Before we go any further, if you are on team $1000 apple thunderbolt display. We get it, apple displays are perfect and worth every penny to you. Pretty much everyone would kill for a thunderbolt display. This is my story how I got the exact same quality display for half the price.
There are many different brands that package the same panel and the prices vary. Some have poor build quality (including the circuitry) and other have really nice stands. The three big names are Yamakasi Catleap, Achieva Shimian and Crossover. Do your research by reading the forums - there are literally thousands of pages of information on this.
Most of these monitors are sold on ebay. Monoprice recenrly started to sell their own brand. I bought mine off a seller called 'Dream Seller' who shipped it free from Korea in a shocking 3 days.
You run the risk of getting a few dead pixels or back light bleeding. I paid an extra ~$25 for a pixel perfect version and I have zero dead pixels and no backlight bleed. Many buyers risk the dead pixels and end up with perfect displays, others have a few dead pixels.
These are barebones as it gets, DVI only and no on screen display.
I bought a Crossover Q27 LED because it has the best build quality with a metal bezel and stand. I replaced the stand with a monoprice arm because I found it less bulky. If you are considering the Crossover Q27 LED and have neck problems, go for the Crossover Q27 LED-P which has a stand that allows for pivoting and moving up/down.
The above is Apple's version, and it doesn't come cheap at around $150. There are other companies including StarTech and Monoprice that put out cheaper, and supposedly better, adaptors for around $100-120. No cheap, so keep this in mind when factoring in the price of the monitor. These adaptors require a USB port, which is purely for power. The apple one gives you a passthrough so you don't lose a precious port. I plugged mine into a powered hub and it works fine.
I'm running this on a mid 2010 macbook pro. It's important to note here that even if you have a newer model with thunderbolt, you still need to buy this adaptor. I found a cheap one on Craigslist.
If you live in a european country that runs on 250V - you need to make sure you buy a proper power pick. Do not fry your monitor!
There isn't much of a warranty with these things past the initial delivery, this is one of the major downsides. There is no Apple store appointments for these monitors. Luckily, I was able to pop my ebay listing # into SquareTrade and they sold me a 3 year warranty for $50. Totally worth the peace of mind.
Display port to Dual link DVI Converter $60 (craigslist)
Monoprice Monitor Arm - $20 off craigslist
Duty - $60 (I was one of the only instances I could find online where poeple got nailed by customs. Oh well, oh Canada).
Total: $520 taxes in
Hope this was helpful and saves you hours of searching. In the picture above, I'm also using a USB to DVI converter from displaylink to run the third display.
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