Ars Technica reviews Apple’s new Studio Display: ‘True 5K, there’s no competition to speak of’

Apple earlier this month unveiled the all-new Studio Display which features an expansive 27-inch 5K Retina display, a 12MP Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage, and a high-fidelity six-speaker sound system with spatial audio.

Apple's Studio Display
Apple’s Studio Display

Andrew Cunningham for Ars Technica:

The display is tailor-made for anyone who wanted the 5K screen from the dearly departed 27-inch iMac without the computer that was attached to it.

It’s certainly not for everyone, and at $1,599, it’s not the first external display I’d recommend for all Mac owners (especially people who tend toward the cheaper Mac mini and MacBook Air end of the spectrum). But as its enthusiastic reception from several Ars staffers suggests, it will find an audience by virtue of being a 5K Apple-branded monitor, and its design and features are a solid step up from the LG UltraFine 5K display that Apple has sold for the last few years… Apple has focused on making an exceptionally nice-looking 5120×2880 IPS screen, with all the benefits and shortcomings that entails.

Apple’s listed specs for the monitor were in line with what we found with a Calibrite ColorChecker Display colorimeter—a peak brightness level of 589 nits and 98.9 percent coverage for the DCI-P3 color gamut. Its contrast ratio of 1040:1 (as measured at 200 nits) is good for an IPS display but not exceptional… Apple is shipping a very nice screen, but it can’t magically change the intrinsic properties of the display technology it’s using…

The $1,599 price does still feel like a lot to pay for a very good IPS computer monitor when you can buy two or more very good IPS computer monitors from other companies for the same or less money. But it’s difficult to do a straight comparison, because if what you want is true 5K, there’s no competition to speak of. I can complain about the Studio Display’s 60 Hz non-variable refresh rate, its lack of Mini LED, or its limited stand options. But if what you want is 5K, the Studio Display is essentially the only game in town…

MacDailyNews Take: If you want a quality 5K IPS display for your Mac, complete with Apple branding and styling, you want Apple’s Studio Display.

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  1. I paid more than that for my first 17-inch color monitor. I paid more than that for my 21-inch Apple Studio Display (Blueberry CRT). I paid about that for my 27-inch Apple LED Cinema Display which served me well for a decade.

    If you’re a professional user, that price isn’t an issue for an essential tool of the trade.


        It is interesting that as soon as Apple removes the LG Ultrafine 5K monitor from its store, suddenly tons of people come out of the woodwork to demand a monitor just like it, maybe with an Apple logo instead.

        Hard to say if the new Apple display is using up all LG’s panel production or if they’re have a refreshed 27″ Ultrafine 5K monitor back in stock soon. I wouldn’t expect Apple to carry a competing monitor in its stores.

        If you demand a cheap 5K monitor without the camera, mike & speakers and expensive Apple logo then look for old stock LGs from other retailers or discounters.

  2. Too bad Target Display Mode is no longer a thing. On older iMacs running older MacOS, you’re able to start up iMac in Target Display Mode and use it as a display for another Mac. I say this now because you can get the recently discontinued 27-inch Retina 5K iMac (same res. as new Studio Display) for $1299 on Apple Store certified refurb page. It’s actually a really good deal, even if it’s Intel. Apple is likely to support recent Intel Macs for at least 5 years, and its specs are fine for most users during that time. Prices are likely to continue down for “almost new” Intel Macs.

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