Apple thunderbolt display daisy chain

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Use a Thunderbolt Daisychain to Connect Your Mac Accessories Like a Boss

Back in 2011, Apple introduced a whole new way of connecting its devices, called Thunderbolt, which combined the DisplayPort for monitors and PCI-Express slot for data transfer adapters. It's awesome for plenty of reasons, but one of them gets overlooked far too often: daisy chaining.

Not many people know what daisy chaining is, why it's useful, or why Thunderbolt is so important for it. So today we'll be exploring the uses for a Thunderbolt daisy chain and why you should care about it if you use an Apple device.

What's a Daisy Chain?

In computing terms, a daisy chain is a line of many devices connected from first to the last through different wires. For example, device A would connect to device B via one cable; device B would connect to device C via one cable; and that way, device A can talk to device C.

Apple's Thunderbolt can support up to six devices in a daisy chain, on a single port. So an example of this would be if your MacBook Pro (device 1) is connected to an iMac (device 2), which is connected to an external hard drive (device 3), which is connected to another external hard drive (device 4), which is connected to RAID storage (device 5), which is connected to an Apple Thunderbolt Display (device 6).

In this daisy chain, your MacBook Pro and your iMac will be able to read the data from all the hard drives and the RAID, as well as talk to each other. Pretty cool, huh?

What's the Advantage of a Thunderbolt Daisy Chain?

A Thunderbolt connection is capable of 10Gbps data transfer speeds, theoretically. That's twice what USB 3.0 will let you do.

Now consider a single Thunderbolt port on your MacBook Pro is connected to four external hard drives and an Apple Cinema Display through a daisy chain. The data being transferred from your MacBook Pro to your monitor will run smoothly, while you are simultaneously copying multiple files from different hard drives to your laptop — all because Thunderbolt is capable of handling more data than any other connection, from just a single port.

So where you would have otherwise needed a USB hub or other such accessories to access multiple hard drives through limited USB ports, a daisy chain makes it possible over a single port.

What Can I Connect in a Daisy Chain?

We've seen some great Thunderbolt accessories, but not every Thunderbolt-supported device will necessarily be available as part of a daisy chain. Typically, you need devices that have dual Thunderbolt ports—one for a connection "in" and another for a connection "out".

Most often, these are either external hard drives or displays. You'll have to look beyond the typical portable hard drives and go for something like the Lacie d2 Thunderbolt or the Promise Pegasus R8 RAID.

Apple Cinema Displays are supported in Thunderbolt daisy chains, but there's a limitation. In most Apple models, only two Thunderbolt displays can be connected as part of a daisy chain. The big exception is the Mac Pro, which can support up to six displays. And if you're on a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro before 2011, then there's a chance you only get one Thunderbolt display. You can find out more details about your device's support in Apple's Help section.

How Does It Work In Real Life?

A Thunderbolt daisy chain is super-simple to set up. It's actually just a matter of plugging the cables in the ports, and you're ready to go. A daisy chain between a MacBook Pro, a hard drive, and an Apple Cinema Display can be set up in a snap.

MacWorld's tests found that there was hardly any loss in speed of transferring data between hard drives when connected in a daisy chain. However, when a daisy chain of three hard drives also included two Thunderbolt displays, speeds slowed down.

Apple generally recommends that your displays should be the last connection in your daisy chain.

How Can I Maximize my Thunderbolt Experience?

So you want to use your Mac to create daisy chains and form wonderful connections. Well, check out the Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock, which connects any Mac device to it with a single Thunderbolt connection, and offers a whole bunch of other ports you can connect your Mac to. Now that's how you add missing ports your Macbook!

If you're not on a Mac or if you want to build your own hackintosh, you can still get a taste of the Thunderbolt magic with the Gigabyte 7 Series motherboards with built-in dual Thunderbolt ports. There are also add-on adapters like the Asus ThunderboltEX II/Dual, which fit in your PCI-express slot and add two Thunderbolt ports with full daisy chain capabilities.

What's the Limit of Daisy Chaining?

It's time to geek-out a bit. The folks at MacWorld took the new Mac Pro, which has six Thunderbolt ports, four USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, and two Ethernet ports, and pushed the experiment to its limit. Here's what their setup looked like:

What did Macworld connect?:

We connected 36 drives (19 Thunderbolt, 15 USB, 2 FireWire 800) with a combined capacity of 100.63TB. In addition to the drives, we also connected two Thunderbolt docks (the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock and the CalDigit Thunderbolt Station), an Apple Thunderbolt Display, two Apple Cinema Displays, and one HP Z Display Z27i. All this to a single Mac Pro.

Impressive, eh?

Do You Use Daisy Chaining?

How many devices have you managed to daisy chain with Apple's Thunderbolt connectors? What does your daisy chain setup like? Have you used any accessories like the Elgato dock?

We want to hear your stories in the comments below!

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Sours: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/thunderbolt-daisychain-connect-mac-accessories/

Apple Thunderbolt Display

The Apple Thunderbolt Display is a 27-inch flat panelcomputer monitor sold by Apple Inc. from July 2011 to June 2016. It replaced the former Apple LED Cinema Display. New to the Thunderbolt Display was the switch from Mini DisplayPort and USB to a single Thunderbolt 1 connection for data transfer between computer and display. The increased throughput from switching to Thunderbolt enabled inclusion of a Gigabit Ethernet port and a FireWire 800 port on the display. Older model Macs introduced prior to 2011 with Mini DisplayPort and the single USB-C retina MacBook are incompatible with the Thunderbolt Display without use of additional adaptors.[1]

The Apple Thunderbolt Display was replaced by the LG UltraFine displays developed by LG, and ultimately succeeded by the Pro Display XDR launched in 2019.

27-inch model[edit]

Like its 27-inch LED Cinema Display predecessor, the resolution of the 27-inch model is 2560×1440 pixels, and follows a 16:9aspect ratio. It was made with aluminum and glass, having a similar appearance to the contemporary ranges of iMac and MacBook Pro unibody designs. The display featured a built-in 720p[2]FaceTime HD camera (replacing the iSight in the previous model), microphone, and stereo speaker system with subwoofer (2.1 channel). An octopus cable combining Thunderbolt and MagSafe is permanently attached to the back of the display for data input and charging laptops, respectively. There is also a separate Thunderbolt port, a FireWire 800 port, three USB 2.0 ports, and a Gigabit Ethernet port.

The Thunderbolt port allows for the possibility of daisy chaining Thunderbolt Displays from a supported Mac, or connecting other devices that have Thunderbolt ports, such as external hard drives and video capture devices.

Apple released Rev B of the Thunderbolt Display (model MC914LL/B) which includes a MagSafe to MagSafe 2 adaptor to the charging cable built into the display.[3]

On June 23, 2016, Apple announced through a statement that it was discontinuing the Thunderbolt Display and would no longer produce stand-alone displays, saying "There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users."[4] Apple subsequently worked with LG to design the Thunderbolt 3-enabled UltraFine line, consisting of 4K and 5K displays.[5]

On April 5, 2018, Apple announced that it would re-enter the standalone display business in 2019 by releasing a new display with a new version of the Mac Pro.[6] On June 3, 2019, Apple announced the Pro Display XDR.

Backward and forward compatibility[edit]

Apple Thunderbolt Displays, like the video input on Thunderbolt iMacs, drop compatibility with all previous standards, including VGA, DVI, and DisplayPort.[7] They are not compatible with computers that do not have a Thunderbolt port, including pre-2011 Macs and the vast majority of desktop PCs.

As of April 2018, MacBook (Retina) 12" laptops only have a USB-C port, which cannot communicate with a Thunderbolt adapter. However, newer MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs have Thunderbolt 3 ports. Although these ports have the same connector as USB-C, they are compatible with the Thunderbolt protocol, and can use a Thunderbolt Display with a Thunderbolt 3-to-2 adapter.[8]

Using multiple displays[edit]

MacBook Pro[edit]

  • Macbook Pro (2011): 2 Displays: Can daisy chain two Apple Thunderbolt Displays together to get two displays, but the laptop's LCD may turn off.[9][10]
  • Macbook Pro (2012): 2+2 Displays: Can daisy chain two Apple Thunderbolt Displays, in addition to one HDMI display and the Macbook Pro's own display, for four displays total[11][12]
  • MacBook Pro (Late 2016): Apple released a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter for enabling the Thunderbolt 3 ports of MacBook Pro (Late 2016) to connect to Thunderbolt 2 devices.
  • MacBook Pro (2017-2019) Using 2 of the Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapters can run 4 Thunderbolt Displays in addition to the built in Retina Display for a total of 5.

MacBook Air[edit]

  • MacBook Air (Mid 2011): 1+1 Displays: Can use one Apple Thunderbolt display, in addition to the MacBook Air's own display.[13][9]
  • MacBook Air (Mid 2012): 2+1 Displays: Can daisy chain two Apple Thunderbolt displays, in addition to the MacBook Air's own display.[14]

MacBook[edit]

  • MacBook Retina (all models [early 2015, late 2016 and mid 2017]): Cannot be connected with Apple Thunderbolt Display as it lacks a Thunderbolt port. [15]

Mac Pro[edit]

  • Mac Pro (Late 2013): 6 Displays: Can run six Apple Thunderbolt Displays using six Thunderbolt ports.[16]

Mac mini[edit]

  • Mac mini (Mid 2011): 1 Display. 2 Displays daisy chained: AMD version[17]
  • Mac mini (Late 2012): 2 Displays daisy chained.[18]
  • Mac mini (Late 2014): 2 Displays.[19]
  • Mac mini (2018): 2 Displays using TB3 to TB2 converter.[20]

Technical specifications[edit]

Component LED-backlit LCD
Model Apple Thunderbolt Display (27-Inch)[1][21]
Release date(s)July 20, 2011
DiscontinuedJune 23, 2016
Model number(s)A1407
Display27.00 inches (68.6 cm), IPS active-matrix TFTLCD, glossy glass covered screen, QHD (2560 × 1440) resolution, LED edge-lit backlight.
16∶9 aspect ratio (widescreen)
Pixel density109 px/in
Response time12 ms
Maximum Refresh rate59.95 Hz
Colors16,777,216 (8 bpc / 24 bit/px True Color)
Contrast ratio1,000∶1
Maximum Brightness375 cd/m2
Viewing angle178° horizontal; 178° vertical
Power inputIEC 60320 C7 port, 100–240 V AC @ 50–60 Hz (Up to 250 W while charging a MacBook Pro via MagSafe cable, 2 W or less in energy saver mode)
MaterialAluminum frame and glass front
Audio output2.1-channel speaker system (49 W)
Cables and peripheral connections

Cables

Peripheral connections

Miscellaneous
Dimensions (H × W × D, with stand)19.35 in × 25.7 in × 8.15 in (49.1 cm × 65.3 cm × 20.7 cm)
Mass23.5 lb (10.7 kg)
System RequirementsMac OS X 10.6.8 or later, Thunderbolt port

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ab"Apple – Thunderbolt Display – Read the tech specs". Apple Inc. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  2. ^Miles, Stuart (November 1, 2011). "Apple Thunderbolt Display review". Pocket-lint. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  3. ^Gurman, Mark (July 24, 2012). "Apple starts shipping slightly tweaked Thunderbolt Display SKU to stores".
  4. ^Clover, Juli. "Apple Discontinues Thunderbolt Display". Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  5. ^"Apple Says It's Out of the Standalone Display Business".
  6. ^"Apple Planning Modular Mac Pro Release for 2019, New Pro Workflow Team Providing Feedback for Professional Needs". April 5, 2018.
  7. ^"Apple Thunderbolt Display 27-inch User Manual"(PDF).
  8. ^"Adapters for the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) or USB-C port on your Mac".
  9. ^ abSlivka, Eric. "Apple Thunderbolt Display with Multiple Monitors: No Daisy Chaining Mini DisplayPort Monitors". macrumors.
  10. ^"Dual 27" Apple Thunderbolt Displays Daisy Chained via Macbook Pro". YouTube. September 22, 2011.
  11. ^"MacBook Pro 15" with Retina Display Can Run 3 External Displays". June 20, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  12. ^"MacBook Pro Retina Display does not run 3 Thunderbolt Displays". Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  13. ^"Review of Apple Thunderbolt Display". AnandTech.
  14. ^"Thunderbolt ports and displays: Frequently asked questions (FAQ)". Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  15. ^"How to connect an Apple Display to a USB-C MacBook". Macworld. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  16. ^"Mac Pro (Late 2013): Using multiple displays". Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  17. ^"Mac mini (Mid 2011) - Technical Specifications".
  18. ^"Mac mini (Late 2012) - Technical Specifications".
  19. ^"Mac mini (Late 2014) - Technical Specifications".
  20. ^"Mac mini - Technical Specifications".
  21. ^"Apple Thunderbolt Display – Technical Specifications". Apple Inc. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.

External links[edit]

Apple hardware since 1998

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Consumer laptops
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Italics indicate current products.

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Thunderbolt_Display
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Question:Q:Connect 2 Apple Thunderbolt Displays via "Daisy Chain" to an MBP M1

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Question:Q:

Hello, I have seen several questions and answers in these forums and on the web in general, but the question I really do not know if it is resolved and it is the following: Can you connect 2 Apple Thunderbolt Displays to an MBP M1 through Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C ) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter, that is, connect them in this way; the first monitor with the aforementioned adapter to one of the Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports of the MBP M1 and the second monitor connect it to the Thunderbolt port of the first monitor (known as a daisy chain) since that is how I have connected them to an MBP 15 "Mid . 2014 already an MBP 16 "... So it would work this way in the MBP M1?

Example of the Daisy Chain connection on a 16 "MBP from minute 1:20 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbbEy8AuCdA&t=201s

Posted on Jan 14, 2021 5:54 PM

Jan 14, 2021 7:07 PM in response to jorgesquivel In response to jorgesquivel

Not two ThunderBolt displays, no.

DisplayLink technology creates a "fake" display buffer in RAM, sends the data out over a slower interface to a stunt box with DisplayLink custom chips that put that data back onto a "legacy" interface. It is not a true "accelerated" display, and it suffers from lagging.

It may be acceptable for a second display showing slow-to-change data such as computer program listings, stock quotes, or spreadsheets, but NOT for full motion Video, not for Video editing, and absolutely not for gaming. Mouse-tracking on that display can lag, and can make you feel queasy.

In a pinch, it may even play Internet videos without (as one user put it) "too many dropped frames".

--------

It is really nice to know that you can use a DisplayLink display if you MUST have an additional display for some of the types of data I mentioned. But that is NOT the same as the computer supporting a second, built-in, Hardware-accelerated display.

These displays depend on DisplayLink software, and are at the whim of Apple when they make MacOS changes. There have been cases where MacOS changes completely Borked DisplayLink software, and it took some time for them to recover.

--------

I think the Big Surprise for a lot of Hub/Dock buyers is that they thought they were getting a "real" display, but actually got a DisplayLink "fake" Display. If you got what you expected in every case, I would not use such pejorative terms to describe DisplayLink.

Jan 14, 2021 7:07 PM

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Jan 14, 2021 5:58 PM in response to jorgesquivel In response to jorgesquivel

The tragic flaw in what you are trying to do is that the Apple-Silicon M1 MacBook Pro 13-in has only ONE available display-generator, so it can support only ONE External hardware-accelerated display. It can be a really large display, such as the Apple 6K HDR display, but you are limited to one "real" External display.

Jan 14, 2021 5:58 PM

Jan 14, 2021 6:09 PM in response to Grant Bennet-Alder In response to Grant Bennet-Alder

So the people who have managed to connect more than 2 monitors (I have seen up to 6 monitors), how are they doing it? Is there any method to connect these 2 Apple Thunderbolt Displays to the MBP M1?

Jan 14, 2021 6:09 PM

Jan 14, 2021 7:07 PM in response to jorgesquivel In response to jorgesquivel

Not two ThunderBolt displays, no.

DisplayLink technology creates a "fake" display buffer in RAM, sends the data out over a slower interface to a stunt box with DisplayLink custom chips that put that data back onto a "legacy" interface. It is not a true "accelerated" display, and it suffers from lagging.

It may be acceptable for a second display showing slow-to-change data such as computer program listings, stock quotes, or spreadsheets, but NOT for full motion Video, not for Video editing, and absolutely not for gaming. Mouse-tracking on that display can lag, and can make you feel queasy.

In a pinch, it may even play Internet videos without (as one user put it) "too many dropped frames".

--------

It is really nice to know that you can use a DisplayLink display if you MUST have an additional display for some of the types of data I mentioned. But that is NOT the same as the computer supporting a second, built-in, Hardware-accelerated display.

These displays depend on DisplayLink software, and are at the whim of Apple when they make MacOS changes. There have been cases where MacOS changes completely Borked DisplayLink software, and it took some time for them to recover.

--------

I think the Big Surprise for a lot of Hub/Dock buyers is that they thought they were getting a "real" display, but actually got a DisplayLink "fake" Display. If you got what you expected in every case, I would not use such pejorative terms to describe DisplayLink.

Jan 14, 2021 7:07 PM

User profile for user: jorgesquivel jorgesquivel

Question:Q:Connect 2 Apple Thunderbolt Displays via "Daisy Chain" to an MBP M1

Sours: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/252315441
How to Connect Apple Thunderbolt Display 27 inch to modern MacBook - Use of 16 inch MacBook Pro 2019

Question:Q:can I daisy-chain two thunderbolt displays from my mac mini using connections, one on the back of the mini, then pllugging the second monitor into the minidvi port on the back of the first display

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Question:Q:

I have a mid-2011 Mac Mini 2.3 ghz i5

Can I plug one Thunderbolt display into the back of the Mini and plug the secong Thunderbolt display into the back of the first one with the mini-dvi plug?

iPad Mini Wi-Fi, 2x27"Thunderbolt Displays

Posted on Sep 29, 2017 2:55 PM

User profile for user: Plexseattle Plexseattle

Question:Q:can I daisy-chain two thunderbolt displays from my mac mini using connections, one on the back of the mini, then pllugging the second monitor into the minidvi port on the back of the first display

Sours: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/8092257

Thunderbolt daisy chain display apple

Does Thunderbolt support chaining multiple monitors to a MacBook Pro?

Apple maintains a knowledge base article listing which Mac models support either one or two external thunderbolt displays.

The technology does allow for multiple monitors to be daisy chained. In fact, the devices you daisy chain doesn't matter, nor does the order they are in. However, like with the Display Port and eSATA, the problem at the moment is finding actual devices that support this feature. Until Apple or another manufacturer provides monitors with the ports needed for daisy chaining, this will not be possible.

The advantage here is unlike eSATA and Display Port, the bandwidth available will make this more then manageable from the port itself. The biggest obstacle will be the ability to provide enough power to run all these daisy chained devices. Therefore just getting a cable will not be sufficient. Each device will be required to have its own incoming and outgoing port.

Give the technology another year or so it will be more then doable and more mainstream. Apple would most likely also add these ports to their monitors fairly soon, I suspect during the next iMac/Monitor refresh schedule.

Sours: https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/9087/does-thunderbolt-support-chaining-multiple-monitors-to-a-macbook-pro
A Tech Product Like No Other - Apple Cinema Display

How To: Run External Displays with your USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 MacBook

With the introduction of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 and the new MacBook Pro models in late 2016 came the promise of plugging in a single connection to power your entire desktop. Power, displays and every peripheral all flowing through one plug, simplifying everything to a single standard has been a dream since the earliest days of the PC and now its here – kinda.

What many early adopters found out, and what new users continue to discover, is that getting the connection of the future to work with the equipment of the present is... challenging. It’s a world full of adapters, cables, docks and dongles to do what you need, and ultimately, most fall short of that single cable promise.

Of all the confusion surrounding USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, the issues causing the most consternation is the connection of external displays. With half a dozen existing common display connection standards and the wave of next generation USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 displays getting thrown into the mix makes it difficult to sift through all of the conflicting information. We created this guide specifically for users of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 MacBooks to take the guesswork and confusion out of running external displays with their new computers.

Some notes before we get started -

  • USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 plugs and receptacles look identical, but they are not fully interchangeable. In general, a Thunderbolt 3 connection can downgrade to USB-C, but USB-C cannot become Thunderbolt 3.
  • For the purposes of this guide we’re going to refer to the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports found on the MacBook Pro models as USB-C ports unless we are talking specifically about Thunderbolt 3 capabilities.
  • “Docking station” can refer to several different types of devices. Henge Docks refers to a stand-alone docking station that connects to a computer via cable as a “tethered docking station” to differentiate it from our MacBook form-fitting Horizontal and Vertical Docking Stations (more on those solutions can be found under the Docking Station section).

Step 1: Identify the type of monitor or monitors you will be using

The type and number of displays that you are intending to use will define the capabilities, constraints and costs of using them with your MacBook. We’ve broken the displays down into four basic categories below - Traditional Displays, USB-C Displays, 5K Thunderbolt 3 Displays, and Apple Displays. Jump to the category that matches your display of choice.

Traditional Displays (HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, VGA)

Traditional Displays use standard such as HDMI, DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, DVI or VGA for input. Many traditional displays support multiple connection standards, but all will require some kind of adapter or new cable to be used directly with the new USB-C Macs.

Most buyers of the new USB-C MacBooks are upgrading from older MacBook models that used Mini DisplayPort cables or adapters to connect their external displays. The good news is that Henge Docks USB-C Tethered Docking Station, Stone, comes equipped with a Mini DisplayPort connection for this exact reason. If you’re one of the MacBook users upgrading, all you have to do is plug your existing cable or adapter directly into Stone.

For more information on connecting single and multiple HDMI, DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, DVI or VGA displays to your USB-C MacBook continue reading at Step 2.

USB-C Displays

As the USB-C connection continues to proliferate, more display options are cropping up that support this standard. The promise of a display that can handle all of your peripheral connections and power your MacBook through a single cable is enticing, but there are some tradeoffs that need to be considered. (In this case, we are specifically talking about the USB-C standard not Thunderbolt 3 displays, which are covered under 5K Displays that connect over Thunderbolt 3)

While no adapters or special cables are required to connect these displays to a USB-C equipped MacBook, the single cable solution may fall short for many users. Many USB-C equipped displays currently on the market offer 4K resolutions and refresh rates of 60Hz, but when running at their maximum resolution and refresh rates the USB expansion ports on these displays will degrade to USB 2.0 speeds. This is a limitation of the current USB-C standards.

Power delivery is another compromise. Several monitor models currently for sale offer no downstream power and many that do only offer 60W to the computer. This can present a problem for some users that require a full 85W to charge their MacBooks. In either of these scenarios users may find it necessary to add an additional connection for a dock, hub and/or power adapter.

Running dual USB-C monitors off a single connections is problematic. USB-C monitors cannot be daisy chained (plugged into each other) on the Mac platform and therefore have to be plugged directly into the MacBook independently. It is theoretically possible for a Thunderbolt 3 tethered docking station to run dual USB-C displays off of a single plug, but we are not aware of any docks currently on the market with the ports necessary to make this arrangement possible.

5K Displays that connect over Thunderbolt 3

While offering a staggering number of pixels and incredible image quality, the latest 5K Displays are a special breed and require some consideration about their compromises before taking the plunge.

Running a 5K display requires refreshing 14.7 million pixels 60 times per second. This requires moving a mind-boggling amount of data over Thunderbolt 3, so much so that a single 5K display consumes most of the bandwidth for that connection, meaning downstream ports from the monitor are limited to USB-C 3.1 Gen1 (no daisy-chaining displays and no Thunderbolt 3 out).

5K displays are so resource intensive that while 15-inch MacBook Pro models will run dual 5K displays, one display has to be connected to a right side port and the other to a left side port due to limitations of the Thunderbolt 3 chipsets. 13-inch MacBook Pro models are limited to driving a single 5K display. Many 5K displays do offer full 85W charging for downstream computers.

While it is theoretically possible to daisy chain (plug one into the other) two 5K displays off a single connection to a MacBook Pro, each displays’ resolution will be reduced to 4K in order to operate within the bandwidth provided by Thunderbolt 3. The same issue occurs when a 5K display is connected through a Thunderbolt 3 tethered docking station that is driving a second lower resolution (<4K) monitor – the 5K monitor will be reduced to running at 4K resolution.

Though 5K displays cannot maintain full resolution when paired with an additional monitor on a single connection to a MacBook Pro, Henge Docks Vertical Docking Station for the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro will support both a 5K display and second non 5k external display simultaneously.

Apple Thunderbolt Display and Apple Cinema Display

The all-aluminum and glass Apple Thunderbolt/Cinema Display remain arguably the most beautifully designed displays ever sold. With a timeless design it’s easy to understand why people are so attached to their Apple Displays despite the last Thunderbolt model being discontinued in mid-2016.

At this point, we need to differentiate the nearly identical Apple Cinema Display from the Apple Thunderbolt Display because they require entirely different equipment to connect to MacBooks with USB-C/Thunderbolt 3.

Apple LED Cinema Display

The LED Cinema Display (27-inch) was sold from mid-2010 through late-2013. The two distinguishing features are three connections coming off the monitor (MagSafe, USB and Mini DisplayPort) and three USB ports on the rear of the display housing.

For information on connecting your Apple Cinema Display see Step 2 below and follow the Mini DisplayPort guide. An important note - Apple’s Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 Adapter will not directly support the Cinema Display or any other Mini DisplayPort connection.

Apple Thunderbolt Display

The Thunderbolt Display was sold from mid-2011 through mid-2016. The distinguishing features for this model are two connections coming off the monitor to the computer (MagSafe and Thunderbolt) and six ports on the rear of the display (Thunderbolt, 3x USB, FireWire 800 and Ethernet).

The simplest way to connect an Apple Thunderbolt Display to your USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro is with Apple’s Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 Adapter.  However, the Thunderbolt Display does not provide power through the adapter so you’ll need to plug in a USB-C power supply separately. Some users also find the presence of the now unused MagSafe connector on their desk undesirable.

The only way* to connect an Apple Thunderbolt Display and power to your USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro with a single plug is through certain types of Thunderbolt 3 tethered docking stations. This arrangement requires that the Thunderbolt 3 docking station deliver 60W of power (85W for 15-inch MacBook Pro models) and a second, downstream Thunderbolt 3 port to accommodate Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter. There are no Thunderbolt 3 tethered docking stations on the market with an integrated Thunderbolt 2 port.

Running dual external displays with a Thunderbolt Display in the mix can get tricky. Thunderbolt Displays can be daisy-chained to other Thunderbolt Displays or Thunderbolt 1 or 2 devices, but other types of displays (HDMI, DisplayPort, etc.) cannot be connected directly to a Thunderbolt Display. In order to run another type of external display off a Thunderbolt Display a Thunderbolt 1 or 2 docking station must be placed between the two.

Alternatively, a Thunderbolt 3 tethered docking station can be connected to a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro and used to drive both the Thunderbolt Display and the traditional display  (HDMI, DisplayPort, etc.). The Thunderbolt Display would require the addition of a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter to connect to the Thunderbolt 3 tethered docking station.

* Shameless plug (pun intended) - Henge Docks Vertical Docking Station for the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro supports the Apple Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 Adapter and a connection to a USB-C power supply, without the addition of a Thunderbolt 3 tethered docking station.

Step 2: Identify your ideal setup


ModelPortsMax External Displays ≤ 4KMax External 5K DisplaysMax Power Requirement
12-inch MacBookUSB-C (1x)1-29W
13-inch MacBook Pro (no Touch Bar)Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) (2x)2161W
13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch BarThunderbolt 3 (USB-C) (4x)2161W
15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch BarThunderbolt 3 (USB-C) (4x)42
(left side/right side)
87W

Now that you’ve identified the type of display you’ll be running the next step is finding the setup that best suits your needs. Depending on whether you're just trying to get everything on your desk hooked up or run multiple displays, charging and peripherals off of a single connection or integrate everything into a docking station cost and complexity can vary greatly.

This step is broken into three sections - Multiple Cables, Single Cable, and Docking Stations. If you already know what you’re ideal setup looks like jump to that section below. For a full rundown of the capabilities and compromises of each configuration option we recommend reading through each section in the order they are presented.

Multiple Cables, Single or Multiple External Displays

Using multiple USB-C connections plugged directly into your MacBook is probably the most conceptually simple and least expensive option for some users, albeit not a particularly elegant or convenient one. Connecting an Apple USB-C power supply, a USB-C to USB-A hub or converter for peripherals and accommodating multiple USB-C display adapters to your MacBook every time you sit down at your desk is a cumbersome process.

In addition to the desktop clutter, multiple cables is not an option for 12-inch MacBook users and may not be an option for 13-inch MacBook Pro (no Touch Bar) users due to single and dual USB-C ports available ports. For those users, skip to the Single Cable section.

Supporting a multiple cable setup is a matter of identifying and locating the appropriate adapter for your monitor. For example a 4K monitor equipped with HDMI would be connected with Henge Docks USB-C to 4K HDMI Adapter. To support dual external displays, simply add a second display adapter and plug it into the computer.

Single Cable

The great benefit of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 are the abilities to supply power, data and video connectivity over a single connection. There are large performance differences between the standards, but the two factors most users will be concerned with are multiple display support and cost. These factors are broken out into two subsections below - Single External Display and Dual External Displays.

With a single connection, in addition to power and data, USB-C can support a single external display while Thunderbolt 3 can support two, but the Thunderbolt solution will generally cost between 50% and 300% more than other options. USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 plugs and receptacles look similar, but they are not fully interchangeable. In general a Thunderbolt 3 connection can downgrade to USB-C, but USB-C cannot become Thunderbolt 3.

Single Cable, Single External Display

In addition to delivering power and data connections to a MacBook, a USB-C connection can support a single display with maximum resolution of 4K at 30Hz (4K at 60Hz is possible but data speed drop from USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 speeds). Solutions typically come in two forms: dongles and tethered docking stations.

Dongles like Apple’s USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter offer data and power a la carte with an HDMI or VGA connection, but offer limited port expansion in favor of portability. Tethered USB-C docking stations, such as Henge Docks Stone, offer extensive port expansion options and integrated power delivery to charge the MacBook, in addition to supporting an external display.

Additionally, Henge Docks USB-C Tethered Docking Station, Stone, comes equipped with a Mini DisplayPort connection for direct compatibility with the Apple LED Cinema Display and upgrading customers’ existing Mini DisplayPort adapters.

Single Cable, Dual External Displays

The only Apple supported method for running two traditional external displays (HDMI, DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, DVI or VGA), in addition to power and data, with a single connection to a MacBook is by using specific models of Thunderbolt 3 tethered docking stations. Some lower-end Thunderbolt 3 docks, such as the CalDigit TS3 Lite, do not supply power to the MacBook and cannot be a true single cable solution for a dual external display setup.

For higher end Thunderbolt 3 tethered docks that do power the MacBook, such as the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD, dual external traditional display support comes in the form of a video-out port such as HDMI or DisplayPort and a downstream Thunderbolt 3 port on the dock. The downstream Thunderbolt 3 port on the dock requires a USB-C display adapter, such as Henge Docks USB-C to 4K HDMI Adapter, to run the second display. This prevents users from daisy-chaining additional Thunderbolt devices off of the dock, but allows the support of dual external displays running at 4K 60Hz.

Cost is the biggest consideration when running a dual display setup off of a single connection to the MacBook. Expect to pay $300-$350 for a Thunderbolt 3 tethered docking station plus another $20-$30 for a USB-C display adapter for the second monitor.

Docking Stations

In addition to the Stone USB-C Tethered Docking Station, Henge Docks created the Vertical Docking Station and upcoming Horizontal Docking Station to make connecting a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro to a desktop setup as easy as possible. These form-fitting docking stations do away with cable clutter by automatically connecting directly to the MacBook’s ports when the computer is inserted into the dock - instead of the user plugging in each cable by hand. Because of this unique design the docks not only make moving from desktop to mobile exceptionally easy they also resolve many of the connectivity compromises listed above.

The Vertical Docking Station interfaces with the two left-side USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports found on MacBook Pro models allowing any devices that can be plugged into the MacBook to connected directly to the dock. Because the Vertical Dock offers two ports multiple cables can be used with no convenience trade off for the user, reducing costs and simplifying the setup process.

In the simplest setup, with a single external display and a wireless keyboard/mouse, no additional cables would be required. The external display and power supply for the computer would be connected to the rear of the dock. Then a user would simply place their MacBook Pro into the Vertical Dock, making all of the connections in a single action.

To run dual external displays Apple’s USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter could be connected along side Henge Docks USB-C to 4K HDMI Adapter to provide a USB-A connection for a wired keyboard/mouse, power and dual 4K HDMI connections. This arrangement would cost an end user around $250 less than accomplishing the same connections over a single cable with Thunderbolt 3.

In the same example, Henge Docks Stone USB-C Tethered Docking Station could replace the Multiport Adapter for users looking for dual display support and additional port expansion. This arrangement would add dual 4K display support and eight expansion ports (ethernet, SD card, three USB Type-A, one USB-C, audio and power) for about $150 less than a single cable setup with the same capabilities.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to us at https://support.hengedocks.com

Sours: https://hengedocks.com/blogs/henge-docks-blog/how-to-run-external-displays-with-your-usb-c-thunderbolt-3-macbook

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