9to5mac wrote this morning about my buddies over at iFixit.com tearing down the new Thunderbolt Display, and I was pretty pumped. Being that it’s a docking station in a monitor, and we just got a couple of them at my office, I was curious to find out about the insides.
Apple’s edge-to-edge glass in their latest lineup is extremely creative in its construction and assembly. Like the iPad, or iPods of old, one would expect to find a large slab of glass attached to the frame with a hefty dose of some strong adhesive, but on the contrary, Apple has inventively engineered these gorgeous displays.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen — suction cups. Two heavy-duty suction cups. The glass slab is held in by eight incredibly strong rare-earth magnets, making it a bit of a monster to pull off, but wonderfully simple to reattach once you’re done fooling around with the internals of this sexy beast of a monitor.
There’s a lot to this machine — iFixit says it’s amazing it’s not a whole computer by itself — but it packs enough guts in there to merit its price, for sure. It’s rockin’ a L129NB11 EFL Thunderbolt controller, a Pericom PI7C9X440SL PCIe-USB 2.0 Host Bus, an SMSC USB2517-JZX USB Hub controller, an NXP LPC2144, an Analog Devices ADAV4601 Audio Controller, a Broadcom BCM57761 Gigabit Ethernet Controller, a 49W Stereo audio amplifier and about 183 other chips that iFixit lists off. Roll that in with a 250W power supply, and it’s no wonder Apple had to toss in one of their Really-Really-Really-Really-Ridiculously-Quiet Fans™. Two speakers, a small subwoofer and an HD FaceTime camera, probably quite similar to the iPhone 4’s front-facing camera.
Fun fact: The Thunderbolt connection to the main board is achieved via a Thunderbolt port attached to the board, rather than the wires being soldered directly to the board. Don’t ask me why Apple does this, but I’ve seen it before, particularly in the iSight camera in white iMacs of yesteryear, which connected using a vanilla mini-FireWire 400 connector.
The actual LCD in this unit is an LG LM270WQ1, the same display used in Dell’s mammoth 27-inch monitor, though Apple, in all its green glory, elected to backlight this one with LEDs. It’s also got a smaller color palette by about 1,053,300,000 colors, but who’s counting? Add that to the doubled (12 ms) response time and I feel that a “WTF Apple?!” is quite appropriate. It’s a good thing I love this whole Thunderbolt thing.
Like I said, we’ve got a few of these in the office, and it’s not much of an upgrade from my current 27-inch Cinema Display. Aside from the jealousy inspired in me when my boss only has to plug two cables into his laptop when he gets to work, I really don’t see a difference. I look forward to the day when Apple bakes an AMD Radeon HD 6970M straight into it, so I can game on my MacBook Air. What? It could happen! Don’t hate on me for dreaming!