Monday, January 9, 2017

LG Ultrafine 5K Reviews

Colin Cornaby:

I picked up the Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, and hoped my [2013] MacBook Pro would be able to drive this display.


There were pretty obvious signs that this wasn’t an Apple product. The display was wrapped in a foil textured sort of wrap instead of the soft paper Apple uses. And the display very unhelpfully came with an Energy Star sticker pre-applied directly on the screen, which was at least easy to peel off. I’ve only bought Apple displays (with a display I borrowed for a gaming PC being the only exception), so the noticeable decline in packaging quality was bittersweet.


I downloaded SwitchResX which revealed something very interesting about how Apple handles the LG Ultrafine on older Macs. Apple is rendering the screen at 5k, but then downsampling it to 4k and sending it to the display. So my computer acts as if it is attached to a 5k display, even though it can push a 4k image. That’s a really clever enhancement that almost makes this display worth it for older Mac owners. Even with only 4k output, it could be a great drop in replacement for an Apple Thunderbolt Display, with a noticeable increase in image quality and P3 support (with a bit of help from SwitchResX.) Apple has clearly thought about the Apple Thunderbolt Display sized hole that is being left in their lineup for Macs that haven’t rolled over from Thunderbolt 2 yet.

Rene Ritchie:

That’s not to say Apple didn’t have a lot to do with the engineering — everything that makes it work so well with a MacBook Pro using just one Thunderbolt 3 cable. But the outside, what we look at, is nothing like Apple.

There are also compromises here. That gorgeous image and convenient charging all in one cable comes at a price — there’s precious little bandwidth left for other ports and peripherals.


That asterisk is Apple recommending you not use the LG display as the primary display on a Mac mini or Mac Pro, since it may not light up until after you boot, rendering pre-boot options unusable. Sadness.


Rumor has it the LG UltraFine 5K display uses the same if not a very similar panel to the iMac with Retina 5K display. To my eyes, though, it isn’t as glossy. That’ll please those who prefer more matte displays. Personally, though, I find the slight difference distracting and would have preferred if LG had finished it to match the MacBook Pro exactly. It’s especially noticeable when looking at both the MacBook Pro and the LG display at an angle.

Robert Gottlieb:

I have to plug in my ethernet to usb-c directly to my laptop to get the full speed out of it. I’m guessing something about the 5 GB connections on the back is limiting it somehow :( I’m thoroughly unimpressed with this monitor now. I do like the display but there are so many inconveniences so far that I’m seriously considering taking it back. But then I’m stuck with: What do I replace it with? Do I adapt a display port to usb-c and use up another port to power my mac with it’s power brick?

Luk Vandal:

If I had to do it again, I’d keep my iMac 5K/rMBP combo and wait a year or 2 until Apple solves USB-C and DisplayPort issues.

Peter Zignego:

It’s almost as if by not controlling the product start to finish Apple is sacrificing quality here.

Previously: MacBook Pro Ethernet Adapter Benchmark.

Update (2017-01-12): Ken Yarmosh:

After just a day of use, we’re planning to return the new LG UltraFine 5K monitors to Apple. Performance issues and poorly designed.

James Dempsey:

Just got told by @AppleSupport to contact LG support about 5K monitor. This was so much better when Apple made the whole widget.

It’s my newly delivered LG 5K display in its little-known ‘Two Pixel Mode’.

Its either this or blank connecting new MBP in clamshell mode.

Max Schoening:

1 out of 5 times plugging in the 5K LG monitor into a MBP throw a kernel panic. 1 out of 8 connected peripherals don’t work.

Ortwin Gentz:

Received my UltraFine 5K display today. Sadly it’s DOA. Works only with Apple Power brick attached and then kernel_task spins up to >100%.

Update (2017-01-25): Adam C. Engst (MacRumors):

TidBITS recently published an ExtraBITS link pointing at a Reddit thread claiming that Apple had removed reviews from the Apple Store page for the LG UltraFine 5K Display (see “Apple Pulls LG UltraFine 5K Display Reviews,” 23 January 2017). We have since learned that Apple never turned reviews on for that product, possibly because it was available only for pre-order for some time before shipping.

Update (2017-07-31): Matej Bukovinski:

Image retention on my LG 5k has gotten severe enough for people to read my Slack conversations on the lock screen for minutes.

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