Thunderbolt Display - is it worth buying, basically?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by EwanMcTeagle, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. EwanMcTeagle macrumors 6502


    Mar 26, 2012
    Lodz, Poland
    Hi guys,

    I know that TBD’s issues have been talked about here, but I didn’t want to hi-jack anyone’s thread.

    Anyways, my question is: do the Thunderbolt Display’s wake/sleep and USB problems concern every TBD or just some models (like 2010 or 2011 ones)?
    Does it malfunction with some specific Macbook models or is it random?

    From the threads I’ve read it seems that sometimes it is a software problem and then others report that the display’s Thunderbolt cable was faulty… And it seems that these sleep and USB issues are quite widespread.

    Because when buying a $1300 equipment (that’s TBD price in Poland - though I'd also found refurbs for $1000) I would expect it to work flawlessly – especially since it’s Apple’s product and how hard can it be to make it work with very limited computer configurations they have…

    I’m asking, because I would very much like to get a TBD to replace my Dell (U2412M) to work with 2011 15” MBP. Obviously the Dell is fine, but it so happens that I was moving and giving away my unused PCs. A friend who came up to pick one up said he would like to buy the Dell display. At first I didn’t want to sell, but now a 1 cable solution would be nice instead of connecting and disconnecting all the cables times a day… plus my cable jungle behind the Dell would be gone. Now that I’ve moved to my own, nice apartment, it would be nice to have my workplace nice and tidy… and I could spare some cash on the TB since I’m having all the expenses for furtniture etc. A TBD would surely „tie the room together”☺ (Its display properties, the enormous screen real estate etc are obvious benefits☺
    But is it worth it? Since it seems from reading apple discussions site and MacRumors that the TBD often doesn’t provide the 1 cable solution that it promises?

    So, could you advice me in any way, like which TBD models to avoid or is just a lottery with them displays?

    Any input will be highly appreciated.
  2. ybz90 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2009
    Whether or not it's a good value is a different issue I won't address. As for reliability, I've never experienced any sort of defect or problem with any of the Apple displays I've owned (1 24" ACD, 2 27" ATDs), definitely not any USB or sleep issues. I think reports of this are overblown, and if they happen, Apple should replace/fix it no questions asked anyway.
  3. Titanium81 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2011
    I would get one from the refurbed store, here is the link:

    The quality is the same or better, and you can save a little money.
  4. tekboi macrumors 6502a


    Aug 9, 2006
    I agree with Titanium^^^

    I bought my TBD in Jan from the refurb store. Works flawlessly. Don't regret it a single bit.
  5. EwanMcTeagle thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 26, 2012
    Lodz, Poland
    Thanks ybz90, that's reassuring:)

    @ Titanium81 and tekboi
    Unfortunately I can't buy TBD from Apple's refurb store - Apple doesn't have one in Poland, but I've found a company that sells Apple's refurbs, mostly post-exhibition equipment. It has good reviews so I think I'll go with it as soon as I sell the Dell display.

    Thanks guys.
  6. Joseph Farrugia macrumors regular

    Jul 31, 2011
    Malta (EU)
  7. NMF macrumors 6502a


    Oct 27, 2011
    I fixed the "sleep issue" by just setting my MBP to never sleep when plugged in to power. I needed to do this anyway for print sharing reasons, so I don't really mind. In my experience the TBD has been flawless. The only drawback is the lack of USB 3.0, but that's not an issue for me personally.
  8. goy091 macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2011
    Haven't had any issues with USB or sleep/wake with my 2011 Mac mini, or 2011 MBA. I do have an odd buzzing sound from time to time.

    I would get a refurb if you really want one. I don't think the monitor is a great value, especially at $1000/new, but ascetically, it looks great. If you don't need the extra ports on the back or the shiny Apple finish, I think the Dell 27" monitors will do the job for a bit less money.
  9. ChunkAhoy macrumors member


    Jan 31, 2007
    Personally, the ATD was a deception.
    I bought it 2 weeks ago and returned it after a week.

    Heres what i didnt like but could lived with:
    1-Backlight bleeding in the lower right corner (on my unit)
    2-Lots of reflections
    3-Heavy (The herman miller Flo was at its limit)
    4-Too high for my taste on its stand
    5-Cannot connect a non-Thunderbolt video signal (ok for me since theres a FW800 port to maie up for the inconvenience)

    Heres what i found out that ended up making point number 5 weight much more:
    6-A 11% performance degradation on FW800 when benched against a MBP2011.
    7-A 52% performance degradation on USB2.0 when benched against a MBP2011.

    Those two points 6 & 7 made the compromise i had decided to make to buy TBD instead of the ACD lose its sense and i felt like i was getting an expensive product which didn't deliver as expected.

    On the bright side, i did like the size, the design, the brightness, the speakers (reasonable) and camera.

    Im now shopping for a new monitor but havent made up my mind yet.
  10. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Number 2 is a given. Number 1 has never been a strong point for Apple.

    It is pretty much in line with other displays of similar size.
  11. ChunkAhoy macrumors member


    Jan 31, 2007

    I really want to emphasize that point number 1 and 2 are things that i was ready to accept and they are not the reason why i returned the monitor.

    As for the weight, the TBD is around 7-9 pounds heavier than some 27" Dell monitors i have looked at. It's not negligible.
  12. EwanMcTeagle thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 26, 2012
    Lodz, Poland

    The Thunderbolt Display was tempting me for a while now and I honestly regret buying a Dell last year and not waiting and saving up for the TBD.
    The Dell U2412M I had was working fine, but I've moved to a new apartment, where I don't have a TV, so I needed something bigger for movie watching anyways - or I just needed an excuse to get the TBD and tie up my „work station”:)

    1-Backlight bleeding in the lower right corner (on my unit) – that’s really odd, I find the backlight on my TBD to be truly uniform. Maybe you got a faulty piece. It’s really night vs day difference as opposed to the Dell, which had awfully „bleeding corners” - that was painfully visible when working late in the evening or when watching a movie.
    2-Lots of reflections – can’t argue with that, but I was ready for that and I always work with blinds shut, whether I’m using the TBD or a MBP. And frankly I prefer the gloss to the "milk" image of the antiglare Dell now that I can compare tchem in the same enviroment.
    3-Heavy – It’s a monster for sure. I was dragging it to the 3rd floor and I thought my arms were going to bleed☺
    4-Too high for my taste on its stand – not a problem for me, actually I set up my displays on an additional stand to get them higher. But it’s really a shame that all that this $999 display can do is tilt…
    5-Cannot connect a non-Thunderbolt video signal – fortunately that’s ok for me as i only have Macs and the TBD connectivity is all I want and need.

    Thank you guys for all your input.

    I do have one small question left - I was wondering if it's possible to buy a replacement Thunderbolt/Magsafe cable for the TBD? I'm pretty sure that the MagSafe part is going to give up on me some day from all the plugging and unplugging. Of course it wouldn;t be hard to override it by using a Thunderbolt cable and Macbook's original power adapter, but that take away TBD's convenience.
    Anyways I've tried searching Google, but either it's non existent or hard to find.
    Maybe some of you had more luck...

  13. Acorn macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2009
    the cables are integrated into the monitor. there is no way to update or change the magsafe adapter. This is just one more reason im not buying a TB display right now. im not spending 1000 dollars on a monitor only to have a dongle adapter on it to make it current. thats just stupid.
  14. Traverse macrumors 604


    Mar 11, 2013
    I wanted to revive this thread versus starting a new one.

    I'm in the market for a new display and I am torn between the Dell U2715H with an added sound bar accessory or the ATD.

    If I got the ATD I'd wait until I could get a refurb for $799, still with frequent sales the Dell will most likely be cheaper. The Dell has a faster response time, same contrast ratio, and comparable size and weight. It also has USB 3.0.

    I'm torn. I know logically the Dell is the one to get, but I've always like the ATDs...

    One of the issues with waiting is that Apple will either not refresh the line in 2015 or they'll refresh it with only 4K or 5K (for high end Macs). My rMBP can drive 4K, but I don't really want to tax the GPU like that. I'd rather have a smooth 2560 x 1440 resolution.
  15. ctyrider macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2012
    Thunderbolt Display is a terrible investment at this stage. It has to be near the end of its live in its current form.

    Get Dell P2715Q - it's a 27" 4K display, which can be had at a lower price than Apple TBD. Yes I know you said you didn't want a 4K display, but your concern about "taxing the GPU" doesn't really make any sense.
  16. Traverse macrumors 604


    Mar 11, 2013
    I would think native 4K at 27" would render UI elements too small. Running it at a scaled resolution would result in choppy performance. But thanks for the suggestion, it looks like a good display.
  17. ctyrider macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2012
    What makes you say that? Latest MacOS (starting at 10.10.1 I think) supports HiDPI scaled modes. This basically lets you size your UI elements the way you like it, while preserving 4K physical resolution. So you'd run your 27" 4K display at something like 1.5:1 retina mode, which'd give you a lot better picture that a 1440p display.

    With the price of 4K display these days - I wouldn't spend my money on anything less. Especially if you have a Mac that can support 4K.
  18. Traverse macrumors 604


    Mar 11, 2013
    I have a late 15" rMBP with 750M. I know that running the integrated display on anything other than "Best for Retina" can sometimes result choppy UI. I assumed the 750M was just sufficient to drive a 4K display and would begin to buckle if I tried to run 4K at 2560 x 1440 scaled, but you are not the first on this forum to suggest the idea of a scaled 4K display.
  19. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Unless Apple is holding out for a 4k thunderbolt display at some point, my guess is that they're "out of the display business" -- just as they exited the printer market some years' back.

    Time to look at 3rd-party offerings...
  20. StE823 macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2009
    I picked up a used one for 600 CDN not long ago...

    I was planning to get something else but end up with the TBD mostly because it is still the ultimate docking solution for my macbook pro...

    USB 2.0 is kinda bummer but it still has firewire800, and extra thunderbolt port for my TB working external drive... my old firewire800 can be stick behind the monitor.. USB 2 ports are perfect for my USB audio output and charging my iphone... Also my two USB 3.0 ports on my macbook pro is still available since everything is connected via the single thunderbolt port... Not to mention I can have my macbook pro charger left in my backpack...

    I am happy with my purchase even it's a little outdated...
  21. Ryan0751 macrumors regular

    Nov 4, 2013
    I have two Dell P2715Q's and also two Apple TBD's. I use the TBD's at the office (my old monitors) at 2550x1440 (native), and run the Dell's at 2550x1440 scaled.

    I haven't seen ANY choppiness with scaling. I do have a very beefy machine, though (nMP with D700's).
  22. Stocks macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2015
    You think?

    Can't they just take their retina iMac display, put it in a different case with some USB ports and stuff, and sell it for good money?

    You would think a 5K Thunderbolt display would sell.
  23. larrysing1963 macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2014
    There are a couple of problems here with them doing that.

    First is that current Mac hardware would have problems driving a monitor at the 5K resolution, as it will be more reasonably done with faster GPUs, DP 1.3, and HDMI 2.0, which is not yet rolled out in anything Apple sells.

    Second, it's not a "real" 5K they are doing on the Retina 5K iMac - they are doing some "tricks" to get that resolution. And the "tricks" require the special processing power of the computer inside - which is why they do not allow the iMac to drive external monitors at 5K, and why it cannot be used in "target mode" as the monitor for another computer.

    My guess, based on the reliable "Apple rumors" gathered from the Internet is that Apple is waiting for the hardware, the roll-out of HDMI 2.0 and DP1.3, and for their own GPUs to get better before they release a 5K monitor. Which will not be earlier than probably Fall 2016.

    But I do think if they DO decide to make a 5K Thunderbolt monitor, it will be AWESOME and will clean the clock of the competitor offerings.

    Just my 2 cents. :apple:
  24. Dr Charter macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2011
    Do you take the nMP back and forth with you or are you using a different computer in one of these locations?
  25. Lennyvalentin macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2011
    Current thunderbolt protocol can't handle the datarate required for 5K @60Hz. Talk is that thunderbolt 3 (which is rumored to have a new, thinner, reversible connector) will manage it, but TB3 won't come until Intel releases its Skylake series of CPUs (in Q3 this year IIRC.)

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