How to set up Thunderbolt display on Windows 10

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Former Managing Editor
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How to connect a display through thunderbolt on windows 10
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Nowadays we have faster and faster connections between all our devices, and many of them are wireless. That wasn’t always the case.

In the past years, Thunderbolt was the standard for fastest data transfer and today we’ll find out how you can connect your display through it.

What is Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt is an input/output technology introduced five years ago by Apple, famous for supporting high-resolution displays and high-performance data devices with a single port.

Its main characteristics are flexibility, speed and simplicity. This technology gives you two channels on the same connector and each channel has a data transfer speed of 10 Gb/s in both directions.

Thunderbolt is one method of connecting a display to a computer, but not a very popular one. The most appreciated are HDMI, DVI, VGA and DisplayPort.

Today, most of the VGA and DVI ports were replaced with DisplayPort. HDMI is used for flat screen TVs and smart TVs because you can connect that port to different extensions like Blu-Ray players, game consoles, computers and much more.

The original project was patented by Intel under the name of Light Peak. The first version of this technology appeared in 2010 but was more like a beta.

The following year, Intel released the product co-developed version with Apple. PC manufacturers rejected the Light Peak version because its fiber optics technology was too expensive and the Thunderbolt version seemed like a more profitable option.

One problem with Thunderbolt monitors is that they have a specific connector for Apple devices. A Thunderbolt screen should work on any PC that has a Thunderbolt port, but many of you wouldn’t buy one without a guarantee it would work.

And while Thunderbolt 3 has adopted a new USB Type-C port, this port is not compatible with any kind of PC.

Can I use an Apple Thunderbolt screen with a Windows 10 PC?

Technically, yes.

As we said, you need a system with a Thunderbolt port and, if you are lucky, you will be able to use this type of monitor on a PC. Wikipedia has a list with almost all the devices compatible with Thunderbolt and on the Thunderbolt official website you can find also a database with all these devices.

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At this moment, we recommend you the latest model Dell XPS, because almost all of them have Type-C ports and those will be compatible with Thunderbolt 3.

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Z77A-GD80 – A motherboard with Thunderbolt port

This is another option for connecting this kind of screen. This motherboard has three display outputs: Thunderbolt, VGA and HDMI. It supports USB 3.0 and 6GB/s SATA.

The latest processor model supported is i7 and you can add up to 32GB RAM memory. You can buy this motherboard from the official website of the developers.

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Establish connection via an adapter

To solve this problem, computer manufacturers have introduced different adapters on the market for these types of monitors. We recommend you the DisplayPort adapters.

Of course, there are adapters for any  kind of video format, but there is a very small price difference between an HDMI or VGA adapter and a DisplayPort adapter.

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Set-up guide for Thunderbolt 3

After you made sure that the system and your drivers are up to date and your computer is compatible with Thunderbolt display, after connecting, you should receive a notification called New Thunderbolt devices have been attached.

  1. In the notification window, you have two buttons: OK and Cancel. To start the set-up click on the OK button and it will run the configuration as an administrator.
  2. After this, you may receive a Windows User Account Control (UAC) pop-up which is asking if you want to allow this app to make changes to your PC. Click on Yes button.
  3. It will appear a window where you will approve the Thunderbolt device that was attached. For every device, there is a table. From that table, change the status from Do Not Connect to Always Connect and then click OK.
  4. To view and manage the approved settings, click on the carret (up arrow icon) from the start menu bar. Right click on the Thunderbolt icon and click on the Manage Approved Devices.
  5. Again, you may receive a Windows User Account Control (UAC) pop-up which is asking if you want to allow this app to make changes to your PC. Click on Yes button.
  6. After clicking Yes, it will open a window with all the Thunderbolt devices connected to your PC. Make sure that the devices have a check at Attached category.

If you still have trouble setting up the thunderbolt display on your PC, you can contact Apple support department for a correct diagnosis and more efficient solutions.

Did you manage to connect your Thunderbolt display to your Windows 10 PC? Tell us in the comments below if the process was seamless or do you still prefer a HDMI connection.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published in September 2016 and was revamped and updated in May 2019 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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  • Question, can I connect my Lenovo Thinkpad X1 carbon to Thunderbolt display? is it possible? I have tried connecting with a “Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter” and not working… 🙁 do I need to download any drivers??? please help! Thanks!

    • Hi Angelica, I want to try the exact same setup: Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon (Generation 8) to Apple Thunderbolt Display. Did you find a working solution? I would need and want to use the internal webcam and speakers of the Monitor as well. Thank you for your reply!

  • I have hP Pavilion windows 10 laptop with HDMI and type-c USB and thunderbolt display with thunderbolt 2 port. i have a adapter with thunderbolt to HDMI. I connected my laptop with HDMI wire with port and connected to thunderbolt port in the display. It is not working.

    I am using mac book pro with thunderbolt display with TB-2 port (brought in 2012). I am trying to use this display with laptop any possibility, if yes how i can do it.My idea is slowly not to use the mac book pro and use the laptop instead. Mac book pro is old and now it is becoming very expensive to buy new MBP. I already brought laptop advance one but want to use the thunderbolt display

  • Does anyone know where to get the thunderbolt drivers from? i’ve got the display and the correct adapter for my PC i just need to know where the drivers can be downloaded from