Apple Thunderbolt Display review

A superb, if pricey, partner to the latest generation of MacBooks, offering superb image quality and Thunderbolt connectivity

Price when reviewed 

Page 1 of 2 Apple Thunderbolt Display review

With Intel's Thunderbolt technology gracing the latest slew of MacBooks and Mac minis, Apple has now revealed the perfect monitor to match. By taking the body of the 27in LED Cinema Display and adding Intel's lightning-quick connectivity to the mix, Apple's multitalented Thunderbolt Display is more than just a 27in monitor. It doubles as a slick docking station, adding 2.1 speakers and throwing in an HD webcam for good measure.

At a glance, the Thunderbolt Display is identical to the standard LED Cinema Display. They share the same stunning good looks – that hefty aluminium figure looks and feels like it’s worth every penny of the £899 asking price. And both have the same LCD panel at their core, an LED-backlit, 2,560 x 1,440 IPS unit.

Apple Thunderbolt Display

The integrated set of 2.1 speakers still carry a crisp, weighty tune, and the integrated webcam receives a welcome upgrade, leaping from 640 x 480 to a crisp 1,280 x 720.

Functionally, it's neater than ever. Where the captive cable trailing from the previous LED Cinema Display required separate mini-DisplayPort and USB connections, Intel's Thunderbolt does it with a single cable. That super-fast connection provides enough bandwidth to carry them all at once.

And the Thunderbolt Display has more than only three USB 2 sockets. At the rear of the monitor, you’ll find three USB 2 sockets, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, and a Thunderbolt port for daisy-chaining high-speed devices, such as hard disk RAID arrays and high-end video capture devices. There’s even a MagSafe connector for charging your MacBook from.

Apple Thunderbolt Display - ports

Image quality is superb. There's no onscreen display, and only brightness is adjustable from within OS X's display options, but the Thunderbolt Display delivers incredible images straight out of the box. The LED backlighting delivers eye-popping brightness and the IPS panel combines wide viewing angles with vibrant, accurate colour reproduction. The glossy finish is the only low point; we frequently found ourselves cranking up the brightness to compensate in our bright, sunny office space.

Page 1 of 2 Apple Thunderbolt Display review


Image quality6

Main specifications

Screen size27.0in
Aspect ratio16:9
Resolution2560 x 1440
Screen brightness421cd/m2
Pixel response time12ms
Contrast ratio824:1
Dynamic contrast ratioN/A
Pixel pitch0.233mm
Horizontal viewing angle178 degrees
Vertical viewing angle178 degrees
Speaker type2.1
Speaker power ouput49W
TV tunerno
TV tuner typeN/A


DVI inputs0
VGA inputs0
HDMI inputs0
DisplayPort inputs0
Scart inputs0
HDCP supportyes
Upstream USB ports0
USB ports (downstream)3
3.5mm audio input jacks0
Headphone outputno
Other audio connectors0

Accessories supplied

Other cables suppliedCaptive Thunderbolt cable, Captive MagSafe power adapter
Internal power supplyyes

Power consumption

Peak power consumptionN/A
Idle power consumptionN/A

Image adjustments

Brightness control?no
Contrast control?no
Colour temperature settingsnone
Extra adjustmentsnone


Forward tilt angle-5 degrees
Backward tilt angle25 degrees
Swivel angle0 degrees
Height adjustmentN/A
Pivot (portrait) mode?no


Dimensions652 x 209 x 491mm (WDH)

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