Potential solution for adding a Thunderbolt Display to a 2016 Apple Macbook Pro

Should Apple come up later 2016 with the new MacBook Pro, it is likely that they will not contain a Thunderbolt 1 port. The question hence arises, how you would connect an existing Thunderbolt 1 Display. Of course, Apple is also reported to come up with new (5k) displays, but why would you replace yours if it still works fine.

Following up a kind reference of user jeeva on the Heise forum, I’ve been on the chat today with Startech who make this product, also available via Amazon. We also know that the current MacBook (not Pro, the slim one) does not support the Thunderbolt display, as it does not have Thunderbolt 3. So I went on Startech’s chat and spoke to Brandon, one of their support engineers. Below is the transcript.

TL;DR: If Apple does not reduce Thunderbolt 3 functionality in their upcoming MacBooks, it should work fine, including daisy chaining. StarTech will also undertake tests on their end once the new hardware becomes available from Apple, and publish them, so that you’ll be able to verify ahead of time whether this is a solution for you. If it is, it might meet a large user base (basically, all owners of Apple Thunderbolt displays).

Please hold, a StarTech.com advisor will be with you shortly… 10:46
You are now connected to Brandon 10:47
Brandon: Thank you for contacting StarTech.com. My name is Brandon.  10:47
Matthias Nott: Hi Brandon 10:47
I saw this adapter: TBT3TBTADAP 10:47
Newer Macs are supposed to be with TB 3 / USB-C. will it be possible to connect them to TB 1 hardware, like a TB Display? 10:47
Brandon: Using this adapter on TB3, you should be able to connect all TB1/2 devices. I will note no testing has been done as obviously on the unreleased MacBook and still in the speculation phase on whether it will be Thunderbolt 3 for sure. As long as Apple opts to include it and does not strip away any of the features you should be fine with this adapter.  10:50
Matthias Nott: Would it work on the currently available Macbook (not pro, not air)? 10:50
Brandon: No, as they do not have Thunderbolt 3.  10:50
Matthias Nott: OK, so if I understand, Apple would have to put TB3 on the new mac(book)s, so to have a chance to have your adapter work to bridge the gap to the TB display, right? 10:51
Brandon: Correct, without true Thunderbolt 3, not to be confused with USB 3.1 USB-C ports, there is no way to connect a TB device.  10:52
Matthias Nott: Will the adapter then also support dasy chaining? I’ve the display’s second TB port connect to a Belkin TB hub, to which then is connected like a TB disk, Gigabit Ethernet, and some USB3 devices. 10:53
(the belkin hub and the disk are TB 1) 10:54
Brandon: Daisy chaining would be supported, again assuming Apple does not reduce functionality. Typically daisy chaining is a feature of the connected device anyhow, so in theory it should also work just fine.  10:55
Matthias Nott: Would you carry out tests and publish them so that customers would be informed ahead of moving to newer hardware (esp. Apple) – this could close a large gap if it was possible. I’m not aware of any competing product, and if yours works with coming MacBooks, it would be of interest basically for all customers who are using TB displays. 10:56
Brandon: Once Apple finalizes the hardware and releases for testing we will be sure to complete all necessary testing to confirm functionality.  10:57
Matthias Nott: Thank you Brandon. That’s very valuable Information! 10:57
Brandon: You’re welcome, is there anything else I can help you with?  10:57
Matthias Nott: No, thanks. 10:57
Brandon: You are welcome. Thank you for contacting StarTech.com. Please feel free to contact us at another time should you require further assistance.

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