4K and 5K displays designed in partnership with LG now available.
At a Glance
- Apple discontinued its nearly five year old Thunderbolt Display on June 23, 2016. While rumors suggested a new display product was in the works, Apple has said it is ending its standalone display business. It is instead offering 4K and 5K displays from LG.
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 Out of the Display Business
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.
Initial rumors said Apple was still working on a new display product with an integrated GPU, but in October of 2016, Apple introduced new 4K and 5K displays created in partnership with LG, suggesting its own display business has come to an end.
Apple's plans to bow out of the display market have been confirmed by The Verge's Nilay Patel, who was told by Apple that the company is indeed out of the standalone display business.
Going forward, Apple will likely continue to offer customers third-party displays, including the displays that LG developed under Apple's guidance. The 4K and 5K LG UltraFine Displays have been designed specifically for the MacBook and MacBook Pro, offering deeper levels of integration with the Macs than would be possible with a standard display.
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.
From November 4 through the end of March 2017, Apple is discounting the LG 4K and 5K displays by 25 percent, dropping the price to $524 on the 4K display and $974 on the 5K display. The discount is part of a wider set of discounts on USB-C accessories, designed to ease the transition to USB-C for new MacBook Pro owners. The sale was originally only set to last through December, but Apple expanded it to March 2017.
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.
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.
Display With Integrated GPU?
The last clear rumor of a Thunderbolt Display with an integrated GPU came in June of 2016, from BuzzFeed's John Paczkowski, a reliable source who often has knowledge of Apple's plans.
Citing unnamed source, Paczkowski said he'd heard that a next-generation display powered by an integrated GPU was still in the works, but it appears Apple's plans may have changed and plans for a next-generation display may have been shelved.
There's also a possibility that the rumored display with an integrated GPU is not considered to be a "standalone" display by Apple and that some sort of display product continues to be in development.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also said a display product is in development and is expected to launch during the first half of 2017, sometime around March, so there continues to be a possibility that Apple has something new planned.