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  • V4lkyri3 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Maybe I'm slow to the party, but I'm loving this video review Anand.

  • mfenn - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Agreed! Reply
  • GeorgeH - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    It was a very well-done video, everything from lighting and sound to the presentation was very well done.

    Hopefully you use video reviews as more of a supplement where it's appropriate though (case reviews with videos would be great.) I can read much faster and than I can listen, and it's much easier to search and reference text.
  • dragonsqrrl - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    +1! Love the way Anand and reviewers have been using these video's to supplement the written content, it's a great added bonus.

    And I agree, it would be great for things like case, monitor, and smart phone reviews, things of that nature, but not so much for a hard drive or SSD reviews, for instance. And it seems like that's precisely the way the video reviews have been used thus far.

    Great stuff...
  • Operandi - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    For one it is a very concise version of the full review, and it complements it very well. Just the quick and dirty info on what Apple has been up to, and as this will do nothing for me as a PC user I now know I can stop there; if I want more detailed info I have the full review at my disposal, pretty cool. The other obvious benefit is the video format itself has advantages over still images for products such as this.

    Also great work on the video and audio production, it looked and sounded great. The set is almost too minimalistic though, might want to experiment there.
  • tech6 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    +1 - Nice work - looks and sounds professional. More please. Reply
  • leodc - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    You are are quite a fluent speaker, Anand! You spoke continuously for more than 5 minutes without meandering, drifting.... Impressive. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I agree. I love how he leaped into the anecdote without throwing an annoying intro on the screen. Anand's performance was engaging; I love listening to where he thinks the industry is going. Reply
  • B3an - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    It's well made but it annoys me how he puts this much effort in to Apple products and only makes a video of this quality for something by Apple. Also in Anandtech articles theres very often better quality photos for Apple stuff, in comparison to other articles for anything else. More effort is put in to lighting, location, and camera shots. On a whole Apple articles just seem better presented and it just makes the site seem bias and like some fanboyism exists. Reply
  • Stas - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Or they just get paid to do it right. Other articles they do on their own initiative. I'm sure, if a company stepped in and paid for a review, they would do it just as well, as Apple's. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    We do not accept payment for any review, this one included.

    Take care,
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I needed to start somewhere :) The next video review won't be an Apple product ;) And we do try to take great photos of everything we review when possible. I believe some of the best photos to-date have been of Android smartphones imho done by Brian Klug.

    Take care,
  • Aikouka - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    It's a good review overall, but I do have a comment or two:

    - When switching to a completely different view, I would recommend using a quick transition such as a fade. It's rather jarring to just suddenly switch to a completely different picture like that.

    - If you'd like to make video reviews a bit more common, it might be worthwhile to consider a slight site change to make them a bit more accessible. Some sort of thing (tabs, buttons, etc.) near the top to switch between a text review and a video review.

    I'm trying to figure out though... did you build that entire stage area for the review, or is that a blue screen behind you? The shadows on the lettering made me wonder.
  • G-Man - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I'm guessing they make the extra effort on Apple-products, simply because A LOT more people read those articles than the odd generic laptop review.

    If you've been following Anandtech for a while, you will see that they recap and explain (basic) technology and concepts in Apple review, because more people read them, and less tech savvy people read them.

    So it's only natural for them to put extra effort into Apple-reviews.

    PS: Anand, LOVE the video review. Please keep making them! :)
  • gevorg - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Anandtech just loves Apple products, hence the special treatment. :) Reply
  • MrX8503 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Maybe you're the fanboy. Its a good review just like any other, accept it. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    B3an is definitely the fanboy, there is massive bias when he posts in DT threads Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Part of it is that Apple products generally photograph better than others. It is hard to polish a turd, no matter how well you frame or light it. On the other hand, a beautiful object can photograph well under most circumstances.

    As for effort into reviewing Apple products, it is generally because they are on the leading edge of physical interfaces, form factors, and technologies. Three years after the debut of the Macbook Air and now there is a massive push from other companies to deliver comparable machines.

    The reasoning behind the Thunderbolt review is that it points to a very probable future for PCs, one in which your laptop is also your main computer. One option will be to have a laptop that plugs into a Thunderbolt hub (which may or may not be integrated into a display) which has all of your external devices and other things such as a dedicated desktop GPU, etc etc.

    It is interesting how much anti-Apple bias there is here. I'm typing this on my PC but I"m not blind to how vital Apple is to the industry.
  • seapeople - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    You're comparing the reviews Anand does himself to what some of the other editors do for cheaper/less advanced products. Look at Anand's SSD reviews (especially when its for a new/unique controller) and you'll see the same detail. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    And at the same time, many SSD reviews consist of just benchmarks and a small introduction. Take for example the Samsung 830 SSD review, it's not that massive, mainly because Samsung isn't that big player. Reply
  • JasperJanssen - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Not every product merits an in-depth review. 1 in-depth equals about 4 or 5 short reviews, and every site has to choose carefully how to spend its time.

    The first time we saw SF2000, there were *massive* reviews. If Samsung would suddenly put out an SSD that is a few dozen percent faster than the current fastest SSD, (and not cost the earth) it'll no doubt get an extensive review. When Apple puts out something very new that could well be the way of the future for the industry as a whole, they get a large review. Makese sense to me.

    And before you jump all over me on that score: Just look at the Sony implementation of Light Ridge on the current Vaio Z. That's a docking station that has everything this thing has (apart from the display) and some more.

    The market as a whole may well not go for integration into displays and integrated power supplies, but Thunderbolt/Thunderbolt-style docking stations seem likely to sweep the world.
  • Zink - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    +1 top notch video review in every way Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Agree as well. While I definitely hope the text reviews will continue and receive the most resources, these video reviews are a great supplement, especially with less "numbers driven" products like displays and mobile devices.

    I wish all the CNET, television, etc. reviewers would take a look at this simple, engaging, intelligent review style and adopt it as well. Most reviewers spend way too much time trying to be entertaining and talking down to their audience.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    The text reviews will continue, this is simply something we're experimenting with to offer an augment :)

    It's always been my opinion that we should treat the readers as equals. It turns out that if you don't treat your readers like idiots then you'll find that you actually attract some really smart people :)

    Take care,
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    The video was quite good indeed.

    And I like the eye-level-approach. Especially since you had a pretty good balance between talking about the actually interesting bits and still keeping it easy to follow.

    Maybe in some places you might want to slow down just a tiny little bit. ;-)
  • Iketh - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    NOO!! If anything Anand, talk even faster! Throw it at me at full GigE! I'm a busy man! Reply
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Just play the video in fast forward then. ;-)) Reply
  • pmcg - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I agree too. What an impressive setup and continuous, cogent presentation. I have never seen a video of Anand but now that I have, I demand more! Should there be an Reply
  • jleeworking - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Wow! nicely done, can we have more of those videos? Reply
  • mymoon - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Also agreed! Well done Anand on the video review. Felt my time well spent. Reply
  • decryption - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    No mention of how the built in Intel graphics perform on the high res screen? It was an initial concern of mine when the new MBA was released - how it would perform at that high resolution when paired up to a Mac running the 3000 HD graphics?

    Any UI lag? (e.g: mission control, swiping full screen apps, etc.)
  • boblozano - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Been using this combo for a couple of days and it's just about perfect. No lag, no complaints.

    I'd probably like usb3 and an sd reader as well, but those are nits.
  • MonkeyPaw - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I am surprised there's no card reader, but that's amendable by the USB. I don't understand the lack of audio ports. Macs are primarily media machines--how could they forget audio ports?!

    I guess you could use a USB sound card?
  • JasperJanssen - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    My guess is, Apple considers the humble analog audio port to be a dodo, except for use while actually on the move. But that's just speculation.

    All of the recent Intel-based macs that have been released, except the MacBook Air (and the Pro, which separates them), have an analog port that doubles as an optical output by plugging in the right (mini-TOSlink) optical cable -- maybe they would only want to include an audio port if it also included that optical part, which may well either make the port too deep for the regular port-location, and/or simply be too expensive. You could put a deeper port on the side of the monitor instead of the rear, but that would be both ugly and pretty expensive, as you'd have to add a whole extra PCB including a cable that goes to it.

    Come to think of it, I'm not sure that at the location of the other port there is enough depth even for a regular 3.5mm jack, let alone a miniTOSlink variant. A 3.5mm jack is about 15-20 mm long and might well simply not fit between the aluminium back and the display backlight.
  • TypeS - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I really don't understand why people ponder this. Intel's integrated graphics don't do much for gaming at high resolutions (do AMD and NVIDIA's IGPS either?), but they've been fine for years now for high resolution monitors. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    If you check the video Anand made for this article, he goes into more detail about MBA performance hooked up to such a large monitor. Overall the performance is respectable, but there are points where the GPU can't keep all of the GUI animations at 30fps. Reply
  • cactusdog - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Its nice to have less cables but this kit would cost around $2500? You can buy a similar res screen+notebook for around half that and take a few extra seconds to plug in a second or third cable.

    For work purposes most people would only really need to plug in the display cable (hdmi/displayport) anyway, and maybe ethernet if theres no wireless...

    I dont think its worth the price premium unless you're getting it for free.....
  • TypeS - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Really... half? Dell wants $100 more for their 27" IPS 2560 x 1440 (16:9) display. And doesn;t come close to matching the capabilities of the Thunderbolt display. And a comparable notebook from Acer or Sony aren't much cheaper than the Macbook Air. So.. where are you getting this ultra portable notebook + 27" IPS display all together for only $1250?

    I don't like Apple much taking "facts" out of your arse is just as dumb as Steve Jobs' "magic".
  • cactusdog - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    What are you talking about? The thunderbolt display is $1200 and the Dell is $899 but with discount you can get it for $750.

    The macbook starts around $1,300 with 13" screen and integrated graphics, then 15' + graphics is $1,699-$2000.

    You can get a similar size/spec Asus or Samsung with discrete for around $900
  • cactusdog - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    BTW, this is an apple advertisement. People should understand how things work by now and understand how Apple target their marketing. Reply
  • A5 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    No shit. Every single review, everywhere, where the hardware is provided by the manufacturer is advertising of some form. This is why you rarely see truly negative reviews of anything. Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    And what monitors are you looking at to get those prices?

    The Thunderbolt Display is $999 not $1200.

    Dell's most comparable device is the U2711 which is IPS and is $1099 regular price, although it's currently on sale for $719.

    I don't know how frequently Dell does sales, but at regular price the Thunderbolt Display is in fact cheaper than Dell's while including more dock features like ethernet, firewire, speakers, etc.
  • Stas - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Do a google search on the model and you will find at least 5 online sellers that have the Dell monitor for <$850 Reply
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Sure. The Dell doesn't have an LED backlight, however, so apparently they're selling off the old stock with CCFL backlights before moving on to LED as well.

    It's tougher to get a larger colour space with a (white) LED backlight, but on the other hand it's mercury-free, uses significantly less power and lives longer than CCFL.
  • doubledeej - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    CCFL backlit monitors still have a better image. That's why you find them on the high-end monitors from other manufacturers. Apple is sacrificing quality by moving to LED. Look at the charts in the article. The Thunderbolt and Cinema Display monitors both fall in the bottom third of nearly all of them. They aren't that great. LED gives better power usage, but it comes at a price in terms of image quality. Reply
  • Constructor - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    Better power efficiency, better longevity, zero mercury.

    Quite significant advantages.

    And in most metrics the TBD is actually pretty decent, particularly for its resolution and price.

    CCFL makes it cheaper to get a larger colour space than with RGB LEDs again at the very top.

    But for that it's far dirtier in all three dimensions (wastes power, turns the display into e-waste a lot sooner and releases mercury if not dismantled very, very carefully – and even then the mercury remains hazardous waste).

    Very few people actually have a use for an expanded colour space. Still few people actually experience limitations with brightness uniformity (my iMac 27" is fully sufficient for all my uses, with no problem noticeable). And all people benefit from the advantages.

    It would have been silly for Apple to make a display that's specialized to only very few people's needs and saddling everyone with lots of disadvantages. Eizo can do that. They've got many models and they are largely specializing on these kinds of uses (and even they are on their way towards LED backlights).
  • jecs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    He went to the Apple store and confused the starting iMac to the Thunderbolt display. Some are so eager trying to look calm and cool but forget to check the facts.

    And you started saying "Nice but..."
    Nice to what? if you did not check the real price you are objecting
    Are you going to say now that you like the Apple display?
  • TypeS - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Better check the price again there bud, it's $990.00USD

    The Macbook Air also starts at $990.00USD as well:

    That's a grand total of $1980 before taxes

    The 13" Pros starts at $1199 as well.

    Dell lists it's U2711 at $1099 retail, with a current sale price of $949.

    If we take your assumption that ASUS/Samsung have similar spec'd and functional alternatives or $900, the total savings is $150.That is a far cry from half.

    Anti-apple critics are just as bad as the brainwashed Apple fanboys when they start pulling facts out of thin air.
  • cactusdog - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    The prices I quoted are from the Apple website in my country and they are accurate. Apple charge us a lot more than they do in the US.

    You're choosing the cheapest/smallest macbook that nobody wants and saying they are cheap. They are not. You can get a similar speced notebook for much less from Asus.
  • mcnabney - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Didn't you read the review? This display has poor color accuracy so you really can't compare it to displays that have it. Anand indicated that people accustom to laptop displays wouldn't notice it, but I guarantee that people who have historically bought and needed high quality displays WILL notice it. So you can't really compare Apple's new display to competitors that make displays for the publishing/imaging business. Reply
  • NCM - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    At under a grand for a giant IPS display that incorporates at least $200 worth of extra connectivity (laptop power supply, T'bolt, additional ports, speakers) this monitor is good value for a MacBook Pro or Air user.

    Colour accuracy is more than adequate for most professional work. If it's not good enough you should be taking a big step up to something like an Eizo, both shrinking the display size and doubling the price in the process.
  • jecs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    You did read but you just don't understand what color accuracy means or what to do with it.

    What you call poor color accuracy is the gamut space that is important only if you work with wide gamut color. Apple does not cares for wide gamut, not with this display or with past displays. It does not means the display is not accurate in color, it is very accurate. But Apple optimize their displays for print accuracy were wide gamut is not required. Even for FCP Apple doesn't work with wide gamut. For consumer use wide gamut is also a mixed bag because many complain the color in general looks to bright or "artificial".

    I have a 2410 Dell display because I care for wide gamut for what I do but I do appreciate Apple displays and this thunderbolt display is good and other vendors should pay attention to the connectivity and function for desktop use. I would want a mate screen version for more serious professional design but for demanding consumers who appreciate quality and efficiency this is a nice option.

    But right now what you need to know is what display is best for what you do.

    Are you a professional. Are you a consumer or an aficionado looking for an intermediate option. Or buying the cheapest display.

    The Apple displays are for entry level professionals or high end consumers or hobbyist.

    For broadcast professional work or for cheap options look else where.
  • hechacker1 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    While I agree with your overall point, I don't think the calibration used by Anand is really informative unless you are doing photo processing work.

    He's targeting the Adobe 1998 profile, which is great for photo editing and printers that support that target (rare unless in a professional setting).

    Most of the Internet is SRGB profile by default, and I'm guessing this display would perform even better there. Most consumer cameras also target SRGB unless you are talking about RAW mode prosumer cameras.

    The fact that this display can accurately display most of the Adobe profile bodes well for its accuracy.

    If you were in Broadcasting or video editing, you should target Rec. 709 profile, which has completely different gamma curves.

    In my opinion, Apple displays are generally very good for the money. Even my late 2009 Macbook Pro can calibrate to excellent color accuracy with VERY little error.

    However, my biggest complaint is that lately Apple displays target 6800-6900K color temps, which are too blue for most calibrations and profiles. Sure it looks good to the untrained eye, but it's bad for color accuracy.
  • jecs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I agree to your more expert opinion than mine.

    Apple is moving more than ever to the high end consumer or prosumer and the move to the higher kelvin could be another sign. Final Cut X and the price is another example.

    But all in all Apple displays are still good monitors.

    If you want a very cheap desktop IPS panel Dell also has a new Ultrasharp line with a shorter gamma space and fewer connectors. But there are other cheap options.
  • Ratman6161 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    ...that I would not be in the market for a $1000+ display from Apple, Dell or an other manufacturer. What i'm in the market for is the best I can get for $200 - $300. Now, what I can get for my dell is a docking station that comes with an additional power brick for $129.00. So I can get a decent (not great but decent) 22 to 24 inch display + a docking station well within my budget.

    I guess if a 27" is what you absolutely have to have and you are willing to pay for it, this is a good option...but not for me.
  • NCM - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Which is fine and all, but the fact that you aren't in the market for a monitor in this category is completely irrelevant to the discussion.

    What's next, that we start posting about our cats?
  • BrooksT - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Why would you spend $200 on a monitor when you can get a legal pad and pen for $8? I guess if you have to have a computer monitor and you're willing to pay for it, but paper and pen are better options for many people. Reply
  • name99 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Professionals pay for quality tools.
    Look, if you're earning $100K a year, and this makes you more productive (not to mention happier) it's worth it.

    Are you amazed that professional carpenters don't use $5 saws from Target? That professional truckers rig up the insides of their rigs with fancy electronics? That professional musicians buy high quality instruments, not what they can find on Craigslist?
  • seapeople - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    You can also buy a $60,000 Cadillac Escalade SUV to pick up your kids at soccer practice.

    What's your point again?
  • alphaod - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Nice review as usual; very tempted to purchase one, but I think I'm fine with my current setup; already have a power supply I keep plugged in at times.

    Honestly if Apple added a powerful GPU, yes I think it would a more enticing purchase, but than they'd have the issue of cooling this unit, powering this unit, and constantly upgrade GPUs; at the same time, we'd have people posting online asking all day when the next Thunderbolt GPU updates will come. This would probably also cause problems with pricing; it would come awfully close to the price of an iMac which I'm sure most people would then consider buying an iMac instead (making this product redundant).

    Personally I'd prefer if Apple added an optical drive (for those of us who replaced the optical drives in our MacBook Pro notebooks), optical out, better GPU in the display~Hell forget about releasing this display; redo the iMac as a dock for the MacBook Air/Pro!
  • MobiusStrip - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I wish someone would have the balls to step up and end this moronic glossy-screen fad.

    Glossy sucks in all lighting conditions. It doesn't matter where the illumination is coming from in the room, or even if there IS any. At the very least, the light from the monitor is going to illuminate YOU, putting your reflection over those supposedly "deep blacks" and "rich colors." Glossy screens work for one customer: the ninja in the closet.

    Going from a glossy screen to matte is like cleaning a filthy windshield: You wonder how you put up with it until that moment.
  • retrospooty - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    "Glossy screens work for one customer: the ninja in the closet."

    At the risk of outing my secret identity, we closet Ninja's reject your claim!
  • Colorblinded - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    You and me both. I can tolerate it on my phone but my desktop or laptop are matte only. Reply
  • HMTK - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link


    That and widescreen resolutions. Gimme a 4:3 high res matte screen anyday!
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Well, 16:9 with a 2560-pixel display still gives me 1440 pixels vertically, surpassed only by the 1600 in a 16:10 30" panel which costs double the price and significantly more than in any of the smaller resolutions.

    So I can live quite comfortably with my iMac 27" (same panel as in the TBD). "Suffering" on a very high level, so to speak. 8-)
  • doubledeej - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    I've always felt like integrated monitors are a waste. The trouble with iMacs (and all All-in-Ones) is that you have to buy your monitor over and over again each time you buy a computer. So ~$800 of your computer's price went toward getting that 27" monitor, and when your computer dies, so does your display, and that money is lost.

    I've been using the same four high-end LCDs for my last three computers. I'll gladly spend $500/yr to ensure I have the latest and greatest computer without having to invest an additional dime in new displays.
  • Constructor - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    Macs generally life for many years. Actually, none of mine has ever "died". Even my first one from the early 1990s still works as on the first day.

    Plus, recent iMacs can serve as external monitors for other computers.

    Maybe you're just switching your computers a little frantically compared to most other people. My Macs have so far been in productive use for 5-6 years each and are just mostly collecting dust since retirement because I chose not to sell them to someone who could get good use out of them even after that.

    This is my first iMac. I'll see whether I'll keep it around as a monitor for its successor or if I'll just sell it off when the time comes. It's a pretty good concept, however, and it works very well in practice.
  • jecs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I am stepping up (balls?) but to say you think you know what you are talking about but you are not.

    The thunderbolt display is a high end consumer display not a professional level display.
    Even the Dell 2711 is an entry professional monitor. Dell Is better suited for color correction and wide color gamut space but not the real broadcast deal.

    Where, where in a broadcast professional production environment would you even consider an Apple display? Maybe on press production for everyday news or on production studios for independent production on constrained budgets who don't depend on critical wide color gamut.

    80% of consumers and most professional not working on critical color correction don't care for mate screens. Glossy screens are better for watching a movie or content and in a controlled environment this is acceptable.
  • name99 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    "The thunderbolt display is a high end consumer display not a professional level display."
    "Where, where in a broadcast professional production environment would you even consider an Apple display?"

    If only there were professions OTHER than "broadcast professional"...
    But sadly we live in a world where every professional is a broadcast professional, and clearly Apple has screwed up in making a device that appeals to print workers, or programmers, or musicians. None of them, after all, are professionals...
  • jecs - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    80% of people buying from Apple opted for glossy screens, this is a fact. The 20% that opted for mate screens still have the "optional antiglare display" in 15-17 Mac book Pros.

    Now, photographers, programers, musicians or other professional working with a "Mac Pro" have great options from other very well recognized vendors like LaCie, NEC, EIZO, HP, Dell and others.

    Apple as well as Dell have always been a cheap competitive alternative for higher end displays but never the best dedicated option for professionals who depend on the most accurate screen.

    The only ones abandoned are the casual, or entry level professionals that got use to working with Apple displays and some high end aficionados. That is true, but those could buy today a LaCie Monitor for around $950.

    I don't know, Apple could launch a mate display line whenever they see the opportunity, but they appear not seeing a good one in the present. Maybe they don't consider the number of professionals buying from Apple enough to produce more mate displays.

    Cheer up!
  • doubledeej - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    I have many friends that work in "broadcast" and all but one of them lust after the Apple displays because they've got this silly notion that they are the best out there. No matter how many charts, spec sheets, reviews, etc., I throw at them, they refuse to believe that a Dell, Eizo, or anybody else could produce a monitor that performs better, especially if said monitor happens to be less expensive. There are an awful lot of Apple Kool-Aid drinkers out there, and nowhere is it worse than with video "professionals." Reply
  • seapeople - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    My new Dell XPS 17 has an antiglare screen. Moderate progress? Reply
  • Dennis Travis - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Excellent review Anand as always. You covered everything I was curious about and more. Thanks again! Reply
  • HHCosmin - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    want to say i just love your reviews Anand. i can tell you are passionate about what you do.
    this thing seems quite cool and it brings lots of help in cable clutter area. however i'm a pc guy and this is a mac. you talk about the future, and the possibilities. i've been thinking about this for some time now and getting really excited about the implications. i can see getting standard having monitors with thunderbolt and not much else to keep price down. link the display (through thunderbolt) cases that have sata ports and pciexpress ones. i call this a "slave box".

    to have:
    - laptop: slim, light, good autonomy (should be able to power this via display)
    - display with thunderbolt, with ability to extend and not much extra
    - a "slave-box" having psu, hdds, gpus and pciexpress slots for extras (no memory or cpu)

    you get:
    - use (and pay for) a single machine that you can carry around (with igp only)
    - have practically no cable clutter
    - get to feed power to the laptop through the monitor (when/if laptop maker standardize mobile bricks)
    - have extra gpu/storage/sound etc when you are at home/office
    - be able to upgrade the gpu
  • willmo - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Anand: I suspect that the Thunderbolt Display uses a Light Ridge controller, and the reason its DP output is not available for daisy-chaining is that it's used to drive the Thunderbolt Display's own panel. Reply
  • willmo - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Never mind, I hadn't gotten to the dissection yet. I assume the part number on the Thunderbolt controller checks out as Eagle Ridge... Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Anand and I actually went back and forth on this. It's our belief that the display is being fed by LVDS, processed by some hereto unidentified controller on the logic board. You can see the ZIF cable connector on the following image, it's the gold colored component near the top-right: Reply
  • ermhmm - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    there is a product i'm not sure if its in production or whether you can use a GPU with it, but its similar to what you were talking about you can read about here.

    as for gaming i'm in the UK and recently tried Onlive on my macbook and have to say i love the idea of cloud gaming solves the problem of expensive hardware for gaming.
  • efeman - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    One small thing to point out: it looks like the wrong table was used in the "Testing the PIeces" section: it's listed as power consumption instead of something along the lines of transfer rates.

    I picked up the 4GB/128GB 11" Air a few days ago ($300 off!) for campus use; it does everything I need it to do in a great form factor. I was originally looking at a 14" unit, maybe a Lenovo E420s or T420s, but I haven't looked back. I have a self-built gaming desktop at home, yet the idea of a Thunderbolt future really intrigues me. While I don't ever see myself buying something like this display, I'm hoping to see cheaper storage solutions, and my fingers are crossed for external graphics support, as that's the only thing I'm missing on a unit like this.

    Excellent review, as usual. I don't know if a video review has been done before, but I enjoyed it. The main points of the article in an easily-digestible form for those times that I don't want to read through paragraphs. I hope we see them in every review :-)

    Off-topic: In case this post gets any attention, is there any chance the Macbook Air review can be updated with internal temperature data? I was disappointed to only see the surface and exhaust temperature info.
  • eXces - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    love your video review! keep on excellent work! Reply
  • Boopop - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    OK, so my Dell 2408WFP isn't as big, but in most if not all the tests it outperforms this new monitor. If I was a graphic designer (which I'm not!), even if I had a MBA I reckon I'd stick with a higher quality monitor, and put up with the extra cables.

    On the other hand, if I was the average Joe Bloggs with a MBA, this makes a great monitor for that specific laptop. I like where Apple are going with this, it's just a shame about the lack of many USB ports, and the average screen quality.
  • IceDread - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Normally when you test a display you also test the input lag which I find very important. I could not find info about input lag in this review. Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Not really as important to the target demographic, I think. Most people who get these will be using them for professional tools, so things like colour accuracy are more important than reaction time. If someone is buying one of these and a mac to game on, they've made a pretty bad error, lol. Reply
  • jecs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    You have the general idea right.

    For professionals not demanding the highest color accuracy for print or for broadcast production yes, the Apple monitor is a good choice. That is professionals who work on content creation like internet video, corporate videos or print material among others.

    Serious print houses, photographers or broadcast professionals will choose high end specialized monitors in the range of $3000+, not in the sub $1000.
  • JasperJanssen - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    But they will generally only choose that type of monitor for *one* display, where the guy sits who does final colour correction on the output -- not for all the content creation people. (fair enough, if you're large enough that's multiple people, but it's never going to be the majority of your staff). Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    We normally test input lag by driving a CRT in parallel with the display being evaluated. I didn't have a good way of doing that with a Thunderbolt display unfortunately :-/

    Take care,
  • JasperJanssen - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Well, keep it on the list for when the Mac pro comes out, which will hopefully have a videocard with multiple thunderbolt outputs :)

    Come to think of it -- new iMac with dual thunderbolt out and one of them through a VGA dongle? Hmno. Those are active dongles, which mess up results.

    Two PCs, using NTP or something similar to sync up their internal clocks maximally, and one driving a VGA CRT with the other driving the thunderbolt display, each displaying very precisely the current system time in a large font, plus the usual fast shutter speed photography. Your accuracy would depend on the NTP-or-similar protocol. I wonder if you can get close enough with that, over a crossover Gigabit ethernet kept free of other traffic.

    If you do get something like that running, you can also compare input lag between:
    - Display port driving Displayport display
    - Thunderbolt port driving Displayport display
    - Thunderbolt port driving Thunderbolt display
    -Thunderbolt port driving thunderbolt display switched through another TB device or display (add to the chain as possible)

    And even whether displayport mac versus thunderbolt macs are different in this respect when running over the various dongles.

    I would expect a Thunderbolt port running in Displayport mode to be very slightly slower than a real displayport, would be interesting to see if that is the case, and how it compares to a TB port in TB mode, and whether other devices on the chain affect it.
  • JasperJanssen - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    "NTP v4 with kernel mods to support it, is capable of much better than 1ms accuracy, possibly as good as 1ns. According to his article, NTP v3 is accurate to 1-2ms in a LAN and 10s of ms in WAN nets. "

    Well, since what you need is ms range, I guess this could actually work.
  • sheh - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    I was curious about that too. Regardless of who the target audience of the monitor is, it's a new technology so I'm curious about its performance vs. DP/DVI/VGA. But could be difficult to tell apart from the panel's logic own latency, at least until there are more TB displays. Reply
  • MrJim - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    The Youtube-video in this article, , is private. Hard to see then :) Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    We replaced the video a couple of hours ago with one that has better audio. You shouldn't be seeing any links to the old one (and if you are, please say where). Reply
  • KPOM - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Are there any technical reasons for using Eagle Ridge in the Thunderbolt Display instead of Light Ridge, or is it just Apple being Apple? Had they used the latter, it would have been possible to daisy chain a Cinema Display directly to the Thunderbolt Display, right?

    Also, on page 8, there is a slight error. You say "The MacBook Air is a different story. Not only does it only support two displays, but the Light Ridge controller only has a single DisplayPort input so you're not driving more than one external display via a MBA no matter what you do."

    I think you meant to say "Eagle Ridge" controller.
  • -=Hulk=- - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Why does Intel doesn't use the daisy chaining feature of DisplayPort 1.2 instead of encapsulating individual DP v1.1 streams??? Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    If I had to go out on a limb, a single TB channel doesn't have enough bandwidth for DP 1.2. Reply
  • Trefugl - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I really really love the features that thunderbolt adds to the MBAs (e.g. FireWire and GigE), but I don't want to have to upgrade my entire monitor every time I want to upgrade to the next hub (for maybe USB3 support, or more ports, etc). This would only get worse if they started to put GPUs into the monitor, as GPU tech becomes significantly outdated every year or two, whereas a good monitor can last you 5+ years. Why can't they just release a sleek HUB that you can have sitting behind your monitor. Their approach just doesn't make sense if you already have a 27" or 30" monitor (nor for future upgrades). Reply
  • slashbinslashbash - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    If you already have a 27" or 30" monitor, then yes, this doesn't make as much sense. If you are just now buying such a monitor, then the Thunderbolt Display makes perfect sense. There is nothing keeping you from buying a future box/hub that you describe, and using it between the MBA/MBP and the display (if the box/hub has a built-in GPU) or daisy-chaining it after the display (if you just want USB3 or other ports). That's the great thing about Thunderbolt, you can keep adding on to it. This display is not necessarily the final link in the chain, nor is it necessarily the first link in the chain. It provides useful functionality at a competitive price today, and the add-on capabilities of Thunderbolt will continue to be useful as new tech comes on line. Reply
  • Trefugl - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    But what happens when the "next cool thing" comes out that we want in our monitors? Do you just replace a perfectly good monitor because you want to upgrade the addons? I suppose my feelings towards this stem more from the iMac, where you trash a good monitor every few years because you want a new all in one PC... Reply
  • slashbinslashbash - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Nobody trashes their old iMacs. The secondary market for Macs is huge. It's not like the PC world where your 3-year-old CPU and mobo would go for $100 so you just keep them as backup or put them into a machine for folding or something. With iMacs, if you upgrade at 3 years then you can probably still get around 40-50% of what you paid for it. 2008 iMacs are regularly going for $600+ on eBay. You buy a new one, transfer everything over, and sell the old one. It's almost like buying a car where you 'trade in' your old model. Reply
  • HMTK - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    This must be a US phenomenon then. Reply
  • jecs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Well, not a US exclusive or phenomenon.

    It happens worlwide because most Mac laptops or Pro Macs have been traditionally decent machines (not the best or the most specialized but sure not the cheapest). Some people like OSX but doesn't want to expend on new hardware.

    And not a phenomenon because this is not exclusive to Macs but to many decent products that age well including speakers, cars, movies or albums and many more things.
  • PWL_Steve - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I'm planning on buying an MBA soon so really appreciated the review of the display. For just about the same price, I could purchase the smaller iMac. Would it work the same way with a MBA as the Thunderbolt display would? Buying the IMac would allow my wife to have her own system and I would still be able to occasionally use it as a large display.
  • JasperJanssen - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    No, the iMac in target display mode *only* provides a display. No power, no USB, no camera, and definitely no ethernet/firewire. I'm not sure about audio -- displayport Target Display Mode included audio as well as video, but the thunderbolt iMac is different enough that I don't know about that one.

    But as long as the display is all you want, sure, that works. Do keep in mind of course that the smaller iMac is a much smaller (cheaper) display.
  • tanjo - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Apple, the biggest advocate of (almost)everything-in-one. Is it hard to separate the Thunderbolt to the display? If you find the Thunderbolt lacking and need to upgrade, you have to replace the Thunderbolt Display instead of just the Thunderbolt controller - a waste of a perfectly good display. How about making the Thunderbolt "box" dock at the back of the display? It'd still look clean. Reply
  • mcnabney - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Like maybe a VESA-compliant box that attaches to the back of any monitor?

    The lack of logic astounds me.

    Oh, no, the iPeople couldn't handle the ugliness of a sleek box attaching to the BACK of their sleek display.

    /aren't we in a recession?
  • slashbinslashbash - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    No, there's no need to replace the Thunderbolt Display if something better comes out in the future. The beauty of Thunderbolt is that it is chainable, and the Thunderbolt Display has a chainable Thunderbolt jack. You can add an extra box in between the laptop and the Thunderbolt Display, or you can add an extra box after the Thunderbolt Display.

    Need USB3? I'm sure somebody will come out with a little box with a USB3 controller inside and a Thunderbolt interface. Your use of the Thunderbolt Display does not preclude your additional use of such a USB3 device: just plug it in to the Thunderbolt Display. Need an external GPU? Hook up the MBA to the external GPU Thunderbolt box, and then hook up that box to the Thunderbolt Display. Voila.

    You still get 100% use of the stuff built in to the Thunderbolt Display (USB2, GigE, FW800) and you get the additional use of whatever you tack on to the Thunderbolt chain, either before or after the display.
  • JasperJanssen - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    There's not going to be an external GPU that can handle thunderbolt output any time soon. Mini Displayport, yes. Thunderbolt, no. And that means that it'll be a while before you can hook this particular display to an external GPU box, if ever.

    Everything except external GPU, yes, sure, that's what Thunderbolt is for and will combine great with this display. External GPU: for the time being, will require a VGA/DVI/DP display.
  • JasperJanssen - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Oh, and I forgot (but there's still no blasted edit button...): Your MagSafe cable will be in the wrong place, if you put a dock between the display and the laptop.

    Extension cables are available build-to-order at $199 according to google (seems to be they take a complete adapter, and graft a MagSafe laptop port onto it) -- easier just to get a second $99 adapter.
  • RandomUsername3245 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Since I decided to try using a Mac laptop for work about 6 months ago, and also observing others with Mac laptops, it seems like everyone has a rat's nest of wires running from every port on the computer to various peripherals. I think the lack of a docking station is a big negative for using a Mac laptop in a work environment. This new monitor almost fixes the problem, but unfortunately requires another "Apple Tax" payment. Reply
  • michal1980 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    apple obsoletes ports, forces users to buy new products and its called...

    'Clean Brake'

    Microsoft doing something like that and there would be pitch forks.
  • Phynaz - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    What computers does Microsoft make? Reply
  • mcturkey - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I guess I really don't understand why they can't just make a non-integrated docking station. Use Thunderbolt to connect it if need be, but making it part of the display seems to just add a very unnecessary expense increase if you find yourself needing a new monitor or different/more/better ports in the future. Reply
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    As far as I'm aware there are already multiple external PCIe slot housings and other adapters on the way which will effectively serve that purpose.

    And all of them will be usable with any Mac or PC which has suitable PCIe drivers for the respective ports, so Thunderbolt can indeed provide the long-missing "universal dock".

    The complication may be that these drivers should be able to survive hot plugging if you want to avoid having to reboot the machine every time you (dis)connect such an external box (or possibly risk a blue screen / kernel panic otherwise).

    Apple just chose to make one specific bundle product; They're leaving all the other possibilities to third parties so far. Once such alternatives are on the market, it's simply your choice.
  • SameerRamesh - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    My strong gut feeling suggests that apple will bring only USB 3.0 ports to all their next-gen Macs. Why?
    Intel's IVB chipsets have native USB 3.0 support. So apple needn't do any extra work there. Furthermore, not adopting an industry standard is a loss. Adding to that, they haven't gone against USB 3.0 now, have they?
    Why only USB 3.0 in the next-gen Macs? That's Apple's style!
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Current Intel chipsets don't have USB3 on chip, so it would take external USB3 controllers to add them to a Mac.

    The problem is that such external controllers consume precious PCIe 2 lanes which are comparatively scarce with the mobile Intel CPUs. I've not checked the data sheets, but there may simply not be enough PCIe 2 lanes with a mobile Intel CPU to supply both a full-speed-capable external USB3 controller and the Thunderbolt controller at the same time.

    Given that choice, I'd say Thunderbolt is the far better option of the two (not least since you can connect USB3 externally through it, but not vice versa).

    Desktop CPUs are less constrained, so the iMac and the Mac Pro could have both at the same time even with the current CPU generation (through PCIe plugin cards, if need be).

    But I expect Apple to make the jump with the upcoming CPUs which simply provide them on chip with nothing to sacrifice for it.
  • JasperJanssen - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Ivy Bridge generation Macs will obviously have USB3. Presumably enough of them so that there are no USB2 ports left, as Apple does not like mix and match. And when the Macs have USB3, the display will get it too. Reply
  • quiksilvr - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Can you use this Thunderbold Display on another Thunderbolt computer that isnt Mac? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Theoretically, yes. We won't know for sure until we see the PC implementations of Thunderbolt but according to Apple if a PC vendor were to integrate Thunderbolt and fully follow the spec the Thunderbolt Display would work.

    Take care,
  • the goat - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Somebody already solved this problem decades ago. It is called a laptop docking station. All those cables you are complaining about stay plugged into the docking station. Reply
  • Parhel - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    That's what's confusing me about this too. Why is this better than, or even as good as, a docking station?

    With my docking station, I just have to put my laptop on it, and I'm connected to wired network, monitor, mouse and keyboard. I could add another monitor (2 dual link DVI ports), speakers, a printer, and I believe 4 USB devices to that.

    I have one docking station at home, one at the office. The dock for home cost me under $100, and it's compatible with both my laptop and my wife's. This seems like a step down from that.
  • HMTK - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    If you wan't a razor thin laptop like a MBA there's no room for a docking connector in the laptop. That's probably the main reasons why Apple makes this thing. For their customers it's good.

    Personally I prefer a docking station exactly for the reasons you stated. I would like to use a generic docking station that's not USB though because now docking stations can only be used with a limited number of machines and there's no compatibility between brands.

    Laptop makers are being forced by the EU to make compatible power bricks. Why not do the same for docking stations? Or force them to make a single connector for data and power that's also compatible with a power supply only?
  • mczak - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I'm wondering what the performance would be like? Looks to me like you'd get a far bigger performance hit in this case. Reply
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    That would be very interesting indeed.

    In a discussion over at ars I've been speculating about some of the possible complications with that setup:
    (Same user name there.)

    Anand, it would be very interesting if you could find out more about the inner workings and the performance consequences of such a combination, possibly confirming or disproving my speculation on the matter.

    Over at Macworld they even seem to have made a Cinema display work when plugged in to a Pegasus RAID daisy-chained to a Thunderbolt display. The implications of that and the potential impact on Thunderbolt throughput would be most interesting as well... ;-)
  • AlexCheng - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Sorry guys, but maybe I didn't quite catch it; what exactly is it using as its power supply source? Because it said that the MagSafe port could charge your MacBooks, then where the hell is the cable for its power?? Reply
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    The display has an ordinary power cable which you'll need to plug into a wall outlet. And the display then powers and charges the MacBok Air/Pro. Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    If Apple goes through with removing the optical drive for the MacBook Pro, hopefully they'll add an optical drive to the Thunderbolt Display. That would make the Thunderbolt Display very complete as a dock. Reply
  • dBoze - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link


    When you mention there is "no analog audio out", I think the inclusion of even analog audio would be a bit of a slap in the face. All Macs in recent history include digital audio through the 1/8" jack via 1/8" TOSLINK, Us Mac users are far too cool for analog ;).

    Another solution for digital audio without an extra cable to your MacBook would be using AirPort Express. This will give you a digital or audio connection to your speakers over the network, and you can even plug it into your network via ethernet if your wireless signal isn't too strong. If I recall correctly, you can choose your AirPort Express as the "device for sound output" under the "Output" tab in "Sound" under sys preferences. Of course, you're limited to using AirPlay-compatible applications (iTunes) on the Windows side of things.
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    All recent Macs have both analog (electrical) and digital (optical) audio ports in the same socket. Analog is for convenience, digital is for avoidance of ground loops and of analog signal degradation.

    An additional audio port (USB/FireWire/Thunderbolt) is possible, if inconvenient.
  • stanwood - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Nice review!

    A lot of comments about how Apple could have built this display is a way that made it more easily upgradable. This is a PC mentality (which I share). Apple rejects it. Don't waste your time asking for it. If you must have some Mac love, use these 3 simple rules:

    1) Buy all your Apple gear in a single release cycle.
    1a) Go ahead and upgrade the OS. Those are actually pretty cheap.
    2) Use it until you hate it or can't resist getting the new shiny stuff.
    3) Give it all to your grandfather, aunt, or Goodwill and return to step 1.

    By the time you get to step 3 Apple will have replaced all the important I/Os. There will be no point in trying to upgrade.
  • mcnabney - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Large, high quality displays are expensive, but last a long time. The iMac and displays like this compell people to discard those expensive displays far ahead of their time and likely buy another display of the same size and resolution.
    My 27" display is on its third computer and it provides better color accuracy than this expensive new one. That is probably my biggest beef with Apple, sending so many nice IPS displays into the trash/closet long before they wear out or become outdated.
  • slashbinslashbash - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Not any more. Starting with the 2010 27" iMac, there was a DisplayPort which was both an input and an output. Now with all the 2011 iMacs having Thunderbolt, they can all be used as displays for other computers with Thunderbolt display output. Reply
  • name99 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    "The iMac and displays like this compell people to discard those expensive displays far ahead of their time and likely buy another display of the same size and resolution."

    And discard means WHAT? I can go to eBay and see the prices for second hand macs. What's stopping you from selling your iMac, or giving it to a friend/family member/school?

    You claim there area significant number of still-working flat-screen iMacs in closets or the trash. I call bullshit.
  • dave1_nyc - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Anand, I liked the review, and I think this sounds like interesting technology, but honestly, but you sound as though you've never used a docking station. Yes, you're right, they are all proprietary, but the good ones from Dell and Toshiba (and I'm sure others) are terrifically useful if one needs one.

    I don't, but there are people in my org for whom their laptops are their main machines and they take them back and forth between the office and home every day. All the modern docking stations provide pretty much any connectivity you could want, and they allow you to use any monitor you want, and switch out monitors.

    Further, while connecting two cables (a la the review) isn't hard, with the laptops and docking stations we have you walk up and set the laptop down onto the station connectors. At which time the laptop (if thus setup) turns on, adjusts for the external display (or two), and that's that. If you have automatic login, you never have to open the laptop.

    Expensive? We pay $150 for them, and with that comes the freedom to upgrade either the docking station (such as when the USB 3 ones come out early next year) or the monitor independently of each other.

    Of course, the real docking stations (as opposed to those USB 2 things) are only found in 'business class' machines, but those machine can now be configured with discrete graphics if one wants.

    I'm not trying to sell docking stations, but you're usually not quite so inaccurately dismissive.
  • jecs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I agree with you. I think Apple or someone else should produce a docking station for Mac Books. I remember when I used those with an IBM laptop some years ago.

    If you want to use "an all Apple technology" the thunderbolt display is fine. But if you want a MBP and have a different need you will find yourself limited in options. But those parts need to be competitive in price and quality.
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Why are you limited? Simply use a different Thunderbolt docking solution instead of the ready-made Thunderbolt Display.

    With Thunderbolt you can even customize your own special solution in a way you never could before, by daisy-chaining multiple Thunderbolt devices according to your own specific needs.

    And the kicker is that you can carry it all over to a new machine, even when switching manufacturers and even platforms!

    None of the pre-existing docking solutions ever came close to that.
  • Trefugl - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    But where are all these external devices that I can so easily purchase and make my own docking solution? Last I checked (admittedly a few weeks ago), there was a very limited selection on adapter types on the market.

    I do agree that this is a great solution (and one that actually makes me excited about thunderbolt), the problem is that no one has made an external hub like what's in the display yet... they might now that PCs are getting the same connector next year, but it just blows my mind that the first place you see this tech is stuffed inside a monitor (one that only can work at all with new '11 Macbooks...)
  • Constructor - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Well, it works with all current Macs (the Mac Pro is the only one that hasn't been upgraded to Thunderbolt yet).

    And I would not be surprised if the availability of Intel Thunderbolt controllers was one of the reasons why third party devices are being delayed – at the number of Macs Apple is producing, it is quite possible they're buying every chip Intel manages to get out the door. But Intel has lots of experience with mass production of high-grade chips, so I have no doubt availability will catch up soon if it hasn't already.

    Belkin is apparently designing effectively a Thunderbolt Display without the display:">Belkin's Thunderbolt Express Dock Finally Gives You a Reason to Remember You Have Thunderbolt

    And there's more in the pipeline from various manufacturers. Unsurprisingly, professional-grade interfaces which actually need the speed and low latency are among the first.
  • Constructor - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    The link has been crippled, apparently. This should work:
  • AbRASiON - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Defective by design. Reply
  • stepa - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Simple question (requires a simple answer)

    So does it mean that there is no way to connect this display to a windows pc as a main display?i know that with previous models you could use an adapter or newer gfx cards already have a display this a no go for pc users?
  • KPOM - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Not until PCs with Thunderbolt ports start coming out next year. I suspect a lot of the Ultrabooks will do so since Thunderbolt support will be built into some of the Ivy Bridge chipsets. Reply
  • danjw - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I really thought the computer industry was done with the whole daisy chain idea. Requiring every device to have two connectors just adds to cost. Requiring licensing from Intel for the icon and Intel being the only controller manufacturer, will further drag it down. I think it will be just about as successful as firewire, limited success with Apple customers, but not much else. Sure, you may see the ports on PCs, but there will be a much larger selection of peripherals that support USB 3.0. Reply
  • touringsedan - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Listened to your audio clip that was corrupted during your file transfer.

    Wanted to comment that I have a 1st gen 27" and it does the same thing to me and usually I have to recycle the power to the display and all is returned to normal.

    It seems to occur almost never now for some reason, but was about to return it and it eventually tapered off.

    I do have the keyboard and an external USB drobo attached to my display.
  • AmishElvis - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    It seems like the next logical step would be to include the video card inside the monitor, then let the computer use it via the pci-e lanes. Reply
  • jecs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I will love that. Even an upgradable option. Reply
  • Dug - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    FANTASTIC IDEA!!!!!! Reply
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    10Gb/s is a lot for an external port, but graphics cards can need even more bandwidth under heavy load, so even Thunderbolt would still be a bottleneck, particularly for the bigger cards.

    Nevertheless, more than one manufacturer has already announced external PCIe enclosures for Thunderbolt, so you'll be able to plug any graphics card into that and as long as there's a TB-compatible driver for it it will work as desired.

    Putting the GPU into the display is nice for the few months as long as the GPU is still up to date, but it will become a drag on the monitor when the GPU is overtaken by newer models. The separate box may be the more flexible option there.
  • Iketh - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    why can't the monitor have a removable backplate? Reply
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    It does, sort of. You just need suction cups and a set of Torx screwdrivers getting there...! B-)

    But seriously: What for, exactly?
  • jecs - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Ok. But isn't this the first Thunderbolt implementation? Intel promised a lot more bandwidth. An external box could be an option but obviously not as great as inside the display. Reply
  • Constructor - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Right now it's 10+10Gb/s and that will remain the limit for some time.

    And I still wouldn't want a quickly outdated GPU in the display which could have a much longer usable lifespan, but that's of course a matter of preference. We'll see what will become available.
  • TegiriNenashi - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Justification for yet another cable seems rather weak. Why do one needs sound card -- to reduce main CPU load by 0.001%? Next what is this Ethernet controller thingy?

    The main reason why 27" Cinema display sucks is its "full-HD" 16:9 ratio.
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    1440 pixels vertically suck less than any other resolution, regardless of that other resolution's ratio.

    With the sole exception of the 2560*1600 of a much more expensive 30" panel (and utterly esoteric displays even beyond that).
  • Iketh - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    for better sound quality silly... you must have never watched a movie on a decked out PC... it's better than the theaters Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I would have bought one ages ago as I'd love a quality IPS or MVA/PVA panel with LED lighting...but I MUST have controls on the display itself, and I must have multiple inputs. Dell's...well actually Dell's lower end monitors have more inputs. Their higher end ones have tons of inputs, and actually start astonishingly cheap now.

    Geez...I just noticed they finally have an LED + IPS line, but it only goes up to 23" before switching over to florecent. I've currently got a 24" Studio one that's LED + TN (but it's very, very good for a TN panel) that I'll keep using until Dell or someone releases something at least as good and at least as large with IPS.
  • jecs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    What I read and understand is LED is not good for color accuracy at lower cost unless you get the 3 LED matrices (RGB) or real LED which is very expensive and not suitable for entry level professional monitor like Dell or even Apple. So don't expect too soon to see the real quality LED adopted on desktop use.

    You will find real RGB LED on very high end TVs.

    Apparently low cost white LED lamps produce a bluish white and the why on higher end monitors you wont find it. The advantages in low cost LED comes from better power consumption efficiency and higher brightness.
  • repoman27 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    How did you arrive at the conclusion that this is Eagle Ridge? It's clearly got 2 Thunderbolt ports, one just happens to be internal to the display. It's also a flip chip package and looks to be the exact same die size as all the other Light Ridge chips we've seen (none of which have had the same, or even decipherable markings.)

    I also don't quite grasp your block diagrams. These chips (as far as I can deduce) have connections for 4 PCIe 2.0 lanes (bi-directional), 1 or 2 DisplayPort 1.1a inputs, and 1 or 2 Thunderbolt ports (2 or 4 channels, also bi-directional). Showing "TB In" opposite of "TB out" doesn't make any sense, those should be "PCIe Lane 0-3". I'm also going to wager that there are connections for 1 onboard DisplayPort output. It does make sense that when a TB port on the host PC is operating in DisplayPort compatibility mode, that the DP signal can bypass the Thunderbolt logic. I believe the controller can pass through a DP input to either a TB port operating in DP compatibility mode or to the onboard output. Thus the 13" MacBook Pro being able to drive its built-in display and one external, or two external displays but with a dark built-in.

    Now, if a TB controller needs a DP input to drive a TB port in DisplayPort compatibility mode, devices that don't generate a DP stream themselves will need to come up with one from somewhere. Perhaps the TB controller uses the onboard DP output to feed it's own input in such situations, and then the signal bypasses the TB logic and passes through to the TB port with the DP display attached to it. This would explain why the ATD cannot drive a DP display in compatibility mode--it's already using the onboard DP output to drive the built in display, and thus there is nothing to drive one of the DP inputs.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I think you're actually right here. I had assumed it was Eagle Ridge due to the fact that you couldn't get DP out of the Thunderbolt port on the display but upon closer examination it looks like there's an eDP connector on the motherboard, not LVDS. If that's indeed eDP then it means Apple is routing the one DP output to drive the internal panel, which doesn't allow any more DP devices to be connected directly to the display.

    Give me a few and I'll clean up those diagrams as well :)

    Take care,
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Corrected, thank you for helping me see the light :)

    Take care,
  • repoman27 - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    Thanks for following up, that made my day! (There are still a few lingering references to Eagle Ridge sprinkled throughout the article though.)

    I threw together a theoretical Thunderbolt block diagram of my own, which you can check out here: Of course this is all just based on speculation, as I'm not a Thunderbolt developer.

    Also, I was curious as to the identity of the SMSC USB hub device that didn't get a close-up, and was too blurry to make out the markings on in the full PCB shot.
  • jmmx - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I see a couple of problems As you mention, no audio out jack. Why get half way there and quit? It changes the 2 necessary cables to 3. In other words - why bother.

    Price is also a bit of a killer.

    On your presentation: You may be cute, but the video is really boring with no changes. When you give statistics, e.g. screen res, how about displaying them? When you showed the board layout, show full screen and leave it up for more than 10 seconds.

    You obviously put a lot of time into this. A little more with some post production overlays of the monitor from different angles, etc.

    Good production tho with good quality image and sound.

    You do have a great site. One of the best!
  • GotThumbs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    It's a hardware review and the specs are in the article. This is not intended to be an MTV production to keep ADD kids entertained. Either you find the content interesting or now. If not, change the channel. Reply
  • Iketh - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    OSDs would have only distracted me... i was listening to him like we were having a 1 on 1... overlays would have fucked that up Reply
  • xodius80 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    i must say is not only entertaining to see the video but its so much easier to understand, notes on what ive seen u might need:

    Fisrt a green screen so u can put your logo anywhere so you dont compromise your publicity on depending hardware reviews, your persona blocked your logo, and thats not good for bussiness, all the time it was reading nandtech, def not good =), a little more post production if u got the time, even tho it was perfect , heres an idea, like the time u where explaining the motherboard inside the monitor, it should have disolved to the picture into a main whole frame, while your voice in off, then disolve back to you. things like that make videos more intresting.

    sorry for my english, just helping you out since ive studied video here in my country, nice job man! ohh yeah and cool mic haha.
  • fynamo - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Just for everyone's reference, these displays do work with Windows. I've been using one for a while and love it. The only issue I had was when trying to adjust the brightness. You have to do some weird tweaks with AppleControlPanel.exe but I was eventually able to make it work. Reply
  • KLC - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Interesting hardware information, but why doesn't anyone talk about the stupid name? What's a thunderbolt? I know lightning bolts and I know thunder claps. Who made up this name Google Translator? Reply
  • jecs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    The technology is from Intel and I am not sure if the name itself is Intel or an Apple idea based on the Intel name. This is the first implementation and has a lot more potential but depends on how it will be adopted by the industry. Reply
  • Dug - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I really enjoyed it too. This gives a far more personal touch to the review and the visuals give a clear example of what you are talking about.

    I've always liked seeing things in action because stagnant pictures don't tell the whole story.
  • SickBeast - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    How much does the thing cost?

    This website needs to stop functioning as marketing PR and should get back to its roots as a hardware review website. The price of this display should be boldly listed both in the introduction and the conclusion of the article.

    The review of Windows Vista on this website really opened my eyes to the fact that AnandTech has gone in a completely new direction. It's too bad.

    Anand, please revert to your role as a journalist and stop acting as a puppet for these large corporations.
  • jecs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    $1000 formally $999

    But tell me what product, a decent one deserving a good review, does not comes with a brand name and marketing?

    Your whole observation is very emotional.

    Anand, please keep with the good work! not because I ask for it.
  • mharding - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    The Thunderbolt Display's motherboard is full of controllers driving all of the rear facing IO ports. On the front we actually see the very first non-SFF Eagle Ridge IC. Although the MacBook Air uses Eagle Ridge, it uses the SFF version in a cheaper package. I'm sure what determines whether or not Apple uses the flip-chip packaged version.

    Thanks for the review - I much prefer reading quickly than watching a video slowly.
  • GotThumbs - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link


    Love the Video Review format. While I think the product is nice and provides access to new tech, I have issues with Apples proprietary format. During a time where many users are going with multi-monitor configurations (I use dual Dell 30" monitors at work). I think combining functionality in a monitor limits/restricts users down the road. I would have liked to see purhaps an external Thunderbolt expansion system that would mount on the back of ANY monitor (via vesa). This would allow users the flexibility to upgrade/swap monitors as needed/desired. In today's technological world, we should be embracing expansion flexibility instead of restriction. It just seems to me that Apple continues to breed products that are proprietary in nature. Reminds me of the old Packard Bell systems where much of the internal hardware was proprietary. Thanks, but no thanks.

    Keep up the good work and best wishes.

    PS. I've been an AnandTech reader since your HS days.
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    The TBD just adds to the capabilities of your machine, it doesn't take away from it. You can daisy-chain other Thunderbolt add-ons as you want.

    Nobody prevents anyone from making a multi-port extension box without a display built in. Apple just chose to do it this way. You can even combine both if you want (and once the other announced extension boxes becomne available).

    Beyond Thunderbolt being owned by Intel, there's nothing proprietary about the TBD. It's apparently just a relatively straightforward implementation of some of TB's capabilities.
  • GotThumbs - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Curious, So what other laptops use a MagSafe connector? Other than Apple of course.

    Whats also curious as Anand pointed out. Why did Apple CHOOSE to leave out USB 3? Next years version will most likely include this. Just seems more of the same tactics used by Apple to keep its consumers re-purchasing much of the same technology to gain one or two new features.

    Same with Itouch, Iphone, and Ipad. Same IOS, two items (Itouch and Iphone) are identical for the most part, but one makes calls. The Itouch and Ipad are same but one has bigger screen. Just seems like Apple is more about 'reselling' similar products to the same consumers. How many people purchased an IPAD2 to replace their IPAD, so they could have the camera feature? Apple could have added the camera into the first version but chose not to. Apple has great marketing, but I'm just not wowed by it like many others.

    I'll be interested in seeing Thunderbolt added to more PC component products.
  • Constructor - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    The display works exactly the same without connecting the MagSafe connector, but the charging function is indeed limited to MacBooks (iMacs and Mac minis also can't use it).

    And USB3 in all the PCs with Intel CPUs you see right now is always done by connecting an external USB3 controller to the CPU. In Macs the PCIe lines used for that are instead used to drive the Thunderbolt controller, which is much more valuable. Especially on mobile CPUs with their limited supply of PCIe lanes it would probably not even be possible to drive both.

    The next generation of Intel CPUs will provide USB3 directly anyway – and Apple will be able to provide both TB and USB3 at the same time.

    To the iPad: I've got an iPad 1 and have not felt any compulsion to replace it with an iPad 2, particularly not for the cameras (the much faster processor and lighter weight would have been a better argument).

    Apple keeps updating their product lines, and customers decide for themselves when to buy and when not to. Only relatively few actually jump to the next generation immediately. Most skip one or more generations.

    Apple was extremely aggressive in hitting their target price of $499 with the iPad, and they actually made it. Just look at the competition and their difficulties in undercutting Apple there.

    It is easy to clamour for them to have included everything and the kitchen sink right away, but that is unrealistic for pricing, development capacity and other reasons.
  • KoolAidMan1 - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    There is nothing proprietary about Thunderbolt. The technology was co-developed by Intel and Apple, and unlike USB the mini-DisplayPort connector has no license fees or usage restrictions associated with it. There is a huge difference between being proprietary and brute forcing a new technology that very few others are using at the moment. This isn't the first time Apple dumped legacy connectors in favor of a new technology.

    Either way, Thunderbolt will be adopted by more and more PC motherboards and laptops in 2012. There is talk of it being a pretty standard part of Ivy Bridge mobos, crossing fingers.
  • mlrabbitt - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Another +1 for the video review. I would prefer this over the "Conclusion" sections of all your reviews. Reply
  • Conficio - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I can' see how I have reduced the cables to my laptop now , but all the extensions are still a dangle of calbes, that even the "cable manage" hardly covers.

    Why is this not offered in a way where you have bays where storage, or other extensions can be hidden into. Or some sort of back mounting system for this.

    In the same vain, where is the rest for the closed laptop on this one or the charging of the wireless keyboard?

    I'm also missing some bluetooth for those that want to use wireless headsets.

    And the future might just cut the second cord by having an inductive charging matt. Although I guess a laptop needs too much power for that.
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    All Macs already come with Bluetooth. Having another BT interface in the display for the same system would just cause interference without any benefit.

    And where would the inductive charging mat get its power from, if not through yet another a cable...? ;-)
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    What happens when you unplug or lose communication with a pci express card while its interrupt is being serviced? Most likely a blue screen of death. It has always been a source of irritation, but that comes hand in hand with being able to buy low cost products. There is no way to code for every possible fault scenario and also meet any kind of budget. Reply
  • Constructor - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Thunderbolt-capable drivers will certainly need to survive device disconnection without blowing up the kernel. But beyond that, there should be little need for modification, if any. Reply
  • CharonPDX - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I had HOPED to buy either a Mac Mini or a MacBook Air this year. Finances aren't allowing that.

    But, it looks like sometime mid next year, I should be able to upgrade.

    At this point, if Anand's wish comes true:
    I wish it had a 1/8" stereo output, an SD card reader and USB 3.0 support. Give me those things and I'd be ecstatic. There's always next year's model.

    I'll be getting an 11" Ivy Bridge Air and a Thunderbolt Display.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    "capable of at least 350 nits at full brightness"
    Just wanted to say that Apple actually advertises 375 cd/m² on their website. :-)
  • tzhu07 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I wish Anand would've addressed the issue of the glossy-only screen option in the video review. Why did Apple and some others continue to seemingly promote this type of screen? There are many people that consider it a deal-breaker, including myself. How much of a hassle is it for Apple to have two variations of the same product? Reply
  • repoman27 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    "While the display does feature a pair of integrated speakers, they don't produce the best sound in the world. Thanks to their diminutive size and unusual enclosure, the speakers don't cover a lot of dynamic range and you can forget about any ultra low frequencies. If you like bass, you still need a sub."

    According to Apple's specs, the ATD has a 2.1 speaker system, so it already has a sub of sorts. Also the claimed power for the audio system is 49 watts, which is pretty staggering for something built into a display. Actually it's good compared to most compact PC desktop speaker systems. It's too bad that it impresses more on paper than it would seem to in real life.
  • dunce - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Can I use that Thunderbolt port on the back to plug in a second computer (MacMini/PC)? I am looking at this and the Dell 27in but would like multi computers inputs. Reply
  • Constructor - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    No, as far as I'm aware there can only be one master (CPU) on a Thunderbolt chain. Reply
  • kalistan919 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Will Thunderbolt connections be available for the new 28nm gpus that are coming from AMD and Nvidia? Or will Ivy Bridge channel your discrete gpu from the gpu to motherboard to display through a thunderbolt connection on the motherboard? Does anyone know if Apple will come out with a 30" Thunderbolt Display like they did just recently with the 27" display?

    These are three questions I tried to find but couldn't. Here's another one...would a minidiplayport on the GPU card work with an apple thunderbolt monitor? Anyone have the lowdown on this? Thanks in advance.
  • ggathagan - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    The GPU's themselves do not dictate what type of connection is used; that's up to the video card manufacturer.

    Remember, however, that Thunderbolt is not a GPU-specific interface, so a discrete video card with a TB connection would require the manufacturer to add the TB controller and its associated circuitry to their video card.
    I doubt that'll happen.

    Ivy Bridge will not have integrated TB, so the answer to your 2nd question is also "no". The motherboard would have to take the video output, whether from the CPU or from a discrete GPU, and route it through an on-board TB controller.

    30" displays are going away in most market sectors, so I doubt you'll see a 30" with Thunderbolt.
    More specifically, I doubt you'll see *any* 30" display from Apple in the future.

    As to your last question; from the article:
    "A Thunderbolt cable can only transmit a Thunderbolt signal. Although DisplayPort is muxed in, if the display on the other end is expecting Thunderbolt and it receives DisplayPort it won't know what to do with it. It's possible Apple could have built in logic to autosense and switch between Thunderbolt and DisplayPort as inputs, but Apple traditionally employs clean breaks rather than long technology transitions. If Apple wants to ensure Thunderbolt gets adopted (at least by its users), this is the way to do it. "

    According to this discussion at Apple's site, someone tried using a non-TB MBP and MBA and were not successful.

    What I would expect to see is someone marketing a Thunderbolt adaptor that converts a DP input to TB output.
    In fact, I would expect to see Apple create this eventually, but it'll be atrociously expensive from them.

    Since the whole point of TB is the ability to bundle multiple types of data traffic through a single interface, the only scenario where using a TB-equipped monitor currently make sense is one like this article describes; as an alternative to a docking station for a laptop.

    It *would* make sense for a display manufacturer to make a TB-equipped monitor that could auto-sense with the input is DP or TB, but only if you're taking the same approach as Apple and include LAN, USB, audio and FireWire connectivity in the monitor.

    If, for instance, Dell were to create a line of TB-equipped monitors with all the connectivity I described above, they could market those monitors in conjunction with a TB-equipped desktop and/or laptop series.
    The desktops would only require the TB cable and a power cable; the monitor would handle all the peripheral connections.

    Essentially, however, you end up having to decide if you want all your connections at the monitor or at the computer itself.

    Historically, people prefer to limit the number of cables hanging off of their monitors and leave the rats nest at the computer.

    Where I think TB hold the most promise in relation to desktop systems is in the area of external storage, like the Promise Pegasus Anand mentioned.
  • Impulses - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Usually I skip video reviews entirely unless it's something that's just not communicable easily in text (factory tours and game trailer for instance)... They just tend to ramble on and/or provide very little info.

    However, the video on the first page of this review was excellent! You should've started doing these long ago, I actually read the entire review first even tho I'm not even remotely interested in the display (I am curious about Thinderbolt's future tho), and I started front to back as I often do (by reading the conclusion first and then skipping to other interesting parts). Having read the whole thing previous to watching the video I feel like the clip actually did a better job at summing it all up than the conclusion or Final Words, which is very impressive, great job!
  • ppayne - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    I'd love to see mods for this appear. Imagine 2 2.5 inch hard drives wired inside somehow and accessible through Thunderbold? Reply
  • Omid.M - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Anand to smile at the camera and point to the lower right of the screen at a QR code that launches a mail client with a URL to the share with others. Oops, thinking outloud.


    You get my email a while back, Anand? I know you've been slammed with your schedule!
  • nameless_1 - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    You could have this ten years ago without plugging any cables at all, not even two. Just buy a docking station for your laptop. Or is the news that it is finally possible on a Mac... Reply
  • ufon68 - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Awesome video. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    "Thanks to SSDs, Turbo Boost and Thunderbolt the only thing holding notebooks back from being true desktop replacements is GPU performance."
    And the fact that performance per buck is still about 3 to 5 times worse than any desktop PC. Unless you are very well off or need a notebook for your work, chances are, you can't afford a real desktop replacement notebook.
  • tommyj - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    A typical i5 laptop, which is like $600 (Thinkpad Edge), basically does what a typical desktop does extremely well and comes with a keyboard, pointing device, and screen if you are really destitute. As Anand said, the only thing holding them back is the GPU and frankly a lot of people cannot really use one properly (if you don't play games and don't dabble with professional applications, its going to sit idle). Spend another $100-250 and you can throw a very nice SSD to make it feel really snappy.

    If you want to bring up Apple, the base Macbook Air is like $1000 and its powerful enough for every task people need to do. For most users, even those who use their machines for prosumer purposes, processor speed becomes less of a necessity but a luxury really.

    Increasingly, people are finding desktops less and less worthwhile. The only reason I still own, and upgrade, mine is because it can hold the latest and greatest GPU.
  • bigpics - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    As someone else pointed out to me, notebook performance, especially light-weight notebook performance is changing on more important variables more quickly than monitor tech.

    So this monitor suggests a new cost effective strategy for a one-machine-to-do-it-all setup. This should work out well as long as you don't need the latest, latest performance bumps in the MBP line while on the road (or the top iMac performance at home).

    The strategy is to buy the best MB Air + this monitor, and then replace the CPU piece every year or two - when the available air performance will stay equivalent to the performance of a one or two year old pro. (And note that while some performance is incrementally sacrificed, portability is incrementally increased - AND you get this gorgeous screen - which might meet some users' needs better in the first place.)

    Here's a current high-end MBP 15":

    2.2GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7
    8GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB
    256GB Solid State Drive
    SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    MacBook Pro 15-inch Hi-Res Glossy Widescreen Display

    And here's a current high-end MBA 13.3" INCLUDING the Thunderbolt monitor:

    Apple Thunderbolt Display (27-inch) ($999)
    MBA 13.3" ($1778)
    1.8GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7
    4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
    256GB flash storage
    External Apple MacBook Air SuperDrive

    Of course some of you might need and be able to get both the MBP and the monitor - lucky you, but let's say you have SOME real world budget constraints, and over the next six years, you replace the MBA twice (at 2 and 4 years in) as it advances, and the MBP once (3 years in).

    Assuming constant prices - not entirely unreasonable with Apple speculation - and a 6 year usable lifetime for the monitor (even though it will certainly be upgraded with, say, USB 3 and more - but the same cost to replace in either strategy), here's your total bill (exclusive of other peripherals, cables, etc.):

    1. You have this monitor and a three year old MBP 15":

    $6997 spent.
    (Add the cost of iPads if the MBP is just too much for some outings and you need something lighter)

    2. You have this monitor and two year old MBA (of whatever "):

    $6333 spent.

    So a reasonable approach I would say (and even wonder if Apple's not encouraging it in some ways). Consider one last comparison - your best stay at home (no notebook capabiity) iMac options. And we'll specify that some of you will want more net and more capable apps on the road than you can get on your phone, so you'll meet your away from home needs with three baseline iPads over the 6 years

    3. So here's for two top of the line iMacs and possible iPads:

    $6798 spent on iMacs
    $1497 on iPads
    $ 8295 spent

    One more cost saving (over a height adjustable desk) possiblity: a. Old phone books (free) and b) height adjustable chairs (a few hundred more at most).
  • sreams - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    When you close the Macbook Air, you aren't "sleeping" it. You're just closing it. Reply
  • dsumanik - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    nice production sound, and dialogue on the video..well done.

    Some problems though unfortunately:

    "Personally, I use a height adjustable desk as I find it helps me avoid any carpal tunnel pain. Combined with a height adjustable chair, the lack of height adjustment on the display doesn't bother me."

    Uh huh.

    I should buy this display and get an adjustable desk.

    Thats the OBVIOUS solution.

    Not only a facepalm by apple's designers...(i mean how hard would it be to make it adjustable a few inches?) but also a total facepalm in the pro apple bias department.

    This review was a commercial for apple, plain and simple.

    Why not start accepting payment from apple?

    You might as well if you gonna be a part of thier marketing team.

    Your own words:

    "a must have item for macbook owners"


    ill save people the 15 minute advertisement;


    single cable to connect and charge
    nice material and design


    -no sound
    -no usb 3
    -incompatible with anything but 2011 macbooks
    -1000 dollars (i could buy 5 1920x1080 displays for same price)
    -you need to buy an adjustable desk and chair

    Amazing what you can sell people if it comes in a nice shiny package...even a seasoned, unpaid, objective and intelligent reviewer fell for it hook line and sinker.

    hey apple if you reading this...

    Where my integrated iphone dock?
  • Constructor - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    Uh huh.

    I should buy this display and get an adjustable desk.

    Thats the OBVIOUS solution.

    He simply said that he had that anyway, so the lack of height adjustability didn't bother him.

    And I shudder to think how heavy and still wobbly a height-adjustable stand would have to be for my 27" iMac. The TBD is not quite as heavy, but I rather live with an additional socket to get it to the desired height for me than dealing with the usual wobbly mechanism I know from other monitors (such as the secondary Samsung next to the iMac, which also needs an additional stand to get it high enough). I'm rather tall and most adjustable stands end too low anyway, so there would be no benefit for me anyway.

    Not only a facepalm by apple's designers...(i mean how hard would it be to make it adjustable a few inches?)

    Quite hard to make it really sufficient. Just "a few inches" are worthless. Inclination adjustment is enough for that. And making an iMac 27" or a TBD adjustable by the amount I really needed would make the stand very wobbly and/or very heavy and very wide.

    This is a lot more difficult than you seem to get.

    Your own words:

    "a must have item for macbook owners"


    "Pfft" indeed. You completely misrepresent what Anand actually said: "For MacBook Air owners who don't have options for these high speed interfaces to begin with, the Thunderbolt Display is a must-have."

    Further: For me the Thunderbolt Display is good but not perfect. I wish it had a 1/8" stereo output, an SD card reader and USB 3.0 support. Give me those things and I'd be ecstatic. There's always next year's model.

    It seems you are the one who's suffering from a heavily distorted perception here.

    ill save people the 15 minute advertisement;


    single cable to connect and charge
    nice material and design

    - very high resolution (2560*1440) high-grade IPS display
    - multiple expansion ports, including Gigabit Ethernet and FireWire 800
    - built-in speakers, microphone and HD webcam


    -no sound

    Wrong. It's got built-in speakers (and a microphone). It only has no additional audio output socket (every MacBook has one already built in).

    -no usb 3
    -incompatible with anything but 2011 macbooks

    Also wrong. All recent iMacs and Mac minis plus all further upcoming Macs plus many upcoming PCs will also be able to use it.

    -1000 dollars (i could buy 5 1920x1080 displays for same price)

    Sure. The problem is that they are low-grade TN displays with a much lower resolution with not much more than half the number of pixels of the TBD, which also has a much higher-grade IPS panel.

    I've got one of those lower-grade TN panels as a secondary monitor next to my iMac 27", and the difference both in resolution and in contrast range is substantial. The Apple display is definitely worth its price, even and especially in direct comparison, which I have.

    I'm tempted to replace that secondary display with another Apple 27" display.

    -you need to buy an adjustable desk and chair

    Nonsense. I've just propped it up on a socket on the table. And most shorter people won't even need that.

    Amazing what you can sell people if it comes in a nice shiny package...even a seasoned, unpaid, objective and intelligent reviewer fell for it hook line and sinker.

    It seems you've had trouble understanding both the product and the review yourself.

    If you have no use for a product on that level, that is perfectly all right. But other people do have an interest in new technology, and reviews like Anand's, which went very much into the depths of the new base technology, are among the reasons why technology journalism has an important role to begin with.

    Apple just happens to be the one pushing this new technology. If you want to complain about something, complain about PC manufacturers sitting on their hands while Apple is running away with new technology and an increasing share of the market profits earned.
  • Constructor - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    Quoting seems to be broken. There have been paragraphs (double newlines) between the quotes and the comment. Weird. Reply
  • dsumanik - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    Lemme guess, you have a macbook?

    My original post was not to tear down the display so much as to point out the blatant bias in the review.

    Sorry man, its blatant.


    You have taken my qoutes as literals instead of sarcasm..obviously people with more than 2 brain cells would stack the display on some books instead of buying a height adjustable desk.

    C'mon dude!

    I kept bringing that up because anand used that as a way to offset the obvious shortcoming due to his bias toward this and apple products in general.....its a laughable excuse that was even mentioned!!

    He could have said :

    "The screen has no adjustable height, why did the engineers miss this one? You are going to have to stack your 1000 dollar display on some books in some instances, ruining the design goal of less clutter and a clean workspace that apple had intended to achieve"

    He instead implied it was no biggie cuz you can get a height adjustable desk and chair...


    There is no reason the display couldnt have adjustable height, NONE.

    In your opinion..this would be "impossible" ok fine, you go with that.

    In my opinion:

    Someone in management thought the display would look cooler without it, and they could save some production costs while charigng the same pricetag.

    The bias was too much for me in this review, it distracted me from the actual product review...its all i could hear after awhile...there is a reason for that.

    Not because the display sucks or doesnt suck.

    There was a whole combined 60 seconds spent of the shortcomings of this diplay followed by a 14 minute praise apple and heres a blowjob for being so awesome commercial.

    I think the display is nice, thunderbolt is an interesting technology that could provide some awesome tech in the future......


    I just dont see why this display was recommended as "a must have item"

    It was a commercial, plain and simple, because anand loves apple products and this is in his opinion one of the more interesting ones to come out this year.

    my original summary still stands with some corrections

    -no sound OUTPUT (sorry!)
    -no usb 3
    -incompatible with anything but 2011 MACS (right now)
    -1000 dollars (i could buy 5 TN 1920x1080 displays for same price)
    -you need to buy an adjustable desk and chair (joke!)

    I didnt list firewire as a pro because since the conception of this technology i have not ever used a device requiring it, nor has anyone else ive ever known. Yes I am sure poeple out there in internet land might need it somewhere.

    But do you think it would it be awesome if they included an ISA slot too????


    I guarantee you and every single person you know could make use of a USB 3.0 port far more often.

    the resoultion is nice, but doesnt justity 1000 bucks.... Built-in speakers, microphone and HD problem you can find a 200 monitor with that too.

    Also your macbook likely has all these things already!!!!


    Go buy the display youve already made up your mind, this review sealed the deal for you...stop wasting your time and get down to the apple store....HURRY...there might be people camped out to buy quickly!!! They are all gonna be sold and youll be left without this must have item for 2011!!!

  • repoman27 - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    Lemme guess, you have an American car?

    I'm pretty sure Anand realized that the engineers didn't "miss" the adjustable height or swivel options. They've opted not to offer these features for some time now on both the iMac and the Apple Cinema Displays, so it's nothing new. There are plenty of sound engineering reasons why they have chosen their current design. A single solid piece of aluminum looks cool, costs less, and is way less prone to failure than something more complex. The latter reason being a lot more of an issue with a 23 pound, $999, glass clad panel than with your cheap plastic 1920x1080 TN garbage.

    I'm guessing you don't have many friends if you've never known anyone who uses FireWire. Almost everyone I know who has a Mac uses it, even if just for the occasional FireWire Target Disk Mode transfer. I use FireWire external enclosures because I do a lot of disk imaging and I value my time. I also know a lot of audio professionals who have quite a bit of FireWire audio gear. Yeah, I get it. If it's not useful to you, it has no value.

    USB 3.0 hasn't even been shipping for 2 years yet. In it's first year it had an attach rate in the PC market of 3.5%. The projections for 2011 peg it at 18%. So even though far more PC's will ship with 1394 interfaces this year than USB 3.0, you still believe USB 3.0 is vastly more useful. Have you bothered to notice that there isn't a hell of a lot of device silicon available yet, so the only USB 3.0 enabled devices currently on the market are external drives and enclosures, bulky flash memory sticks, hubs, and a couple of memory card readers? That's it man. Not to mention that the drivers are also far from polished at this point.

    You object to the bias in this review, yet you have clearly demonstrated that you have zero ability to objectively gauge the quality or inherent value of anything.
  • dsumanik - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    Actually i own a an american truck and a japanese motorcycle.

    ford ranger
    yamaha R1

    I also own an iphone4, and previously a 3gs... if youd like me to facetime you ill gladly prove it.

    Im not anti apple...or anandtech...the reiview was mother effing biased.. That was my point and i think you've heard it. I wouldnt have posted my initial comments think im imagining this all in my head????

    And im sorry but usb3 is backwards can use it with anything from the last 10 years, 3.5% market penetration??? When was the last time you saw a PC or notebook or macbook ship without USB support?

    How you gonna install lion on your mac without USB? Doesnt apple ship it's OS on a thumbdrive??? Guarantee it would install faster on USB 3!

    That says it all.

    If FW was so great why didnt they ship it on a FW flash drive?

    Have you ever even heard of a firewire flash drive??? I think there was like some kangaru branded ones or something but they were super expensive.

    Also, with ssd's saturating the sata 3 Gbps bus already...why waste time using USB or firewire to disk image? Firewire never took off, never will, and has been succeeded by esata, USB3 and now thunderbolt..Whether you like it or not.

    But hey you can go on pretending like its not a dead interface.

    Also, some food for thought....why are you trying to change my mind about this???? I'm not going to magically "see the light of day" and agree that this monitor is the best thing since sliced cheese

    Im at peace with your reasoning..faulted in my view...but its no skin off my back...and your mind is made go buy the monitor...

    Apple and anand have spoken and this is a must have item!!!

    You need to get down to the mac store like now instead of arguing with an idiot like me...the lineup is already huge and there are campers it now before its too late!!


    Dont forget to grab a height adjustable desk!!!!
  • repoman27 - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    I never mentioned my feelings about this display one way or the other. I also made no attempt to change your mind in regards to whether the ATD was desirable. I joined the argument because you made several inaccurate or irrational statements.

    I also never disagreed with you about the article being biased. However, objectivity and impartiality are not the same thing. If the data presented is verifiable and accurate, whether or not Anand arrives at the same conclusions as you should be somewhat immaterial.

    I will keep bombarding you with reality regarding I/O interfaces though...

    First of all, the attach rates I included were quoted from data presented by the USB-IF and, as I clearly stated, were for USB 3.0, not all revisions.

    USB is very useful, more than 3 billion USB devices will ship this year. However, only 84 million of those will be USB 3.0 devices, all of them will still function with USB 2.0 or 1.1 interfaces, and not a single one currently offers any functionality that is unable to be duplicated by other interfaces.

    There are far more than 84 million FireWire devices in the wild that have functionality that simply cannot be achieved using USB of any revision. It's a different architecture with a different set of capabilities.

    eSATA is not a general purpose I/O, it can only be used for mass storage devices.

    USB and FireWire are very complementary and exist side-by-side. Every Mac or PC to ever ship with 1394 also has USB. If you can't use USB in a given situation due to it's limitations, you pay for the device with the FireWire controller in it. I imagine that in time Thunderbolt will supplant FireWire and sit alongside USB 3.0. Once again, if you need a device that isn't possible using USB 3.0, pony up for a device with a Thunderbolt controller.
  • dsumanik - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link


    above top secret classified news bulletin:

    Firewire's dead bro and the review was biased!
  • Constructor - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    Nonsense. FireWire isn't "dead". There are quite a few interfaces which have no alternative to using FireWire for several reasons, notably latencies among them.

    Thunderbolt is now the first possible alternative which can actually replace FireWire in every case (the sole exception: devices can potentially draw even more power from FireWire than even from Thunderbolt).

    As to "bias" in the article: The article primarily demonstrated what the tested device can actually do in practice and how the technology behind it works, complete with numerical measurements.

    All that with clear qualifications on which kinds of use cases it will support and which ones it won't.

    If you think that only thoroughly negative reports on a tested device could be "unbiased" (or maybe just when we're talking about Apple's products, specifically?), then you probably have a very distorted view on such matters yourself and little understaning what "unbiased" even means.
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    psssst... If you weren't just trolling you'd realize that I never disagreed with you about the review being biased.

    1.4 billion FireWire devices shipped... more than 200 million in 2011... Continued strong support from Apple... Yeah, death rattle, bro. 86 FireWire.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    repoman27, dsumanik is absolutely right. If you spend $1000 on a monitor, it had better have height adjustment!

    Think of it this way; that's 4x a normal display cost. So if you buy a 4x cost car ($60k), it had damn well better have steering wheel height adjustment.

    FW flash drive, LOL. I didn't even know those existed.

    Apple didn't add proper monitor adjustments because they put style over functionality. And that's why they will always be at a disadvantage even beyond the price premium.

    As for me, I've been enjoying my monitor for about the last 5's 3" more diagonal, it has 1600 vertical pixels, full height and swivel movement, and SD/CF card readers! How about that...look how much we've advanced in 5 years.

    btw I don't get Anand's comment "These aren't just ports, they are backed by controllers physically located within the display" - is he saying they're not just fake ports and they actually work?
  • dsumanik - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    amen brotha,

    those ports arent just ports...they have controllers to back them up...

    so watch out...

    if you dont give this display the height adjustable desk it deserves...

    The TB display will download your gigabit ethernet into the HD webcam and facetime your arse into a FW drive!!

    (but only at USB 2.0 speeds!)
  • AnnonymousCoward - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    Apple should have the height adjustable desk as an accessory.

    And advertise on their site "we have controllers to back up our ports".
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    This is the first display to include ports that have their own host controllers. All other displays either offer just multiple video input ports, or have an internal USB hub and various USB devices that are connected to the USB host controller on a PC via a separate cable. Some also have an audio input as well for a connection to a separate audio output on the PC. So yes, whole different ball game here.

    I'd rather have a $120k car that doesn't have a stereo or floor mats because they weigh too much. ;-)

    I also like displays with height adjustment, but, and not to sound like a total Apple apologist here, Apple generally makes pretty good decisions about which features to include and which to leave out. Whenever you design an electronic gadget you have to make compromises. You can't cram every feature on the market into one device that's smaller and more beautiful than all the others and then sell it for an absurdly low price. The ATD is a pretty balanced package overall. Apple also doesn't have any currently shipping, proven, height-adjustable display stand designs at the moment. If they did, and simply omitted it for this product, it would be far more egregious.

    Yeah, stupid consumer HDTV market completely killing the mid-range display market.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    The user doesn't care if there's a hub or host directly behind the USB port. It's a friggen USB port, just like my monitor has. And it'd be better if it were USB3, and if there were more than 3 ports. Plug in a mouse and keyboard, and you're quickly left with 1 remaining port, which isn't enough.

    You don't care to have a stereo in your car? Very odd. I'll take a 15k car with good sound over a silent 120k.

    Dell has had their swivel adjustments figured out for several monitor generations. Apple has no excuse, and makes poor feature decisions over and over. Like back when their iPod Shuffle came out, for $90 or whatever and no screen, compared to another brand that cost $35, OLED screen, superior battery life, and functions like a flash drive without iTunes. In addition, Apple's price margins are so high that they can easily afford to add vital features, when competitors have them and sell for less.
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    Of course you don't care how things work, you just buy based on bullet points put forth buy the marketers.

    How's the throughput on the Gigabit Ethernet port in your display? Does your display have any USB 3.0 ports? Does the PC that it's connected to even have any?

    Yeah, and what you consider poor feature decisions have propelled Apple to the #1 ranking market cap in the world. Clearly shareholders are liking the feature set. How's the company that made that other brand doing these days? Dominating the market are they?
  • AnnonymousCoward - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    Apple is "#1 market cap" because of their marketing department. NOT feature set, nor value. Reply
  • Constructor - Thursday, September 29, 2011 - link

    You keep telling yourself that.

    In the real world, it is actually hard to make the right tradeoffs in product development. And cramming the absolute maximum number of paper features into a product quite often does a disservice to its actual usability and practical usefulness.

    Apple's meteoric rise and sky-high user loyalty in large part comes from them in fact making the right decisions in most of these tradeoffs.

    "Marketing" is a rather helpless catch-all pseudo-explanation for what many people (and even most competitors) simply fail to grasp. Which is why Apple is successful, and they are not.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    "paper features"
    "disservice to its actual usability and practical usefulness."

    -Oh, you mean like a mouse with a right-click button? Yeah, that's quite the paper feature with no practical usefulness!
    -Or maybe like putting a screen on an MP3 player. That's yet another worthless paper feature!
    -Or a monitor stand with height adjustment. That only looks good on paper! There's no practical usefulness here because every MacHead has a height-adjustable desk!

    And don't get me started on the lack of value. You can get a new 15.6" laptop with a C2D-based Intel processor for $280; Apple laptops start at $1000. A while back you could get Apple's 30" (which used an outdated LG panel) for $2000, versus Dell's 30" (with a newer and better LG panel) for $1500, and it had swivel.

    I credit the vast majority of Apple's success to their brilliant mass marketing.
  • crispbp04 - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    i just dock my computer and don't have to get flustered over seven cables. snap in and move on. snap off and leave. Reply
  • Constructor - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    And all the while there's the massive docking station cluttering up your desk. Which can't be used with any other computer and cannot be adapted to should you need anything it doesn't happen to provide.

    I'm not saying that it can't be useful, just that Thunderbolt is quite a bit more flexible, more powerful and more convenient.
  • dsumanik - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    How is that different from a piece of wood or a stack of books for the display to sit on because there is no height adjustment? Reply
  • Constructor - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    You'll need a display in addition to your docking station. The TBD already covers the docking needs, and you can still use the Air's keyboard and trackpad if you like, since there's only one thin cable going out from it, not much different from a USB keyboard cable.

    And as I explained before: Height adjustment built into the regular stands is usually too limited to be really useful where it's actually needed, and still fragile and wobbly at the same time (which is two things the iMac / Thunderbolt Display stand most certainly is not).

    Theoretically demanding all kinds of things is one thing. Ticking them off on a theoretical spec sheet is another.

    But the actual, practical reality is usually a completely different thing again. And that is what you have to deal with when you're actually constructing real-life hardware. It's not nearly as simple as is looks from the outside (I'm developing software, hardware and sometimes mechanical components for a living myself).

    Bitching is easy. Finding really good solutions for difficult problems is not.
  • vision33r - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    Apple products gets a decent review and people in this forum jump on it like every review is about Apple.

    Imo, the whole PC industry is in serious decline lately. No leadership and no innovation.

    Every company just decided not to do anything new and just copy Apple or wait for Apple to come out with something and then follow them.

    Every PC geeks ask for ports, ports, ports! However in the Apple world it's all about minimalist.

    Less ports and ports that multi-function inter-connect ports like Thunderbolt is the way to go to have a clean design.

    That's why Apple is selling a ton of macbooks and making a good profit and all these PC notebook makers are crying about making a tiny profit and they still can't make a cheap Macbook air clone.
  • repoman27 - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    The lack of headphone/optical digital audio output and audio line in/optical digital audio input minijacks on the ATD is a little puzzling. Not seeing the technical reasons why these couldn’t have been included leads me to chalk it up as a cost issue. The ATD contains a hell of a lot more circuitry than the previous 27-inch ACD and retails for the same price. Apple most likely took a haircut on their margin for this device and might have just hit the threshold of pain.

    I think the inclusion of only three USB ports is very reasonable, since there is only one USB 2.0 host controller and you already have two isochronous devices attached to it—the FaceTime HD camera and audio controller. Five devices sharing less than 40 MB/s of bandwidth is bad enough, giving people a little more rope to create unsatisfactory performance is probably not necessary. And if you really do need more ports, you can always use a hub. Adding a second USB 2.0 host controller could have provided more ports while avoiding some of the performance issues, but I don’t think there is enough headroom left on the Thunderbolt channel for any more stuff.

    Some quick and dirty math provides us with the following: 5800 Mbps + 1.6% for overhead for the video stream = 5895 Mbps. 1000 Mbps for the Gigabit Ethernet + (2 x 786.43 Mbps ) for the FireWire 800 ports + 480 Mbps for the USB 2.0 host controller + 25% for PCIe protocol overhead = 3816 Mbps. Together that comes to a little more than 9.7 Gbps, which is awful close to 10 Gbps. Although the PCIe traffic would probably rarely achieve this maximum, the only way to always ensure that there is enough room for the video signal is to limit the cumulative throughput of all included PCIe devices to less than 4.1 Gbps. Adding so much as one more USB 2.0 controller or a memory card reader would have bumped it into that grey area where there could be potential for interruption of the video signal. This makes me particularly curious about the performance of a Thunderbolt device in a chain that contains 2 ATD’s.

    Including USB 3.0 in a device like this at this point in time is just unrealistic. If Apple believed that their drivers and the currently available host controller silicon was mature enough to include in a product, it would be in the new Macs. The first product they release with USB 3.0 support would not be a display. The ATD is the first display to include a USB host controller, all other displays with USB ports merely contain hubs, and as far as I’m aware, there are no displays currently shipping which contain USB 3.0 hubs. Furthermore, a single USB 3.0 host controller can generate 5.0 Gbps of PCIe traffic, which would not fit on a 10 Gbps Thunderbolt channel along with a 5.8 Gbps video stream.

    If you think that including a GPU in a display like this would be a good idea, then you haven’t really considered the engineering. First of all, the only point in including a GPU would be if it provided better performance than the GPU that’s already in the host PC. If you wanted to retain the features that are in the ATD as well, this would limit you to a PCIe 2.0 x 1 connection for the embedded GPU. In order to not make the form factor totally wonky, you would have to go with a mobile GPU, but even still you’d need to beef up the power supply considerably and provide a custom cooling solution akin to what’s in the 27-inch iMac. So now we’ve made this display considerably more expensive, louder, heavier and power hungry, and the only Macs that will see any noticeable performance improvement are those that are limited to Intel HD 3000 graphics. The only Thunderbolt Macs that don’t have the option for a dGPU are the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and Quad-Core Mac mini, all of which are in the $999-$1699 price range. Including a GPU in the ATD would make the display cost more than most of the Macs that could even see any benefit from it. Meanwhile, of course, everyone would be paying the higher price, unless Apple produced and supported multiple models. This would also lead to a much faster hardware refresh rate for Apple because GPU technology matures much more quickly than display technology does. A user upgradeable display is probably not forthcoming from Apple, and BTO displays are not on the table for any rational OEM, so don’t even go there.

    As for the height adjustment, while Anand goes for the adjustable desk, and those with the dough might shell out for an adjustable VESA mount, I suggest a good old fashioned block of wood. You can also use a wedge shaped block for displays lacking tilt adjustment. If you’re not as concerned about appearances, you can even throw a couple phone books under there until you get the height just right, or add a three ring binder for tilt. Plop it on a lazy susan and you’ve got swivel. Apple’s design cuts costs due to its simplicity, looks attractive due to its form, and is less likely to suffer failure due to its construction. The latter reason being particularly relevant for a 23 lb., $1000 panel covered by a sheet of glass.

    For those who can’t figure this out, Apple’s displays are “glossy” because they have a big slab of glass in front of them. To create a matte finish option would require applying an antiglare film, or removing the glass, either of which you’re free to do yourself. This is not at all like cheap displays with a glossy film applied to the panel. Apple is obsessed with glass. You can be pretty sure that their current displays weren’t engineered during a coffee break, and that they have looked into a good number of the antiglare treatments currently available. If you require a display without a sheet of glass in front of it, don’t buy one of these. Despite all the protests in forums, unit sales of Apple products with glass clad panels are higher than they were when they didn’t have the glass. People clearly like the way these look on the sales floor, even the insanely brightly lit sales floors of the Apple Stores.
  • Constructor - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    While I agree with most of your reasoning in principle, you're making one incorrect assumption:

    Furthermore, a single USB 3.0 host controller can generate 5.0 Gbps of PCIe traffic, which would not fit on a 10 Gbps Thunderbolt channel along with a 5.8 Gbps video stream.

    Thunderbolt actually provides 20 Gb/s in each direction; 10 Gb/s are intended for PCIe and the other 10Gb/s are intended for Display Port tunneling, so with only one display connected, the display signal will have no impact on PCIe performance whatsoever (see the Thunderbolt performance test in the article).

    Since one TBD consumes at least slightly more than half of 10 Gb/s, there will apparently be some capability for an overlap (dual TBDs should indeed have a slight to moderate impact on PCIe data throughput), however.

    To create a matte finish option would require applying an antiglare film, or removing the glass,

    No, you'll have to remove the glass in any case, since a matte coating on a glass significantly in front of the actual display's surface would blur the display beyond recognition of any reasonably-sized text.

    Matte displays are by necessity bare panels with no protective glass in front of them whatsoever.
  • repoman27 - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    Thunderbolt provides 2 x 10 Gbps, full-duplex channels per port / cable. A Thunderbolt device can only use one channel at a time, the other channel is to provide a switching path to ensure bandwidth to other devices in the chain. To quote an Intel slide from IDF "Each direction in each channel can be data and / or display." All of the PCIe and DP packets for the ATD are on a single channel. Of course, due to the simplex nature of the DisplayPort main link, there would be sufficient bandwidth in one direction, but there's not much point in having a USB 3.0 controller that offers 370 MB/s reads and 40 MB/s writes.

    Think of a TB daisy chain as a chain of five-port 10-gigabit ethernet switches with two uplinks between each switch and a device connected to the remaining port.

    The Pegasus RAID in the test was minimally affected because it's traffic was on the other channel. I'm guessing that it was the PCIe switch in the MacBook Pro's Thunderbolt host controller that actually caused the minor performance hit.

    I agree with you about the glass issue, and that was kinda what I was driving at. As long as Apple's design language is all about glass in front of their displays, there can be no matte option. I think a lot of people feel that Apple could just offer the same display but in an antiglare version, but in order to do so, they would have to come up with a totally different design for the front of the device.
  • Constructor - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    A Thunderbolt device can only use one channel at a time, the other channel is to provide a switching path to ensure bandwidth to other devices in the chain.

    That couldn't work with a chain of up to seven devices. The first would then carry the stream for the second one while using up one channel for itself, and the second device would use up the second channel with nothing left for the other five devices. It can't be quite that simple.

    It looks as if dynamic partitioning of the stream should in fact be possible.

    The test on page four saw almost no performance hit on the Pegasus RAID when enabling the display (meaning the display was operating independently, outside of the 10Gb/s available for PCIe), and only gigabit Ethernet, FireWire and USB in the TBD actually took data throughput away from the RAID.

    This means that PCIe and Display Port are not necessarily on the same channel. The dynamic allocation seen in the test would not be possible in that case.

    However, PCIe performance with dual TBDs connected would be quite interesting, since that combination could actually max out the total output bandwidth of 20Gb/s. Maybe if Anand still has the review unit from Apple around, he can repeat the test (with a MacBook Pro, obviously, since his Air won't be able to drive both TBDs anyway).

    As long as Apple's design language is all about glass in front of their displays, there can be no matte option. I think a lot of people feel that Apple could just offer the same display but in an antiglare version, but in order to do so, they would have to come up with a totally different design for the front of the device.

    Indeed. I personally wouldn't mind a matte iMac or TBD, even though the glossy one is far less of a problem than many people appear to believe, and it actually has some advantages of its own.
  • repoman27 - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    [QOUTE]That couldn't work with a chain of up to seven devices. The first would then carry the stream for the second one while using up one channel for itself, and the second device would use up the second channel with nothing left for the other five devices. It can't be quite that simple.

    It looks as if dynamic partitioning of the stream should in fact be possible.[/QUOTE]

    It's a switched fabric architecture with full-duplex links. Refer to my Ethernet analogy again. With more than two devices in the chain, each one gets the full 10 Gbps pipe, but not 100% of the time. With a little bit of buffering, everything is copacetic and you don't take a huge latency hit. I'm guessing that Thunderbolt is almost like an external version of DMI, and much of its logic comes from Intel's PCH.

    The big question is, of course, what happens to performance with two ATD's plus other TB devices in the same chain. They'll clearly be limited to the remaining available bandwidth, but how much will the switching architecture impact things?
  • Constructor - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    It's a switched fabric architecture with full-duplex links.

    Not according to Intel's documentation, even if that's still relatively sparse at this point.

    They say it's a packet-switched architecture, which is much closer to what it seems to look like in practice. Apparently it is mixing PCIe packets and Display Port packets as needed, for which it is convenient that both are packet-based anyway.

    The interesting open question is if on this level the existence of two separate physical channels still has any real relevance or if the controllers treat both channels combined as a single logical 20Gb/s channel with only the PCIe interface being limited to 10Gb/s...
  • repoman27 - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    I was actually quoting the Intel "Technology brief", which is definitely sparse, and more than a little glossy. Yes, Thunderbolt also uses a packet based transport layer.

    I'm pretty sure DP is limited to 10 Gbps as well, hence no DP 1.2 devices (not that there are any). DP 1.1a tops out at 8.641 Gbps without the 8b/10b encoding so it will always fit on one channel. At the physical layer, what they've done is taken the conductors used for the 4 simplex lanes of the DisplayPort main link and used them instead for 2 full-duplex TB channels. If you think of the channels as PCIe lanes, they could theoretically operate as two x1 links or be bonded into one x2 link with the data being striped across both channels. All the evidence seems to point to x2 operation not currently being supported. What's odd is to consider what these channels would represent when using an optical interconnect.
  • repoman27 - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    I think I see what's going on here. The cross-bar Thunderbolt protocol switch in the Light Ridge chip is an 8-channel switch. 2 channels are connected to each Thunderbolt port, and 1 each is connected to the PCIe protocol adapter port, the 2 DisplayPort Rx protocol adapter ports and the DisplayPort Tx protocol adapter port. Any two Thunderbolt protocol adapter points in a chain can be linked via a single channel by the switching fabric, so long as they support compatible protocols. Which physical layer channels are used is thus completely arbitrary.

    My previous assumptions about the bandwidth limitations of the ATD were thus completely wrong.

    The limitation here is the single PCIe protocol adapter port in the current Thunderbolt controllers. Thus you can only move 10 Gbps of PCIe packets to and from the host PC. With the bare minimum of PCIe overhead on a Sandy Bridge system that would work out to a theoretical maximum of 1028 MB/s of payload throughput. Gosh, Anand clocked 1002.7 MB/s in his first go round with the Pegasus R6! Intel does hint that a Thunderbolt controller can contain "one or more PCI Express protocol adapter ports", so this limitation might be overcome by future controllers.
  • Constructor - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    Yes, it does look quite promising for future development, indeed! :-)

    Just a few points:

    As far as I'm aware the four Display Port simplex channels (or two full duplex channels) just remain the same when used for Thunderbolt – only the data rate is increased. So there should still be two output and two input channels for two full duplex channels in total.

    And do you have any real information about the internal routing mechanism in the controller chips? As far as I understand, Anand's graphic was also rather speculative and indirectly derived from what is now known from the outside, so to say.

    As far as I can see, both Anand's and your conjecture appear plausible in light of the little official information we've got. A real, substantial manual for these controllers would still be a fantastic resource here. ;-)

    Or at least some official clarifications from Intel about the true nature of their capabilities...
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    I'm just going off the information available, like everyone else. Which is why probably half the statements I've made about TB thus far have turned out to be inaccurate.

    But the TB port is electrically equivalent to a mini DP port. There are no additional contacts. A TB port operates in either DP compatibility mode or in TB signaling mode. The 4 pairs of signaling wires are used for either 1 DP main link Tx or 2 TB bi-directional channels, both of which are capable of transporting (tunneling) a DP main link. As far as I can tell at least.

    I posted a block diagram earlier, which I'll post again here, although I need to clean it up a little as my current theory of things Thunderbolt is now a bit more plausible.
  • repoman27 - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    I just noticed that my math was a little too quick and dirty. There's only one FireWire 800 port on the ATD, not two. So actually a second USB 2.0 controller or memory card reader were not out of the question at all, and probably just failed to make the cut due to cost.

    An optical drive would have required a SATA controller, which wouldn't have fit within the bandwidth limitations, and altogether would have added about another $50 to the price tag.
  • repoman27 - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    I find it bizarre the number of tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists that post comments on every review of an Apple product saying that the review was biased or nothing but a paid advertisement. I’m not sure how you could read this article and not believe that it was anything other than the most objective, informative and detailed review of the ATD yet published.

    Some points for consideration:

    There are plenty of reviews on Anandtech for products made by manufacturers that also advertise on Anandtech, yet these are never called into question. It’s just Apple, who to my knowledge have never actually advertised on a review site.

    While Apple does submit products for review, Anand went out and additionally bought his own ATD to dissect, so he actually paid Apple this time around. I doubt his review unit came packed in a box full of cash.

    There are no generally negative reviews posted on sites like these because the authors tend to spend their time reviewing products that have merit. Most of the major manufacturers don’t make a habit of bringing to market products that are clearly defective or devoid of any useful functionality. Apple makes solid products, and therefore gets a lot of positive reviews. Not that they are by any means above critique, but their standards tend to be higher than many of their competitors.

    Being objective is not the same as being impartial. The biases of reviewers will always show up in what they write, but stating opinions does not necessarily diminish the objectivity of the data presented.

    People who can’t figure out the timing of the posts on this site are baffling to me. When AMD, Intel or NVIDIA release new products, we get a quick blurb when it is announced and a full review a few days after it ships. When MWC is going on you get a ton of mobile device news, when IDF is going on you see a mess of Intel related posts, when BUILD is happening you’ll have a bunch of Microsoft stuff to check out. Yet so many people submit comments saying that this site has jumped the rails when WWDC results in a week of Apple posts.

    Why did the ATD get an in depth review? Because it marks the release of a highly anticipated piece of tech which was surrounded by many unknowns due to the fact that it actually forges into some new territory. Is there really a good reason why this site would NOT review this device? The only reason I can think of would be if a competitor had paid them off.

    If all those bitching about the quality or integrity of this site can point to better, more objective, more in depth reviews of these products, please feel free to cite references.
  • Brigga - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    As simple and probably silly as this sounds why doesn't apple have a docking station? Port replicators suck, but docking stations can be quite unobtrusive and easy to use (ie. no disconnecting of cables and second power supply stays where it is). Reply
  • repoman27 - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    Yeah, actually Apple solved the problem that way for five years back in the early nineties. The PowerBook Duo line had a docking port that worked with the Duo Dock and several other docking accessories. I'm guessing that they have enough bad memories of the problems inherent with those designs that they're shooting for a slightly different approach now. Reply
  • pesos - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    I went out and picked up a TB display last night to pair with my 2011 mbp. I live in windows about 95% of the time and expected there to be no issues with the basic usb hub built into the display – unfortunately that does not seem to be the case. My Apple usb keyboard (also brand new) and dell usb mouse both hang/freeze/work erratically when connected to the back of the display, as does my Jabra pro headset. I can make the behavior 10 times worse simply by using hardware built into the display, such as the facetime camera. If I fire up Lync and start a video chat, my keyboard and mouse become nearly unusable. My basic testing under Lion appears to confirm this is an issue with Apple’s boot camp drivers as things work fine under OS X. Problem occurs both with win7 and win2008r2. Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    first world problems... Reply
  • Oli56 - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    Anand, great review but it seems you completely overlooked the impact of the glass which can be negative to some users. I owned an iMac some time ago and the glass reflections were very disturbing to me and led to ocular fatigue. It is unfortunate Apple has moved to glass display for all its line of screens, fortunately we can still have a MacBook Pro with mate display as option but that doesn't exist for a 27" IPS screen which should really benefit from it. So basically glass maybe looks cool on display but when this is about to work all day with it, this is a nightmare. This is the only thing keeping me away from that screen, as the rest of it looks great. Reply
  • dmaffei - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    You never fail to impress... nice job old friend!!!

    Dan :-)
  • StefanoT - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    so this really, really, is an Apple Display without DisplayPort?!
    If I'm not mistaken, just the other day DisplayPort was the way to the future, touted to eventually supersede DVI/HDMI. Indeed, it was almost too new to be widely supported! DisplayPort-enabled monitors, in my part of the world, are still few and far between. I was still waiting for the DisplayPort goodness to free me from carrying all sorts of miniDP adapters. To DVI, to HDMI, even (gosh!) to VGA!
    And now, suddenly, DisplayPort is to fall into oblivion, no longer supported by Apple, which was one of the main proponents and, ironically, now supports a standard that is built-on and, in a way, includes DisplayPort, and on top of that shares the same connector.
    Anand points out that the company has never got emotional about legacy stuff. If they did, the new technology would never get adopted. Apple is leaping to the future and can't get stop to deal with yesterday's interfaces. I would say that between one leap and another, you need to "land" somewhere. I'm not a fan of never-ending legacy support, but I'm still waiting for VGA to disappear from mainstream netbooks. Are they suggesting that I either ditch my oh-so-non-2011 devices (i.e., "not-released-in-2011", as opposed to "not-bought-in-2011") in order to use their new display, or that I buy an old, "non-Thunderbolt" version of their display, which sells for the same price? This doesn't make sense any way you put it... and to think that they had it so easy with Thunderbolt. The thing seems built with backward compatibility in mind.
    I didn't get if future displays will eventually support both DisplayPort and Thunderbolt. Perhaps once Intel makes it piece-of-cake easy, as opposed to "just add a chip to that big motherboard you've got back there, behind the glass". Perhaps once other companies start offering it. Or perhaps never, because why should Apple not leapfrog everybody again (including its customers), by switching to an all-new technology next year?
  • repoman27 - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    Well, the display itself is driven by DisplayPort. The ATD does require Thunderbolt though, otherwise they couldn't have included all the other stuff. Apple is releasing this as an accessory for new Macs that have Thunderbolt ports. It does not make anything obsolete. You can continue to use pretty much any display on the market with either an older Mac that only supports DisplayPort or a new Thunderbolt equipped Mac although you might need an adapter or three. Most display manufacturers are probably not going to go the Thunderbolt route, and will stick with HDMI for 1920x1080 panels, DisplayPort for the higher resolution jobs, and DVI ports until the cows come home.

    Apple may soon cease production of discrete DisplayPort sink devices, but that in no way means that they've turned their back on the standard. Thunderbolt ports are indeed backward compatible with DisplayPort devices, but DP ports have no way of being forward compatible with Thunderbolt devices.

    I find it odd that there are a lot of folks asking where all the Thunderbolt devices are, and then when one is released, everyone complains that they would need to buy a new Mac in order to use it. Thunderbolt devices are designed to be used with Thunderbolt enabled PC's, you're either in the market for them or you're not, end of story.
  • eureka_swe - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    If you have say 2-3 FireWire 800 disk connected to the Display, do i need to Eject this on the Macbook Pro evry time i will disconnect the Display or is it just to pull out the Thunderbolt cable and the disk is still good ?

    its a big question for me that have 7 FW Disks :)
  • Constructor - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    That you need to unmount volumes which are about to be disconnected doesn't change.

    The external FireWire controller is basically indistinguishable from one on the motherboard for the OS. And the file system is still the same.

    So unmounting any external FireWire, USB and (directly) Thunderbolt device is a must and will remain so until the file system is fundamentally altered in that regard.
  • iSayuSay - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    Agreed on some Anand's points. Hooking a Macbook Pro/Air with Thunderbolt onto that display may looks cool, it might instantly look like a desktop. But the real performance is never going to be excellent, it only become acceptable - very good range.

    If I going to cash in such amount of money (consider basic 11" MBA for $900 + 27" Apple Thunderbolt display for another $1000, and for elegance purpose .. don't forget TrackPad/MagicMouse + Wireless keyboard for another $140) ..

    In total you already spend same amount with hi-end iMac 27" which performs much better, yeah sure .. it's not portable, but I don't carry around my MBA too much either :p

    So I say .. while looks nice and cool, I'm not ready to follow world trend to go mobile with today's performance
  • dgingeri - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    I flat out refuse to buy any Apple products. I have 3 reasons behind this now. At first, it was because they did so much business with Foxconn, and the horrible living conditions of the Foxconn employees who built Apple products. Then I found out about their excessive patent applications on a great many things that have been common habits of electronics manufacturers for over a decade. Now, I add on the excessive legal activity and flat out cheating in court trying to ban competing products.

    Apple is quite simply an evil company. Do not buy their stuff. Do not support the attempt at becoming a dictatorship of the world under the guise of business.
  • Mystermask - Sunday, October 09, 2011 - link

    You're a hypocrite if you accuse Apple for what happens in chinese factories.
    1. Name me one brand that does not go for cheap as possible production. And why? Just have a look at those endless discussions where people try to prove that they can build a PC that has the same specs like e. g. a MacBook Pro but is even cheaper. How do you believe this is possible?Aren't you happy when you can buy a PC for €300 when all other cost 500€? Who do you believe is paying that bill? The "race to the bottom" has a long history that started in the PC industry when almost all HW vendors decided to go with DOS / Windows and vendors could only distinguish themselves in the market by being cheaper than others. And consumers gladly bought the cheapest - unable to distinguish value and price - effectively cutting into their own flesh because this has cost all production jobs in the PC industry in western countries.
    2. Have a look at yourself. Do you wear Nike, Addidas, Reebook, Lacost, you-name-it? Do you use Dell, Acer, HP, HTC, Samsung, .. How and where are they produced?
    All of a sudden, reality looks not as easy and religios blind Apple bashing is certainly neither a solution nor would that change anything for Foxconn or countless other factory workers in China, Vietnam or wherever people have to offer their work for cheap to survive because of western ignorance and greed.
  • The_Countess - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    i cant help but notice that you could do all this with just 2 cables for far less money and without the expensive proprietary technology.
    1 display cable + 1 usb3.0 cable connected to a USB hub.

    it'll even be fully backward compatible with practically every laptop still in operation on the planet!

    you could even run the display over usb3.0 although I'm not sure how much bandwidth would remain after that.
  • repoman27 - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    You can get more than 800 MB/s of throughput from a RAID connected to a USB 3.0 hub?... While getting over 780 Mbps over a USB 2.0 Gigabit Ethernet adapter?... (There are no USB 3.0 ethernet adapters in the wild yet.) While recording 720p video from a camera connected to the hub?... While playing back audio from a USB audio interface?... And how are you going to connect a FireWire device to your USB 3.0 hub? There's no adapters for that, and besides, you're out of ports on your hub because the only USB 3.0 hubs on the market have just 4 downstream ports. Looks like you'll need to get another hub and cable to connect a keyboard and mouse or USB disk.

    And yes, you could connect your version to any laptop and enjoy all of those devices sharing less than 40 MB/s of bandwidth, or connect it to a USB 3.0 enabled machine and get less than 400 MB/s. Thunderbolt gives you 2500 MB/s. A 2560x1440 display such as this requires 5.8 Gbps of bandwidth, USB 3.0 can't even hit 3.2 Gbps of real world throughput yet.
  • Constructor - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    USB ist not remotely capable to drive a display at the same performance level as the built-in GPU in the computer can. Those USB graphics adapters are orders of magnitude slower than that.

    And both 10Gb/s input + 10Gb/s output at the same time as a high-res display (or even two of those with a small output performance hit) are completely out of range for even USB3.

    Add to that the horrible latency problems you've got with USB, which are completely absent with Thunderbolt. (Which is one reason why you couldn't even have a full-performance FireWire port through USB3 since proper FireWire has very low latencies as well, which USB simply can't emulate.)

    USB is a very complicated and not too fast peripheral interface.

    Thunderbolt is effectively a part of the motherboard channeled through a thin cable to pluggable external motherboard expansions (the "motherboard" in the Thunderbolt display is effectively made a part of the computer's motherboard once you plug it in to the Mac).

    Completely different deal.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    You're comparing USB to a GPU? ok...

    "orders of magnitude"? USB is 5Gbps; apparently the alternative is 500Gbps!! Sorry, it's not even 50Gbps, or even half of that.

    "horrible latency problems you've got with USB" - I have no perceivable latency on my USB mouse, and I'm sensitive to it.

    "USB is a...not too fast peripheral interface." - 5Gbps isn't fast? No external connection aside from raw video can utilize that!

    Face it, you don't know what you're talking about.
  • Constructor - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    You're comparing USB to a GPU? ok...

    No. The former is an interface protocol, the latter a component.

    But Thunderbolt can work on a completely different level with GPUs than USB can:

    Internal GPUs are usually connected to the CPU through 16 PCIe Lanes, which adds up to 64Gb/s in each direction with PCIe 2. These GPUs also have the necessary power and cooling available for advanced 3D performance.

    And at their outputs, they're pumping out substantially more than 5Gb/s for a high-resolution video signal.

    USB3 cannot supply an external GPU with enough data throughput to come even close to an internal GPU. The outright horrible inefficiency of the USB protocol may well eat up half of the nominal bit rate again as it has with earlier incarnations. It also has too little bandwidth to tunnel the video output signal from an internal GPU, let alone on top of full-speed data transfers at the same time.

    Thunderbolt on the one hand provides at least double the data bandwidth of USB to drive an external GPU if so desired (which might actually be enough for mid-range 3D applications) and with Thunderbolt that is actually the net throughput with next to no overhead, and on the other it piggybacks not just one but even two complete high-resolution video streams onto the same cable at the same time if so desired!

    The two are playing in completely different leagues – USB falls far short of what Thunderbolt can do, not just theoretically but in actual practice.

    You will never see anything like the Thunderbolt Display with USB3, at least not remotely with the same performance since it is simply not possible.

    I have no perceivable latency on my USB mouse, and I'm sensitive to it.

    Sorry, but I think you don't understand what I am talking about. That you may not be able to perceive the latency of your USB mouse with the naked eye is as it should be, but extremely far removed from the micro- or even nanosecond-range latency requirements of many more advanced interfaces (human perception begins only to notice differences starting in the millisecond range, usually even just at tens or even hundreds of milliseconds).

    There are good reasons for advanced audio and video interfaces insisting on using FireWire so far and now starting to switch to Thunderbolt. USB has always had extremely bad response latencies which is inherent in its protocol specification. Critics even suspected that Intel had screwed up the USB protocol that badly because they wanted to keep their CPUs busy so they could keep selling faster ones, even though that is probably just a myth... 8-)

    Theoretically USB3 could improve on that to some degree (which is a completely different issue from sheer data throughput), but we'll have to wait and see whether that will actually come about.

    "USB is a...not too fast peripheral interface." - 5Gbps isn't fast? No external connection aside from raw video can utilize that![/b]

    USB has so far wasted about than half of its nominal bandwidth idling in its extremely inefficient and wasteful protocol. When have you ever had true 480Mb/s (60MB/s) transfer rates on USB2? Right: Never.

    USB3 may again improve over the older variants, but it's to be seen how much of these problems will actually get solved in practice.

    With Thunderbolt the 10Gb/s are effective throughput, right out of the gate. And that's even just half the total throughput, with the other half tunneling Display Port.

    Thunderbolt plays in a completely different league from USB, even USB3.

    Face it, you don't know what you're talking about.

    Maybe. Maybe not... ;-)
  • Constructor - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    Sorry for the screwed-up boldfacing above. Post editing would be really handy there...! B-) Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    You're mixing the topics of GPU processing and the interface to the monitor.

    Some facts:
    -There's no question that USB3 is not suitable for driving high resolution raw video. Throughput maxes out around 3.2Gbps. 1080p60 24-bit requires about 3.6Gbps.
    -Thunderbolt just combines the display and data connectors. When comparing this to a USB solution, compare it with USB3+DisplayPort.
    -No external connection can saturate 3.2Gbps. No hard drive, no web cam, no sound card, no peripheral. So Thunderbolt provides no benefit in its 10Gbps vs 3.2Gbps ability.
    -Thunderbolt gives you few ports and forces you to daisy-chain. And some Thunderbolt devices only have 1 port, meaning they stop the chain. Having 4 USB3 ports in 1 place is more centralized/convenient.
    -Intel probably charges $15/chip. Versus $2/chip for USB3 hosts. The cables are also far more expensive. And for what benefit? To combine data and video cables and force you to daisy-chain.
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    Some corrections to your "facts":

    -Plenty of external devices can saturate USB 3.0. For instance: single current generation SSD's, SSD or HDD RAIDs, 10 Gigabit Ethernet adapters, Fibre Channel adapters, pro video gear, any number of medical or research lab devices.

    -No Gigabit Ethernet adapters exist for USB 3.0 yet, so you would be limited to < 320 Mb Ethernet connections for a while.

    -No USB to FireWire adapters exist. USB does not support peer to peer transfers the way FireWire or Thunderbolt do, and thus performance drops off dramatically when copying between two devices connected to the same root hub.

    -Some USB devices also block a port... actually most do.

    -Thunderbolt doesn't actually force you to daisy chain. Although the silicon doesn't exist for them yet, in theory Multi-port Thunderbolt switches are quite possible.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    Your points don't apply to 99% of users.
    -500MB/s SSDs are internal drives. All external drives I'm aware of are platter-based. RAID-away with platters, and you'll still have a hard time hitting 400MB/s.
    -10Gb ethernet? Most people don't care about LAN traffic, and hard drives are often the bottleneck anyway at 90MB/s.
    -Fiber equipment and pro video gear--1% of users?

    You said it doesn't force you to daisy chain; when you buy a CrapBook Pro, you get 1 port. That means you have to daisy chain.
  • repoman27 - Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - link

    "Facts" aren't facts if they're wrong even 1% of the time though. While all of the examples I cited may be corner cases, they are all valid and contradict points which you presented earlier as factual statements.

    Also note that among the 1% of users that can benefit greatly from technologies like Thunderbolt are quite a few of the folks that create the music you listen to, produce the movies and TV shows you watch, make the products you purchase and use every day, develop treatments for illness, and help us to better understand the world we live in. Even if you resist adoption of new technologies personally, you can still benefit greatly from them.

    Apple has long had the philosophy that if you put advanced technologies into consumer devices that the users will find creative and unforeseen ways to exploit these new capabilities. I don't think they're going to give up on this just because you happen to disapprove.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - link

    Ok, you are technically right that "No external connection can saturate 3.2Gbps" isn't an accurate blanket statement. It was intended to be effectively true for almost all users. Sure you can make a $5000 RAID array that reaches that. Many people seem to think Thunderbolt offers a speed advantage over USB3 in applications where it doesn't (nearly all applications).

    You may be overstating Thunderbolt's benefit for that 1%. So it lets you dock a laptop without a normal docking station, or it saves you from plugging in wired ethernet (yet it doesn't save you from plugging in wired analog audio). That isn't going to help any artist do their work. The 1 unique capability I see that it offers, is the bandwidth to download raw video to a PC. But PCIe cards probably already exist that receive HDMI or DP for a computer.

    And I have a feeling that if James Cameron had a Thunderbolt-enabled computer and associated equipment, Avatar would have sucked just as badly.
  • repoman27 - Thursday, September 29, 2011 - link

    Believe it or not, there are actually people who can use (and are excited about) the little known already shipping Thunderbolt devices such as:

    And I'd be willing to venture that your feeling about Avatar constitutes an actual fact.
  • Mystermask - Sunday, October 09, 2011 - link

    Unbelievable how stupid so called "tech enthusiasts" behave when they read the Name "Apple".

    1. We've been reading the same technophobic "you don't need that" comments in the past about almost any switch Apple made: the replacement of proprietary ports with USB, 5 1/4" floppys with 3", 3" floppys with CD, CDs with DVDs, cell phones with physical keyboards with Multi Touch devices, etc
    2. Let the market decide what is needed. E. g. I'm always astonished how software / solutions make creative use of given hardware capabilities. This kind of evolution can never happen when HW vendors only stick to "what 99% of users need today".
    3. By your standards, we should stick to old HW (CPUs, GPUs, ATA, PS2, ..) because 99% of all users don't need newer stuff: They surf, write e-mails, watch photos or use bloated Word from time to time. No
  • Jamezrp - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    The video's really well done. I'd recommend using some of the YouTube features for links at the end, though it's clear you did this yourself even though the production value is clearly high up there (good camera, good audio, but minimal editing and control). Great stuff.

    That said, I've been pondering the Bluemic for some time and the quality on this video just sold me. Completely wrong product...I'd love the Thunderbolt Display to go along with my 13" MBA, but I've already got a Dell 2408 and Acer G24 for my PC which takes up my entire deskspace, and don't need the MBA on a bigger display anywhere else.
  • sportherz - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    if I understand correctly, the test was done with a MBP. I was excited about the new TB display together with a new MBA so I ordered both. Since my TB display arrived last week I am not so excited anymore. The display causes the MBA to heat up such that the fans of the MBA are constantly running at 6000rpm making a loud and annoying noise. If I use the MBA on my old 24 inch cinema display I don't have that problem. Could you please test the performance using a MBA and see if this is a problem about the particular monitor MBA I have, or if it is general

  • MacTheSpoon - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    Is it really necessary to spend all that money just for a laptop dock? I guess if you're already going to buy an external display and it must be an Apple display it makes sense. But what about a cheaper solution like this third-party dock, the Henge Dock? I think it's $70. I'd be curious to see Anand test that out. Maybe there are other third-party docks out there he could test, too. Reply
  • Constructor - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    The Henge Docks only re-route existing ports, so you gain nothing, except being able to (dis)connect those multiple ports in one single motion, but you lose the use of the internal display, keyboard and touchpad of the MacBook Pro.

    For the MacBook Air that's not even an option since there is just one USB port to re-route anyway on the side of the MagSafe connector.

    With the Thunderbolt Display you primarily pay for a large 2560*1440 display with LED backlight in a high-grade casing and with relatively good environmental compatibility. You don't get any comparable display alone for much less.

    All the additional ports and the easy connection through MagSafe and Thunderbolt in a single thin cable are effectively a bonus, if a very welcome one, particularly for the MacBook Air.

    And you can still use the built-in display, keyboard and touch pad of the MacBook in additon to the other ports of the MacBook directly.

    Not a bad deal, all in all.
  • sheh - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    that "DC brushless" thing.

    About the audio problem, wouldn't it be the fault of both the display and the TB device? I wouldn't expect a faulty USB device to cause problems to other things connected to the computer (at least if the computer didn't get stuck), why not expect the same with TB?
  • Wskcondor - Monday, October 10, 2011 - link

    I read this review and also the 2011 iMac review. I have a couple of questions someone with the hardware in front of them or with more knowledge may be able to answer...

    My idea is to travel with the 2011 Macbook Air, with the 1.8G i7 upgrade and 256G SSD.

    -I like the Thunderbolt display idea of a dock, because when I am "at home" I do a lot on the computer at the desk and I store a lot externally from the Air (movies, music, photos) and also still use an optical drive regularly. In effect, with a T-Bolt display, all of these things would be hanging off the display.

    Then I thought: why couldn't I buy a 2011 iMac and use it as a "display/dock station" when at home?

    1) Could I boot the 11" Air into TBolt target drive mode and then BOOT the iMac from the Air's drive, so all the "local changes" would be on the drive I take away on travel with me? The processor would be an i7 also in the iMac. BUT the configuration would be different, of course.
    -will this jack up settings in the Air's hard drive when I disconnect and reboot the Air from it's internal processor?
    -will this be too slow a configuration because the TBolt target drive mode has such slow throughput that the iMac will crawl along?
    -Can I even boot an iMac off the Air's TBolt target SSD drive?

    2) Can the iMac become a "Thunderbolt monitor" with drives, ports, etc if I boot the iMac into TBolt target mode? Or would it just be a blue screen with drives and ports, extending my Air's ports, but not acting as an external monitor?


    thanks to anyone who knows.

  • mashimaroo - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    i love this review. i have been thinking about setting up this EXACT same thing. i currently have a dell laptop that i plug in a billion cords into each time i take it somewhere. Its frustrating to have to plug in 7-8 things and have so many cords.. simplifying is great. My aaxa p4 pico projector is built with the same concept with an onboard media player that can play all my files directly off its memory, Reply
  • freedownloadaz - Wednesday, November 09, 2011 - link

    you review is very useful and can I buy it on eBay, I often download and buy here: Reply
  • EmmanuelDécarie - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    FYI, I just bought a Thunderbolt Display yesterday (2012-01-19) and I have plugged a Creative Xmod USB sound card ( in the monitor and it works perfectly. I can use my own speakers that are much better than what comes with the monitor. So from my point of view, I don't miss the audio port on the monitor.

    I guess the Griffin iMic ( could also works as a USB sound card to output sound from the monitor to your own speakers. But this solution is a bummer since this sound card don't add anything to the quality of the sound as do the Creative Xmod. So, you're right to say that's an oversight from Apple not to have an audio port. And Apple could have added more USB ports too.

    Thanks for your great review that helped me to take the jump to this magnificent display.
  • EmmanuelDécarie - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    Your CMS mangled the URLs.

    Creative Xmod

    Griffin iMic
  • anthony11 - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    "today I have no less than seven cables"
  • snow peak - Saturday, July 21, 2012 - link

    I have similar annoying issue here, while playing songs which in iTunes on my new MBA(mid-2012) out via TB display's speaker.
    The audio data stream is routed from MBA to ThunderBolt display, and just one apple's USB keyboard connected to ThunderBolt display.

    You might be interested in trying experiment without external storage attached on TB display, and get same result with mine.

    The symptom is little static noise came with music play at beginning, and then the music gradually merged by static noise after a few of minutes or a couple of hours.

    I think it caused by hardware power ground layout issue, so no confidence apple could fix it via firmware update and no idea if I should return both my new MBA and TB display.

    This is really annoying!!
  • paulrmc - Tuesday, August 07, 2012 - link

    Hi Anand,

    I don't know whether you looked at comparing directly connected USB drives to same drives hooked up to the TB Display. I was shocked today when I found out the difference. I'm using a USB 2.0-connected LaCie 2GB drive as a secondary drive to my dual-SSD mid-2011 Mac mini Server. Using BlackMagicDesign's Disk Speed Test I came to following results:
    - directly connected to the back of the Mac mini: 29MB/sec write, 33 MB/sec read
    - connected to the TB Display: 7.5MB/sec write, 11.7MB/sec read.
    I'm running OS X Mountain Lion 10.8 on the mini, and the tests were repeatable, after fresh power down - reboot cycles.

    Any ideas? Anyone?

  • hiscore - Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - link

    I have just discovered the source of my Thunderbolt display distorted audio issue. It is being created by my Drobo which is interfaced through iSCSI. I can replicate the issue every time when moving files to it. Granted the files are moving from my Pegasus array, so I guess there may still be some questions.

    I have been in constant contact with Apple support, Promise support, and Drobo support. Hopefully a fix will be supplied from someone.
  • highscore - Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - link

    It wasn't the Drobo.
    I no longer run a drobo and still encounter the issue. The problem seems to occur whenever there is high I/O through Thunderbolt. I have 3 Promise RAIDs and one Lacie 8Big all on one TB bus, with the TBD on the second bus and the problem still occurs. It really just points to a USB buffer issue. The same issue that Anandtech hypothesized in this review.
  • krakago - Saturday, June 07, 2014 - link

    Unfortunately this display is now a dinosaur, and a very expensive one. As of 2014 there are finally more devices and computers appearing with Thunderbolt, but peripherals tend to be very expensive and meanwhile USB 3 has become pretty much ubiquitous. That makes this Apple display unacceptably crippled. If it were cheap that could be overlooked, but it sells for a premium price. I've been looking for a display to use with my Macbook Pro, and comparing the price and features of the Apple offering to their competitors I can't see a good reason to choose the Thunderbolt Display. Apple really needs to bin this thing and bring out a modern version. Reply

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