If you’ve had your eye on one of the attractive new MacBook Pros laptops, you’ve probably considered the possibility of adding an external display. Apple’s latest laptops are powerful enough to replace your full-size desktop computer, so it would make sense that you’d want a full-size display to match.
Since the new MacBook Pro contains only USB-C ports for connectivity, your options are a little more limited. Sure, you could purchase an expensive adapter that allows you to connect HDMI or DisplayPort monitors, but you’ll be losing some of the best features of the USB-C interface. At one point, you could have just picked up one of Apple’s own Thunderbolt displays. But now that they’ve been discontinued, LG has taken the reigns. Their Ultrafine monitor is the spiritual successor to Apple’s classic display, and they’ve certainly stepped up to the plate.
These aren’t your everyday display. Their Ultrafine Monitors are designed specifically for Apple architecture. One released, they’ll be one of the most attractive displays on the market. What exactly do these incredible displays bring to the table? Let’s find out.
- 1 What Are the LG Ultrafine Monitors?
- 2 The Design
- 3 The Panel
- 4 Color Reproduction
- 5 Input
- 6 Port Replicators
- 7 Additional Features
- 8 Can These Monitors be Used with Windows?
- 9 What’s So Good About These Monitors?
- 10 When will This Monitor be Released?
- 11 Who Should Buy the LG Ultrafine Monitors?
- 12 Final Thoughts
- 13 LG Ultrafine 4k and 5k Displays
- 14 Pros
- 15 Cons
What Are the LG Ultrafine Monitors?
LG’s Ultrafine series monitors are available in two distinct varieties. The flagship model is a 27” IPS display that produces stunning 5K images. Specifically, this works out to be a resolution of 5120x2880. If you opt for the smaller 21.5” version, you’ll still get an impressive 4K resolution.
These monitors use either USB-C or Thunderbolt connections, making them perfectly suited for apples latest generation of desktop and portable computers. But it’s not just the connectivity options that allow them to operate seamlessly with MacOS. The entire system is designed to be the first choice for Apple enthusiasts. We’ll go in-depth and show you why these monitors are such a great choice for MacOS devices, but first let’s take a look at the hardware.
|LG UltraFine 21.5||LG UltraFine 27|
|Panel||21.5" IPS||27" IPS|
|Native Resolution||4096 x 2304||5120 x 2880|
|Refresh Rate||60 Hz||60 Hz|
|Brightness||500 cd/m²||500 cd/m²|
|Color Gamut||Display P3||Display P3|
|Viewing Angles||178°/178° horizontal/vertical||178°/178° horizontal/vertical|
|USB Hub||3 x 5Gbps USB-C||3 x 5Gbps USB-C|
|Audio||Stereo speakers||Stereo speakers|
The LG Ultrafine monitors are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. When compared with the luxurious gloss of Apples design, their black plastic frame might look a little out of place. But on closer inspection, you’ll realize that there are many subtle design queues that give this monitor a very modern look. All of the edges are very crisp, giving it a modern, executive appeal. Whether you’re using it at home or at your place of work, this display is sure to fit in with your existing décor. Some have described it as a little plain looking, but once you turn it on you’ll forget all about its external appearance.
When you’re comparing this display to competitors, you’ll notice a few key differences. For starters, the 21.5” model is a true 4K display. The UHD standard allows computer monitors to use 3840x2160 as their primary resolution. Technically, this is actually a 3.8K display. LG is one of the only manufacturers that’s released a true 4096x2304 panel. Where else can you find such a panel? That’s right – in the current iMac. These displays, both the 4K and the 5K model use the same panels LG manufacturers for Apples own all-in-one computers.
These panels use IPS technology, meaning they have much better viewing angles than the competition. With TN panels, users will find that color tends to distort if viewed from an angle. But with IPS displays, you can view these at up to a 160-degree angle and still get the same impressive color performance you’ve come to expect.
What’s so exciting about these panels? For starters, the color reproduction is much more incredible than anything you’ve seen before. The 21.5” display can reproduce 8 bits of color, totaling 16.7 million colors. If you opt for the 27” model, you’ll be upgraded to a 10 bit display. This produces an impressive 1.07 billion possible colors. You’ve never seen such deep, rich colors before, and specifications simply don’t do it justice. To really appreciate how impressive this feature is, you’ll have to see it in person.
This color gamut is known as DCI P3. Compared to other extended color spaces, for example Adobe RGB, this particular gamut is capable of addressing every possible color on the visible spectrum. Adobe RGB only reproduces 93.6% of the possible colors, while DCI P3 can address the entire spectrum. Of course, this effect won’t be quite as impressive with the 21.5” display. But it will still be much more vibrant than you’re used to.
For photography buffs, this means that your monitor will come pre-calibrated for a gamma of 2.2 and a white point of D65. Combined with a brightness of 500 Nits, you can be confident that these displays will perform well even under tough lighting conditions. These settings were well reviewed on the Apple iMac displays, so we’re confident you’ll be impressed with them.
The 21.5” Ultrafine Display can be connected using a single USB-C cable, and uses a single DisplayPort 1.2 stream. With its advanced color reproduction, a single stream isn’t suitable for the 27” 5K display. It requires two separate DisplayPort 1.2 streams, technically classifying it as a tiled display. Of course, you’ll never have to fiddle with these settings from your mac. MacOS is already designed to handle such a display, thanks to the iMac’s display drivers.
This is why the 27” display is listed as a “thunderbolt” display while the 21.5” model is listed as USB-C. Both standards are quite similar, but the communication method is a Thunderbolt standard.
In order to drive these displays, you’ll need a computer that has a powerful enough graphics card to push that many pixels. Currently, any Thunderbolt 3 enabled Mac is capable of running these displays. It does, however, require that you have the latest MacOS Sierra installed for peak performance.
If you’re pickup up the latest MacBook pro models, you’ll appreciate the fact that the discrete AMD Radeon GPU can actually run two of the 4K displays at the same time. An incredible 43 million pixels of resolution is nothing to scoff at, and you can have all of this through a single USB-C port with less than 1ms of total lag.
Thinking about picking up a USB-C hub? If you’re going to grab one of these monitors, you won’t have to! The back of the display has a total of three USB-C ports, each providing a total bandwidth of 5 Gbps.
When connected to your computer, it can deliver both video, power, and data. The monitor has a built-in power adapter, and is fully capable of charging your Mac laptop. You won’t need to use the Apple supplied charger unless you’re taking your Mac on-the-go.
If you’re fortunate enough to get your hands on the 27” model, you’ll find that your monitor includes both a camera and a microphone. Not much is currently known about the specific models used, but given the impressive components used in the rest of the monitor you can safely expect high performance.
The camera should be more than adequate for video chat. Since so many components of the iMac have been re-used in these displays, we could expect that it will have a 4K capable webcam. LG also produces a wide array of omnidirectional, noise cancelling microphones. We’d expect that something similar could be used in these displays, giving them excellent performance for live chat.
Can These Monitors be Used with Windows?
The question that everyone’s been asking is if these monitors can be used with PCs. Technically, you should be able to use them. However, there are a few reasons why you might not want to.
There have been many monitors on the market with extended color profiles. These monitors always have the ability to revert back to sRGB if the computer doesn’t support the extended gamut. But with MacOS, this is handled a little differently. Apple uses a software called AppKit to output video. The operating system negotiates the color space directly with the monitor, ensuring that output is always accurate. Within the operating system, applications can use their own color space. Mac OS will automatically adjust the output to keep things accurate.
For example, let’s create a hypothetical situation where an application is using a color space that can produce, at most, 80% of the color gamut. The program might request something like 100% red saturation, but MacOS will know to adjust this to 80% to compensate for the differences in addressable color. On windows, these instructions will be taken literally. This means that everything you view will be a little oversaturated. When you have a monitor that’s designed to be accurate, it’s simply wasted unless you use it with a computer that is designed to cooperate with it.
It’s possible that drivers will be released to make this monitor function correctly in a Windows environment, but we’ll have to wait and see.
What’s So Good About These Monitors?
The iMac displays have received nothing but positive reviews. Anyone who’s used a mac knows that their computers are designed with creatives in mind. Whether you’re creating your own digital art, editing photos, or creating your own video, Apple has the ecosystem that you need.
The biggest thing that creatives will notice is the impressive color reproduction. These monitors give you a “true to life” reproduction of your photos and video, making them suitable even to edit HDR 4K content. At the moment, the only display that can come close to offering comparable image quality is the discontinued Apple Thunderbolt displays. Considering that these monitors are sold much more inexpensively than the thunderbolt models, you’re able to get a pretty good deal.
When will This Monitor be Released?
Consumers have been eagerly awaiting to release of these monitors, but a specific date has not been established yet. All we know is that they’re set to be released in December, with the first batch of pre-orders less than a month away. The 21.5” version may be released a little earlier, potentially shipping this month. If you’re looking to get your hands on one, we recommend you put in your pre-order now. They are available to be pre-ordered through both Amazon and directly off of the Apple store.
Who Should Buy the LG Ultrafine Monitors?
Anyone involved with creative art will benefit from the impressive performance of these monitors. Probably the biggest benefit will be for people who want to edit 4K video. There aren’t many 5K monitors on the market, but they’ll make your editing experience much more productive.
When you’re editing video, you need space for both your video file and the controls for your software as well. On your standard 4K monitor, you’re forced to scale the video down in order to fit everything on the screen. This means that you won’t be able to view your footage in full resolution, and your performance will suffer on account of your video card having to scale the video in real time. With a 5K display, you won’t suffer from these problems.
Photographers will also appreciate the extended color space. HDR photography is extremely popular. Generally, users either take multiple exposures and combine them to present a larger dynamic range than we’re used to seeing. Of course, this effect is essentially synthetic. With a display like this, you won’t just be replicating the HDR effect, you’ll actually be viewing your photos with a larger dynamic range than you ever thought possible.
This technology isn’t just for people who are creating media. It’s also for people who are enjoying it! HDR 4K Blu-ray content is all the rage these days. Until today, you weren’t able to enjoy this content unless you had a special HDR television set. With the release of these monitors, you can now enjoy 4K HDR content from the comfort of your own computer.
While these aren’t the cheapest monitors on the market, they’re still significantly more affordable than Dell’s competing 5K display. In fact, the Dell costs almost as much as an entire iMac system on its own. It’s important that you compare apples to apples when shopping for displays. If you’re a user who cares about color reproduction and quality, then you won’t find better on the market.
For any current Mac users, we can’t recommend this display enough. If you’re on a PC platform, you might want to wait a few weeks until after this display comes out. With luck, LG may release a firmware update that improves color reproduction on Windows and Linux based PCs.
LG Ultrafine 4k and 5k Displays$1299.95
- 5K display with IPS technology
- Built-in camera, stereo speakers and power supply
- Same display used on 5k iMac
- Currently only works with the latest Macbooks
- Needs to have a powerful graphics card to run 5k
- Thunderbolt 3 is still a new technology with only a few products avaliable