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Apple Cinema Display 27″ Thunderbolt or Dell U3011 30″ Monitor?

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I was looking for a good external monitor for my MacBook Air (MBA). To be frank, I was actually drooling on the Apple new 27″ Thunderbolt display that can provide great connectivity to my MBA! With just one cable (Thunderbolt connection), I can then use the Apple Cinema Display (ACD) as a perfect docking station that provide not just an external display but also various ports (USB, firewire…etc.) to my MBA!

I gave myself a few days cool off time before deciding. Of course, I have to let my wallet cool off as well, since the MBA has already burnt a whole…and my credit card bill hasn’t arrived. It will be too heart burdening seeing the bill later…

I love researching on the internet on the information of the ACD and Dell U3011. Below are some findings that I would like to share:

Apple Cinema Display 27″ Thunderbolt


Pro: Easy connectivity with just one cable to the thunderbolt port of the MBA. It provides power supply to the MBA as well, so it saves the trouble of external socket power to the MBA when running! Slightly cheaper than Dell U3011 (RM3.1k).


It is 27″ with 2560 x 1440 resolution. Dell U3011 is 30″ with 2560 x 1600 resolution. This means the Dell is going to show fonts and picture bigger, hence easier to read.

Only one year warranty. Dell offers 3 years.

No zero dead pixel guarantee. Dell does.

Using Thunderbolt display is good, but that is only for Apple product. No other product in the market that support thunderbolt connection at the moment. It means the display is STUCK to Apple. No good in case if I want to change to Windows again.

Glossy screen. Hmm…definitely not for the room that I am working now. Reflection is way too strong and I can see myself on the screen constantly! Dell is matted.

Dell U3011 30″ Ultrasharp Monitor

This is the best monitor from Dell. I remember such huge monitor was at a very prohibited price few years back. The old Dell U3007 was selling at over RM6k when first introduced. This U3011 is the latest year 2011 model, and Dell is now having a promotion with RM1k off, making the price RM3.5k. This is quite an attractive deal, since a monitor can be used for long, and Dell offers 3 years warranty for it, meaning that I can at least use it for 3 years with a peaceful mind.

Dell is more expensive, but at RM3k price range for a monitor, a few hundred difference does not make much different now. What’s more important is to make the right decision so that the RM3k or RM3.5k spent is worthwhile and no regret.


The above is actually already the comparison. After lots of reading, youtube watching, specs comparison…my preference is more towards Dell U3011. However, there is a very critical problem that needs to be solved. How am I going to connect my MBA to the Dell monitor? The Dell U3011 does provides DVI port, Displayport (NOT Mini Displayport), HDMI…etc. Apple does not sell or provide mini displayport/thunderbolt to displayport solution.

There is Mini Displayport to DVI adapter from Apple, but that can only support upto maximum 1900 x 1200 resolution, definitely not for the Dell U3011 monitor (2560 x 1600). Apple does offer Mini Displayport to Dual Link DVI (support 2560 x 1600), but that adapter is costing over RM300. That’s quite a lot for an adapter, and performance is NOT guaranteed! Changing signal from Mini Displayport to DVI can be unpredictable and causing flickering or screen blackout.

The better connection would be a mini Displayport to Displayport adapter, so to connect to the Displayport socket on the Dell U3011. Apple does not offer this…and again thanks to the internet (macrumors, apple forum…etc.), I found monoprice.com that offer the cable at quite a low price (less than RM30), but shipping is over RM100. Still, no choice and that should be the best solution to connect the MBA to the Dell U3011.


Dell U3011 is my choice, for a better peace of mind. I shall write again when I have the monitor in front of me. (I guess I will need a new working desk for the monitor…

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