Buying a Thunderbolt display in 2019?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by rpbrownphoto, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. rpbrownphoto macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2019
    #1
    Hi all,

    I've had a 13" 2013 rMBP since it came out and have had zero problems with it whatsoever. I only use it for scanning negatives and editing them in Lightroom. I bought an HP Pavilion 27xw about a year ago and that monitor is garbage so I gave up on it after a couple weeks. No matter how much I tweaked the settings, its color accuracy and brightness is completely off. I have the opportunity to buy a near mint Thunderbolt display for $300 and that certainly has to be better than the 27xw but am wondering if I should get something else? All I'm going to be doing for the foreseeable future is editing my own 35mm scans. I might get back into doing some freelance Ecommerce photo retouching but even then, wouldn't a Thunderbolt suffice?

    Thanks!
     
  2. chscag macrumors 68030

    chscag

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
    #2
    Apple displays are no longer being produced and the TB display only has USB 2.0 ports. Aside from that, if it breaks you'll find it difficult to get parts or have it repaired. I would use the $300 toward a newer and better monitor. Take a look at Dell or LG. Both make very good monitors which will go well with your MBP.
     
  3. theluggage, Feb 5, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019

    theluggage macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #3
    Actually, that's a tricky one - you can certainly get a brand new 2560x1440 27" display, with warranty, for that sort of money - but maybe not a lot less for something with a half-decent panel. The TB display you're looking at is a great-quality display but is at least 2-3 years old (it was discontinued in 2016) and could be anything up to 7/8 years old, so if it breaks you get to keep both halves.

    The Unique Selling Point of the TB display is that it can act as a docking/charging station for your MBP, with speakers, microphone, webcam, USB 2 hub & Ethernet all via two cables - nothing else offers that in a single package (you could get a TB2 hub to add the same functionality to a regular display, but that's not cheap and not as neat) so how much you personally value that facility is probably the deciding factor.

    (you'll also need a MagSafe 2 to Magsafe converter if one isn't included, but that shouldn't be a problem).

    NB: The other downside of the TB display, and probably the reason that I don't have one, is that its basically a Mac-only device (Thunderbolt 1/2 is like hens teeth on PCs - it might work on a newer TB3 PC with a $50 TB3-to-2 adapter), whereas a third party 1440p display will typically have multiple inputs, often including multiple DisplayPorts, HDMI for consoles, raspberry pis etc. This may or may not be an issue for you.
     
  4. rpbrownphoto, Feb 5, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019

    rpbrownphoto thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2019
    #4
    @theluggage

    The docking/charging options don’t matter to me at all. I just simply want something tried and true that is dependable and will produce an identical image as my rMBP because if not, I’ll just wind up moving my picture from screen to screen second guessing myself. It’s hard shuffling through pages and pages and pages of third party monitors when all I’ve ever messed with my entire life is Apple. I’m not trying to spend $1200 on a 5k display but also don’t want to spend $300 on some entry level **** that is just gonna cost me time and wind up making me frustrated. Anyone have any recommendations?

    Oh and if this matters, I plan on keeping my 2013 13” rMBP until it dies at which point I’ll get a new MacBook Pro. So I don’t know if that needs to be taken into account when deciding on a display. I have a feeling *knock on wood* I’m gonna get a lot of life out of this.

    I know I can always get a fast iMac pro but I love the idea of having a desktop and a laptop all in one.
     
  5. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040

    FreakinEurekan

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    #5
    The TBD is a good display and pretty reliable. Of course if it fails, you're going to junk it - it's not worth spending the money to repair it. I very much doubt that any TBDs were manufactured after around 2013. Yes, they were sold until 2016, but my guess is that was existing stock being sold off. So it's going to be a 5-year-old display AT BEST.

    So, a $300 gamble might last you 6 months or 6 years. Could be a good deal, but it is a gamble.
     
  6. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #6
    Identical is a big ask - you can spend a lot more than $300 getting a display intended for a colour-calibrated workflow. The TBD would be your best bet for that, ignoring the age factor (Older, CF-illuminated displays certainly lose their mojo as they age, but the TBD is LED illuminated which might be OK)..

    The bottom line is that $300 probably won't get you a better display than the TBD was, and the TBD is probably still the best bet for getting something close to Apple colours out-of-the-box, so it might be worth a punt - just be aware that it is a risk, especially if you have to buy it unseen. Ultimately it has to be your choice.

    Just looked up the HP Pavillion 27xw that you mentioned, and its only a 1080p display (or, to put it bluntly, a souped-up TV) and would definitely look like trash alongside a rMBP screen. Don't bother with 1080p displays - you need at least 1440p (like the TBD) to look credible alongside a retina display (they're still not going to be as sharp viewed close up, but you'll probably have them further away).

    Well, you'll need a $50 TB2-to-TB3 adapter for that, and the new MacBook Pros have brighter screens with extended colour gamuts which the old Thunderbolt display won't be able to compete with.
     
  7. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040

    FreakinEurekan

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    #7
    Good point, the TBD may give you a more-or-less identical performance in terms of COLOR, but not in terms of PPI for sure. But there's nothing in the $300 price range that would touch PPI at similar quality, so that may be off the table already. OP didn't mention if it's an Early 2013 or Late 2013 MacBook Pro, if it's Early - 4K isn't supported so it's not an option anyway. If it's Late, it's "Technically" supported but with significant limitations. http://getsupport.apple.com/kb/HT206587 explains more; frankly I wouldn't bother with 4K until you upgrade the Mac which gives you MANY more options.
     
  8. rpbrownphoto, Feb 6, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019

    rpbrownphoto thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2019
    #8
    Thanks guys. It's a late 2013 rMBP. Just bought a Thunderbolt for $340 shipped. Definitely the most I was willing to spend. The screen is flawless and the cables are in great condition. There are a few scratches on the back housing but who cares. Crazy how some people are still paying $700+ for ones fresh out of the box.

    Hopefully I made the right choice. I don't see myself having the means (or need) to drop a bunch of $ on a new macbook any time soon and I need real estate now. I know when the time comes, using a TB with a new macbook would be ridiculous but I'll probably end up doing it anyway. Or I’ll just end up getting an iMac Pro.
     
  9. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    #9
    I think you will be happy. I use a Thunderbolt Display on my late 2011 MBP when I’m at home. Much nicer for editing photos than the 15” screen when I’m traveling. I have an old 23” Cinema Display on a Mac Pro and it works just fine.

    For higher speed ports I have a Thunderbolt hub with usb 3 ports.
     
  10. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #10
    Hopefully, it works for a couple of more years.
     

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