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Z87 Mobo, Thunderbolt, and Apple Display

jferreir
  • 82 months ago

I want to build a custom PC that will work with the Apple Thunderbolt Display (ATD). The main reason is that I just love the aesthetics of the display, and I like the idea of having everything built into the screen (ports, camera, speakers), with only one wire connecting the two. However, the ATD is only officially supported in OS X, and when it's plugged into a compatible PC mobo, it's driven by the onboard GPU. Naturally, this presents a problem for any type of gaming.

I discovered that ASRock developed a clever workaround in their previous Z77 Extreme line:

"Essentially ASRock is taking the DP connection from the discrete graphics card, taking it into the motherboard through a DisplayPort input connection and then sending that back out the motherboard Thunderbolt header. More than likely this is simple electrical pass through and there isn't much or any logic going on to "trick" the system." http://www.pcper.com/news/Motherboards/ASRock-Z77-Extreme6TB4-Motherboard-Offers-Thunderbolt-Discrete-Graphics

Can someone please confirm that this is true for the Haswell based Z87 Extreme9 as well? If so, what are the chances that ASRock will release a similar mobo with Thunderbolt 2 support? I'm wondering if Apple will release a TB2 display in October, or if I should just focus on TB1 for now. I don't really know the difference between the two, but I want to future-proof as much as possible. If TB2 isn't required for the ATD, then I don't need it. I doubt I'll get a 4K display, and I think that's the only real-world application where TB2 would be necessary, right?

Assuming the Z87 works with the ATD as described above, is it safe to assume that I will have full functionality of the webcam, speakers and ports? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated as this will be my first build (in a few month's time...).

Comments

  • 82 months ago
  • 1 point

Keep in mind you are attempting something that is not validated and Apple does not produce drivers for the devices of the TB panel. As such you will need to "try and make it work" additionally Thunderbolt requires specialized UEFI implementation and potentially drivers dependent on the devices connections to ensure a smooth plug and play experience. Part of this is due to the fact Thunderbolt executes its plug and play and hot swap through PCIe which was not generally designed for this from a windows perspective. This is also why Intel generally requires all TB based devices to be validate to ensure they work as a consumer would expect. In regards to your inquiry there is nothing special about the Extreme board ASUS boards offer the same functionality it just requires Lucid Logix software to be installed to co leverage the iGPU and then a discrete GPU.

You can get this software no directly from Lucid for an additional cost but keep in mind there are limitations and considerations you need to be aware of relative to the functionality of how all of this work. Ideally I think you be better off no going in this direction and getting a great QHD monitor and then consider a USB 3.0 or even Thunderbolt docking solution if you want to have all your devices connected to something.

In this respect you could still have a great looking display and enable all the functionality you are looking for.

Hope this helps.

  • 82 months ago
  • 2 points

Argh, so again Apple ***** me over with their proprietary BS. It's a bloody peripheral... wouldn't they want to make it as compatible as possible? In effect, it's impossible to game with the ATD unless you buy a Mac Pro because their notebooks and the Mac Mini don't have enough GPU power to play on high settings.

Frankly, I haven't seen a single non-Apple display that I would want to put in my home. I hate black plastic and so many of the high quality apple-alternatives just look cheap. Nothing really compares with respect to design and build quality, so I'm effectively SOL.

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