Thunderbolt vs Mini DisplayPort: Difference and Comparison

When it comes to computers, there are all kinds of connectivity options that can be seen, whether physical or wireless. Both the desktops and laptops required connectors for external devices connection.

Many of the parts are not vital, but video ports are necessary because a computer cannot be used without a monitor.  

Laptops have a thin form factor, so they offer ports like Thunderbolt and DisplayPort for video output. They both have great running high-performance displays. To pick the right one, it is necessary to know the difference. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Thunderbolt combines data transfer and video output capabilities, while Mini DisplayPort solely supports video output.
  2. Thunderbolt offers faster data transfer speeds compared to Mini DisplayPort.
  3. Thunderbolt connectors are compatible with Mini DisplayPort devices, but Mini DisplayPort connectors cannot be used with Thunderbolt devices.

Thunderbolt vs Mini DisplayPort  

The difference between Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort is that   Thunderbolt requires a Thunderbolt monitor or an adapter to connect with other kinds of a monitor. On the other hand, Mini DisplayPort can be used in any monitor with a display port connector. Thunderbolt can support dual 4K 60HZ monitors or more, while Mini DisplayPort can support up to 2560 X 1600 monitors.  

Thunderbolt vs Mini DisplayPort

Thunderbolt is a technology of 1/0 which helps to combine fast transmission rates for audio, video streams, and data into one interface.

Intel Corporation was the developer of Thunderbolt, and in February 2011, Apple’s MacBook Pro was the first to use it. Light Peak was the original code name of Thunderbolt.  

Mini DisplayPort is a version of the interface of the display port, which was introduced in October 2008 and designed by apple. It uses a smaller socket and plugs as compared to the full-size display port.

The Mini DisplayPort, or simply Mini DP, was the foundation for the interface of Thunderbolt. It is also used on some Windows PCs. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonThunderboltMini DisplayPort
InterpretationIt is a combination between video output, PCI-E lanes, and USB.It is a miniature version of the DisplayPort video port.
DesignedFebruary 2011October 2008
DesignerIntel and AppleApple Inc
SupersededIEEE 1394DVI, Micro-DVI, Mini-DVI
SupportsDual 4K 60Hz monitors or moreUp to 2560 X 1600 monitor

What is Thunderbolt? 

Thunderbolt is a high-speed interface of 1/0 which is based on display port and PCI Express technologies. It supports both displays and data devices.

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Intel developed Thunderbolt, and Apple was the introducer in 2011. Due to the architecture of the PCI Express, it can now achieve performance that was previously possible only from internal components.  

Thunderbolt interface provides 10 Gpbs throughout in both directions. This means it is 20 times as fast as USB 2.0 and 12 times faster than FireWire 800.

FireWire 800 Interface supports only one 720p video stream, but the Thunderbolt interface can provide 8 simultaneous streams of 720p video.  

Like FireWire and USB, Thunderbolt offers power to connect peripheral devices. It means that external devices with the requirement of 10 watts or less of power can be directly powered from this port.

Simple adapters like FireWire, Ethernet, and USB can be used to connect Thunderbolt.  

Although, Thunderbolt is used as an interface for high-speed data but also be used to connect displays with high resolution.

A Thunderbolt interface can also be used to connect a monitor to the display port due to its being physically identical to the interface of Mini DisplayPort. 


What is Mini DisplayPort? 

The Mini DisplayPort, or simply Mini DP or mDP, is a less common or miniaturized version of the full-size display port.

In October 2008, Apple announced it, and by early 2013, this port was available on all new Apple Macintosh computers. In 2016, Apple started phasing out this port and started using USB- C connector.  

The Mini DisplayPort can also be fitted to video cards, PC motherboards, and PC notebooks from Microsoft, Lenovo, HP, Asus, Dell, Toshiba, and other manufacturers.

For the Mini DisplayPort, a free license is offered by Apple. But the right to cancel the license is also reserved by Apple.   

Mini DisplayPort performs better than video ports like HDMI, DVI- D, and others. The resolution screen can be up to 2560 X 1600, which is decent enough for the average user.

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If you are looking for 4K or 5K displays, then it is not meant for you.  

Apple replaced the DVI port from the Mac Mini, Mac Pro, MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air with the Mini DisplayPort.

It is a general connector for high compatibility with the displays of all display ports. But it fails to work with multi-display adapters. 

mini displayport

Main Differences Between Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort 

  1. Thunderbolt can be identified with a lightning bolt logo located on the port. On the flip side, Mini DisplayPort has a rectangular logo on the port with mainly two vertical bars.  
  2. Thunderbolt can be connected to adapters, docks, hubs, eGPUs, monitors, and more, whereas Mini DisplayPort can only connect to TVs or monitors with supported video ports.  
  3. When it comes to connectivity of the ports, Thunderbolt uses a connector of USB type C which allows connecting all kinds of devices to it. In contrast, a proprietary connector is used with Mini DisplayPort.  
  4. Thunderbolt works with adapters such as a USB, eGPU connector, ethernet, video output, and more. On the other hand, Mini DisplayPort works only as a video output port.  
  5. In terms of compatibility, Thunderbolt requires a Thunderbolt monitor or an adapter to connect with other kinds of monitors. But Mini DisplayPort can be used in any monitor with a connector of a display port. 
Difference Between Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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