MacBook Air v MacBook Pro: Thunderbolt differences
If you are currently plotting and planning your way to a new MacBook Air—perhaps, even, as a primary machine—here’s yet another factor to take into account in addition to the sparse array of ports on the little computers. According to this report on AppleInsider, the new Thunderbolt port on the latest Airs is smaller and cheaper than those used on the Pros. This limits connections to one external display.
The larger machines use a Thunderbolt controller called Light Ridge, which features four bidirectional 10 Gbps channels and support for up to two external DisplayPort screens. In contrast, and in order to save space, the Airs get a scaled-down Eagle Ridge controller with only two channels and support for only one external monitor.
I had naively assumed that Thunderbolt was Thunderbolt. Now, it seems, we have to read the small print. It’s just another factor to weigh up when deciding to downscale from, say, a 15in MacBook Pro or, even a 13-in model, to the new slim Airs.