Thunderbolt Port on Your MacBook - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

Thunderbolt is literally more than 12 times faster than FireWire 800! Did you know that Thunderbolt, Apple’s latest external connection, is listed at 10 gigabits per second (or Gbps) instead of megabits per second (Mbps)? Here’s your technonerd trivia for the day: data on a 1 Gbps connection is moving as fast as data on a 1,000 Mbps connection.

Heck, Thunderbolt trumps even the recently-released USB 3.0 technology, which has a maximum speed of only 5 Gbps.

Thunderbolt’s sheer jump-to-warp speed performance allows something that’s never been possible before: MacBook Pro owners can edit uncompressed digital video in real-time on an external Thunderbolt hard drive! (That’s a chore that requires moving huge amounts of data very fast between your computer’s processor and hard drive, which until now simply wasn’t possible on an external drive.)

Thunderbolt is also versatile — it even allows a direct high-definition connection between your laptop and your HDMI flat-screen TV, or a superfast high-resolution monitor like the Apple LED Cinema Display.

A single Thunderbolt port can handle up to six peripherals, including a mixture of a high-resolution display and devices like hard drives and Blu-Ray recorders. And, like FireWire, Thunderbolt can provide plenty of power to a connected device as well.

Probably the only downside to Thunderbolt is that Thunderbolt devices are not generally available yet and are likely to be significantly more expensive than their USB or FireWire counterparts. Such is the sad lament of the early adopter of cutting-edge computer hardware!