Thunderbolt Docking station?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Peter Curious, Jul 16, 2011.

  1. Peter Curious macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2011
    Would it be physically possible to engineer a station that used Thunderbolt to turn the MBP into merely a keyboard, mouse, and screen, then power it with the resources of a tower? If anyone can point out issues with this idea, or reasons why it's stupid, that would be greatly appreciated. I am completely computer illiterate beyond basic Java and very little experience with constructing PC towers.

    Thanks for reading!:)
  2. Lennyvalentin macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2011
    While sort-of possible to do what you're asking, you can't reduce the MBP to a mere input/output device; the main processor and RAM also resides in the MBP, and is in fact what drives the thunderbolt interface to begin with! :)

    Also, thunderbolt, while extremely fast for a cabled connection (theoretical specs: dual 10Gbit/s bidirectional channels for an aggregate 40Gbit/s from one tiny connector), it's not particulary fast compared to a full PCIe 16x connector as found on stationary computer motherboards, especially as one of those channels are dedicated to displayport video. Many of today's powerful graphics accelerator add-in boards would require more I/O bandwidth than thunderbolt can provide to work efficiently.

    Other than faster graphics there's relatively little a tower could offer that you can't get in another way from a MBP. High-res videograbbing perhaps, or high-performance RAID storage arrays are two such things, but if you have such advanced needs then you should just buy a stationary computer and be done with it. :)

    So to round this off, you may want to ask yourself why you want a docking station to begin with. A thunderbolt-equipped MBP is already a very powerful and capable piece of hardware whose performance crushes most stationary PCs from a couple years ago, all in a package that's far smaller and more portable (and arguably, much better looking! :p)
  3. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Agreed with the above post. Even if you did make a tower more powerful than the MBP (which is amazingly powerful itself, especially the 15 and 17" versions), it would be more or less pointless to hook it up to a MBP, given that it would give you a small screen for a desktop, and you would probably need to use a separate keyboard and mouse. At that point, just buy a Mac Pro, big monitor and you have yourself a desktop.
  4. Peter Curious thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2011

    Thanks guys, I'm just a bit wowwed by the new technology, and impressed with apple. Again, great many thanks!:D
  5. hawk1410 macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    The MBPs while powerful will be crushed by 500$-800$ desktops in terms of performance.
    I dont know what exactly do you want but there has been a lot of speculation of using the Thunderbolt port as a PCIe expansion slot chassis for an external desktop graphics card. While there is no product currently available which provided a Thunderbolt to PCIe expansion Sonnet is working on a product for exactly this. While the bandwidth of ThunderBolt is no where near as PCIex16 an external graphics card expansion will still be possible and give great performance as people have gotten great performance even on the ExpressCard slot connected external graphics cards, and an express card slot has much less bandwidth. So people are expecting upto 80% performance of a desktop card like the GTX560 if it is connected via the ThunderBolt port. Ofcourse whether such an expansion would work is still not clear but people have successfully implemented the expresscard slot external graphics card on the MBP, so ThunderBolt external graphics card may also be possible.

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