Can someone explain to an idiot like me what the Thurdebolt is for on 11" MBA(2013)?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by arrowtree, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. arrowtree macrumors member

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    #1
    can someone explain to an idiot like me what the Thurdebolt is for on 11" MBA(2013)?

    thanks!
     
  2. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #2
  3. Dweez macrumors 65816

    Dweez

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    #4
    Use it to connect external storage or a Thunderbolt display. I use an SSD in a Thunderbolt adapter for very fast external storage.
     
  4. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    #5
    I use the thunderbolt port on a late 2013 13" MBA to connect to firewire 800 backup drives.

    You can also get an adapter for wired ethernet.
     
  5. arrowtree thread starter macrumors member

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    #6
    Is it faster than using a SSD adapter with USB 3.0 connector?

    Thanks! :)
     
  6. Mrbobb macrumors 601

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    #7
    Technically the TB interface is faster than USB3, but in real life, don't know.

    TB attached storage too used to be expensive, I haven't kept up with the pricing. But if $ is no object, the TB interface is, technically, the fastest port you can plug things into, AS LONG AS, already mention the adapter whatever can keep up with it.
     
  7. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #8
    I have used the thunderbolt port on my 11" MBA to connect a 46" HDTV, an old 23" Apple Cinema Display and thunderbolt disks. I got a Seagate dock for about $140 that accepts their backup plus desktop drives (about $80-$150 depending on size), so the cost is not so unreasonable. These drives actually have e-SATA interfaces and the dock converts it to Thunderbolt. It also has a pass-through port that I connect my Cinema Display to.

    The lack of firewire was an adjustment for me, coming from a MBP. I have quite a large amount of video on firewire drives, and would need to move it to thunderbolt if I ever want to re-edit those old projects. I could get a firewire > thunderbolt adaptor, but then I wouldn't be able to use my external monitor. There are docks that provide a variety of ports, but they are expensive. Regardless, I'm quite pleased with my current setup on the MBA.

    I also had to replace my old firewire audio interface with a new USB interface, but it was quite old and I needed an upgrade anyway. In the end, it's just cool to have such a powerful machine in such a tiny package. And it is much, much faster than the 2008 MBP that it replaced.
     
  8. Dweez macrumors 65816

    Dweez

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    #9
    I don't have experience with a USB-based SSD, but the Thunderbolt SSD is quite fast. :)
     
  9. thebrobrah macrumors regular

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    #10
    theoretically its faster...but your ssd cannot saturate usb 3...let alone TB..
     
  10. BornAgainMac macrumors 603

    BornAgainMac

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    #11
    For most people, the Thunderbolt connector on the MBA will be used to connect it to the Apple Thunderbolt display and allow you to use the slower USB 2.0 ports on the back of the display.
     
  11. boast macrumors 65816

    boast

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    #12
    To hook to an awesome dock (read caldigit station) so that you can easily connect to ethernet, usb kb&m and display with just one cable to your MBA- and then easily disconnect it and take your MBA with you.

    Still not as smooth as thinkpads with the dock connection at the bottom, but pretty close.
     
  12. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #13
    Do you really think so? They're very nice, but also very expensive. I'd be willing to bet that most people use the port with non-thunderbolt displays such as HDMI, DVI or even VGA.
     
  13. pickaxe macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Also, you can buy adapters to connect to non-Thunderbolt displays.
     
  14. Orr macrumors 6502

    Orr

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    #15
    Definitely this.
     
  15. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #16
    how is an ssd externally faster via thunderbolt?
    the bottleneck is with the ssd not with the cable.
    usb3 gets u several gb/s, but the ssd only gets maybe 500mb/s.

    What difference would the thunderbolt make?
     
  16. Dweez macrumors 65816

    Dweez

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    #17
    The OP asked what thunderbolt could be used for, and I provided an example of what I use it for. "Very fast external storage" meaning substantially faster than, say, a 7200 rpm disk.
     
  17. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #18
    I was thinking about this too.
    But then i realized that thunderbolt does not make your storage faster.

    thunderbolt = cable
    7200 rpm = disc
    ssd = disc

    the cable is fast but the disc is slow. might as well use a cheaper usb cable.

    the only real world use for thunderbolt is 4k displays.
     
  18. theSeb, Dec 5, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013

    theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #19

    TB is faster than USB 3 in real life, even when just using a single 7200 external HDD. The difference is not large in this use case, but there is a difference. It really shows up when copying large numbers of small files as USB 3 does not support command queuing.
     
  19. Consultant macrumors G5

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    #20
    High resolution 1440p displays that can't be driven using HDMI or regular DVI (requires Dual-DVI).

    Two external displays.

    Firewire, Gigabit ethernet, external RAID, external PCI-E cards, etc.



    USB requires CPU cycles when in use. Firewire / Thunderbolt have dedicated chips to ensure that it doesn't use CPU, that's why they seem more expensive than USB.
     
  20. theSeb, Dec 5, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013

    theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #21
    You're mixing up bits and bytes. USB 3 is theoretically capable of 5 Gb/s. 5 Gb/s is less than 500 MB/s (when discussing USB 3's theoretical speed of 5 Gb/s)

    b and B is not the same thing.
     
  21. hindmost macrumors regular

    hindmost

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    #22

    Well, in the 'real world' many of us have machines and external drives having FireWire 800 ports. The MacBook Air does NOT have any FireWire ports but does have a Thunderbolt port.

    Thus, using my handy-dandy Thunderbolt to FireWire cable I can easily do stuff like using SuperDuper on the MBA to clone my files to my FireWire External hard drive.
     
  22. pickaxe macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Actually, no it isn't.
     
  23. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #24
    You're right in a theoretical sense, but I was keeping it simple and within the context of USB 3 and its advertised speed of 5 Gb/s. You'll not achieve 5 Gb/s via USB 3 even if the device is capable of it. You'll not achieve 500 MB/s, even if the device is capable of it. I have edited my post to clarify what I meant.
     
  24. pickaxe macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    Well yeah, I agree - my nitpicking was unnecessary :)
     

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