Previous 1 2 3 Next 101 Replies Latest reply: Dec 22, 2012 4:26 AM by Greatman883
nwipfli Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

Looking at the Intel spec for the Thunderbolt technology (, it is my understanding that they use a chip as controller to merge the internal PCIe and DisplayPort signals to two bi-directional 10GB/s channels to the target device which can be a display or drive or both. Therefore, if the target device is a drive, it needs to be Thunderbolt compatible, which means that it needs to include this same Intel controller. Now, if the target device is an Apple display, do they already have this controller ?
Based on what I understand from the Intel spec, the display has to be Thunderbolt compatible:


And Thunderbolt enabled products are compatible with existing DisplayPort devices so you don’t have to go buy a new display to take advantage of a Thunderbolt technology enabled computer

So, are the existing Apple displays already Thunderbold compatible or do we have to wait or buy an adapter ?
I do not understand how Apple displays already sold x months back can work while connected to this Thunderbolt port on the laptop, if this port uses this special controller which also needs to be on the target device.

I have not found any information for Thunderbold on the Apple spec page for their display and I have not found any Thunderbolt adapter for native Apple displays.

Any idea ?


iMac 20"
  • DanRyb Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    I have a 24" LED Cinema Display with MiniDisplay port connection and it works on my new 2011 15" MBP with Thunderbolt port (using it right now!).
  • NullUnit Level 1 Level 1 (110 points)
    Thunderbolt has a graphics pipe and a data pipe. The graphics pipe is usable for current displays. However, the displays can't be daisy chained because of #1) No ports and #2) there's no data pipe with the current monitors.

    In short, half of thunderbolt was made to support the miniDisplay connection. That's why older monitors with MiniDisplay connections already work with Thunderbolt - it was designed that way.
  • nwipfli Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks guys for your explanations.

  • photojournalist Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I have just bought a new 13" Macbook Pro with Thunderbolt. Using an apple mini displayport to VGA connector I tried using a monitor as a second screen. It's not working?

    Does the mini displayport to VGA connector have to be a special one?

    I know the VGA connector is working as I have another (older) Macbook pro and it connects fine to the monitor??

    I know the thunderport on the new mac is OK as I have connected it to an Apple display without issue?

    I'm left assuming I need a thunderbolt compatible adapter.... can anyone confirm or advise please???

    Thank you in advance
  • idmb Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Any mini displayport to VGA adapter should work. I had a problem with it, and called apple. After about an hour of describing my situation they offered to send me a free adapter...
  • Condios Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    "It was designed that way". Maybe they should rethink the design, because up to now (including the 1.4 update) it doesn't work (screen blacking out etc)......

  • vintageb3 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi idmb,


    I'm going to be using a Belkin KVM to control/monitor two brand new Macbook Pro's.  I was looking at using a (two) third party mini display port adapter to come from the thunderbolt connector to the VGA cables. They are much cheaper than the Apple adapter.


    Are you saying that you used a third party connector and it didn't work, so Apple sent you a free adapter?, or are you saying that it was an Apple VGA to mini display adapter that you bought initially and it didn't work.


    This could save me some time when setting the above up


    Thanks in advance

  • tallseabass Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Any reply from idmb? I'm interested to know as well. Thanks!

  • charles.m.h. Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hello DanRyb,


    I have a New MAC mini (thunderbolt port) with my 24" display. I do have everything working, but I suffer from black screen flikering from time to time. See my post.



    I think that there is something not quite right using the thunderbolt port connecting to the display using a traditionnal mini display cable. Maybe it need to be changed with a Thunderbolt cable?




  • Mike95 Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)

    I've ready people with a similar situation as you (thunderbolt to VGA) were able to get it to work by getting a mini display to DVI cable ( a digital conversion) and then adapt the DVI to VGA ( an analog, but well established conversion).

  • Mike95 Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)

    No, thunderbolt to minidisplay requires minidisplay cable. A thunderbolt cable will not be able to negotiate with the minidisplay destination.  Some have solved this problem buy upgrading to Lion, others by buying the apple adaptor rather than 3rd party, while others by applying the recently released firmware update for thunderbolt.

  • charles.m.h. Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hello Mike95, my set up is the following:


    - Apple Display 24"

    - New Mac Mini i5 (2011)

    - Lion + all latest firmware.


    I have a miniDisplay cable comig from the Display to the Thunderbolt port on the Mac Mini.

    My screen is doing some black flickering.


    What Adaptors could I use (the one mentioned above)?


    An alternative would be to use an adapter (MiniDisplay port Female) --> HDMI male, and then plug this into the HDMI port of the Mac Mini.





  • Mike95 Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)

    I'm not sure the HDMI is two way to accomplish what you are referring to.  The flickering is noted elsewhere so you are not alone and a solution is soon to come by.  I was in the Apple store and, since they don't have the Thunderbolt 27" displays in yet, they have the new Mac Mini's connected to the Cinema Display 27" working fine.


    I don't believe you have a defective MacMini, so don't feel bad becuase an update will certainly come soon, but If you really want to kill your curiosity use your iPhone to record the flicker and then take the Mac Mini to an Apple store and ask one of the guys to let you confirm the flicker is not present with the Cinema Display 27". You may, odd chances though, find the Cinema display flickers at which point you can swap the Mac Mini.  On the plus side, if it doesn't flicker you've confirmed the matter is witht he 24" cinema displays and Apple will resolve shortly.


    That's what I would do.

  • Condios Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Please. What solution are you referring to? They have been telling us a solution is "imminent" ever since the thunderbold was released.


    It should be very clear to everyone by now that no solution is coming anytime soon.

    ie. don't keep your hopes up.

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