iFixIt takes apart Apple Thunderbolt Display

Apple's new Thunderbolt Display has been taken apart by iFixIt, to reveal a surprising amount of electronics in it.

Topher Kessler MacFixIt Editor
Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.
Topher Kessler
2 min read

When new Mac systems and devices come out, expect the do-it-yourself repair guide iFixIt to be one of the first to rip it apart and show you what's inside. When Thunderbolt was issued iFixIt disassembled the first MacBook systems to show the Thunderbolt controller chips, and also took apart the Thunderbolt cable to show the signal conditioning electronics in them. Only days after Apple released its Thunderbolt Display, iFixIt is at it again and has fully disassembled the monitor to show a surprising amount of circuitry.

Apple's Thunderbolt Display is in essence a Thunderbolt hub, and as iFixIt shows, it needs to have not only a Thunderbolt controller, but also the controllers for its USB, Ethernet, and FireWire ports, in addition to its speakers and iSight camera. The extra electronics generate a fair amount of heat, so while there are no heat sinks on them, the system does have an internal fan to keep them cool.

Thunderbolt Display controller board
The display contains a controller board that contains the USB, FireWire, Ethernet, and audio processing chips in addition to the Thunderbolt controller. The Thunderbolt cable attaches directly to it without any soldering. iFixIt

A surprising feature to note is that the cable on the system is actually a standard Thunderbolt cable that is connected to an internal Thunderbolt port, instead of being soldered to the system's controller board. This means the system could technically be given a longer cord at some point (though major disassembly would be required to do this), if needed. Additionally, the system's speakers are larger than previous ones and should offer richer sound as a result.

The display is only held together by standard T6 and T10 screws and minimal adhesives, which make servicing it relatively easy; however, as with Apple's other displays and iMacs, the front glass still requires suction cups for removal, and once inside some of the electronics layouts can be a bit complex to work with. Nevertheless, major components should be easily accessible if needed.

Though iFixIt offers this teardown, if you disassemble your display, you will void your warranty and risk breaking your monitor. As a result, its likely best for now to rely on iFixIt's findings to see what is in your monitor.

Apple Thunderbolt display disassembled
The monitor has a surprising amount of electronics in it. iFixIt

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