AnandTech reviews Apple Thunderbolt Display: A must-have for MacBook Air owners

“The real improvements here are obviously those enabled by Thunderbolt. Apple is turning its line of displays into docks for its mobile computers rather than just external displays,” Anand Lal Shimpi reports for AnandTech. “It started with integrating MagSafe and has culminated in GigE and FireWire controllers now a part of the display.”

“For MacBook Air owners who don’t have options for these high speed interfaces to begin with, the Thunderbolt Display is a must-have,” Lal Shimpi reports. “If your MBA is a secondary or tertiary computer that only gets taken on trips perhaps the Thunderbolt Display isn’t so life changing. For those users who have moved from older MacBook Pros to the 13-inch MBA however, the Thunderbolt Display is a wonderful companion.”

Lal Shimpi reports, “For MacBook Pro owners the Thunderbolt Display is more of a convenience than anything else. If you ferry your notebook between locations frequently, having to hook up only two cables vs. several is nice. I don’t know how else to word this without sounding incredibly lazy (I promise I’m not), but I’m more likely to move my notebook around if I don’t have to unplug/reconnect 7 cables everytime I get back to my desk. 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.”

Tons more, as usual, in the full review – highly recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. The author implies that if a MB Air is your main computer, you ought to have a Thunderbolt Display.

    Oddly enough, that display is the LAST thing I’d buy, and my Air is used 8-10 hours per day.

    Thing is? The Air’s strength is portability, and that’s exactly why I carry it from job site to job site.

    Now- If my Air were my secondary (or tertiary) computer, I’d take a serious look at nailing it to the desk.

  2. Huh? Isn’t the purpose of a MBP and MBA is so that you can move the computer around. Otherwise it’d be cheaper to buy two Mac minis and a 27″ Dell display at separate locations and an external hard drive to carry the data around rather than two Thunderbolt displays and a MBP or MBA. What he’s suggesting doesn’t make any sense from an economic standpoint. I could do it cheaper for half the price.

    1. In your scenario, I have to maintain two computers, save all data to the external hard drive (and lose automatic TimeMachine backup in the process), buy multiple software licenses for some software, and I STILL don’t have a portable computer to use in a location outside the two mini locations.

      I use my MacBook Pro as a desktop most of the time, with the lid shut, a full-size keyboard and mouse, speakers, and large display. However, I ALSO have a portable computer I can throw in a bag and take anywhere, and work anywhere. TimeMachine backup sits on my desk (and another in a fire safe).

      To you and moo: Why is it so difficult to comprehend that others may work differently than you?

      1. You disqualified yourself by totally (and quite inexplicably) missing the authors point.

        Once again, the article states “Apple Thunderbolt Display: A must-have for MacBook Air owners”.

        Did the author state anything about having multiple laptops? Has your MacBook Pro gone on a diet?

        To you, why is your reading comprehension skills somewhat less than that of a 5th grader?

        The article is aimed, quite squarely, at MacBook Air owners who use said MacBook Air’s as their primary computer.

    2. portable computer. No argument there.
      However, it also has a 13″ screen, good enough to get by but hardly thrilling. So … when you bring your “portable” computer home, you plug it into a Real Screen, a Real Mouse, and a Real Keyboard. Leave the Good Enough To Get By compromises for when you are on-the-road.

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