Cheap option to connect Apple Thunderbolt Display to MacBook Pro 2018?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by juan99999, Dec 25, 2018.

  1. juan99999, Dec 25, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2018

    juan99999 macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2015
    I just ordered a 2018 Mabook Pro and would like to connect it to my Apple thunderbolt 27" display.

    Is there a value and/or better option than the $50 Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter?

    The saving grace is at least I'll be able to use the ethernet jack at the back of the monitor and don't need one of those dongles when I'm at home! Shame it doesn't also have USB 3.0 ports.
  2. MichaelDT macrumors regular

    Aug 18, 2012
  3. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    Im sure there are cheaper dongles around if you search for them.
  4. juan99999 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2015
    I found a more expensive one that's not as well rated- looked on amazon and eBay... I wouldn't mind spending $50 or a bit more if it came with ethernet, USB 3, and other useful things, but $50 to just use my monitor seems a rip off!
  5. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    Welcome to the world of Apple.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    You're going to need a Thunderbolt3-to-Thunderbolt2 adapter/dongle.
    Apple's is probably the best (the only?) choice.
    If you want to use the display, you're gonna have to "pay up"...
  7. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    Spend $50 on a cable or $200 on a dock that won’t work half the time....hmmm

    Best Buy should have plenty of open box thunderbolt 2 adapters that people return after Christmas
  8. treekram macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2015
    Honolulu HI
    Thunderbolt connectors (adapters/cables) have electronics on both sides of the connector. There are more requirements to playing in the Thunderbolt eco-system than the other connection types (USB, DisplayPort, HDMI, etc.). The market is also smaller than the other popular connection types. If you look at cheap(er) Thunderbolt 1 external drives (I have a couple of different brands), they typically have an integral cable vs. USB external drives which almost always have detachable cables. The added cost of having the additional Thunderbolt electronics that a detachable cable would entail would make a noticeable difference in the price.

    Since the 2016 MBP, I have not seen a cheaper TB3-TB2 adapter than the one from Apple appear on the market. If you look at other Thunderbolt cables/adapters that Apple sells, they're pretty competitive with cables from other sellers. Compare this to their USB-C to USB-A adapter which they sell or $19. I ordered a highly-rated non-Apple one for $4 (we'll see how well it works).

    As suggested by one of the other posters, you can look for refurbished/open-box (Best Buy has them for $39+). People probably still buy the Apple one to connect a DisplayPort monitor, which won't work. You can try Ebay for used adapters as well.
  9. cambookpro, Dec 28, 2018
    Last edited: May 6, 2019

    cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    Just buy the Apple one. Yes it's pricey, but it's not just a dumb adapter as TB requires a fair few electronics (hence why it's so chunky) - I haven't seen any third party ones which are cheaper. In fact, the only other one I've seen is the one, which is both more expensive and larger.

    For what it's worth, my adapter has worked perfectly for the past two years, and allows me to use my TBD which is still my favourite display because of the build quality.
  10. juan99999 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2015
    So I ordered a used apple adapter on ebay to use my 2018 MBP at home as a desktop to drive the 27" thunderbolt display to use it as a desktop display and as a "dock" to permanently attached peripherals (card reader, scanner, etc.)

    It's working fine for video, the facetime camera works, as do the USB 2 ports. My macbook is closed on a vertical stand and I'm using it as a mirrored display with a bluetooth keyboard/trackball (replacing my older mac desktop).

    I can't get working is the onboard gigabit ethernet port on the thunderbolt display. Any tips to get that working? Is it supposed to work with the apple thunderbolt adapter? I hate using wifi... I may also need another ethernet port- does anyone recommend an adapter?
  11. Zdigital2015 macrumors 65816

    Jul 14, 2015
    East Coast, United States
    Go to the Network System Preference and click the + button to see if you can add a “Thunderbolt Ethernet Port” from the list. Generally they are added automatically, but you may have to add it manually or at least make sure it is Enabled/Active. You should also drag it to the top of the Network Interfaces list, otherwise Wi-Fi will still be the default. Bear in mind that that may cause some issues with Air Drop and Wi-Fi Sync for any iOS devices you own.

    Generally, macOS networking is pretty good with a few notable caveats. Good luck!
  12. Acronyc macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    Glad you got it working. I use a Thunderbolt Display at home with my 2016 nTB MBP and use it with the Apple Thunderbolt 3->2 adapter. It's been working fine for almost three years now. I've never had a problem with my ethernet port working as it has always chosen it automatically once I plug in a cable.

    Thanks to the latest Mojave update my eGPU also works fine on the Thunderbolt Display without any issue. There is, of course, a performance hit, but it's a lot better than the Intel iGPU on my MBP.
  13. SSD-GUY macrumors 6502a

    Sep 20, 2012
    London, UK
    Another happy user here too. I use it to connect 2x Thunderbolt displays at work (daisy-chaining off one another) into my 2017 MBP.
  14. Alumm Pro macrumors newbie

    Alumm Pro

    May 20, 2019
    Alumm Pro supports Gigabit Ethernet, 4K Mini-DP, 4K HDMI, USB3 x 3... =)

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13 December 25, 2018