Apple Thunderbolt Display review

Price when reviewed

Under more favourable conditions, the quality of the IPS panel at the heart of the Thunderbolt Display shines through, and testing with our X-Rite colorimeter saw the monitor deliver a superb technical performance.

The maximum brightness of 404cd/m2 wasn’t quite as bright as that of the LED Cinema Display – that managed 421cd/m2 – but otherwise the results were improved across the board. Colour temperature measured at an almost perfect 6548K – the ideal is 6500K – and gamma was only slightly higher than the ideal of 2.2 at 2.38. An average Delta E (or colour difference) of only 1.8 is exemplary, and marks a notable improvement on that of the LED Cinema Display, which managed an average of 2.7 (a lower number is better). With most people struggling to see colour differences of less than 3 to 4 Delta E, the Thunderbolt Display is easily accurate enough for colour-critical work.

However, despite excellent image quality and typically eye-catching design, some basic practicalities are lacking. The stand, for example, might look lovely, but it only tilts back and forth – most other monitors at this price are height adjustable, and while you could wedge a pile of old magazines underneath, that’s not exactly ideal.

Apple Thunderbolt Display

And then there’s the limitation of the single Thunderbolt video input. This isn’t backward compatible with the mini-DisplayPort standard it so closely resembles, so it’s impossible to connect PCs or previous-generation Macs. If you’re hoping to connect something other than a brand new Thunderbolt-equipped Mac, you’ll either need to consider Apple’s non-Thunderbolt LED Cinema Display or another monitor entirely.

Yet, despite the quirks and uncompromising limitations, Apple’s Thunderbolt Display remains highly desirable. Professionals may find that a more adjustable, flexible display, and one with a matte screen finish, such as Dell’s UltraSharp U2711H or Eizo’s FlexScan SX2762W, makes a more practical purchase, but, for anyone who can afford it, the Thunderbolt Display will doubtless strike just the right balance.


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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