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Thunderbolt v1/v2 Expansion & Connectivity Options

Article ID = 110
Article Title = Thunderbolt v1/v2 Expansion & Connectivity Options
Article Author(s) = Graham Needham (BH)
Article Created On = 18th June 2013
Article Last Updated = 10th August 2016
Article URL = http://www.macstrategy.com/article.php?110

Article Brief Description:
A list of Thunderbolt v1 and v2 expansion and connectivity options/products

Thunderbolt v1/v2 Expansion & Connectivity Options

Thunderbolt (codenamed Light Peak) is an interface technology developed by Intel and adopted by Apple in 2011. Modern Apple Mac computers now only have Thunderbolt and USB3 ports with FireWire ports being dropped altogether. The newest Mac models with Thunderbolt 2 have limited internal expansion capabilities. This article is a list of some of the best external Thunderbolt expansion options available. We'll regularly update the article with up-to-date product information so please do check back.

Thunderbolt cables are available as copper or optical and Thunderbolt carries PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort (DP) as one signal alongside electrical power, transmitted over one cable. Up to six peripherals can be supported by one connector through various topologies as long as the expansion device has a Thunderbolt connector on it itself otherwise the device becomes the "end of the line".

There are currently three versions of Thunderbolt:
  • v3 - up to 40Gbit/s - supports 2x4K monitors and up to 100W power (launched 2nd June 2015 with USB-C connector)
  • v2 - up to 20Gbit/s - supports 1x4K monitor (launched 2013)
  • v1 - up to 10Gbit/s (launched 2011)
If you're looking for information/products related to Thunderbolt v3 see this article

Q. Which Mac do I have?
A. You can check "Processor", "Memory" and macOS/OS X/Mac OS X "Version" by going to Apple menu > About This Mac > Overview tab if necessary (hint - clicking on the version number will give you the "build" number).
A. To check your Mac's "Model Name" go to Apple menu > About This Mac > Overview tab if necessary > check for the computer name in the top line e.g. "MacBook Pro" (this can only be checked with OS X 10.7 or later)
A. To check your Mac's model date version go to Apple menu > About This Mac > Overview tab if necessary > check the details after the Model Name e.g. "Early 2015" (this can only be checked with OS X 10.7 or later) - to be more specific and exact you can check what "Model Identifier" your Mac has by:
  • If you are running Mac OS X 10.6 or earlier go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "More Info…" button > (the System Profiler application will open) select "Hardware" in the top left > check what it says for 'Model Identifier' on the right.
  • If you are running OS X 10.7 or OS X 10.8 go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "More Info…" button > (the System Information application will open) select "Hardware" in the top left > check what it says for 'Model Identifier' on the right under 'Hardware Overview'.
  • If you are running OS X 10.9 or later go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "Overview" tab in the top left > click the "System Report…" button > (the System Information application will open) select "Hardware" in the top left > check what it says for 'Model Identifier' on the right under 'Hardware Overview'.
A. To check what graphics capability your Mac has:
  • If you are running Mac OS X 10.6 or earlier go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "More Info…" button > (the System Profiler application will open) select "Graphics/Displays" under 'Hardware' in the top left (click the triangle down if necessary) > click on the 'Video Card' on the right to see the technical information below.
  • If you are running OS X 10.7 or OS X 10.8 go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "More Info…" button > (the System Information application will open) select "Graphics/Displays" under 'Hardware' in the top left (click the triangle down if necessary) > click on the 'Video Card' on the right to see the technical information below.
  • If you are running OS X 10.9 or later go to Apple menu > About This Mac > click the "Overview" tab in the top left > click the "System Report…" button > (the System Information application will open) select "Graphics/Displays" under 'Hardware' in the top left (click the triangle down if necessary) > click on the 'Video Card' on the right to see the technical information below.
A. To check your Mac's "Model Number" it is usually printed/engraved on the outside of the computer somewhere (it usually begins with the letter A or M).
Q. How can I tell which version of macOS / OS X / Mac OS X I am running?
A. Go to Apple menu (top left) > About This Mac > check the version reported for macOS / OS X / Mac OS X.

If you know your Mac has a Thunderbolt port click here to skip straight to the product listings.

Apple Mac Models Supporting Thunderbolt

MacBook Air 11-inch
  • MacBook Air 11", Mid 2011 (1.6/1.8GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookAir4,1] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Air 11", Mid 2012 (1.7/2.0GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookAir5,1] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Air 11", Mid 2013 (1.3/1.7GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookAir6,1] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Air 11", Early 2014 (1.4/1.7GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookAir6,1] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Air 11", Early 2015 (1.6GHz/2.2GHz dual-core i5/i7) [Identifier MacBookAir7,1] 1x Thunderbolt v2 port
MacBook Air 13-inch
  • MacBook Air 13", Mid 2011 (1.7/1.8GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookAir4,2] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Air 13", Mid 2012 (1.8/2.0GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookAir5,2] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Air 13", Mid 2013 (1.4/1.7GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookAir6,2] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Air 13", Early 2014 (1.4/1.7GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookAir6,2] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Air 13", Early 2015 (1.6GHz/2.2GHz dual-core i5/i7) [Identifier MacBookAir7,2] 1x Thunderbolt v2 port
MacBook Pro 13-inch
  • MacBook Pro 13", Early 2011 (2.3/2.7GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookPro8,1] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Pro 13", Late 2011 (2.4/2.8GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookPro9,2] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Pro 13", Mid 2012 (2.5/2.9GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookPro9,2] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
MacBook Pro 13-inch - Retina Display
  • MacBook Pro 13", Late 2012 (2.5/2.9GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookPro10,2] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
  • MacBook Pro 13", Early 2013 (2.6/3.0GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier MacBookPro10,2] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
  • MacBook Pro 13", Late 2013 (2.4/2.6/2.8GHz dual-core i5/i7) [Identifier MacBookPro11,1] 2x Thunderbolt v2 ports
  • MacBook Pro 13", Mid 2014 (2.6/2.8/3.0GHz dual-core i5/i7) [Identifier MacBookPro11,1] 2x Thunderbolt v2 ports
  • MacBook Pro 13", Early 2015 (2.7/2.9/3.1GHz dual-core i5/i7) [Identifier MacBookPro12,1] 2x Thunderbolt v2 ports
MacBook Pro 15-inch
  • MacBook Pro 15", Early 2011 (2.0/2.2/2.3GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier MacBookPro8,2] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Pro 15", Late 2011 (2.2/2.4/2.5GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier MacBookPro8,2] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Pro 15", Mid 2012 (2.3/2.6/2.7GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier MacBookPro9,1] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
MacBook Pro 15-inch - Retina Display
  • MacBook Pro 15", Mid 2012 (2.3/2.6/2.7GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier MacBookPro10,1] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
  • MacBook Pro 15", Early 2013 (2.4/2.7/2.8GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier MacBookPro10,1] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
  • MacBook Pro 15", Late 2013 (2.0/2.3/2.8GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier MacBookPro11,2] 2x Thunderbolt v2 ports
  • MacBook Pro 15", Mid 2014 (2.2/2.5/2.8GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier MacBookPro11,2/11,3] 2x Thunderbolt v2 ports
  • MacBook Pro 15", Mid 2015 (2.2/2.5/2.8GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier MacBookPro11,4/11,5] 2x Thunderbolt v2 ports
MacBook Pro 17-inch
  • MacBook Pro 17", Early 2011 (2.2/2.3GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier MacBookPro8,3] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • MacBook Pro 17", Late 2011 (2.4/2.5GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier MacBookPro8,3] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
iMac 21.5"
  • iMac 21.5", Mid 2011 (2.5/2.7/2.8GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier iMac12,1] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • iMac 21.5", Late 2012 (2.7/2.9/3.1GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier iMac13,1] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
  • iMac 21.5", Early 2013 (3.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i3) [Identifier iMac13,1] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
  • iMac 21.5", Late 2013 (2.7/2.9/3.1GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier iMac14,1 or 14,3] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
  • iMac 21.5", Mid 2014 (1.4GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier iMac14,4] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
  • iMac 21.5", Late 2015 (1.6GHz dual-core i5/2.8GHz quad-core i5) [Identifier iMac16,1] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
iMac 21.5" - Retina Display
  • iMac 21.5", Late 2015 (Retina 4K - 3.1GHz quad-core i5) [Identifier iMac16,2] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
iMac 27"
  • iMac 27", Mid 2011 (2.7GHz/3.1GHz/3.4GHz quad-core i5) [Identifier iMac12,2] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
  • iMac 27", Late 2012 (2.9GHz/3.2GHz/3.4GHz quad-core i5) [Identifier iMac13,2] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
  • iMac 27", Late 2013 (3.2GHz/3.4GHz/3.5GHz quad-core i5) [Identifier iMac14,2] 2x Thunderbolt v1 ports
iMac 27" - Retina Display
  • iMac 27", Late 2014 (Retina 5K - 3.5GHz/4.0GHz quad-core i5/i7) [Identifier iMac15,1] 2x Thunderbolt v2 ports
  • iMac 27", Mid 2015 (Retina 5K - 3.3GHz quad-core i5) [Identifier iMac15,1] 2x Thunderbolt v2 ports
  • iMac 27", Late 2015 (Retina 5K - 3.2GHz/3.3GHz quad-core i5/4.0GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier iMac17,1] 2x Thunderbolt v2 ports
mini
  • mini, Mid 2011 (2.3/2.5GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier Macmini5,1] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • mini, Mid 2011 (2.7GHz dual-core i7) [Identifier Macmini5,2] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • mini, Late 2012 (2.5GHz dual-core i5) [Identifier Macmini6,1] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • mini, Late 2012 (2.3/2.6GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier Macmini6,2] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • mini, Late 2014 (1.4/2.6/2.8/3.0GHz dual-core i5/i7) [Identifier Macmini7,1] 2x Thunderbolt v2 ports
mini Server
  • mini Server, Mid 2011 (2.0GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier Macmini5,3] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
  • mini Server, Late 2012 (2.3/2.6GHz quad-core i7) [Identifier Macmini6,2] 1x Thunderbolt v1 port
Mac Pro (Black)
  • Mac Pro, Late 2013 (3.7GHz quad-core) [Identifier MacPro6,1] 3x Thunderbolt v2 controllers with 6x v2 ports
  • Mac Pro, Late 2013 (3.5GHz 6-core) [Identifier MacPro6,1] 3x Thunderbolt v2 controllers with 6x v2 ports
  • Mac Pro, Late 2013 (3.0GHz 8-core) [Identifier MacPro6,1] 3x Thunderbolt v2 controllers with 6x v2 ports
  • Mac Pro, Late 2013 (2.7GHz 12-core) [Identifier MacPro6,1] 3x Thunderbolt v2 controllers with 6x v2 ports

Thunderbolt Products

Adapters and Cables
  • Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter - buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Apple Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 Adapter - buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Apple Thunderbolt v1 Cable (0.5m white/black) - buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Apple Thunderbolt v1 Cable (2.0m white/black) - buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Kanex Thunderbolt to eSATA + USB 3.0 adapter (part code = KTU10 / 814556017173) - buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Sonnet Echo ExpressCard Pro (part code = ECHOPRO-E34) - buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
Monitors
  • LG 21:9 Curved UltraWide LED 34" (model number = 34UC87M) - buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Apple Thunderbolt Display (27-inch) - buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • NOTE: You can daisy chain two Apple Thunderbolt Displays together but you cannot use one and then put a normal DVI monitor at the end of the chain using an adapter.
4K/UltraHD TVs and Monitors
NOTE: 4K monitor support requires DisplayPort v1.2 - only available on the Mac Pro (Black - Late 2013 models or later) or HDMI v1.4 - only available on the MacBook Pro (Retina Display - Late 2013)/Mac Pro (Black - Late 2013) models or later.
NOTE: You are recommended to upgrade to OS X 10.9.3 or later to use 4K/UltraHD output.
NOTE: Apple has published a guide to using 4K displays and Ultra HD TVs with Mac computers.
NOTE: Apple has issued a technical article on using multiple displays with a Mac Pro (Black - Late 2013 model or later).
NOTE: 4K/UltraHD monitors can operate at either 30Hz and/or 60Hz. Check what you require and what the monitor supports before purchasing.
Docking Stations/Docks
  • Startech Thunderbolt 2 Dual-Monitor Docking Station (UK part code = TB2DOCK4K2DP)
    • 2 additional Thunderbolt v2 ports
    • 2x DisplayPort (20 pin) video out ports (supports 2560x1600 + 2560x1600)
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 1x 6Gbps eSATA port
    • 3x USB 3.0 ports (1 of which is "Fast-Charge" compatible)
    • 1x Toslink (SPDIF/Optical) output port
    • 1x 3.5mm Headphone Output jack
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Input Jack
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Startech Thunderbolt2 4K Docking Station (UK part code = TB2DOCK4KDHC)
    • 2 additional Thunderbolt v2 ports
    • 1x HDMI video out port
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 1x 6Gbps eSATA port
    • 3x USB 3.0 ports (1 of which is "Fast-Charge" compatible)
    • 1x Toslink (SPDIF/Optical) output port
    • 1x 3.5mm Headphone Output jack
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Input Jack
    • Kensington security lock
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock (UK part code = 1TS108101002)
    • 1 additional Thunderbolt v2 port
    • 1x HDMI 1.4b video out port (4096 x 2160 resolution, HDCP compliant)
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 1x 3.5mm Headphone Output (amplified analog stereo)
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Microphone Input (mono)
    • 3x USB 3.0 ports
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock (UK part code = F4U085vf)
    • 1 additional Thunderbolt v2 port (supports 4K cinema resolution with OS X 10.10)
    • 1x HDMI port
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 1x 3.5mm Headphone Output jack
    • 2x USB 3.0 ports
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Highpoint RocketStor 6351A Thunderbolt 2 (UK part code = 6351A)
    • 1 additional Thunderbolt v2 port
    • 1x 6Gbps eSATA port
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Output (analog stereo, via built-in DAC)
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Microphone Input (mono, via built-in DAC)
    • 2x USB 3.0 ports
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • AKiTiO Thunder2 Dock (UK part code = T2D-THSB3IAS-AKTU)
    • 1 additional Thunderbolt v2 port
    • 2x eSATA ports
    • 2x USB 3.0 ports
    • 1x FireWire 800 port
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 2
    • 1 additional Thunderbolt v2 port
    • 1x HDMI 1.4b port
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 3x USB 3.0 ports
    • 2x eSATA ports (6Gb/s)
    • 1x 3.5mm Headphone Output jack
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Input Jack
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
    buy it now with 1m Thunderbolt cable Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Elgato Thunderbolt Dock (UK part code = TBDOCKHDPBC)
    • 1 additional Thunderbolt v1 port
    • 1x HDMI 1.4 video out port
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Output (analog stereo, via built-in DAC)
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Microphone Input (mono, via built-in DAC)
    • 3x USB 3.0 ports
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Startech Thunderbolt (Laptop) Docking Station (UK part code = TBDOCKHDPBC)
    • 2 additional Thunderbolt v1 ports
    • 1x HDMI video out port
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 1x 3.5mm Headphone Output jack
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Input Jack
    • 3x USB 3.0 ports
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock (UK part code = F4U055ukAPL)
    • 1 additional Thunderbolt v1 port
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 1x FireWire 800 port
    • 1x 3.5mm Headphone Output jack
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Input Jack
    • 3x USB 3.0 ports
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Matrox DS1/DVI Thunderbolt Docking Station
    • 1x DVI video out port (DVI-D single-link 25-pin female connector 1920 x 1200 @ 60 fps maximum resolution)
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 3x USB 3.0 ports
    • 1x 3.5mm Headphone Output jack
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Input Jack
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Matrox DS1/HDMI Thunderbolt Docking Station
    • 1x HDMI video out port
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 3x USB 3.0 ports
    • 1x 3.5mm Headphone Output jack
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Input Jack
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • Sonnet Echo 15+ Thunderbolt Dock
    • DVD±RW drive / Blu-Ray player / 2TB or 4TB hard drive options
    • 1 additional Thunderbolt v1 port
    • 2x 3Gb/s eSATA ports
    • 1x FireWire 800 port
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 4x USB 3.0 ports
    • 2x 3.5mm Headphone Output jack
    • 2x 3.5mm Audio Input Jack
    Dock with DVD±RW drive (part number = ECHO-DK-DVD-0TB)
    Dock with DVD±RW drive + 2TB drive (part number = ECHO-DK-DVD-2TB)
    Dock with Blu-ray player (part number = ECHO-DK-BD-0TB)
    Dock with Blu-ray player + 2TB drive (part number = ECHO-DK-BD-2TB)
    Dock with Blu-ray player + 4TB drive (part number = ECHO-DK-BD-4TB)
  • LaCie eSATA Hub
    • 1 additional Thunderbolt v1 port
    • 2x 3Gb/s eSATA ports
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • CalDigit Thunderbolt Station
    • 1 additional Thunderbolt v1 port
    • 1x HDMI port
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 3x USB 3.0 ports
    • 1x 3.5mm Headphone Output jack
    • 1x 3.5mm Audio Input Jack
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon UK Buy it now at Amazon USA
  • OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock (OWCTB2DOCK12P - not available in the UK)
    • 1 additional Thunderbolt v2 port
    • 1x HDMI port (supports 4K resolution)
    • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
    • 1x 3.5mm audio output jack
    • 1x 3.5mm audio input jack
    • 1x FireWire 800 ports
    • 5x USB 3.0 ports
    buy it now at Buy it now at Amazon USA
Hard Drives and SSDs (Desktop)
Hard Drives and SSDs (Mobile)
Hard Drive Enclosures/Docks
NOTE: Special information on using drives that are larger than 2TB.
Hard Drives and SSDs (RAID1 - no drives)
Hard Drives and SSDs (RAID1 - with 2 drives)
Hard Drives and SSDs (Large RAID - no drives)
Large RAID or specialist drives
Expansion Cards and External Chassis
NOTE: Check chassis are big enough for dimensions of the particular PCIe card that you wish to use!
Audio

Article Keywords: Macintosh MacBook Pro Air mini server iMac Mac Pro Thunderbolt 1 2 v1 v2 light peak lightpeak expansion cards chassis products adapters adaptors cables docks monitors screens

This article is © MacStrategy » a trading name of Burning Helix. Apple, the Apple logo, and Mac are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.


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