Comparison of LG UltraFine 5K and 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display

Speaking of displays…has anybody done a side by side comparison with the iMac 27 Retina display and the LG 5K one? I’m doing photo work in Lightroom with mine and while color calibration isn’t necessary it would be nice to have an opinion from somebody who may have used them side by side.

I use both side-by-side doing graphic design (which includes photo retouching & manipulation) and don’t notice any difference between them whatsoever. They are effectively the same monitor.

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Reopening this topic because the LG is currently on sale at B&H ( for $820.

Has anyone had further experience with it as compared to the latest iMac monitor or the Apple Studio monitor (which costs ~2x this one)?

I’ve been waiting to replace my long in the tooth 2015 21" iMac (i7) but am ambivalent about the M1 iMac (24") because Apple has done nothing with it for years, but an M2 Mini + Retina quality display + keyboard + mouse was driving the price too high.

So, do people here with experience with this monitor feel it’s a good substitution for the Apple Studio? Or, should I wait until the rumored M3 iMac arrives?

And, is the M2 Pro mini worth the $500 difference from the M2? (I realize the M2 Pro also has more RAM.)

Thanks for your thoughts.

Jack Clay

I have no personal experience with this display, but take note of the picture of the ports on the back panel. There is one Thunderbolt port and three USB ports. Which means it will act as a TB3 device when connecting to your Mac, but you won’t be able to daisy-chain any TB devices downstream from it. Maybe this is OK for you, but it’s important to keep in mind.

Aside from that, it looks like a nice monitor. I wouldn’t use a price comparison to Apple’s displays as the basis for anything, though. Their displays are always insanely expensive. I’ve never considered them worth the money, which is why my Macs have always used Dell displays - great picture, great price, generic enclosure.

What do you plan to do with it?

If you can’t think of a specific task that needs the extra RAM or processing power, then you probably should spend that $500 on upgrading the M2 (RAM, storage, etc.) instead of getting a Pro, or just save it.

For generic home usage (web surfing, Office apps, or pretty much anything that’s not video production or high-end gaming), the least expensive entry-model Macs will have more than enough power to get the job done. Which is why I recommend people instead look at things like RAM size, storage size, and available ports.

If you’re not a high-power user, the only real advantage the Pro has over the M2 is the extra two Thunderbolt ports, which will give you more capacity for highspeed storage in the future, should you fill up the internal SSD.

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Whether the M2 Pro and its extra RAM is worth the extra $500 depends on what you are doing. If you’re compiling code or running Lightroom/Photoshop then probably it is. If you’re browsing and emailing and word processing then probably not…except that the M2 Pro will likely remain decently useful longer than an M2 as time goes by but even the non Pro isn’t going to be an antique for 6 to 9 years I’m guessing.

When I looked at monitors to go with my Studio…the LG was the alternate I was considering over the Studio Display…and at the time the reviews and comparisons rated them pretty equivalent performance wise but not as nice design and prettiness wise. Again…depends on what you are doin with it. Since we really don’t know anything at all about an M3 iMac in either performance or when…if you’re ready to upgrade I would go ahead because unless you’re doing some really complex stuff whatever extra speed/performance comes with the M3 isn’t going to be doing you much good, even if you were doing Photoshop and Lightroom or compiling code (I’m assuming you’re not doing this professionally where time is money because the M3 will be faster but for a non pro use the difference between a task taking 15 seconds and 10 is pretty much negligible.

Another point for consideration: If the 2015 i7 iMac still works for you, then it is likely that the M2 will meet your needs. If your tasks are mostly single-threaded in nature (e.g. email, text processing) then M2 is essentially as good as M2 Pro and M2 Ultra. It is mostly in applications demanding multi-core and graphics performance that M2 Pro and beyond become advantageous compared to M2.

I think the main differences between the Studio Display and the LG UltraFine 5K are in the non-display features, such as webcam, speakers and materials. I have the LG UltraFine 5K since launch and did consider replacing it with the Studio Display when the latter became available. However, the differences and additional features offered by the Studio Display did not justify the replacement in my case. IIRC,

  • The Studio Display (SD) is 100 nits brighter than the LG (which I think in most cases are imperceptible)
  • The SD has a nicer speaker (I mostly use headphones) and webcam (the Continuity Camera feature rendered it superfluous)
  • The SD has a nicer build (but I mostly look at the screen, anyway)
  • The SD offers 10Gbps USB C ports, while those in UltraFine 5K are limited to 5Gbps (please do correct me if this is wrong) - I use the CalDigit Elements TB hub so this is not crucial to me
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Just wanted to mention that the brand new Samsung S9 (5K, 27", matte, fully adjustable, TB4) has already been discounted to $1350 $1300. That’s not quite as cheap as the LG, but it’s the better monitor overall. And it’s still easily $900+ cheaper than a reasonably spec’ed Apple SD leaving that thing as the over-priced and over-engineered obscenity it has always been.

This is right now certainly what I’d buy if I were in the 5K/27" market.

(I will admit though the “Smart TV Apps” and “Gaming Hub” malarkey has me worried, but I trust that should be capable of being thoroughly disabled.)

Edit: Samsung just put the display on sale. Amazon now has the S9 at $1300, its lowest price ever (previously only once during Prime day).

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The Samsung has not been universally well-reviewed. Maybe over-engineering, obscene or not, has its place.


Those reviews that put the two head to head have actually been rather balanced. Especially when it comes to the actual panel, there’s little to no real difference reported between all 3 actually.

The SD has a garbage camera, overhyped as it was. It has better speakers than the Samsung, but I’m not paying $900+ for built-in speakers. I’ll grant that I’ve never liked when display producers put in shitty USB downstream ports. Apple has clearly done here what’s right: 10 Gbps, unlike both LG and Samsung who as usual went cheap. But to me personally, that’s moot because I’m running a TB4 dock anyway. Obviously, YMMV.

Most reviews I’ve seen overall give an edge to the SD because initially the Samsung launched at the same $1599 base price and yet the SD obviously has better build quality due to all Al vs. plastic. Now though the Samsung has started to come down considerably in price, while the SD likely never will. That will make the Samsung keep looking better with time.

Many reviewers also consider the $1599 SD usable, but to me, a glossy monitor and no proper stand are a total no-go. Hence my base price for the SD is actually $2300k. Again of course, YMMV. When the Samsung hits $1k I’ll get one just to play with. At less than half the price of a comparable SD, it will almost certainly fare just fine.

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Just a heads-up. The Samsung S9 has now dropped to $1080 on Amazon.

This means it’s now about the same price as the LG, leaving little reason to even consider the LG anymore. It also means this monitor is now less than half the price of the Apple Studio Display if you factor in that improving the vanilla Studio Display to match this monitor’s built in features requires adding another $400 for a decent stand and a further $300 for non-glossy for a whopping $2300.

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Don’t you love Amazon’s price algorithms? Samsung’s price on Amazon has now bounced back up to ~$1300. Maybe they’re tracking Simon’s recommendations… :wink:


Another thing to consider: Apple forces you to choose between a shitty, overpriced slightly adjustable stand OR VESA mount. With the Samsung, you get both a stand and the option of removing it and using the built-in VESA mount.

That being said, I’ve learned my lesson with Apple-alternative displays. There simply are (still) no clear choices – they all have trade-offs that some people can’t live with.

I actually prefer the glossy display. I want the brightest display available, with the highest PPI. I want the camera integration, not a fumble-attached add-on. I want better speakers (so I can get rid of the cheap desktop speakers with the extra cables that I currently have). I want the fastest I/O on the USB-C/Thunderbolt ports on the back. And I certainly want the least amount of cable clutter I can get.