Ask DN: Apple Thunderbolt Display Alternatives?

over 8 years ago from , UX & Product Design Instructor @ Bitmaker

Apple Thunderbolt Display is so beautiful but cost so much monies :(

Alternatives and why?


  • Joe BurkeJoe Burke, over 8 years ago

    I'm using a new Dell Ultrasharp monitor. IPS Panel with a really nice thin bezel. Would definitely recommend.

    5 points
    • Marcelo SomersMarcelo Somers, over 8 years ago

      +1 The Dell Ultrasharps are pretty highly regarded. Some reviews I've seen even say they use the same panels as the Apple. They recently refreshed their 27" model: http://amzn.to/19JZ23D

      If you don't care for a warranty and possibly dead pixels, Jeff Atwood advocates for Korean alternatives that run in the $300-$400 range: http://blog.codinghorror.com/the-ips-lcd-revolution/

      2 points
    • Matt BaxterMatt Baxter, over 8 years ago

      At my work everyone is being switched from a Cinema Display to the Dell Ultra HD 4k monitors (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PC9HFO8/ref=psdc_1292115011_t3_B00P0EQD1Q) and right now they're actually cheaper than the Ultrasharps. They're honestly better than the Cinema Displays right now.

      It's a great monitor and I love having a retina display for my main monitor.

      6 points
      • Gavin AnthonyGavin Anthony, over 8 years ago

        +1 on this monitor. I've had it for about 6 months and I absolutely love it. Only things I've noticed is that color seems pretty saturated. I'm sure color syncing could solve this however.

        Definitely better than the Thunderbolt Display imo.

        1 point
      • Aaron SagrayAaron Sagray, over 8 years ago

        I was thinking about getting one of these at home. Do you know if a Macbook Air with a NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M can power it?

        0 points
        • E BensleyE Bensley, over 8 years ago

          MacBook Airs didn't come with any dedicated GPU as far as I know. The 15" Pro came with the 650m and that would run fine over DisplayPort. HDMI would only manage 30Hz at 4k.

          1 point
        • Matt BaxterMatt Baxter, over 8 years ago

          When we first started testing them one of my co-workers with a Macbook Air tried it out but it didn't run very well. He ended up swapping with me to use the Cinema Display I had instead.

          0 points
  • Daniel GoldenDaniel Golden, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    Here are some potentially helpful posts:

    3 points
  • Bill Columbia, over 8 years ago

    I just recently tried the Dell u2715h and the u2713hm. Both of these are better than most vendors monitors, but after using Apple displays I didn't really want to settle.

    The u2713hm was pretty close to the Apple display, but I could never get the colors right (I don't have a fancy tool for that). The u2715h was worse in color and had unacceptable backlight bleed in all four corners.

    My logic was, if I'm dropping 600 on a display and its not exactly what I need, why not spend the extra 150-200 on the one that I really want. (refurb or used you can can around that price)

    I also use a Dell U2412M at work, which is great color, but not so great pixel density.

    Not sure this will help, but thought it was worth mentioning that I returned the Dell UltraSharps and work on one (also work on a retina iMac and have worked on Apple Thunderbolt displays before that).

    1 point
    • Marc EdwardsMarc Edwards, over 8 years ago

      I have the same opinion as you. I know the current Apple Thunderbolt displays are old and likely overpriced, but I struggle to use anything else.

      I really hope Apple release some new displays soon.

      1 point
  • Nikhil NNikhil N, over 8 years ago

    Asus PB278Q : 27", 1440P, almost the same color reproduction as the ACD Thunderbolt.


    Asus PG278Q : same as the above, but comes at 100Hz, overclockable to 144Hz. This one is my daily driver. However, I'll only recommend this if you do some serious gaming as well, else, simply ignore this recommendation.

    1 point
  • Jim SilvermanJim Silverman, over 8 years ago

    yamakasi. 30" 2560x1600 S-IPS for $400.


    0 points
  • Marc HottingerMarc Hottinger, over 8 years ago

    Well, to be honest there are few reasons you would want to buy an Apple Thunderbolt Display… you might argue it's cool to have an iSight, Apple specific connectivity and a good amount of pixels. But the very basics of a display is to see what's displayed on it right? If the intended use is related to design or photo editing, then the glare will render this display almost useless in some situations. Unless you work in a dark place, color accuracy will not be good.

    0 points
  • Maximilian HennebachMaximilian Hennebach, over 8 years ago

    I am using an iiyama Prolite, 27" glossy IPS. Really good one with a great price.

    0 points
  • Ryan MurphyRyan Murphy, over 8 years ago

    Older models of the iMac

    0 points
  • Sajeeth CherianSajeeth Cherian, over 8 years ago

    I would go with something from the Dell Ultrasharp Series. They have all sorts of options (16:10, wide gamut, 4K, 5K, etc.) so you should be able to find something that meets your needs.

    The Apple Thunderbolt Display is pretty old and will probably be replaced soon. Based on the direction Apple has gone with the new Macbook, I think a new Apple USB-C Display is probably coming soon.

    0 points
  • Brian A.Brian A., over 8 years ago

    Dell U2412M. It's no Thunderbolt Display, but the quality and color reproduction is damn good, and you can get the things for less than $300 all day. I don't have any experience with it, but there's a newer version that's not a whole lot more.

    I do like the Thunderbolt Display, but I have a hard time spending $1,000 on a monitor that's using aging technology, no matter how good the color accuracy or whatever is. My personal preference is to go with a cheap monitor and use my MBP to gut-check anything suspect.

    0 points