What Happened to 5K Displays?

Well, not to say that Apple can claim all rights to 5K displays, although have you considered that the reason for the lack of 5K displays is in fact Apple themselves and the messages they give as to the direction they’re going. If the iPad Pro is all the computing one needs, and it can replace your computer, why would any manufacturer throw down behind Apple with resources to build 5K displays when Apple themselves seemingly don’t want to be making Macs any more. Its not like anyone with an iPad Pro is going to flap about not having a 5K display.

I don’t think this can be placed at the feet of the iPad—Macs have been selling well for years. However, to extrapolate your basic point to the Mac lineup, I think you may be onto something. The two Mac models that need an external a display are the Mac Pro and the Mac mini, and both have been embarrassingly stagnant for years. Apple finally revved the Mac mini after 4 years, and the Mac Pro revamp is still due in 2019. So I could see display manufacturers not seeing much of a market in those like me who want a second monitor to attach to an iMac or someone who wants a secondary big screen for a MacBook Pro.

I think the big holdback on 5K is that it’s just so difficult to drive one.

Graphics cards that support DisplayPort 1.3 or 1.4, or HDMI 2.1, are still fairly rare at consumer prices. And with DisplayPort 1.3 or 1.4, you still only get 50Hz refresh at 5120x2880 and 10 bits of color depth. The original 5K iMacs used a DisplayPort 1.2 hack that was essentially using two DisplayPort connectors, and others actually used two unpacked connectors. Thunderbolt 3 is still rare outside of Macs, too, though getting more common. So demand is definitely on the high end, and to a very limited market.

The upshot is that you can run 2 4K displays with about the same bandwidth as one 5K display, and you could run an 8K display for about the same horsepower as two 5K displays.

But as manufacturers upgrade to support 8K displays and the latest HDMI specs, the silicon may trickle down to some affordable 5K displays, too.

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I think it’s clear that while the pro photographers and some designers can see a difference in color/clarity, the vast majority of the buying public cannot distinguish the difference between 4K and 5K displays (good 4Ks anyway). And since few people can actually use a computer at 5120-by-2880 resolution (everything is just too small and unreadable) for more than watching video, there’s no reason to pay the premium for 5K when you’re going to run it at the same resolution as a 4K display at 1/3 the cost.

As for Mac users, until they sell a 5K display with Thunderbolt 3 connections, USB-C powered ports for connecting and charging other devices, and a webcam compatible with Facetime, the LG is likely to be the only 5K display for Mac users until Apple releases their own pro display (which few people will be able to afford).

I have kept my original Cinema Display around for one reason: its matte screen. The market today is all “glossy.” I remember the glossy/matte discussions a few years ago, but matte screens today are extinct. Certainly the great minds working on displays of the future are also trying to come up with an effective anti-reflective solution! If so, they’re keeping it real quiet.

I’m not sure that’s true. Maybe it’s harder for 4K, but for 1440p matte displays are readily available. After my ACDs I bought two 27" monitors from other manufacturers and both were matte. I never had issues finding matte external displays, especially higher resolution models. I suppose it’s because these are mostly for professional use and least used for movies/TV where glossy appears to be most popular.

I was able to find this 4K display that’s definitely matte. At $348 shipped it’s quite inexpensive for an IPS, so no idea if it’s actually really a good monitor.

I was talked into buying a matte display on the ancient MacBook Pro I’m still using, even though the salesperson at the Apple Store tried talking me out of it (though not too hard). I had told him that I was a heavy graphics user, and the salesperson told me The matte would dull color. He was right, and it’s the one thing I regret about the purchase. Afterwards, I heard a lot of regrets from others for the same reason.

Since graphics users are likely to spend more money on screens, no matter how much they want anti glare, color fidelity is more important. Graphics pros are the most likely to spend more money for top of the line screens, and if they aren’t shelling out extra money on a particular feature, it’s not likely to survive in the marketplace.

Glossy screens are equally important for print, even on uncoated stock. Color seems to loose punch on matte screens.

We do precise color proofing in our office. Lots of graphic work. When we moved to the glossy iMac screens from the 30" Apple Cinema displays no one complained.

It’s not technically matte in the way that old time TFT matte displays are, but it’s not anything like glossy, either. It shows virtually no reflections under bright lights or in a very sunny room.

I’d also like to point out that that 27UD58 model regularly goes on sale for around $300, occasionally under; but the bezels, enclosure and stand are awful; but is a very good panel; identical to the panels in most other affordable 4K displays, as most are made by LG anyway; so if you don’t care about the enclosure, and are willing to pop $30 or more on a good VESA mount, it’s a great, affordable choice.

The panels used in that one are similar, but there are better specs available on the 27UD68 and 69 series, and those are regularly on sale for $400 or less; I even saw the very best version, the 27UD68P-B (best NIT and color), go on sale for ~$370 on Black Friday.

Best Buy usually has the 27UD69-W (white enclosure) for around the $400 regularly; it’s a fantastic screen, with the nearly-matte finish and super-narrow bezels, great for multiple displays.

I have two 68P-B, and one 69-W, side by side, and I swear I can’t tell the difference, nor can others who’ve tried without looking at the color of the enclosures on the back, but I also don’t need them at full brightness (I run at around 70%).

Well CES 2019 came and went, and AFAICT we’ve seen zero announcements of any new ‘true’ 5K3K displays to add to the very few that exist. Only these 1440/2160-height widescreen displays, instead of true 2880-height 16:9 models.

This is strange, given Apple said at the October iPad event that the new (10Gbps) USB-C iPad Pros can connect with ‘up to’ 5K displays. Exact time:

However, zero non-Thunderbolt 3 5K3K displays actually exist?

Is it even possible to run true 5120x2880 5K displays (obviously in pixel-doubled mode: 2560x1440) at either 30 or 60Hz over a maximum 10Gbps USB-C connection? It seems a strange claim to make if no displays exist, and especially given the LG 5K’s rely on dual-DP 1.2 channels over a single TB3 connection in order to work on TB3 Macs? (I have two of them on my 2016 maxed-out 15MBP, which generally work really well.)

Weird and annoying, for sure.

Yeah, it is curious. I’m dying to see what sort of a display Apple releases with the new Mac Pro later this year.

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Well, here’s a new 5K display, but it’s not Retina.

That’s the problem with using pixel width alone as a shorthand, assuming the aspect ratio will be something normal like 16:9 or 16:10.

It is nice that the Dell Ultrasharp U4919DW provides enough power to handle a 15-inch MacBook Pro, has picture-by-picture, and KVM features. However, there are some significant limitations if you attempt to use this with the single USB-C connection. The USB-C connection only supports USB 2.0 for data so if you have higher speed peripherals like an external drive, it will need a separate connection. Also, if you use the USB-C as the video connection, the color depth is only 8-bit (~16M colors) instead of 10-bit (~1B colors); using the full color depth will require using an adapter to connect to one of the HDMI or full-size DisplayPort ports. So instead of using one cable, you have to use three cables to connect to this display to take advantage of all its features.

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LG just recently released another beast of a 5K widescreen; looks like what the Dell above is based on.

Now we have Ming-Chi Kuo suggesting Apple’s new display will be a 6K retina quality 218ppi model.

Sounds a weird option to me that Apple would go for this. But then, it may be they simply cannot wait for Thunderbolt 4 to arrive, which would offer enough bandwidth for 8 or 10K options along with hub like functionalities. So a 6K may sell well when marketed especially for use with a new Mac Pro. We’ll see.

We now have the answer. At WWDC last week Apple announced their own display, the 32 inch Pro Display XDR. But with a $5,000 price tag, there are undoubtedly less expensive alternatives. If you’ve got the scratch, though, it looks to be a great monitor. You can see it at https://www.apple.com/pro-display-xdr/.

One thing that’s not clear to me is what Macs, other than the Mac Pro, will be able to drive this 6K monitor at full resolution. I’m guessing that the iMac Pro will be able to, since it can drive two 5K displays along with its built-in screen, but the MacBook Pro can supposedly drive only one 5K display—will it have enough overhead to run a 6K display?

And regardless, I’m sadly priced out of it. I was hoping for a 5K Retina Thunderbolt Display to replace the non-Retina one I use now with my Retina iMac (and that’s noticeably lower quality).

I’m sad about being priced out of both Mac Pro and the display. Dell does sell an 8k monitor, and they just dumped the price from $4,999 to $3,899. B&H is selling it for $3,415, and you can pick it up at the store or have it shipped to you today:


Samsung’s got an 8k on sale for $3,999, down from $4,999 at Best Buy. This is way out of my price range too:


Apple is, once again, disrupting the high end professional market.

No doubt Apple will announce compatible Macs when the monitor is released for sale. Most of us, though, like you, will be priced out of it. Not that I’m dissatisfied with my current iMac. Because I am visually impaired, however, I don’t need a Retina display of any kind. That said, there are plenty of Retina Macs available for those who do. Nor are many people likely to dispose of their current investment in big monitors to pick up an even bigger one. The market for that Pro Display XDR is likely to be as limited as the market for the new Mac Pro. Given the small potential market, I’m surprised Apple went for it. But, even though I’m no longer in the market for a Mac Pro, I’m glad Apple did, if for nothing else than for bragging rights. I can’t wait to see which, if any, PCs will even try to contend with it, at any price. Though Apple mentioned a way expensive “reference” monitor in the keynote. Who owns one of those, except, maybe, James Cameron?