Apple ThunderBolt Computers And Accessories

Apple Computers With Built-In ThunderBolt Ports

ThunderBolt Enabled MacBooks
The first Apple computers shipping with a single ThunderBolt compatible port supplanting the mini-DVI DisplayPort were initially models of Apple's MacBook Pro series. TBolt enabled iMacs soon followed, with dual ThunderBolt ports on the hi-end 27" model. Revisions of Apple Mac mini desktop and laptop MacBook Air with built-in ThunderBolt have been rolled out that include ThunderBolt 2 MacBooks with dual USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports as well. With ThunderBolt 2 and USB 3.0 port Mac mini's shipping as well, the cylindrical Macintosh Pro with Thunderbolt 2 was the last holdout in Apple's product line.

Apple Desktop Computers With TBolt Ports

As we see in Apple's newest USB 3.0 SuperSpeed capable desktop Macintosh systems, Apple's been quite generious with two or more ThunderBolt ports on consumer desktop Macs, and up to six on the Mac Pro cylinder professional Macintosh. Given how many Mac users have Wireless printers and Bluetooth peripherals, the average Mac user will find 4 or more ThunderBolt ports are more than adequate for their ThunderBolt and DisplayPort devices without having to resort to adding an external TBolt hub.

ThunderBolt Mac MiniThunderBolt Mac ProThunderBolt iMac
Mac Mini With ThunderBolt

Quad USB 3.0 Ports
Mac Pro With ThunderBolt

Six USB 3.0 Ports
And ThunderBolt 2
iMac With ThunderBolt

Four USB 3.0 Ports

Apple Laptop Computers With ThunderBolt Interface

In the early day's of the MacBook Air, there was only a single USB 2.0 port which frustrated many Apple laptop users, fortunately Apple soon rolled-out DUAL USB ports and has continued that tradition with even faster PAIR of USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports on all MacBook Pro and Air models now shipping. One ThunderBolt interface is located on each side of the MacBook. In rare circumstances when you have a high-demand USB powered device like a portable Mac hard drive that uses a short, dual-ended USB Y-Cable to deliver adequate power, you might find the locations to be problematic.

ThunderBolt Pro MacBookThunderBolt Air MacBookThunderBolt Retina MacBook
USB 3 MacBook Pro 13"

Dual ThunderBolt Speed Ports
USB 3 MacBook Air

$939 11.6" Display
USB 3 Retina 15" MacBook

Dual ThunderBolt 2 Ports

New iMac models with ThunderBolt 2 ports are shipping. The revamped 21" & 27" Quad-Core desktop line features a range of Dual and Quad Core Intel i5 and i7 CPU's at varying clock-speeds. There's a single port on the more affordable 21" models, and DUAL ThunderBolt ports on the 27". That's some serious bandwidth! It's a smart move to target both casual consumers and Prosumers as well. The iMac (especially Dual-ThunderBolt 27" model) are a CPU and Graphic powerhouse to rival the Macintosh Pro towers - and highly favored by Video editors and Music studios for a 1-piece editing station.
iMac with Two ThunderBolt ports
The optional Apple Store Build-To-Order configrations include an optional Solid-State SSD secondary drive in the iMac line - or a SSD as a primary drive in a Build-To-Order MacBook Pro. A Solid-State drive is highly recommended to compliment and leverage ThunderBolt and especially ThunderBolt 2's incredible I/O speeds.

Thunder Bolt Device Adoption Rates

It was a smart move for Apple to introduce ThunderBolt on the Unibody Aluminum MacBook Pro line. The MacBook is and has long been responsible for the lion's share of Macintosh computers sold over the past few years. Roughly 2 out of 3 Mac's sold are portable MacBook laptops. So this is the best way for Apple and Intel to spur rapid adoption. Now with TBolt iMacs casual and Pro content creators have been brought into the mix. The Mac mini, MacBook Air now ship with ThunderBolt I/O port. The somewhat neglected Mac Pro tower line has yet to receive a TBolt upgrade, but it's expected soon.

Intel is a huge OEM provider of PC logic boards. So expect ThunderBolt port motherboards to hit the Windows market as PC's start to ship with Ivy-Bridge Intel Chipsets. ThunderBolt adapter cables and converters are on their way to help foster the adopton of the ThunderBolt standard. They'll provide legacy computer interface expansion options across both platforms.

One Interface To Rule Them All

Because ThunderBolt aka LightPeak is a direct extension to the PCI-x bus, it can be an 'On-Ramp' for literallly any other peripheral bus technologies. Mac users have bemoaned the lack of upgradability or 'Expansion Slots' in many Mac models. ThunderBolt delivers just that: Access to the PCI bus externally thru a mini-connector - and without having to even open up your computer. Expect a wide range of ThunderBolt hubs, docks, converters and interface adapters to USB 3, USB2 and 1.1, FireWire 400/800, eSata and others to provide port-conversion compatibility to a wide range of high-speed and SuperSpeed devices. Macintosh models that now sport a single T-Bolt port where the DisplayPort was - uses the same connector.

ThunderBolt Has Room To Grow

The 10GBps per-channel, dual-channel ThunderBolt spec far exceeds the data transfer capabilities of any wired computer peripheral interface spec to date - Double that of the emerging SuperSpeed standard of USB 3.0 accessories for Mac. So it is a major leap forward for computing technology. The forthcoming ThunderBolt II revision will increase the speed even more.

ThunderBolt vs USB 3.0 SuperSpeed

Apple has suprised many by initally bypassing USB 3.0 and waiting to introduce it's ThunderBolt computer interface. The race is on between Thunder Bolt and USB 3 for Mac. SuperSpeed USB 3.0 offers potentially 5Gbps bandwidth, while ThunderBolt promises 10Gbps in each of it's dual-channels in it's first iteration. Both are rather mind-bogglingly fast. In fact, many many PC and Apple peripherals can't even begin to take advantage of USB 3.0 speeds let alone more than twice that. However, it does mean great things for the demands of uncompressed HD digital video and TV Tuners at Hi-Def 1080 and 720 resolutions, hard drive storage and solid-state SSD drive backups in particular. Imagine being able to back up an ENTIRE Terabyte of information in a few mere minutes or the contents of a DVD in seconds!