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Apple reveals limits for daisy-chaining Thunderbolt Displays

updated 02:40 pm EDT, Fri September 16, 2011

MacBook Air restricted to single monitor

A new Apple support document reveals restrictions on daisy-chaining the Thunderbolt Display, which is finally shipping to online buyers. Because Thunderbolt supports speeds up to 10Gbps, the obstacle to chaining multiple monitors is less networking than the video hardware in the connected Mac. The MacBook Air can only run one Thunderbolt Display, Apple notes.

All other Thunderbolt-equipped Macs can attach up to two Thunderbolt Displays, with certain provisions. Linking a second Thunderbolt Display to a 13-inch MacBook Pro will cause the notebook's own screen to go black for instance, but a Mac mini using AMD graphics can equip a third monitor at the same time via its HDMI port. The 27-inch iMac supports two Thunderbolt Displays no matter which port arrangement is used.

Apple cautions that Mini DisplayPort monitors cannot be chained off of Thunderbolt Displays at all, even though they can attached to other Thunderbolt peripherals. The company additionally suggests making Thunderbolt Displays the initial hardware in a chain. This should offer the "best performance," it writes.

By Electronista Staff


  1. lamewing

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Aug 2004


    Had to be

    I knew there would be some limitation with the Macbook Airs. It was too good to be true.

  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Sep 1999


    TB or Video card limitation

    The 13" MBP limitation sounds more like a limitation in the video card in the MBP, rather than in the Thunderbolt controller. If someone were to make a TB breakout box that contained a video card, could you then connect two displays and still have the built in display?

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001



    You call running a big-a** 27" display off a teenytiny 11" MacBook Air a "limitation"? Please.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. lamewing

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Aug 2004



    YES it is a limitation....when compared to the rest of the TB-capable laptops. 1 vs 2. IT. IS. A. LIMITATION.

    Do you need someone to actually define the word limitation to you?

  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: Jul 2006



    :You call running a big-a** 27" display off a teenytiny 11" MacBook Air a "limitation"? Please.

    I agree. It's a bit like discovering your sub-compact car can't tow a 27-foot boat. The fact that it can, even with limitations, is amazing.

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