That Thunderbolt Display looks great. However, if I buy a monitor, it had better work with all my older computers, not just the latest and greatest Thunderbolt Macs. Is there any way I can get DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, or VGA into it?

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    If you need it to work with things other than "Thunderbolt Enabled Macs" get the "Cinema Display" instead, as of yet there are no adapter (like the HD Diamond USB) which I use to run 3 external displays with my 15" MBP ;)
    – cwd
    Commented Apr 15, 2012 at 4:44

2 Answers 2


The Apple press release says "supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays", but this is referring to the Thunderbolt output port (for daisy-chaining). The Thunderbolt Display will not work with a non-Thunderbolt machine without an adapter.

But unfortunately now that the they have started shipping them, it has become clear that this does not apply to the input side of the display. As covered in the AnandTech review you can only connect Thunderbolt equipped computers into the Thunderbolt display.

That text in Apple's press release is oddly misleading. Because you also cannot connect a second DisplayPort to the Thunderbolt output socket on the display. You can however connect the Thunderbolt output to something like the Promise Pegasus then you can connect a DisplayPort display to the Pegasus. This seems to be a bug in the Thunderbolt Display, which will hopefully be fixed.

I expect someone could create an adapter that takes in HDMI/DVI, converts it to DisplayPort and outputs it as Thunderbolt. That should allow you to use the display with "legacy" formats, but such a thing does not yet exist and would no doubt be fairly expensive if it did.

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    I think that press release is highly misleading. That part seems to say that you can connect a Thunderbolt Mac to a DisplayPort monitor. AnandTech says "Apple will continue to sell the existing 27-inch Cinema Display as the new Thunderbolt Display will not work with machines that don't support Thunderbolt." anandtech.com/show/4516/…
    – Thilo
    Commented Jul 22, 2011 at 5:27
  • I wonder where AnandTech got that from. If it is correct then the press release is more than just misleading... Commented Jul 22, 2011 at 11:31
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    Press releases are always put together like that. The first paragraph is the announcement, the rest is copy/pasted material about the involved companies and technologies.
    – Thilo
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 4:03
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    I'd strongly disagree about that. The press release is clearly trying to tell us that in someway that the new display can be used with existing DVI, HDMI and VGA. It just is unclear from the wording whether it applies to inputing a signal to the display, outputting a signal to displays further down the chain or both. Commented Jul 24, 2011 at 15:45
  • Well, we'll see once we get some more reviews. For the moment, I have resigned myself to the fact that it won't work without an external adapter.
    – Thilo
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 2:15

I'm seeing on Apples site that the system requirements are as follows:

Thunderbolt-enabled Mac computer, including MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac OS X v10.6.8 or later

That means it must be Thunderbolt enabled.

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