Apple ThunderBolt Displays and Monitors

It's an important distinction that Intel and Apple's ThunderBolt port is BOTH a high-speed data and high-bandwidth monitor port. As such it supports the DisplayPort video standard that Apple's been using for the past few years - and literally uses the same pysical port connector that ThunderBolt does. Smart move since older Apple Cinema Displays and mini Display port adapters will continue to work as they used to on a Macintosh - old or new.

DisplayPort isn't unique to Apple monitors. There's other, far more affordable choices over the 27" Apple Thunderbolt Cinema Display. DisplayPort ports been implemented in select LCD computer monitors from other 3rd-party manufacturers as well. For those looking for a more modest and affordable DisplayPort LCD alternative to an Apple display:

24" Asus DisplayPort Monitor

HDMI, DVI-D, D-Sub, DisplayPort


24" Dell Utra-Sharp LCD Display

HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort and HDCP


ThunderBolt is based on the same physical connector as Apple's existing mini DisplayPort interface. That's a good thing: It assures backward compatibility with older DisplayPort adapters and a growing number of 3rd-party LCD monitors with DisplayPort support. It's very small size is ideal for ultra slim laptops and handheld devices as well as saving space on computers. And lastly, there's an existing infrastructure of manufacturers tooling ThunderBolt hardware and cables to spec.

Both ThunderBolt and DisplayPort have undergone Revisions to the video standard. DisplayPort v1.2 began to addresses MULTIPLE monitor support, but this forum thread implies Apple (at v1.1a) currently wasn't suppporting multiple displays. However with the new TBolt Cinema Display from Apple DisplayPort monitors with an additional TBolt pass-thru port. Possibilities now exist for Dual external display support on the most recent TBolt enabled MacBook, Air, iMac and Mac mini models just released this year.

Of course, only newer Macs and computers will incorporate BOTH the ThunderBolt High-Speed IO and DisplayPort functionality that ThunderBolt uniquely provides: Access to both the internal PCI-Express bus AND integrated graphics chip. Further down the road, the choice of graphics chip will be a factor in determining if or how many external DisplayPort displays can be supported.

In terms of products: We'll likely soon see new LCD monitors from Apple and others that use a single LightPeak/DisplayPort - and on the back of the display provide a plethora of computer peripheral and accessory ports incorporating a pair of ThunderBolt pass-thru ports, USB 2 and USB 3.0 SuperSpeed, eSATA, FireWire and more.