My current setup

2 Thunderbolt 27 inch displays

7 port Dlink USB 2.0 HUB

15" MacBook Pro Retina, Late 2013

Various low power USB 2.0 Peripherals plugged into hub

I have the one monitor daisy chained into the other which also has an ethernet 1 Gb/s connection and the USB hub connection. This is all connected to my MacBook Pro with the Thunderbolt 2 connection.

Upgrading to 2016 MacBook Pro

I thought it would be relatively simple to simply get a Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter.However, Apple support said that this is not possible.

If that is true, why? They said I would need an adapter for each Thunderbolt Display. An adapter for the ethernet, and an adapter for the USB 2.0 hub.

That's a total of 4 adapters!

However, I'm wondering if that is true since you can buy hubs (OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock) which this guide says will run over a single Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter. These hubs can have various thunderbolt/hdmi/ethernet connections. In principle, aren't I using the Thunderbolt display in the same manner?

  • Also 2 is slower than 3. Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 23:16
  • Did you solve your problem? Can you run at least one monitor with this dock?
    – xXx
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 12:57

1 Answer 1


The product page indicates that you CAN use the adapter for the display.

In addition, it can be used to connect Thunderbolt-enabled displays — such as the Apple Thunderbolt Display and LG Thunderbolt 2 displays — to any of the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports on your MacBook Pro.

Please note the distinction between Thunderbolt and mini-DisplayPort. The Apple 27" Thunderbolt Display ISN'T primarily a display. It's actually a Thunderbolt-connected hub with a built-in display. Why is this distinction important? Because it means that the data traveling from the computer is being transmitted via Thunderbolt, not DisplayPort protocols. While it is true that you wouldn't be able to use the Thunderbolt 2/3 adapter for a mini-DisplayPort monitor, using it to connect your Thunderbolt monitors WILL work. According to the products webpage:

This adapter does not support DisplayPort displays like the Apple LED Cinema Display or third-party DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort displays

Source: Apple Product page

Edit: I assume you mean the 2016 MBP, as no 2017 model has been released as of this question.

  • Thanks for the quick answer. While I'm sure that the thunderbolt display will work with an adapter, what I'm wondering if it will work as a "hub." Does something about Thunderbolt 3 diminish its "hub-ness"? Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 4:56
  • 1
    Nope! In fact, the only reason the adapter DOES work is BECAUSE of the hub
    – NoahL
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 4:57
  • So the apple rep was probably confused because he thought it was a display port Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 5:13
  • I would guess so
    – NoahL
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 5:14

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