Apple Kills Thunderbolt Display: What's Next?

To the distaste of display-less Mac users and those fond of of multi-screen setups, Apple is killing the Thunderbolt Display, its only standalone monitor. In a statement to TechCrunch yesterday (June 23), an Apple spokesperson explained that the company is discontinuing the display, and the remaining stock will be available at select locations "while supplies last."

Apple still sells the 27-inch Thunderbolt Display on its online store at the time of this writing, so if you've been wavering, buy now before it's too late. If and when that model sells out, check out our reviews of display panels and monitors for alternatives.

MORE: Thunderbolt 3 Explained: Why You Need the World's Fastest Port

Nobody would blame you for believing Apple doesn't care about external monitors, as it last updated the Thunderbolt Display in September 2011. The company also allowed its display-less Macs to stagnate, as it's been more than a year since we've seen updates to the Mac Pro (December 2013) and Mac Mini (October 2014).

The company spokesperson gave a tip of the hat to other Thunderbolt display makers, noting "There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users." But since none of those monitors are sold on, the company either doesn't believe it can sell those displays at a profit, or something else is afoot. 

If your needs include both a monitor and a computer to run on it, you might be better off with an iMac.

If Apple does indeed believe it should be selling displays — and is simply figuring out how to — we have heard rumors of a 4K or 5K version of the Thunderbolt Display that would connect via USB Type-C. The only issue involved with such a display is that it would set high performance requirements for connecting computers in order to output that many pixels.

The rumored solution for such a display to support a variety of Macs is for Apple to build a high-power graphics processor right into the monitor. Then, even the Intel Core m-powered 12-inch, 1-port MacBook could connect to the display.

Only time will tell if Apple wants to stay in the desktop monitor market, but since the company tends to operate on its own schedule, we're not suggesting you hold your breath. And before you buy that $999 27-inch quad-HD (2560 x 1440-pixel) monitor, realize that Apple sells a 27-inch 5K (5120 x 2880-pixel) iMac for only $800 more. So think twice if your needs include both a monitor and a computer to run on it.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.