Macbook Air to Thunderbolt Display Question

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by well2thebone, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. well2thebone macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2010
    I'm looking at getting a new mac to use mainly for music production. I'v been thinking about getting a macbook air (i wont be using any softsynths) so i will have a lightning fast ssd and amazing portability. Docking it at home with a thunderbolt display sounds like a great idea, but I went to best buy the other day to check it out and they had a 13'' macbook pro hooked up to the thunderbolt display and the display quality was pretty terrible. Compared to the 27'' imac, the display was no where near as good. I asked the guy at best buy why the pixel quality wasnt as good, and he said it had to do with the macbook, that it didn't have high enough pixel quality to give the thunderbolt display an hd output. He said you would have to use the 15'' retina macbook to get the same quality of picture.

    I just wanted to run this by you guys to make sure this guy knew what he was talking about. If that is the case, why would anyone spend $1000 on a display when you can spend $1200 for an imac that would also give you quad core, graphics, etc etc. Makes no sense what so ever. I sort of thought a refurbished price of $850 was pretty solid, but now I'm thinking i'll just pass and get an imac a year or two down the road when i need more power/bigger screen.

    Any thoughts?
  2. majkom macrumors 65816

    May 3, 2011
    that guy definitely does not know what he is talking about...
  3. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    I'd say he is totally talking out of his arse. The display quality of the monitor will be exactly the same, whether you use an MBA or a Retina MBP. If the quality was really bad, then most likely the monitor wasn't set to its native resolution, or brightness / contrast were set stupidly. And of course if you get a cheaper monitor then the quality may not be _quite_ as good as the iMac, but any display should give you decent quality unless it is set up badly. Apple's thunderbolt monitor will look exactly as an iMac connected to an MBA, unless someone messed things up stupidly.
  4. well2thebone thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2010
    Ok just wanted to check. Yep, bestbuy has the thunderbolt proudly on display set up incorrectly giving a resolution that is quite honestly unacceptable. Pretty funny.
  5. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Generally, when it comes to sales people at Best Buy, there is one answer to that question.
  6. jameswdmb macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2012
    I can only speak from my experience, but I chose the Air and the Thunderbolt so that I had a beautiful monitor and a docking station that would last for several generations of computers. I have a portable option with the air when I need it, and a nice monitor and desktop feel when I am at home as well. I may replace the Air in a few years with another laptop, or a mac mini, and I will have the newest processor, RAM, graphics, ect but still a great display (which i bought refurbished for $850). My view was a that a refurbished monitor and new Air cost me $2k or so, but in a few years I could buy a $600 mac mini and still have the latest hardware with a big screen, without having to spend 2k all over again.
  7. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I was at Best Buy the other day and the Thunderbolt display was hooked up to a MacBook Pro. It also looked pretty bad. Then I noticed the display was set on mirroring. So yes it looked bad because it was scaling the 1440x900 of the 15" MacBook Pro onto the 2560x1440 display. I fixed the issue by turning off the mirroring and it looked great afterward.

    Perhaps next time you stop by, go into System Preferences—>Displays and turn off "Mirroring" in the Arrangement tab.
  8. TyroneShoes2 macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2011
    I think I would have to agree.

    I use a $5 adapter from T-bolt to HDMI on a 32" HDTV, for Aperture on my late 2011 MBA, and the pix are gorgeous. It takes a little fiddling with the menu settings for original setup, but it could not (otherwise) be a better user experience.

    That last thing (fiddling with the menu settings) may be a thing of the past. Folks with the RMBP are reporting that it is smart enough to figure out what it is connected to and choose the optimum settings all on its own. That's pretty cool, but you don't have to have a RMBP to figure that out on your own, and have the same benefits (or nearly the same).


    Well, there you go. If those working at BB knew enough to do that, they would not be forever condemned to work at BB; they would be behind the genius bar.

    Hmmm. If I opened a real bar and named it "Genius Bar" do you think Apple would come down on me like a ton of bricks?
  9. danrhiggins macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2012
    I have been using an MBA w/ Thunderbolt Display and love it!

    I purchased a MacBook Air last August and the Thunderbolt display soon after they were available. I love it. That is my office setup and I am in front of it 10 hours a day. The MBA drives the TB display at its native resolution. The TB display serves as an excellent docking station. I have Gb ethernet running hardware from an Airport Extreme into the back of the TB display. I also have an Elgato SSD Thunderbolt external drive connected to it. And I have my iPad connected via USB (only USB 2 on the TB display) so that my iPad can be powered.

    One more nice thing is that the TB display is that it supplies power to the MBA and to other USB connected devices. In the case of the latter this is even if my MBA is disconnected or shutdown - it still powers/charges the USB devices. And I can save the power charger that came with my MBA and leave it in my briefcase for when I travel.

    All in all a very nice setup.
  10. lannisters4life macrumors 6502

    May 14, 2012
    Yeah... that's rubbish, like others have said, it's the same screen as the iMac. I've got a 2012 Macbook Air and a Thunderbolt display, they work very well together. My only criticism is that (so far) I can't have the display plugged in and the power unplugged (which is the Macbook Air's fault), which regularly is fine because i'm using it every day, but during the holidays etc. it may sit at my desk plugged in for a week like my last MBP, which was terrible for its battery. Minor issue though, I can always just go and sit in the sun reading the news online for a few hours!
  11. iBrody macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2008
    Prob discussed already, but did you have to buy an adapter for the Magsafe 2 connection on the 2012 MBA to work via the TB connector?

    I was thinking of buying the same set-up as you, but was going to wait to see if the TB display is revised to include a Magsafe 2 connection first.
  12. jameswdmb macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2012
  13. lannisters4life macrumors 6502

    May 14, 2012
    The adapter came bundled inside the box with the TB display. I have a feeling it will be refreshed with Magsafe 2 and USB3.0, but yeah no idea when.
  14. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009

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