4K and 5K displays designed in partnership with LG now available, and Apple's working on its own display for future release.
At a Glance
- Apple discontinued its nearly five year old Thunderbolt Display on June 23, 2016, but the company is working on a "pro" display to accompany a future Mac Pro machine. In the meantime, 4K and 5K LG Displays are available from Apple.
4K and 5K LG Displays
- Resolution of 5120 x 2880 (5K) and 4096 x 2304 (4K)
- Thunderbolt 3/USB-C support
- TB3 required for 5K, USB-C for 4K
- P3 wide color gamut
- Built-in speakers
- Camera and microphone (5K)
- MST connection
Apple's Display Plans
On June 23, 2016, Apple discontinued the Thunderbolt Display. Existing stock was sold in stores and online, but Apple is no longer manufacturing new displays.
While no Apple-branded display is available at the current time, Apple executives Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi recently shared news about Apple's work on a revamped high-end modular Mac Pro, which will ship alongside a "pro display" as part of its modular system.
No other details on the display were shared, and because the products are still in a development phase, we won't see the new Mac Pro or its accompanying display in 2017. Apple hasn't provided a specific release date, saying only it won't be ready this year.
According to Pike's Universum, Apple's upcoming external display, a companion to the Mac Pro, will have an 8K resolution. 8K displays are just now hitting the market in 2017 and are still quite expensive, but prices could come down by the time Apple's Mac Pro is ready to ship.
Ahead of Apple's pro display news, there were rumors suggesting Apple was working on a next-generation display powered by an integrated GPU, but it's not clear if that information is still accurate given Apple's work on a revamped Mac Pro, nor is it clear if that display product is a different than the display meant to accompany the Mac Pro.
While we wait on the release of an Apple-branded display, Apple has partnered with LG to offer 4K and 5K UltraFine displays in its stores.
4K and 5K LG Displays
Designed in partnership with Apple, LG's 4K and 5K UltraFine Displays have all of the same features one might expect from an Apple-designed display.
The 27-inch 5K LG UltraFine Display, priced at $1,299.95, features a 5120 x 2880 resolution and P3 wide color gamut for brighter, more true-to-life colors. It uses multi-stream transport to connect over two DisplayPort 1.2 channels, but it connects over a single Thunderbolt 3 cable that can also charge a MacBook Pro with up to 85W of power delivery.
There are three downstream USB-C ports built into the back of the display to power additional devices and accessories, plus it includes built-in stereo speakers, a camera, and a microphone.
Because it requires Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, the 5K LG UltraFine Display is only compatible with the 2016 MacBook Pro, which features support for Thunderbolt 3.
The 21.5-inch 4K LG UltraFine Display, priced at $699.95, offers many of the same features, including P3 wide color gamut, charging capabilities, additional rear ports, and built-in stereo speakers. Its smaller resolution of 4096 x 2304 means it only requires a USB-C connection for power, so it is compatible with any Mac equipped with USB-C. That includes the 2015 and 2016 MacBooks and the 2016 MacBook Pro.
Thanks to the fact that these displays were designed with help from Apple, they're able to offer a greater level of integration with the Mac than standard displays. The MacBook and the MacBook Pro can be used to adjust brightness and other settings without the need to make the adjustments on the display itself.
LG's 5K UltraFine Display became available for purchase on December 20, 2016, with the first orders arriving to customers in late December. The 4K display began shipping out to customers in mid-November and is available for purchase from Apple's online store.
The LG 5K Display was temporarily unavailable to allow LG to fix a shielding problem, but it is now available for purchase once again. The display now ships in one to two days business days.
The 27-inch 5K LG UltraFine Display suffers from an issue that causes flickering and freezing when it is placed too close to a wireless router. In all displays manufactured after February 2017, LG is implementing a fix in the form of additional shielding, and Apple is holding new shipments until fixed models are available.
A shielding repair is also available for displays manufactured before February 2017, and customers affected by the touter issue should get in touch with Apple or LG to arrange for a repair. The shielding repair effectively fixes the Wi-Fi interference problem. To determine whether or not a display has the updated shielding hardware, check out our guide.
Hands-On Look at the LG 5K UltraFine Display
If you're considering purchasing an LG 5K UltraFine Display, it's worth checking out our hands-on look at the accessory. The display itself is gorgeous, but there are some compromises with the design -- it's plastic and doesn't fit Apple's usual aesthetic, but some have not found it to be overly obtrusive.