Teardown of Apple's Thunderbolt Display finds same LG panel used in 2009 iMac

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Apple's newly released Thunderbolt Display sports an LG display with the same model number found in the 27-inch iMac released in 2009, a teardown of the screen has found.



The new display, powered by Apple and Intel's Thunderbolt technology, was disassembled this week by iFixit. They found that the LG display is model number "LM270WQ1," matching the previous iMac as well as the screen found in Dell's competing UltraSharp U2711 27-inch monitor.



However, Apple's display uses LED backlights for better picture quality and lower power consumption, as opposed to the cold-cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) found on Dell's screen. In addition, the Dell display is matte, while Apple's is glossy.



The solutions provider also noted that Apple's screen has a 12 millisecond response time and 17.7 million colors, while Dell's competing panel offers an advertised 6 millisecond response time and 1.07 billion colors.



iFixit found that the glass front of the new Thunderbolt Display can be removed with "heavy duty suction cups," just like with Apple's iMac lineup. The LCD screen sports a resolution of 2,560-by-1,440 pixels.







"The fan is easily removed by simply detaching a couple of connectors and unfastening a few screws," they said. "Apple has, as usual, chosen to go with a large, brushless fan to keep the colossal Thunderbolt Display cool and quiet."







Inside the display, iFixit found a plethora of chips, causing them to remark that "it's hard to believe there's no computer inside." The screen includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera, 2.1 speaker system, integrated MagSafe charger, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.







Some of the chips inside powering all of those features include:



Pericom PI7C9X440SL PCIe-to-USB 2.0 host controller

L129NB11 EFL, which looks to be the Thunderbolt port controller

Analog Devices ADAV4601 audio processor

NXP LPC2144 USB 2.0 microcontroller

Delta LFE9249 10/100/1000 Base-T LAN filter

SMSC USB2517-JZX USB 2.0 hub controller

Maxim MAX9736B Mono/Stereo high-power Class D amplifier

LSI L-FW643E-2 open host controller interface

Broadcom BCM57761 Gigabit ethernet controller

Supertex HV9982 3-channel switch-mode LED driver IC





The teardown also discovered that the speakers inside the Thunderbolt Display are 49 watts with a miniature subwoofer. In addition, the Flextronics power supply is said to provide 250 watts of maximum continuous power.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post






    The solutions provider also noted that Apple's screen has a 12 millisecond response time and 17.7 million colors, while Dell's competing panel offers an advertised 6 millisecond response time and 1.07 billion colors.










    Apple knows that the people who buy Apple products do not care about spec sheets, and that pretty much nobody except geekazoids will ever compare the two side-by-side.



    So they don't care to cut profits when unnecessary. They will sell many more than Dell.
  • Reply 2 of 29
    I'm using a thunderbolt display right now and have no regrets about the purchase, amazing picture, and works perfectly with my macbook pro. It replaced my aging dell 24" monitor.
  • Reply 3 of 29
    Mine is back on the UPS truck right now. It was expensive, but when you compare it to other IPS panels, it really is quite a good deal.
  • Reply 4 of 29
    messiahmessiah Posts: 1,689member
    I'm assuming that this is a different panel than that found in the previous generation 27" Cinema LED Display?
  • Reply 5 of 29
    I think I could live with a CCFL if it gets me a better screen surface, better response time, and more colors.



    I just hate that the better screen is a Dull.
  • Reply 6 of 29
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    However, Apple's display uses LED backlights for better picture quality and lower power consumption, as opposed to the cold-cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) found on Dell's screen..



    First off I hate Dell and will never buy anything from them. That said this part of the article is incorrect. CCFL is actually still superior for picture quality and especially color accuracy. It remains the standard in professional quality displays. If you're doing color grading of any kind, LED is still problematic and its popularity is actually leveraged upward from the consumer end. That'll probably start to change by the next panel generation.



    LG doesn't have much variation amongst its 27" panels. Most of these displays don't really see their quality defined completely by the panel within them. In fact some of the most expensive designs use similar panels to what is in the thunderbolt display. They're just implemented differently. The response time/number of colors thing is completely meaningless. Dell might be using a different overdrive circuit design and a 10 bit panel variant to claim those numbers. 10 bit panels have been another buzz word but they don't really solve the need for dithering with a wider gamut like the Dell uses, and very few graphics cards support 10 bit out anyway (nothing from Apple supports this and it's unsupported in Lion).
  • Reply 7 of 29
    successsuccess Posts: 1,039member
    I ordered 2 today. Coming in a few days. Wondering why they're the same price as non Thunderbolt versions. How are these supposed to be connected to my new Mac Mini? Thunderbolt only? So one of them will be connected to a Thunderbolt input and the second display daisy chained via Thunderbolt?





    p.s. my desk is 110CM wide but the 2 displays together = 140CM. I hope 15CM overhang on both sides is ok.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    First off I hate Dell and will never buy anything from them. That said this part of the article is incorrect. CCFL is actually still superior for picture quality and especially color accuracy. It remains the standard in professional quality displays. If you're doing color grading of any kind, LED is still problematic and its popularity is actually leveraged upward from the consumer end. That'll probably start to change by the next panel generation.



    LG doesn't have much variation amongst its 27" panels. Most of these displays don't really see their quality defined completely by the panel within them. In fact some of the most expensive designs use similar panels to what is in the thunderbolt display. They're just implemented differently. The response time/number of colors thing is completely meaningless. Dell might be using a different overdrive circuit design and a 10 bit panel variant to claim those numbers. 10 bit panels have been another buzz word but they don't really solve the need for dithering with a wider gamut like the Dell uses, and very few graphics cards support 10 bit out anyway (nothing from Apple supports this and it's unsupported in Lion).



    That's an interesting perspective. You seem to know a little more about this than me and I'd like you to clarify something if you can?



    My initial reaction was annoyance at Apple when I saw this article. They charge a good deal more than LG do for their display yet it appears technically inferior. The majority of people looking at these panels will be professional people due to their cost and excessive quality for non-professional needs. Given that, the quality difference is important. A professional wants the best quality their budget can get them, it's not just about desirability as it is for consumers as I'm sure you appreciate.



    Apple give you the Thunderbolt port, the FW800 and USB ports plus the speaker system but it's still a lot more money, even given the vastly superior physical chassis, though if you're paying this much for a display, it's nice to have a beautiful cold metal chassis!



    When I've got annoyed with Apple in the past for seemingly skimping on specs, I've often learned that I was wrong to do so as I wasn't in possession of all the facts. Apple have a habit of looking at a problem and choosing the right specs for the job, not necessarily the most impressive specs on a spec sheet. For instance they often choose less than the top end chips for MacBooks because they offer better balance between power and battery life.



    My question is: are Dell simply touting specs that nobody in the real world could make use of? You mention Lion doesn't even support 10-bit display. Have Apple simply done what they often do and make this display as good as it needs to be to make full use of Lion's capabilities, or is the Dell display actually going to give better results despite much of it's technical capability being moot as Lion cannot make use of it?



    To put it another way, would Dell's panel actually give a better picture than Apple's or are they both rendered equal by Lion's 8-bit bottleneck? (response time aside, not an issue for me as a photographer)
  • Reply 9 of 29
    successsuccess Posts: 1,039member
    Good question. If one doesn't need the Thunderbolt port, the FW800 and USB ports plus the speaker system and FaceTime camera which LG or Dell would one buy that is supposed to be the same as the Apple display?



    Is there a LG model for sale at stores that is the same or only a Dell UltraSharp U2711?



    Bonus question. If my HDTV is connected to my Mini via HDMI can I still have my Mini connected to my dual displays at the same time? Is there some sort of HDMI splitter/adapter/hub?





    Thanks
  • Reply 10 of 29
    Selling a 2009 panel in the year 2011 and charging full price for it?



    Only Apple.
  • Reply 11 of 29
    I never understood why anyone wouldn't just buy an iMac for $100 more (well $200 if not a student). They advertise it as being the perfect accompaniment to the MBAir, but you might as well get an iMac and have a quad-core processor and better graphics. $999 for a monitor and a port hub? Give me a break.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Galbi View Post


    Selling a 2009 panel in the year 2011 and charging full price for it?



    Only Apple.



    Um did they not just say that Dell is using the same panel? I don't see any indication that there are any better panels on the market in the 27 inch size that would warrant the use of them.



    I am guessing that your paying for the thunderbolt, I can only imagine how many engineering hour's were put into developing this and designing the integration with intel, its the price you pay for being first out of the gate.. just look at how many thunderbolt accessories are out there as we speak.
  • Reply 13 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aiolos View Post


    I never understood why anyone wouldn't just buy an iMac for $100 more (well $200 if not a student). They advertise it as being the perfect accompaniment to the MBAir, but you might as well get an iMac and have a quad-core processor and better graphics. $999 for a monitor and a port hub? Give me a break.



    It?s price competitive, for the specs and high-end features it has... but the iMac is a STEAL, so I agree. Get the iMac if you can afford the difference, and even if you don?t need/want two computers to deal with, just use it as a display only. Then resell it one day, and get more than your $100 back!



    And one good way to use a laptop and desktop: treat the laptop as a server, where your documents reside, and access it from the speedy big-screen desktop. Then when you want portability, grab the laptop and go?your files are already on it, with no synching.
  • Reply 14 of 29
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    First off I hate Dell and will never buy anything from them. That said this part of the article is incorrect. CCFL is actually still superior for picture quality and especially color accuracy. It remains the standard in professional quality displays. If you're doing color grading of any kind, LED is still problematic and its popularity is actually leveraged upward from the consumer end. That'll probably start to change by the next panel generation.



    Hmm... how could CCFL be a standard for professional when it can't even give a good black level?
  • Reply 15 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aiolos View Post


    I never understood why anyone wouldn't just buy an iMac for $100 more (well $200 if not a student). They advertise it as being the perfect accompaniment to the MBAir, but you might as well get an iMac and have a quad-core processor and better graphics. $999 for a monitor and a port hub? Give me a break.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


    It’s price competitive, for the specs and high-end features it has... but the iMac is a STEAL, so I agree. Get the iMac if you can afford the difference, and even if you don?t need/want two computers to deal with, just use it as a display only. Then resell it one day, and get more than your $100 back!



    And one good way to use a laptop and desktop: treat the laptop as a server, where your documents reside, and access it from the speedy big-screen desktop. Then when you want portability, grab the laptop and go—your files are already on it, with no synching.



    I think you're missing something. This is a 27" panel, not a 21" panel. The 27" iMac costs $700 more than the Cinema Display, not $100. The cinema display is for professionals using MacBooks and consumers with more money than sense lol. Apple make premium products and their brand attracts affluent people so it's worth marketing as a consumer product too, but the reality is most of us won't buy a Cinema Display unless we are a professional who wants the ease of integration and needs that image quality and for them an 27" iMac costing $700 more doesn't make sense.



    I am a photographer and the Cinema Display is attractive to me because I can bring my MacBook Pro home from a job and just plug in one Thunderbolt cable and all my daisy chained hard disks mount and I have a 27" Cinema Display to use instead of a laptop-grade 15" screen. An iMac doesn't offer that workflow. As decent as MacBook Pro screens are, they don't compare to this.
  • Reply 16 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Galbi View Post


    Selling a 2009 panel in the year 2011 and charging full price for it?



    Only Apple.



    Ignoring the fact that everyone else sells the same panel at the same price in a worse monitor with older ports and fewer features?



    Only Galbi.
  • Reply 17 of 29
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,862member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post


    That's an interesting perspective. You seem to know a little more about this than me and I'd like you to clarify something if you can?



    My initial reaction was annoyance at Apple when I saw this article.



    Why would you get annoyed if you don't understand the gibberish passed off as specs?

    Quote:

    They charge a good deal more than LG do for their display yet it appears technically inferior. The majority of people looking at these panels will be professional people due to their cost and excessive quality for non-professional needs.



    Why is the quality excessive? For that matter why do you associate quality with professional needs?

    Quote:

    Given that, the quality difference is important. A professional wants the best quality their budget can get them, it's not just about desirability as it is for consumers as I'm sure you appreciate.



    You are assuming there is a real quality difference between the two displays. You can not make such a determination based on manufactures specs. Specs have very little to do with quality nor suitability for professional use. In the end the only thing that counts is performance in the regime that the professional intends to use the device.

    Quote:

    Apple give you the Thunderbolt port, the FW800 and USB ports plus the speaker system but it's still a lot more money, even given the vastly superior physical chassis, though if you're paying this much for a display, it's nice to have a beautiful cold metal chassis!



    When I've got annoyed with Apple in the past for seemingly skimping on specs, I've often learned that I was wrong to do so as I wasn't in possession of all the facts. Apple have a habit of looking at a problem and choosing the right specs for the job, not necessarily the most impressive specs on a spec sheet. For instance they often choose less than the top end chips for MacBooks because they offer better balance between power and battery life.



    You do realize that Apple is after the mass market right. They fully expect people with professional needs to go to suppliers building professional monitors.

    Quote:

    My question is: are Dell simply touting specs that nobody in the real world could make use of?



    That is a delicate question. First there is an assumption that the extra capability can be realized in the real world. It is one thing to say a panel is a ten bit display it is another thing to realize an actual ten bit range in color.



    As to the question isn't that sort of like asking how anybody can make use of 16GB of RAM or a sports car that can do 200MPH? I'm certain somebody can come up with a way to demonstrate the value of such a display, but in the real world who would notice.

    Quote:

    You mention Lion doesn't even support 10-bit display. Have Apple simply done what they often do and make this display as good as it needs to be to make full use of Lion's capabilities, or is the Dell display actually going to give better results despite much of it's technical capability being moot as Lion cannot make use of it?



    I can see you are really hung up on specs.

    Quote:

    To put it another way, would Dell's panel actually give a better picture than Apple's or are they both rendered equal by Lion's 8-bit bottleneck? (response time aside, not an issue for me as a photographer)



    As a photographer how many of your software packages use color channels greater than 8bit? Actually there is a lot of processing done these days outside of the 8 bit world but when generating a display most apps expect 8 bit displays. In the end only testing can tell you which panel gives better results on a Mac.



    In any event you need to look at things from a different perspective. The bottle neck isn't so much Apples as it is an issue of hardware. Only recently have panels actually been able to give decent 8bit results. As to the so called ten bit panels realize that there is much involved in getting those panels to operate well, ten manufactures could all build screens with the same panel and all of then could get different results.



    Note the word "different" above, different does not imply better or worst than another.
  • Reply 18 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DarkVader View Post


    I think I could live with a CCFL if it gets me a better screen surface, better response time, and more colors.



    I just hate that the better screen is a Dull.



    Then again the Dell is not glossy. That would make a whole lot of customers happy. Perhaps that matte-petition (Zunx?) guy is on a Dell forum right now, praising this display.



    Personally I've always chosen non glossy (I'm into photography and prefer the non reflective screen) but cannot believe I would ever choose a Dell over an Apple. Do have a problem if my current (non glossy) 30" would die.
  • Reply 19 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aiolos View Post


    $999 for a monitor and a port hub? Give me a break.



    I paid $1800 for a 30" last year and would do so again if mine were to die. Unfortunately it simply isn't available... I'm not going to state if I'm rich or not but if I were it would be my preference and if I weren't I'd save for my preference rather than compromise on price. Does that make sense?
  • Reply 20 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Galbi View Post


    Selling a 2009 panel in the year 2011 and charging full price for it?



    Only Apple.



    Not really. I bought a 1989 house in 1998 and I paid full price for it.
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