MBP 2016 + Thunderbolt Display single cable solution

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by va1984, Dec 25, 2016.

  1. va1984 macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2011
    Apologies, I know this has already been posted in many forms elsewhere; I have done my bit of research but can only find half answers.

    I currently use a 2016 13" MBP (no Touch Bar) with an LG 27UD88 27" 4K display. Everything works well: the single cable charges the laptop as well as my iPhone, iPad.
    BUT, I happen to be one of those people that find that 4K resolution on a 27" monitor makes very little sense: for me, 27" monitors need to be 1440p or else 5k, but I sit far from the display so 5k isn't necessary. I use the LG as a 1080p retina, and while it's good, it's not great. Everything is just a little bit too big.

    Today I saw a Thunderbolt Display at the Apple Store and I was reminded of just how much nicer they are than the current crop of LGs and Dells. So I was thinking of getting a Thunderbolt Display, I can get one with AC on the (relatively) cheap.
    But I want to find a single-cable solution to the MBP.

    As far as I was able to understand, the only combination that will allow that is:

    MBP ---> (upcoming) Belkin TB3 dock ---> TB3/TB2 Apple adaptor ---> Apple Thunderbolt display

    In this way, as far as I can see, the Belkin dock should charge my laptop and pass video on to the ATD, and since the Belkin supports TB, even the webcam, audio and extra USB ports on the display should work.

    Does anyone know of a neater solution, or knows that this won't work as I envisage it?
  2. Acronyc macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    I have a Thunderbolt Display and the nTB MBP and was curious about this as well. From what I've seen the solution you proposed is the only one that will work. Because the Thunderbolt Display can't charge the new MBPs, you'll always need to plug in power along separately. I use the HooToo adapter so I get power and USB ports.
  3. fs454 macrumors 68000

    Dec 7, 2007
    Los Angeles / Boston
    The LG is so much better than the Thunderbolt Display - I can't believe you'd go back to such a low-dpi solution. Have you tried using the other scaling sizes?
  4. pshifrin macrumors 6502


    Mar 14, 2010
    Your theoretical setup with the Belkin (or OWC TB3 dock) will work as described. The TB display is a Thunderbolt v1 device, needing just 10gb of bandwidth. However, I'll caution that the TB Display has a ton of glare compared to more recent screens on 27 inch iMacs, retina or otherwise and there is no height adjustment. Also, once I went retina, there was no way I could go back. I currently use a Dell 4K 24 inch monitor that is "near retina" and good enough for me.
  5. Rafterman macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2010
    Unfortunately, the two known TB3 docks, Belkin and OWC, are months away.

    More waiting.
  6. va1984 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2011
    Well, yes, that's the whole point of going through the Belkin dock: to condense power and video in the one cable.

    Of course, quite extensively. In terms of space, I prefer 1440p, but what is the point of having a 4K display and using it with a mismatched scaling? Ok, mac scaling is excellent, but you can still see the difference.
    So I end up running it as 1080p "retina". I don't know, aside from the resolution, how is the LG better? I would love to learn to like it!

    Yes, 24" 4K makes more sense to me. The glare was never a problem, though, and I have owned several 24" Apple LED displays, so I think I know what I am dealing with. I am obviously a big fan of retina on smaller screens, but with 27", I would like it to be 5k. And the beauty of the actual display is a factor, since it sits on my desk and I see it all day. I love the industrial design of the ATD, the LG is just ok.

    Yeah, I can't argue against that. I guess my plan would be to temporarily use just the TB3/TB2 adaptor and the Apple power brick, until either the Belkin or the OWC docks materialise.
  7. Rafterman macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2010
    I have the Belkin TB2 dock from my 2015 Mac and it works fine with the 2016, using the TB2/TB3 adapter. It doesn't provide power, but its adequate until the TB3 docks come.
  8. va1984 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2011
    Yes, essentially swapping the TB2 dock for a TB3 should enable you to pass power through the same cable, and if anything place the TB3/TB2 adaptor between the dock and the display rather than between the dock and the laptop --- assuming you use an ATD

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