputs, right? I need one TB port to connect to the computer and a second for the TB3 to TB2 adapter.
Correct. You need a Thunderbolt 3 device with a DisplayPort output and a second Thunderbolt 3 port.

Here are some Thunderbolt 3 docks:

Here's a device that is not a dock (and still has plenty of power delivery):

Seems like most TB3 hubs only have one.
Maybe you are looking at USB-C hubs or docks - not Thunderbolt? Do you have an example?
 
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brucerb

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 13, 2013
26
1
Maybe you are looking at USB-C hubs or docks - not Thunderbolt? Do you have an example?

I should not have said "most". I was going through the wirecutter article on TB hubs. Their runner-up for best Thunderbolt 3 hub is the CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock which only has 1 TB port; CalDigit doesn't even call it a TB dock but a USB-C dock.

The article also mentions the Plugable TBT3-UDZ which has 1 TB. Didn't click through on all the hubs they linked but I don't think the wirecutter author cared if the hubs have a second TB port or not so they don't make the presence of that feature clear. For example, the HP Thunderbolt Dock 120W G2: the article does not make it clear that it has two TB ports but it does; one is a permanently attached cable, so is a bit of an oddball in that it has both a male and female TB port. Many of the hubs they don't recommend have 2 TB.
 
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joevt

macrumors 68040
Jun 21, 2012
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I should not have said "most". I was going through the wirecutter article on TB hubs. Their runner-up for best Thunderbolt 3 hub is the CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock which only has 1 TB port; CalDigit doesn't even call it a TB dock but a USB-C dock.

The article also mentions the Plugable TBT3-UDZ which has 1 TB.
Oh, yes. The CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock and Plugable TBT3-UDZ are Thunderbolt docks that also work as USB-C docks. They replace the second Thunderbolt port with a DisplayPort.

In Thunderbolt mode, they can have two four lane HBR2 connections or one HBR3 connection with one HBR connection.

In USB-C mode, they use a DisplayPort MST hub for the two DisplayPort outputs. The MST hub has only two lanes of DisplayPort input because the other two lanes of the USB-C cable are used by USB 3.x. The Caldigit appears to have only a DisplayPort 1.2 MST hub (supports dual 1080p or single 4K30). The Plugable appears to have a superior DisplayPort 1.4 MST hub supporting DSC. DSC effectively triples the bandwidth which is nice since USB-C DisplayPort alt mode with USB 3.x halved the bandwidth (supports dual 4K60).

Some Macs don't support HBR3. Some Macs that support HBR3 don't support DSC. macOS doesn't support MST for multiple displays but can take advantage of the MST hub's ability to convert DisplayPort link width/rates.

The HP Thunderbolt Dock G2 is a Thunderbolt dock that also works as a USB-C dock but retains the second Thunderbolt port (Thunderbolt port works only as USB 2.0 when the dock is connected as USB-C). It also has a DisplayPort 1.4 MST hub which is used in both USB-C mode and Thunderbolt mode. I don't know if they enabled DSC input for the MST hub - it might need a firmware update?

Didn't click through on all the hubs they linked but I don't think the wirecutter author cared if the hubs have a second TB port or not so they don't make the presence of that feature clear. For example, the HP Thunderbolt Dock 120W G2: the article does not make it clear that it has two TB ports but it does; one is a permanently attached cable, so is a bit of an oddball in that it has both a male and female TB port. Many of the hubs they don't recommend have 2 TB.
Actually, the Thunderbolt input of the HP Thunderbolt Dock G2 is detachable so you can replace the cable (use a screwdriver to remove the bottom plate).
 
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xraydoc

macrumors demi-god
Oct 9, 2005
8,293
2,344
192.168.1.1
Replacing a 2014 MacBook Pro with a 2020 MacBook Air. Want to connect an Apple Thunderbolt display and an Apple Cinema Display using Mini DisplayPort to the new computer (was using both displays on the old computer).
Best solution I can figure out:
To one of the computer's Thunderbolt ports: connect a Thunderbolt hub with power pass through and a DisplayPort port (a few to choose from) to charge the computer and connect the Mini DisplayPort display via a Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter.
To the computer's other Thunderbolt port: connect the Thunderbolt display via an Aple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.

I don't think there is any way to connect both displays to a hub and only use one of the computer's Thunderbolt ports.

Any better idea (short of replacing displays)? Thanks
The Apple TB Display has a Thunderbolt 2 out port which can be used to connect another TB or mDP display.

So -- connect MacBook Air to Apple's TB3 to TB2 adapter, connect cable from TB Display to adapter, connect 2nd display to TB port on TB Display.

No hub required. Only uses one TB port on the MacBook Air.

** this setup does not supply power to the MacBook, however, so you'll need to use the second TB port for the power cord. But it does supply you with a couple standard USB ports on the back of the TB Diplsay for things like printers, keyboards, mice, flash drives, etc.
 
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joevt

macrumors 68040
Jun 21, 2012
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The Apple TB Display has a Thunderbolt 2 out port which can be used to connect another TB or mDP display.

So -- connect MacBook Air to Apple's TB3 to TB2 adapter, connect cable from TB Display to adapter, connect 2nd display to TB port on TB Display.

No hub required. Only uses one TB port on the MacBook Air.

** this setup does not supply power to the MacBook, however, so you'll need to use the second TB port for the power cord. But it does supply you with a couple standard USB ports on the back of the TB Diplsay for things like printers, keyboards, mice, flash drives, etc.
I believe that Thunderbolt 2 controllers can only connect one DisplayPort device. Since the Apple Thunderbolt Display uses the single DisplayPort output for the display, the 2nd Thunderbolt port cannot drive directly a Mini DisplayPort display. Instead, you'll need to connect another Thunderbolt device, then connect the Mini DisplayPort display to that.


I believe this is also true of Thunderbolt 2 docks and devices - only one DisplayPort output per device.

The second display, when daisy chained with Thunderbolt 2, will be limited to 4K 30Hz or 2560 x 1600 60 Hz.

It's only with Thunderbolt 3 that two displays can be connected directly to a single Thunderbolt controller (one to a DisplayPort output and another to a Thunderbolt output). This is one reason why Thunderbolt 3 has Dual DisplayPort adapters and Thunderbolt 2 does not.

So you will need to get a Thunderbolt device in either case. A Thunderbolt 3 device would be preferable because it's newer, has more bandwidth, allows for larger displays, supports USB-C displays, USB 3.1 gen 2, and dual displays.
 
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chrfr

macrumors G4
Jul 11, 2009
11,038
4,603
Got it - but I need a TB3 dock that has TWO TB outputs, right? I need one TB port to connect to the computer and a second for the TB3 to TB2 adapter. Seems like most TB3 hubs only have one.
Looks like if I want a TB3 dock with two TB ports, an SD card reader, Gig-E, and USB-C, the CalDigit TS3 or the OWC TB3 may be the only ones that have all of these. There are other TB3 hubs that have most of these but lack the second TB3 or lack USB-C or SD card reader.
Thanks
You can use a Caldigit TS3+. Connect the Thunderbolt display using Apple's Thunderbolt 2 to 3 adapter, and get an inexpensive DisplayPort to mini DisplayPort adapter for the Cinema Display.
 
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xraydoc

macrumors demi-god
Oct 9, 2005
8,293
2,344
192.168.1.1
I believe that Thunderbolt 2 controllers can only connect one DisplayPort device. Since the Apple Thunderbolt Display uses the single DisplayPort output for the display, the 2nd Thunderbolt port cannot drive directly a Mini DisplayPort display. Instead, you'll need to connect another Thunderbolt device, then connect the Mini DisplayPort display to that.


I believe this is also true of Thunderbolt 2 docks and devices - only one DisplayPort output per device.

The second display, when daisy chained with Thunderbolt 2, will be limited to 4K 30Hz or 2560 x 1600 60 Hz.

It's only with Thunderbolt 3 that two displays can be connected directly to a single Thunderbolt controller (one to a DisplayPort output and another to a Thunderbolt output). This is one reason why Thunderbolt 3 has Dual DisplayPort adapters and Thunderbolt 2 does not.

So you will need to get a Thunderbolt device in either case. A Thunderbolt 3 device would be preferable because it's newer, has more bandwidth, allows for larger displays, supports USB-C displays, USB 3.1 gen 2, and dual displays.
You're right. I think I remember something about that... but I think I also remember that by putting a Thunderbolt device in between the TB display and a second monitor that it could be accomplished.
 
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joevt

macrumors 68040
Jun 21, 2012
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putting a Thunderbolt device in between the TB display and a second monitor that it could be accomplished.
Yes, that's what I said. A Thunderbolt 2 controller provides one DisplayPort output (limitation of Thunderbolt 2 peripherals). The Apple Thunderbolt Display handles the first DisplayPort output internally so a second Thunderbolt device daisy chained to the Thunderbolt Display is required to provide the second DisplayPort output.
 
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xraydoc

macrumors demi-god
Oct 9, 2005
8,293
2,344
192.168.1.1
Yes, that's what I said. A Thunderbolt 2 controller provides one DisplayPort output (limitation of Thunderbolt 2 peripherals). The Apple Thunderbolt Display handles the first DisplayPort output internally so a second Thunderbolt device daisy chained to the Thunderbolt Display is required to provide the second DisplayPort output.
Yes, sorry. Went right past it.
 
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brucerb

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 13, 2013
26
1
I believe that Thunderbolt 2 controllers can only connect one DisplayPort device. Since the Apple Thunderbolt Display uses the single DisplayPort output for the display, the 2nd Thunderbolt port cannot drive directly a Mini DisplayPort display. Instead, you'll need to connect another Thunderbolt device, then connect the Mini DisplayPort display to that.


I believe this is also true of Thunderbolt 2 docks and devices - only one DisplayPort output per device.

The second display, when daisy chained with Thunderbolt 2, will be limited to 4K 30Hz or 2560 x 1600 60 Hz.

It's only with Thunderbolt 3 that two displays can be connected directly to a single Thunderbolt controller (one to a DisplayPort output and another to a Thunderbolt output). This is one reason why Thunderbolt 3 has Dual DisplayPort adapters and Thunderbolt 2 does not.

So you will need to get a Thunderbolt device in either case. A Thunderbolt 3 device would be preferable because it's newer, has more bandwidth, allows for larger displays, supports USB-C displays, USB 3.1 gen 2, and dual displays.

Veering in a slightly new direction:
My initial question about TB3 hubs was prompted by replacing a 2015 13" MacBookPro. Currently have an Apple Thunderbolt Display and an older Apple Cinema Display (Mini-Display Port) connected to it. This computer only has one TB2 controller (correct?) so could only ever drive one TB Display.
I found that to get this setup to work, the TB Display had to be connected to the rear TB connector (next to MagSafe) and the Mini Display Port connector had to be connected to the closer-to-the-front TB connector. Either display alone worked in either port, but to get both to work they had to be connected this way. Never could figure out why, just got used to it, but it bugged me. You seem like someone that might know the why? Thanks
 
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joevt

macrumors 68040
Jun 21, 2012
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This computer only has one TB2 controller (correct?) so could only ever drive one TB Display.
I said there was a TB2 controller in each Thunderbolt device. This includes the host computer and the TB Display.

A host Thunderbolt controller inside a computer has two DisplayPort inputs from the GPU. Up to two Thunderbolt DisplayPort streams can be sent, either down a single Thunderbolt chain, or one per Thunderbolt chain (since each host Thunderbolt controller has two Thunderbolt ports).

A peripheral Thunderbolt controller exists inside each Thunderbolt device. A peripheral Thunderbolt controller can take a Thunderbolt Display port stream and convert it back into DisplayPort. Peripheral Thunderbolt 3 controllers can output two DisplayPort streams - they have extra pins for a separate DisplayPort output for one stream and can also output DisplayPort from the downstream Thunderbolt 3 port. Peripheral Thunderbolt 2 controllers can output one DisplayPort stream - they have extra pins for a separate DisplayPort output or they can output DisplayPort from the downstream Thunderbolt 2 port but not both.

If a peripheral Thunderbolt 2 device can only output one DisplayPort stream, then how does a host peripheral Thunderbolt 2 computer output two DisplayPorts? I guess if DisplayPort is connected directly to the Thunderbolt ports then the DisplayPort signal bypasses the Thunderbolt controller (no conversion of DisplayPort to and from Thunderbolt occurs).

I found that to get this setup to work, the TB Display had to be connected to the rear TB connector (next to MagSafe) and the Mini Display Port connector had to be connected to the closer-to-the-front TB connector. Either display alone worked in either port, but to get both to work they had to be connected this way. Never could figure out why, just got used to it, but it bugged me. You seem like someone that might know the why? Thanks
I don't know why. That sounds weird. I tried tests with a 2015 MacBook Pro. For the TB Display, I used a OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock. For the DisplayPort display, I used a DisplayPort to VGA converter. I could connect either to either port of the MacBook Pro to get them both working.
 
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MaCahalan77

macrumors newbie
Apr 21, 2020
3
0
Maryland
New to posting so bear with me,

I have a 2017 13" Macbook Pro so it only has 2 TB3 ports, and purchased a TB3 hub because of this (1 TB3, 2 USB 3, SD card reader, and HDMI). I was thinking of purchasing a thunderbolt display for reasonably cheap off of FB marketplace, and was wondering your thoughts on getting a TB2 to HDMI adapter instead of a TB2 to TB3 adapter - this will not only save me money because that adapter is under 10 bucks, but that saves the only open TB3 port if my macbook is plugged in.
 
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joevt

macrumors 68040
Jun 21, 2012
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1,392
I have a 2017 13" Macbook Pro so it only has 2 TB3 ports, and purchased a TB3 hub because of this (1 TB3, 2 USB 3, SD card reader, and HDMI). I was thinking of purchasing a thunderbolt display for reasonably cheap off of FB marketplace, and was wondering your thoughts on getting a TB2 to HDMI adapter instead of a TB2 to TB3 adapter - this will not only save me money because that adapter is under 10 bucks, but that saves the only open TB3 port if my macbook is plugged in.
TB2 to HDMI adapter is not going to help you connect a Thunderbolt display - they are unrelated. Oh wait. Are you thinking you can use the TB2 to HDMI adapter as a HDMI to TB2 adapter? No. That's not how adapters work. They are always one way (unless both ends are the same signal such as DVI/HDMI or Mini DisplayPort/DisplayPort).

What's a TB3 hub? You mean a TB3 dock? What model did you get? Usually TB3 docks provide power to the MacBook Pro. Usually TB3 docks have two Thunderbolt 3 ports - one connects to the computer. The other can connect to a Thunderbolt display using a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
 
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chrfr

macrumors G4
Jul 11, 2009
11,038
4,603
New to posting so bear with me,

I have a 2017 13" Macbook Pro so it only has 2 TB3 ports, and purchased a TB3 hub because of this (1 TB3, 2 USB 3, SD card reader, and HDMI). I was thinking of purchasing a thunderbolt display for reasonably cheap off of FB marketplace, and was wondering your thoughts on getting a TB2 to HDMI adapter instead of a TB2 to TB3 adapter - this will not only save me money because that adapter is under 10 bucks, but that saves the only open TB3 port if my macbook is plugged in.
The Thunderbolt Display can only use a Thunderbolt connection. The TB2 to TB3 adapter is the only way you can use these displays with newer computers.
 
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MaCahalan77

macrumors newbie
Apr 21, 2020
3
0
Maryland
TB2 to HDMI adapter is not going to help you connect a Thunderbolt display - they are unrelated. Oh wait. Are you thinking you can use the TB2 to HDMI adapter as a HDMI to TB2 adapter? No. That's not how adapters work. They are always one way (unless both ends are the same signal such as DVI/HDMI or Mini DisplayPort/DisplayPort).

What's a TB3 hub? You mean a TB3 dock? What model did you get? Usually TB3 docks provide power to the MacBook Pro. Usually TB3 docks have two Thunderbolt 3 ports - one connects to the computer. The other can connect to a Thunderbolt display using a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.

My dock only has 1 tb3, so in the end I still only have 2 TB3 (one on the macbook/one on the dock) all it does is it adds 2 usb 3, sd/microsd reader, and HDMI - what I was wondering with getting a TB2 to HDMI adapter instead of a TB2-TB3 adapter was if I got that from the Thunderbolt monitor (TB2-HDMI), and then go HDMI from said adapter to HDMI on the dock to be able to keep 1 TB3 open (on dock/macbook) if the macbook is taking one up to be powered.
 
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MaCahalan77

macrumors newbie
Apr 21, 2020
3
0
Maryland
My dock only has 1 tb3, so in the end I still only have 2 TB3 (one on the macbook/one on the dock) all it does is it adds 2 usb 3, sd/microsd reader, and HDMI - what I was wondering with getting a TB2 to HDMI adapter instead of a TB2-TB3 adapter was if I got that from the Thunderbolt monitor (TB2-HDMI), and then go HDMI from said adapter to HDMI on the dock to be able to keep 1 TB3 open (on dock/macbook) if the macbook is taking one up to be powered.

The Thunderbolt Display can only use a Thunderbolt connection. The TB2 to TB3 adapter is the only way you can use these displays with newer computers.

Ohhhhh ok you gave me the answer without it clicking in my head, sorry... I see now that hypothetically if there was such thing as a female TB2 to HDMI, that the HDMI cant drive the monitor, and that the other port on the display is an output mini displayport which means its still not being driven.

alrighty, well now that that is solved, I will look for a dock later on that has more TB3 which was the main thing I was trying to keep open. That being said, do you guys have any recommendations on affordable TB2-TB3 adapters besides the $50 apple one? Orrr just a different monitor/display recommendation since I haven't even purchased the TB Display yet (great condition I talked them down to $250 for a 27" TB display so I was going to jump on it)
 
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chrfr

macrumors G4
Jul 11, 2009
11,038
4,603
That being said, do you guys have any recommendations on affordable TB2-TB3 adapters besides the $50 apple one? Orrr just a different monitor/display recommendation since I haven't even purchased the TB Display yet (great condition I talked them down to $250 for a 27" TB display so I was going to jump on it)
Apple makes the only adapter I'm aware of.
Thunderbolt Displays are old and the screens are technologically obsolete. I'd much rather have a 4k display than a Thunderbolt Display.
 
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joevt

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Jun 21, 2012
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There are many Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapters, but Apple's is the cheapest and it is the only one that works in both directions (you can connect Thunderbolt 3 devices to Thunderbolt 2 computers for example).

What Thunderbolt 3 dock do you have that only has one Thunderbolt 3 port?
 
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