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Which is best shutdown or sleep a macbook air connected to a thunderbolt display

3788 Views 13 Replies Latest reply: Sep 9, 2013 9:57 AM by maxintosh pro RSS
nonebutfrank Calculating status...
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Apr 24, 2012 7:05 AM

Hi All

I have read many items on shutdown or sleep a computer to help preserve its life but I get conflicting stories about the macbook air with an SSD as there is no moving parts, I have recently purchased a thunderbolt display and would like to protect my investment but i'm not sure which is best.





  • maxintosh pro Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

    nonebutfrank wrote:

    I have recently purchased a thunderbolt display and would like to protect my investment but i'm not sure which is best.


    If you have spent all that money on your Macintosh system, then you should buy a ThunderBolt HDD/SSD backup system.

    This will mean that you can do whatever you like with your SSD MBA and it will be fine.

    I have an SSD in my MBP and it is fine. It is highly unlikely that sleeping an SSD will damage it.



  • maxintosh pro Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

    No problem at all.


    Time Machine is great.


    Which SSD do you have?

    Their have been reports on some SSDs having shut-down related logic board damage.


    I use OCZ Vertex 3 and Vertex 4 drives and they have no problems.


    I run a Dell R200 QC Xeon server with 4 HDDs and 4 SSDs. This is on for weeks at a time, but has a smart PSU which shuts the computer off unless it is contacted by a host (home computer) pinging a website or service from the client (server). I have no trouble with my drives.


    Will you be leaving your MBA running or will you put it to sleep for thes "couple of days at a time"?

    The MBA will shutdown automatically after 6 hours (as far as I am aware). It reboots really quickly though.



  • X423424X Level 6 Level 6 (14,190 points)

    With respect to the display, when it detects no signal it powers down.  So from its point of view it could care less whether you sleep your machine or power it off.  Personally I think sleep is good enough.

  • DIESEL-X Calculating status...

    Sleep should be just fine for your Mac Air, there are tens of millions of devices out there using non-volatile memory chips (same as SSD's) that never power down but remain in a low power or standby state, therefore if Apple couldn't specify a product capable of being in Standby, then we'll all be in trouble.


    The Thunderbolt Display itself never actualy powers Off, instead it just goes into Standby. If ever you get the disappearing  audio problem in you TB display then sometimes physically turning your TBD off then back on at the mains plug is one way to bring the audio back (until next time) or fix some other small glitches; which is an indicator that your Thunderbolt Display never fully powers'off unless you do it at the plug.


    HOWEVER if like me and many many others, your using Bootcamp then there's a problem. The sleep function in Windows has been disabled in Bootcamp which is quite frustrating because I use my Thunderbolt Display connected MacBook Pro 17" in the purportedly Apple Supported 'Clamshell Mode'. But one cannot Sleep the mobile Mac when connected to the TB Display therefore having to open-lid>press switch>shut-lid every time when booting and powering down in Bootcamp. There are two main reasons to have a TB Display 1. purely for a singular larger hi-res screen to focus on and NOT having a second screen to distract and use further GPU resources, and 2. for those who require a second screen for showing extra information (in which case accessing the power button is not a problem)... I fall under the first category in which I have found that many/most users tend to dod so as well for purely having a larger higher-res display, yet the Sleep function is abscent in Bootcamp. Sadly support for Bootcamp by Apple is mediocre and poor at best and you will find things like the Brightnes hot-keys on an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard non-functional in Bootcamp even though the Audio Volume one's are and it gets worse with unsupported and poor Graphics performance and lack of Graphics adapter updates which are so critical for 3D applications and gaming inparticular. I have a 1GB Graphics adapter in my MacBook Pro 17" i7 (June 2011 model) and experience frame rates in Battlefield 3 that fluctuate in the twenties (normally around 24 to 28 fps average) which is quite poor when using the Thunderbolt Displays slightly lower res of 1920x1080).


    So basically, Sleep feature is fine and your at least quite safe with the Time Machine Backups your doing if anything were to go wrong; BUT you won't be able to Sleep the Mac Air in Bootcamp.

  • X423424X Level 6 Level 6 (14,190 points)

    The Thunderbolt Display itself never actualy powers Off, instead it just goes into Standby.


    I don't believe that is true.  What you just described is when you put the display to sleep.  But with no sighnal it will power off.


    It's easy enough to verify this.  Just put your ear close and listen for the cooling fan inside.

  • DIESEL-X Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)

    It's internal mother/logic board is in a low-power standby-state that's listening for communications within the Thunderbolt bus to wake and resume from a given signal. Of course it's switching fans off because the lower power state is not producing any noticable heat as some parts of the displays electronics and circuits are not used in standby, i.e. rear LED backlighting, LCD screen matrix, etc. For most devices out there to resume or awake from a low power state over a port/interface such as Ethernet/USB/Thunderbolt without having it's own dedicated power switch, it will therefore never completly and entirely shut-off because it's in a lower power consumption mode with circuits still active and listening for the instruction to re-awaken. If the TB Display had it's own dedicated latching/power-breaking switch, then that would be different.


    This is further indicated by the existence of some small glitches/problems that some owners (like myself) have experienced, in which a temporary fix to some of the reported glitches is to genuinely power off the TB Display 'at the mains power plug' and then back on, where'as a normal Mac re-boot or system sleep/resume has done nothing to eradicate the problem.

  • X423424X Level 6 Level 6 (14,190 points)

    I have the mini-displayport version of the 27" for more than a year.  If apple changed it in the TB version I would be highly surprised but when my mac pro goes to sleep (I only sleep the machine and never shut down) and drops the signal to the display even the USB ports are off.  Yes, a circuit is completed when a single is passed on the mini-displayport but I wouldn't consider the monitor drawing any power to do that detection since the power in this case is the video signal itself.  We're splitting hairs on semantics at this point.


    Here's some documentation I found on the 27":



  • robgman54 Calculating status...

    I think that if your mac has a har drive you should use sleep mode because there will be less wear and tear on the traditional hard drive by being turned on and off regularly. If your Mac has only a Solid State Drive then I would recommend shut down. As there are no moving parts, there's no wear and tear and you'll use less energy. With respect to the Thunderbolt display, I don't have one but can't it be configured to go dark when you want it to in "System Preferences - Energy"? I would hope so.


    Good luck

  • Malcolm J. Rayfield Level 5 Level 5 (4,500 points)

    Hard drives shut down whwn the computer sleeps.

  • robgman54 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks, I stand corrected. What's the usefullnes of sleep vs shut down then?

  • maxintosh pro Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

    The main use is for when configuring WOL. You cannot WOL a Mac when shut down. You will need to WOL from sleep function. That is all I can think of other than if you want to put it to sleep to go out to the servers and want to save power, but do not want to wait as long to get back to work.


    With regards to the display, you can set that for whatever time period you would like to use.


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