Thunderbolt vs third party monitor?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by stract, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. stract macrumors member

    Sep 13, 2013
    I'm planning to purchase a Haswell rMBP when they are released, and want to get an external monitor to pair with it for home use (desktop replacement). The Thunderbolt Display appeals due to only needing the one connector for display and power and the built-in port. My question is can I get the same setup with a third party monitor for a better price? Assume comparable resolution.
  2. mattbaar26 macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2013
    I would suggest a third party monitor. The TB is $1000 USD and you can get a super high quality for ~400-600 and then use the extra to upgrade RAM or get some cool accessories. You would just need a thunderbolt to hdmi or vga adapter
  3. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    I've seen a lot of these threads and people have been recommending this monitor as a possible replacement for the TBD. If you don't use the hub on the back of the TBD, I think this is a much better setup unless a subjectively superior visual appearance of the apple monitor is worth $400+ to you. Just to clarify - to get full resolution out of the monitor you would need to use a mini-displayport to displayport cable which can be found relatively cheaply. HDMI and VGA cannot display a 2560x1440 resolution. Thuderbolt to DL-DVI is another option but the adapter is much more expensive.
  4. stract thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 13, 2013
    So, I do plan to use the hub, at least for an external keyboard/mouse (Logitech setup with the unifying receiver which I already own, a CAC reader, and at least one other USB device (external HD, ContourROAM camera, etc). And I'd then need to buy an extra power adapter for the laptop (though it looks like that's not too expensive). So the mini display port to display port adapter would be compatible with the dell monitor and allow full resolution?
  5. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    With the Dell monitor, you would be plugging in a usb cord into your macbook which runs to the hub on the back of the monitor. So that is one more cable to plug in compared to the TBD. There is a few more connections on the TBD hub like ethernet, thunderbolt, and firewire, but if you are just using USB peripherals than the Dell would work. Actually the Dell monitor is USB 3.0 where the current TBD is USB 2.0. This doesn't matter for things like keyboards and mice, but for data transfer like the hard drive, USB 3.0 is nice to have. If you are waiting for a Haswell rMBP, they may release a new TBD with USB 3.0

    And yes, the mini-displayport to displayport will drive the monitor at full resolution.
  6. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    The Thunderbolt Display is a very nice monitor with the extra ports. The real question is - do you want TB and USB2 ports for the most part or do you want USB3 ? If the latter is important consider possibly a 3rd party monitor and get a small bus-break-out box that your rMBP TB will go into and then break out into the appropriate ports. There are a couple of very nice ones on the market and the unit can sit by or under your 3rd party monitor.

    You did not mention what you will be using your monitor for so that makes recommendations difficult. The mention of the Dell Ultra series is a great option with good all around performance and "as good" graphics capability. There are others that perform graphics better and others that are cheaper and as good or better for gaming.

    If external devices are important to you such as USB3 attached, skip the Thunderbolt Display or wait for a newer model to come out.

    Just more peanuts from the gallery.
  7. joewillmott macrumors regular

    May 22, 2012
    Yamakasi Catleap or any equivalent is my suggestion to save a lot of money but still get the TB display experience. Like with every suggestion/opinion there will be people that disagree, but I recommend researching it yourself and seeing if it will meet your requirements.
  8. 9947273 Suspended

    Oct 28, 2012
    You could get better monitors at a cheaper price and still have enough left for a TB docking station if you want a complete hub
  9. stract thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 13, 2013
  10. rodaddy macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2004
    I have both solutions/situations

    Having a setup that uses a 27" thunderbolt, and one that uses a 30" Dell I can tell you that I enjoy the 30" dell much more. I do like having the extra ports that my rMBP is missing on the Thunderbolt display, but I'll take the screen real estate over some extra ports that I almost never use. I've thunderbolt or USB3 to (ethernet, eSATA, Firewire, DVI) adapters that i can use when I need those ports, but there is not adapter to give me more screen space.


  11. stract thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 13, 2013
    If I went with a MBA instead of a rMBP, I notice there is no Mini DisplayPort; how would I get around that with connectors, and would I still be able to get full resolution? A traditional dock, maybe?
  12. jwjsr macrumors 6502


    Mar 15, 2012
    Fairhope, Alabama
    I just checked the apple store and both the 11 and 13 MBA's have mini display port
  13. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    I have latest (and soon to be last gen) rMBP, hooked up to Thunderbolt Display. While Thunderbolt Display is good, it is somewhat outdated and in need of update (e.g., IGZO panel, USB 3.0). Before you fork out money for alternative cheaper model, you may want to see what Apple whips out. In all likelihood, it will cost the same or even more, however (one of the rumors is Apple updating Thunderbolt Display with Thunderbolt 2 connector and 4K resolution).
  14. stract, Oct 14, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013

    stract thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 13, 2013
    Interesting. I guess the ones on display at the local Best Buy are old...which is not surprising.

    And as far as holding out for an updated ATD, I agree, and I plan to wait a little to see what happens. Not purchasing the laptop until Mavericks is released anyway...hopefully it comes soon given what's in the new iMac...
  15. sigma8 macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2005
    One thing that you may not care about: if you want to hook up two displays, one of them would likely need to be an Apple Thunderbolt Display. I don't know of any other way to have a single Thunderbolt port power two monitors other than one of them being an Apple one and daisy-chaining the second one.

    You'd think there'd be a peripheral out there that lets you convert a Thunderbolt channel into DVI and daisy chain to a second device that lets you do the same thing. Or even better: a thunderbolt device with two, discrete DVI ports (that handles the chaining internally). There are thunderbolt devices that let you plug two DVI or HDMI monitors into them, but they only emulate a single, virtual monitor and stretch it across the physical ones, giving you e.g. a 3840 (1920*2) x 1080 display. You are required to use identical resolution monitors for that to work, and you can't (gracefully) put a monitor between them. You also can't rearrange them (e.g. you can't do 1920x2160 (either as dual portrait, or vertically placed landscape)
  16. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    Apple will very likely update Thunderbolt Display along with new Mac Pro, and possibly in both 4K and 2560x1440 resolutions.

    Regarding the price, Thunderbolt Display does have charger ($80), Ethernet ($30), 2 FireWire ($30 each), a fairly decent speakers, and webcam. If these things don't matter to you, then Thunderbolt Display just amount to $200 premium over comparable Dell UltraSharp 27 (U2713HM).

    I have retina MacBook Pro and Thunderbolt Display and I use most of the ports and webcams, so I can definitely justify paying $920.
  17. calaverasgrande macrumors 65816


    Oct 18, 2010
    Brooklyn, New York.
    We have a number of rMBP and Air users here. Not a single one gets the TB Display.
    It just costs too fricking much, and is not compatible with anything but Apple gear.
    Oh and it needs a diet!
    It's MUCH thicker than the iMac for some bizarre reason.

    HP makes Displayport equipped monitors now. The E231 is about $200 for a 23" display. Get two and you have a huge amount of space. Thuogh they do not have a 2nd port to chain with. So if you have a single TB/Displayport you are kind of limited.
  18. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    The HP E231 is a TN panel, so it's about the lowest quality display that you can possibly buy.
  19. TinHead88 macrumors regular


    Oct 30, 2008
    Something else to keep in mind is that the Apple Thunderbolt Display is one of the few to have no antiglare coating. This was a major factor in my decision. All monitors with that antiglare sheet make my eyes water after a while. It's like looking through fog the whole time. It probably affects some people more than others but my eyes getting tired was a good sign for me to go for a monitor without it.

    The 27" iMac screens are fantastic. There's almost nothing between the pixel and your eyes. Glare is reduced too but without using those horrible grainy coatings. I would wait to see if they update them to that standard.
  20. mtmac macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2012
    I really think the ThunderBolt display will be updated in December. They've announced the MacPro, (first sometime in 2013, then fall, now as of today, December. I think they will will have a whole desktop event then, with the MacPro, MacMini, non-retina MBP & TBD 2.0. They have specifically said at the MacPro announcement that the MacPro will work with 3rd party 4k displays, so I highly doubt this to be a 4k display. The other option would be to dump this product altogether, but I think with the iMac design already done, they will want to show off the new mini and pro with a new, finally-updated, monitor/hub. While the numbers of these produced may be small, I've got to think that at the current pricing, it's a profitable product not worth walking away from, especially considering the physical design is already finished. With the Pro coming in at prosumer pricing ($3K), there's a lot of Apple customers who will want the prestige of owning the flagship, made in the USA computer. Most of those people are not going to turn around and buy a 4k display for $4K, or buy a cheap dell, but will want to show off their Apple status symbol with a new ATD. Considering that sales and supply of ATDs has been low recently due to a very outdated design and ports, and that they no longer can sell them in Europe due to new EU standards and lack of a internal fan shroud; I can not understand why they wouldn't update this product just in time for Christmas. With MagSafe 2 and USB 3 standards for so long, plus now TB 2 as a Pro standard, they would do well with an update that is compatible with every single current Mac they sell. People here were saying they would never come out with a new Pro for years, and yet they will; I believe the same is true with this product. Fear not, Apple still wants your money.

    Current 27" iMac physical structure, available with stand or VESA mount, just like current iMac.
    Current iMac low glare screen
    Current iMac speakers
    MagSafe 2
    Current iMac I/O with possible addition of ThunderBolt 2.0 ports
    Current imac IO ports include:
    SDXC Card Slot
    Four USB 3.O
    Two ThunderBolt 2.0 ports (possibly three total including tethered cable, or they might want some extra for the cable this time)
    Gigabit Ethernet
    Full Res FaceTime Camera/Microphone

    I think the above is a given, but Apple might have some other additions:
    HDMI 1.4
    Greater than 2560-by-1440 resolution, but not 4k
    Graphics Card, or a better yet, an upgradeable slot for it, (TB2 is fast enough to utilize this in a hub device)
    AppleTV built in, potentially the iTV devise Jobs was talking about for the last couple years of his life.
    Optional Remote, Free IOS remote app for your iPhone/IPad

    $999 + potential upgrades

    So the rMBP you were waiting for came out yesterday, either wait for the next gen ATD, or get them both now and trade out the monitor in Early December when the ATD 2 is out. So yes, for it's features the ATD is overpriced, unless you find it used or refurbed for $700 or less; but the new ATD 2 will be a good looking bargain at $999 for a much nicer renovated display/hub. Good Luck.
  21. mtmac macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2012
    With the 90 day return policy, you could either trade it for the new ATD2 if it comes out, or return it to pick up a third party monitor. I'm not sure when third party monitors normally come out, but I know a lot of tvs come out as new models in January in time for the Super Bowl.
  22. mtmac macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2012
    While a lot of people here will rip the ATD as it is overpriced, which right now it is, that won't be true of a new model. If you get the new screen and new hub, it is a deal. One cord connectivity plus Apple will maintain its resale value high unlike any third party monitor. A grand for a monitor of this quality, an updated hub in an elegant package that serves as an elegant solution is a worthwhile investment, especially as an add-on to a high-end rMBP.

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