How compatible or not is the new Thunderbolt connection?

If I have a MacBook Air with Thunderbolt, can I use my existing mini-video cable to connect it to a VGA overhead projector?

If I buy a new Cinema Display with Thunderbolt, can I connect my existing Mac Pro to it?

Are there special cables, convertors needed, or are there any fundamental incompatibilities?

2 Answers 2


Your existing Mini DisplayPort cable (VGA adaptor, etc.) should allow your Thunderbolt equipped MacBook Air to connect to a projector (assuming it worked previously with a Mini DisplayPort output) but, as with all things presentation, you'll want to test the setup in advance if possible.

According to Apple's specs, the Thunderbolt Display requires a:

Thunderbolt-enabled Mac computer, including MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac

Your existing Mac Pro can't use the monitor.

  • Yeah I see that now. Very weird though... That Apple would create a display that only their computers can use. Weird.
    – pitosalas
    Feb 23, 2012 at 23:42
  • 2
    Sounds just like Apple to me ;)
    – macaco
    Feb 24, 2012 at 10:32
  • Apple is definitely more concerned about interoperability with their own hardware than providing peripherals for other makers but if Thunderbolt video is provided by other manufacturers it should work with this Thunderbolt Monitor. That being said, I agree that Apple's decision is not weird when viewed through the lens of Apple past. (In the olden days, Apple monitors were truly proprietary.)
    – jaberg
    Feb 24, 2012 at 15:07
  • A Projector connected to a Mini DisplayPort adapter, connected to the Thunderbolt port of a MacBook Air should work as expected.

  • I don't think that the Mac Pro can currently (officially) drive a Thunderbolt Cinema Display.

You may find this article informative.

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