James Galbraith attempted to explain what you can and cannot attach to an Apple Thunderbolt Display – and failed.

We’re talking about two options here:

  1. The Thunderbolt Display – an unwieldy and confusing name, half of which also refers to the port and the protocol the port uses

  2. The previous-generation model, the LED Cinema Display

I’m just gonna call the new display a Bolt-D and the old one an LED-D. That right there solves half the problem.

Here’s what you can and can’t do with these monitors.

Computer Can always add what? Add anything else?
Mac Mini 1 of either 1 of either
MacBook Air 1 of either Nope
MacBook Pro 1 Bolt-D to a first Bolt-D
iMac 1 of either

Either or both of:

  • 1 Bolt-D to a first Bolt-D

  • 1 more Bolt-D or 1 LED-D

A lot of options, but you can at least follow along using the manner I’ve presented it, can you not?

Here’s how Galbraith presented it.

What you can and can’t attach to each Thunderbolt Mac and the Thunderbolt Display is a little confusing. Systems with integrated graphics, such as the MacBook Air and the $599 Mac mini, can support two displays. The Air’s built-in screen counts as one display, meaning you can use it with one external Thunderbolt display. Laptops with discreet [sic] graphics can use three displays; the MacBook Pro can have two external displays working while its built-in screen is operational.

If you have a Thunderbolt Display, you can connect a second Thunderbolt Display to it. You can’t connect an LED Cinema Display to the Thunderbolt port of the Thunderbolt Display, but in our testing, when we attached the Promise Pegasus R6 Thunderbolt RAID, we were able to connect a LED Cinema Display (which uses Mini DisplayPort) to the Pegasus R6’s second Thunderbolt port.

The 2011 27-inch iMac has two Thunderbolt ports. You can connect a Thunderbolt Display to one of the Thunderbolt ports, and then connect another Thunderbolt display to the first Thunderbolt Display. You can also connect a LED Cinema Display or a third Thunderbolt Display to the iMac’s second Thunderbolt port, for a total of four 27-inch displays. Crazy.

Now, try telling me with a straight face you can follow his instructions and get your monitors to work. My table markup alone is better than Galbraith’s whole explanation.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2011.09.27 15:05. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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