Is the thunderbolt display worth it with an MBA 11" 1.8ghz?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by xFerrr, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. xFerrr macrumors member


    Jun 2, 2011
    So thats the main question...

    Should I buy the ATD to work with the MBA 11" or a Cheaper monitor/TV?

    Has anyone experienced this combo that could share his/her experiences?

    so much thanks for reading =)

    EDIT: I went 11" for portable purposes, i move a lot and take quickly notes and suft web, and need the big screen for a more confortable work at home since I usually open many Documents at once so the size is very helpful there.

    My MBA is arriving august 8th so I havent tested it w- any display
  2. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    I don't have any experience with this myself, but I would say based on the convenience factor it would be worth it. You could connect all of your USB and Firewire peripherals and an Ethernet cable to your ATD and leave them connected to it, and when you dock your MBA all you need do is attach the TB and Magsafe cords. Not to mention the superb picture quality, built in iSight and speakers. I dock my MBP to a monitor at home and the multiple USB/Firewire/display/audio cables I have to hook up make taking it with me a pain in the rump. Just my two cents.
  3. ExnomenDei macrumors regular

    Mar 2, 2010
    Nobody has the Thunderbolt-display yet.

    The MBA is a beast now, so don't worry about power.
  4. xFerrr thread starter macrumors member


    Jun 2, 2011

    Wow these answer are very helpful, thanks a lot Skorpien and ExnomenDei. I've just decided and I bought it, It arrives till september though... What I'll do is to test it like all day long the first day, if I like it then keep it, otherwise I'll just return it. =)

    PS: Any new comment is welcome!!
  5. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I think that having a display with 2560 pixels across (2560 x 1600) or (2560 x 1440) is spectacular. Personally, I do not want less real estate on my desktop. The MBA 11.6 is also incredible for portability. The combination is the best of both worlds (for me anyway).

    There are at least two good ways ways to accomplish this... each with their own advantages and tradeoffs.

    1: MBA + ATD
    2: MBA + 27" iMac

    The advantage of #1 is that you only have one machine to manage... and you always have all your data with you (unless you use an supplimental external drive at home).

    The advantage of #2 is that you have a very powerful desktop always ready to go. You can have very large disks so you do not need to worry about connecting/disconnecting them. You aways have a 2nd machine if one needs service. You can also keep it on 24/7 if you want (I do) and easily keep it backed up all the time. I use TM/TC locally every hour, and Crashplan+ to the cloud every 15 minutes. Finally, you can use the 27" screen as a monitor for your MBA if you want to with a TB cable.

    The disadvantage of #2 is you have two machines to manage... and determine what data you want to have with you. I have found with programs like Dropbox, and services such as IMAP email... it is easy to have my key data synchronized and with me all the time across multiple machines. I never have any "original data" on my MBA... everything syncs back to my iMac which is on 24/7.

    Still... you should consider both options. One thing to consider is that iCloud will dramatically reduce the complexity of having key data with you all the time across many devices. Personally, I think this tips the scales toward #2.

    Of course... option #2 does cost more. For me it was worth it.

  6. xFerrr thread starter macrumors member


    Jun 2, 2011
    Indeed such a really incredible experience sharing. Thanks a lot Jim! =)

    I've just read the 27" iMac's specs and they are way overpowered for the things I do... (I'm a "normal" user so that would be like web surfing, office/iWork, calendar). But I'm pretty sure that second option you tell about, would be perfect for someone who really uses that much power (like games or some kind of graphic/video designer).

    I'm sticking to 11" 1,8ghz + ATD + External HDD that will be always connected to ATD to store big info...

    And of course I'll be glad to share that experience when both come home.

    Best regards. =)
  7. stefmesman macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; nl-nl) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Excelent choice
  8. Invisible Elf macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2011
    Try to find an external hard drive with both USB and firewire so you can connect with FW for the extra speed to the monitor, and USB while on the go.
  9. xFerrr thread starter macrumors member


    Jun 2, 2011
    Thanks stefmesman. It took a lot for me to make a final desition!

    That may work! I was thinking about an external HDD with USB only, I should take the option to find out a drive that has those both peripherical connections you tell about... I guess Firewire would be enough... those external HDD that uses TB are way too expensive!!

    -- Thanks and Thanks! =)
  10. sev macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2008
    Southeast UK + Italy
    flynz4, that's the same solution I have and it's working great.

    I run a macbook pro and my partner has a MB Air. We have a 27" imac which is the main home computer and we both use this to connect our portables with a Mini displayport cable.

    Now, my partner actually needs more screen real estate! (I can live with expose' !) so I was looking to this solution to see if it would work:

    Keep the 27" imac and purchase a 27" LED thunderbolt display.

    Connect the MB's to the TB display, and daisy chain the Cinema display to the iMac. I suppose the only way to find out if it works is wait until the stores get them in and ask if they could demonstrate.

    I still find that having the iMac as a central machine works well for me, and really appreciate the fact that now Lion installs on all machines running your apple id - now that is progress, Apple recognising that some of us have multiple machines.

    I'd love it if there was inbuilt function whereby I could designate my iMac as 'Master' and just plug my MBP into it to ghost or sync so that I could just disconnect it and go on the road. but that's for the future I guess.

    XFerrr, from experience I've always gone for apple displays - even when I used windows boxes, as nothing comes remotely close for the functionality or quality and aesthetic.

    For the storage side of things, I plumped for a Time Capsule as I could connect it straight to ethernet. However, you can pick up a USB / firewire caddy and drop a drive into it if you have any kicking around - that's what I did a couple of years ago to make use of some drives I had knocking around.
  11. QuaziModo macrumors member

    Jul 25, 2011
    Townsville, Australia
    Good/Bad news :)


    Basically you can only run one external screen via Thunderbolt on the MBA. The MBP will be fine running multiple however using the TB out of the new TB Display as a DP out is something I'm unsure of. The technology supports this, I'm just unsure of how the TB display will handle this :)

    It is an exciting time and I hope a technology like TB makes life so much more convenient. On a side note keep your eyes open for the external discrete adaptors as they might eleviate a lot of these problems for those of us who are looking at moving away from dedicated desktops.


  12. sev macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2008
    Southeast UK + Italy
    Chris... you've got me all excited now!
  13. Brooke00000 macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2011
    Along the same lines... I assume the 13 inch MBA 256 i5 should run the ATD just fine?
  14. respectabilia macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2010
    The ATD costs almost the same as the base 21.5 inch iMac...leaves me undecided.

    The Thunderbolt Display combined with a MBA seems like genius combination, a perfect match.

    - the 27 inch display
    - the built-in MagSafe and thunderbolt cables-in-one look very handy for quick plug and play functionality when I come home, as opposed to what I currently do with my pro and my third-party basic monitor: plug in the mini display port, plug in another cable for the mag safe, and a final cable for the speakers. And then there's a cable or two that gets plugged in for hard drives and printers. With the thunderbolt display, I can have all these plugged in to the display directly.
    - should my needs change and I feel I need more power, I can always purchase a decent Mac Mini for a further £600. I already own a wireless keyboard and trackpad, and I can add a Superdrive to the ATD. And did someone say something about the ability to add video and graphic cards etc? Possibilities (that will cost cash of course!)...


    - the hefty price tag, is it worth it compared to the base iMacs?
    - the base 21.5 inch iMac is only £100 more than the Thunrbolt Display, and the 27.5 inch base model is £500 more. For a little more money, you can basically have an excellent 21.5 inch screen as well as a powerful quad-core computer that's also thunderbolt-enabled.

    For me, it's the choice between getting a 21.5 inch iMac against a computer-less 27.5 inch ATD. How did you overcome this choice?

    [I have a similar thread on this topic so am glad to have come across this one which is helping me make my decision:]
  15. xraydoc, Aug 16, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2011

    xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    The benefit of having an iMac as a display is that if you're an Apple TV user, you can leave the iMac on and running full time as the household iTunes server.

    This is basically what I do - While my 27" iMac is my "main" computer I use for processor-intensive stuff like DVD/Blu-Ray rips and editing high-def video with iMovie, my MacBook Air and my iPad see more hours of use in total.

    The iMac, however, with its large hard drive acts as the iTunes server and provides content to our 6 Apple TVs and is the central iPhone/iPad app & music repository/sync station.

    And when needed, I can borrow its 27" screen for my MacBook Air.

    (edit: fixed typo above)
  16. DeusInvictus7 macrumors 68020

    Aug 13, 2008
    Kitchener, Ontario
    This is exactly what I do, and it's awesome. I definitely get a lot more use out of my MacBook Air since I don't really like sitting at a desk, but when I need the larger screen or need to do really heavy stuff, then my iMac is perfect to use.
  17. bomsom macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2010
    Hey, I'm also thinking about going this route, but one thing still bugs me:

    What about the keyboard and trackpad/mouse?

    When you connect the MBA on the iMac, do you have to use the MBA keyboard/trackpad or does the iMac wireless keyboard/mouse pair with the MBA and you can use it in clamshell mode??
  18. thelead macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2010
    The 2011 MBA's run the resolution just fine. I couldn't say the same thing for the 2010's. The ACD or ATD is very worth it.
  19. DeusInvictus7 macrumors 68020

    Aug 13, 2008
    Kitchener, Ontario
    I personally don't actually use my MBA with the iMac's display, at least not yet, but I think you have to use the iMac's keyboard to activate Target Display mode, then you use the MBA's keyboard/trackpad for actual you would have to pair the external stuff with the MBA.
  20. jayhawk11 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 19, 2007
    You're half right. Target Display Mode activates automatically, but you're correct on the using the built-in keyboard and mouse stuff.
  21. bomsom macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2010
    Not very practical. At all.
  22. DeusInvictus7 macrumors 68020

    Aug 13, 2008
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Not according to this article from the Apple support site...

  23. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    My iMac (27" with mDP, not Thunderbolt) will auto-switch when I connect my MacBook Air.

    Maybe it's different with the Thunderbolt Macs.
  24. DeusInvictus7 macrumors 68020

    Aug 13, 2008
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Hmm. It says the same instructions for the mDP iMacs. But maybe it does do it automatically, and CMD + F2 just goes back and forth between the two computers.

Share This Page