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How can I fix my display blacking out intermittently?

I've had the Apple Thunderbolt Display for a little more than a year, and it has started to intermittently go black for a few seconds at a time. When it does, I usually lose connection to my usb devices connected through the display. If I let it go on, it blanks more and more frequently until the system kernel panics.

So far, I've tried cleaning the contacts with rubbing alcohol. This made them more visually attractive, but did not solve the problem.

Second, I tried using another macbook pro, but it had the same issue.

I've noticed that the thunderbolt connector heats up significantly when it's in use. I'm wondering if there's a heat-related issue that could be causing a broken connection in the electronics inside the connector. Any thoughts?

Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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OMG same here I thought I was alone.

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@Julian - Make sure to get the firmware update (see below).

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I have found that the All-In-One Cable goes bad and results in an intermittent blacking out. I have had to replace mine every 12-18 months.

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I had the same problem, and it grew worse with time. The issue was the Thunderbolt cable failing just behind the computer thunderbolt connection, right where the cable protector terminates. Had the same issue with an IPad Thunderbolt powersupply cable. My gripe is that replacing the power/data cable for the display is a tedious and challenging task. A simple plug on the back of the monitor as other manufactures use would have been good, but noting that Apple does not sell the cable, my guess is that Apple wants the user to have to buy a new monitor. Sad way to do business.

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Chosen Solution

The heat is expected as the Thunderbolt cable has some electronics in the connector which does heat up.

I would focus on the power supply in the display. Heres a similar Question Why is my LED cinema display switching on and off?

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Possible that it's the power supply, but the magsafe adapter still works. Also, when the usb connectivity goes down, the usb devices would still be powered.

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I agree with Mayer - Make sure you're not overloading things. The power supply inside the display has different voltage services, so its' possible the display power side is having issues and not effecting the MagSafe connection for the laptop.

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Most Helpful Answer

See if disconnecting all the USB and firewire you have that might be drawing power. See it the issue persists or takes longer to go out. It probably is a power supply but something may be drawing to much power.

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I disconnected the USB devices and the ethernet cable. So far, everything's working great! I'll see if it continues working. If so, you think a power supply replacement is the proper fix?

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What were the USB devices? Do any of them draw power from the USB? Plug in just one at a time for 20 minutes or till you get a failure. See if you can locate the offending power drawing device.

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if you still have the display you will need to change the device board this has caused most of the problems in this display.

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There was a firmware update that fixed the problem

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Good Catch! it came out in Nov '14. Here's the Link: About Thunderbolt Display Firmware Update 1.2 It's part of Mavericks 10.9.4 or later.

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Mine has the firmware update (1.2) and still goes dark, requiring unplugging and replugging the monitor to restart it. A bit of a pain. Some else solved this by not using the built in thunderbolt cable but running a new to the port on the back. I may try that next.

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I tried that, it still goes black but way less frequently .

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This did not fix the problem.

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Does anyone know of New York City-based repair services for specifically thunderbolt display power supply

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try external thunderbolt display cable. i hope that will solve the problem. the heat you are noticing on connector is coming from PC which lead to connector. black out issue will be solved after the external thunderbolt monitor cable from apple.

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Do you mean that if I buy a new external Thunderbolt cable and connect it to the back of the display and then to my computer, it will solve the problem?

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No, that won't work. Thunderbolt is a TX to RX architecture. There is an expectation the attached cable in the display is connected to your Mac. The unused ports on the display are for a daisy-chained displays or other devices not the Mac system.

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To Dan,

This is incorrect. Thunderbolt is a bi-directional I/O. I have used a Thunderbolt Display with a separate Thunderbolt cable for years since the built-in cable was to short to reach the computer. The built-in cable actually becomes your daisy-chain option...

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Well ... Yes & No ;-} In this case the fastened cable within the display is designed to go into the system (RX), the ports on the display are designed to service other Thunderbolt devices (TX). Which is the framing of my answer (and correct here). - The iMac & MacBook Pro systems have a different Thunderbolt PHY logic which allows them to be connected back to back which is where your answer is correct. If you remember back in the old days of 10Mbps Ethernet we had physical polarity within the cable connectors. If you wanted to connect two systems back to back you needed a special cross-over cable so the Tx connection went to the Rx of the other devices PHY. Later on improvements in the PHY's (100Mbps) allowed the signals to be switched within the Ethernet hardware, so you could use either a straight-though or cross over cable the systems would know how to configure them selves - Magically!

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To Dan I have a MacBookPro An Air and a Mini all exhibiting the same problem with the attached display cable. using the external Thunderbolt cable into the unused port cured my problem

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turn off the sleep option, don't let it go to sleep. Mine would flicker occasionally and never wake up after sleeping. Turned off sleep function and have had ZERO issues in about 6 weeks.

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Works for a while then problem is back.. try turning the computer on then off and see what you get. a band aid solution. for a cash cow device.

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Hi Guys,

I have the same trouble what we need to do is change the powers supply, Mine is completely dead now and went with a bang it flickered did all that crap that every one else's display is doing from the very first day I got 3 years ago.

I really don't think there is any thing apple about this display of mine any more, I have change almost all of the parts in this display and all I need now is the Australian conversion power supply.

I need to find out where I can get one and how to replace it, cost of the part, oh yeah I live in Australia so I really need Australian power supply for the LCD thunderbolt display.

I did not know they made a LED display there is no led lighting in the thunder bolt I have pulled mine apart many times to fix problem after problem and apple want to make you pay $100's of dollars to fix it.

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Did anyone here actually get any of the repair ideas to work?

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no i still have the same problem and have change just about every thing in the display its self and have sold the original computer thinking it was the problem turns out the guy who bought my computer now has the same problem with his cinema display.

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I ordered now a new all in one cable on Ebay and a new power supply. Unfortunately the parts where only available in China for a reasonable price so it will take some time to receive them, but I will keep you updated.

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Thats OK! all apple products are a product of China anyway when you open them up they all say the same thing a product of China. So don't feel so bad that it ha to come from China. It wont take long i promise.

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Manuel, I'm curious if the new cable solved the problem for you. I've always had the same issue with mine.

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