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Context: I purchased a Mac mini 2011 (lower end) last year to move from PC to a Mac. I went for a Mac mini because I wanted to reuse my old PC's peripherals. Later however, I developed a liking for the Apple Touch Mouse, the Bluetooth keyboard, and the external SuperDrive and supplemented my Mac mini with them. Now I am wondering if the Thunderbolt display is any good (I am currently using a 20" LED display from Samsung). Obviously, this leads me to wonder if I would have been more cost effective to go for the iMac 27" to begin with.

Actual Question: What are the differences between the iMac 27" display and the Thunderbolt 27" display? Why is the sum of prices of the parts of an iMac 27" significantly more than the whole unit's price? Are there better alternatives to the Thunderbolt 27" display that will work great (fonts should appear smooth and the display should have a high resolution and a high contrast ratio) with OS X?

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Slightly odd question. It's going to be more cost effective to buy an iMac unless you want to use an existing display. Any good quality display will work well with your mac mini. –  hellothere Jul 20 '12 at 0:50
    
You could as well get a 27" monitor by another manufacturer, like HP, Dell, Samsung probably for less money than the Apple Display link to google shopping search –  iolsmit Jul 20 '12 at 13:21
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1 Answer

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Thunderbolt Display:

This huge 27-inch glossy widescreen display features a cinematic 16:9 aspect ratio and an astonishing 2560-by-1440 resolution.

iMac 27-inches:

27-inch (viewable) LED-backlit glossy widescreen TFT display with support for millions of colors. Resolution: 2560 by 1440 pixels

You won't notice any difference between them. Therefore, if the concern is just with the Display, the Thunderbolt's should be your choice. If, in the other hand, you are feeling that your Mac Mini is not powerful enough for you, getting an iMac could be a good idea.

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Thanks for the reply. So basically they are the same (except that one has a computer inside it). My concern was that buying a thunderbolt now just shows that my old decision to go for a mac-mini was pretty stupid. Satisfied with the mac-mini performance though. –  Monster Truck Jul 20 '12 at 11:27
    
By the way, I went for an HP 2310t. Amazing monitor --not too big (27" sprained my neck at the Apple Store). Working great so far. –  Monster Truck Jul 27 '12 at 15:06
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