Power Consumption

Unsurprisingly, power consumption hasn't changed much in the past year. The Thunderbolt Display draws a bit less at its dimmest setting (likely just panel efficiency variance) and draws a bit more at max brightness:

LCD Power Draw (Kill-A-Watt)

LCD Power Draw (Kill-A-Watt)

While powering a 15-inch MacBook Pro and reading data from an attached Pegasus R6 (copying to a local SSD at around 200MB/s) I measured total power consumption for the display (max brightness) at 179.6W. That number could go up if the battery in the MBP was near empty and thus being charged at a higher rate.

Display Testing - Brightness/Contrast & Uniformity Multi-monitor with the Thunderbolt Display
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  • 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.
  • 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??
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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