Rumor: Apple preparing Thunderbolt Retina 5K display with integrated graphics card

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited June 2016
Rumors of a revamped Thunderbolt Display with high-resolution Retina display have persisted for years, but a new report claims that Apple may finally update its standalone display, complete with an external graphics card that would ensure all Macs could push the pixels necessary for a 5K resolution.

Thunderbolt display


Citing unnamed sources, 9to5Mac reported on Wednesday that Apple is working on a new 27-inch Thunderbolt Display that would, unsurprisingly, feature the same 5K-resolution panel found on the company's existing 27-inch Mac.

More surprising, however, is the suggestion that Apple may include a graphics card within the display itself. Such capabilities are technically possible thanks to the high speeds of the Thunderbolt port, which some Windows PC makers have taken advantage of to turn portable laptops into gaming powerhouses when docked.

Embedding a graphics card into the Thunderbolt Display could help Apple to ensure that virtually any modern or future Mac could handle the processing power necessary to push pixels to a 5K-resolution display. That would be of particular interest to owners of the 12-inch MacBook, which features an ultra-low-power Intel Core M processor, which allows for a silent and cool fan-less design.

The fact that Thunderbolt can support external graphics cards has led to some unofficial workarounds among Mac enthusiasts, using some of the infrastructure Apple has built to support external PCIe devices for professionals. But doing so requires some nontrivial hacking to enable Thunderbolt GPU drivers, and the result remains buggy.




New hardware is not expected at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on June 13, where the company is instead expected to focus on the future of iOS and OS X. However, Wednesday's report suggested that Apple could pre-announce a new Thunderbolt Retina 5K display at WWDC for launch later this year.

Such a move wouldn't be unprecedented, as Apple offered a sneak peek at its redesigned Mac Pro at WWDC in 2013. The cylindrical desktop didn't actually arrive in the hands of consumers until just before the end of the year.

Given its niche appeal, a Thunderbolt Display could make sense as a product appealing to developers at WWDC. But there have been signs before of an impending refresh that never panned out.

Current Thunderbolt Display inventory has dwindled, furthering speculation that an update could be forthcoming. But stock also became limited earlier this year across Europe. Supply also dried up twice in 2013, with continued stock-outs likely related to the fact that the $999 product is outdated and overpriced when compared to other external monitors on the market.

Apple itself has been selling alternative displays, like the 4K IGZO Sharp LED monitor, for Mac customers looking for a high-resolution external display.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    Yes, this is what I was wondering if it could happen. Solves all the problems with the rMB.
    edited June 2016 tmaydoozydozen
  • Reply 2 of 58
    techprod1gytechprod1gy Posts: 838member
    I am wondering if this only impacts physical connections? Is the current WIFI AC capable of moving enough data to where it could be cached to the monitor? I am just thinking of ways for iPhones and iPads to push to larger monitors or multiple monitors...I would love to have 3 different apps open on 3 different 5k monitors...I know...dreaming...
  • Reply 3 of 58
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,753member
    This would be awesome. Even more so if you could replace the card with whatever you wanted, though that is unlikely. The $999 price would be somewhat more justified then too. 
  • Reply 4 of 58
    adrayvenadrayven Posts: 460member
    mac_128 said:
    Yes, this is what I was wondering if it could happen. Solves all the problems with the rMB.
    many many problems actually. Like Apple moving to integrated video on everyone except the 15" MBP.. If this is the case, we might see some people opt for lighter laptops for travel and invest more in a display.

    My only concern is what video card, and I'll bet it's not upgradable. That can be a sticking point when .. since most monitors you can put on any system when you upgrade to a new laptop. This LOCKS that monitor to that generation of hardware (Thunderbolt 3 laptops, desktops, etc) only.

    Really what they are doing is taking the idea of Razer Blade GPU Thunderbolt Dock and sticking it into a iMac type housing. Makes me wonder if I could eventually just buy the Razer Blade instead and use any monitor I want with one of these new Mackbook Pro's.
  • Reply 5 of 58
    toddzrxtoddzrx Posts: 251member
    How about making a little brother, around 23 inches?
    pulseimages
  • Reply 6 of 58
    schlackschlack Posts: 719member
    Been waiting for this for some time....if it supports a USB-C connection...I hope they can push data AND power through the monitor to the laptop so that a single cable to the laptop handles, monitor, usb ports, ethernet, and power. would be the holy grail. that, and a dedicated graphics card would go a long ways to justifying the absurdly high $999 price point. If it's just going to be a retina monitor, they need to price it lower...maybe $700 max.
  • Reply 7 of 58
    lukeilukei Posts: 379member
    toddzrx said:
    How about making a little brother, around 23 inches?
    Not going to happen
    calidoozydozenbaconstang
  • Reply 8 of 58
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,398member
    About time!

    Sign me up....
  • Reply 9 of 58
    Of course, it is not touch screen. When is Apple going to get on the ball?
  • Reply 10 of 58
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,527member
    Of course, it is not touch screen. When is Apple going to get on the ball?
    They are on the ball. 

    Everybody else is fumbling it. 

    The touch on the HP Pavillion desktops is at best a gimmick, and has been, for years.
    anantksundaramcali1983doozydozennolamacguysuddenly newtonbaconstangairbubbleiosenthusiastthepixeldoc
  • Reply 11 of 58
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,753member
    Of course, it is not touch screen. When is Apple going to get on the ball?
    Why would you ever want a massive screen like that to be touch? Just try holding your arm straight out in front of you. Doesn't take long before it gets tired does it? Plus you'd end up with fingerprints all over it. 
    calidoozydozennolamacguybaconstang
  • Reply 12 of 58
    techprod1gytechprod1gy Posts: 838member
    Of course, it is not touch screen. When is Apple going to get on the ball?
    Are you being serious? I have a touch screen on my Alienware and have yet to use it after 1 year. Unless you are a graphic designer I am not sure what you would use a touch screen monitor for. I am being serious. Not against it at all. Just do not see the practicality behind it.
    calidoozydozenbaconstang
  • Reply 13 of 58
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,394member
    I'm not getting how this works with the MacBook, which does not have Thunderbolt, right? Isn't it just a USB port?
    doozydozennathanybaconstang
  • Reply 14 of 58
    paulmjohnsonpaulmjohnson Posts: 1,380member
    Sadly this is going to come a little too late for me.  I waited and waited but finally ditched my Thunderbolt monitors a couple of months ago.

    I'd love a 5K Thunderbolt, but having just dropped a bunch of money on a new monitor, I won't be able to justify another change.
  • Reply 15 of 58
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,527member
    I'm not getting how this works with the MacBook, which does not have Thunderbolt, right? Isn't it just a USB port?
    Correct. The 12" retina MacBook will not be able to use this rumoured display.
  • Reply 16 of 58
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member
    Awes... Now just put an TV SOC in there, and call it a day.
    doozydozencrowleybaconstang
  • Reply 17 of 58
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,394member
    spheric said:
    I'm not getting how this works with the MacBook, which does not have Thunderbolt, right? Isn't it just a USB port?
    Correct. The 12" retina MacBook will not be able to use this rumoured display.
    That's what I thought, was second guessing myself after reading such a specific callout to the rMB:

     That would be of particular interest to owners of the 12-inch MacBook, which features an ultra-low-power Intel Core M processor, which allows for a silent and cool fan-less design.

    baconstang
  • Reply 18 of 58
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 3,040member
    Options are great, and it is even greater to have options from Apple. But one word: price.
  • Reply 19 of 58
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,778member
    Of course, it is not touch screen. When is Apple going to get on the ball?
    Why the hell would you want to reach across your desk and touch your screen? This is the most asinine way to use a desktop I've ever seen. I've never understood this. TBH, its not really all that useful on a laptop/tablet hybrid either. It sounds great, but in the end, isn't very functional. Not to mention the amount of finger prints it will put on the screen. I cannot stand when someone touches the glass on my iMac at work.
    edited June 2016 doozydozencalinolamacguyelijahgbaconstangthepixeldoc
  • Reply 20 of 58
    VisualSeedVisualSeed Posts: 217member
    adrayven said:
    mac_128 said:
    Yes, this is what I was wondering if it could happen. Solves all the problems with the rMB.
    many many problems actually. Like Apple moving to integrated video on everyone except the 15" MBP.. If this is the case, we might see some people opt for lighter laptops for travel and invest more in a display.

    My only concern is what video card, and I'll bet it's not upgradable. That can be a sticking point when .. since most monitors you can put on any system when you upgrade to a new laptop. This LOCKS that monitor to that generation of hardware (Thunderbolt 3 laptops, desktops, etc) only.

    Really what they are doing is taking the idea of Razer Blade GPU Thunderbolt Dock and sticking it into a iMac type housing. Makes me wonder if I could eventually just buy the Razer Blade instead and use any monitor I want with one of these new Mackbook Pro's.
    it will about as locked as an iMac is. It probably won't be Intel integrated graphics since that requires a cpu chipset. It will probably be as good as discrete graphics in a MacBook (Nvidia or AMD) maybe it will allow GPU pooling, passthrough or offloading of some sort so if you have a better GPU in your computer it can take over or add to the performance. I would hate to max out the GPU in a new mac pro and be limited to the lesser integrated one in the display.
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