Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Best Mac External Displays

Scharon Harding:

Apple held its fall event was today, and the stars of the show were the M1 Pro and M1 Max announced for the new MacBook Pros. We even got new AirPods and word on macOS Monterey. But all was quiet on the displays front. Hope for a larger iMac with Apple Silicon to accompany the 24-inch model announced in April was not rewarded, and the Apple Pro Display XDR is still Apple’s only standalone monitor. If you were waiting for today’s event to help you select the next screen to run macOS on, we feel your pain. We can’t force Apple to release new displays, but we can round up some non-Apple PC monitors worth considering if you need something now.

The best option still seems to be the LG 5K. I wonder whether it’s improved from the earlier models that so many people seemed to have problems with.

Marc Edwards:

If you’re considering an external display for your Mac, there’s a few important decisions to make.


Update (2021-10-21): Craig Mod:

because apple didn’t announce a new monitor on Monday, my old 22” 4K LG died today … there is no obvious replacement? I am so monitor befuddled. It’s a weird moment in the world of monitors. Goldilocks, where are you?

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

It's unfortunate that the industry has decided to use "hi res" to mean "high pixel count". This article really shouldn't be lumping together HiDPI/Retina density displays with the others (the Samsung is 108 dpi!).

I went shopping for a HiDPI external display this summer and found that the LG Ultrafine was the only reasonable option in the US under $3000. I bought the 2019 revision (27MD5KL-B) refurbished on Amazon for $1000.

It is, in a word, disappointing. All the reviews I've read about it are correct. The panel itself is very good (but glossy) and it does the things it claims to do on the box. However all the components around the panel (camera, mic, speakers, ports) are noticeably a notch below the quality you would get from Apple.

I think my 2015 Retina iMac has better sound and videoconferencing experience. It's also frustrating that it has no buttons (physical or onscreen) for adjusting the brightness; I use my laptop in clamshell mode with a custom keyboard and it's annoying to change the brightness. A few USB-A ports would help flesh out the docking capabilities.

All that said, I'd use it over a non-HiDPI external display any day. I just wish it were either cheaper or built to a higher quality standard. Without some competition I don't see that happening, though.

I wouldn't say I've been disappointed with my 2019 Ultrafine, but I wouldn't really recommend it either. I agree with all of Nick's comments, though I don't care so much about the quality of the mic and speakers that I never use.

I'd add that it's silly for a $1300 display to only have a single input. Even another Thunderbolt input with KVM capabilities would be good, DP or HDMI even better. As is I have to physically move cables to switch between my work laptop/home iMac/gaming box. Cheap Dell displays get this right.

I used one of the 5k LG monitors at a past job. It had horrible ghosting and burn-in problems. I would never buy one with my own funds.

I have been picking standard def pro-grade NEC monitors and have been very satisfied, which has made it worth the extra cost. It seems to me that color spectrum and a nice pixel pitch make more of a difference than pixel density. Plus, no gloss!

I am using Dell U2720Q UltraSharp 27 4K USB-C and happy with it as an external display for m1 macbook air and macbook pro 2016.

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