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How the Studio Display compares to other Apple displays


We have been blessed to live in interesting times. For the first time since 2010, we have not just one, but two external monitors from Apple.

How does Apple’s latest offering – the Studio Display, introduced during Tuesday’s “Peek Performance” event – stack up against the high-end Pro Display XDR, the outgoing LG UltraFine 5K and the displays of other Macs?

Let’s dive in.

Studio Display Vs. Pro Display XDR

Apple’s high-end Pro Display XDR starts at $ 4,999. Pictured with $ 999 Pro Stand.
Photo: Apple

The Studio Display doesn’t match all of the high-end specs of the Pro Display XDR. It’s five inches smaller (that’s an entire K) and doesn’t support HDR content. However, it has a few modern features missing from the Pro Display XDR like a built-in camera with Center Stage and a ‘studio-quality’ microphone and speaker system. Not to mention, the Studio Display comes with a stand included (The XDR’s costs a cool $ 1,000), and upgrading to a height-adjustable stand is only $ 400 extra.

Details:

  • Studio Display packs a 27-inch screen versus Pro Display XDR’s 32-inch screen
  • Studio Display is 5K resolution versus 6K
  • Studio Display is slightly brighter at 600 nits versus 500 nits
  • Pro Display XDR supports HDR content with 1,000,000: 1 contrast ratio and 1,600 nits peak brightness
  • Both offer P3 wide color gamut
  • Both offer Apple’s True Tone technology, which adjusts the display according to ambient light conditions
  • Studio Display comes with a tilt stand
  • Upgrading to a tilt and height-adjustable stand costs $ 400 for Studio Display versus $ 1,000 for Pro Display XDR
  • It costs $ 300 to upgrade Studio Display to nano-texture glass versus $ 1,000
  • Studio Display has a 12 MP Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage; Pro Display XDR doesn’t have a built-in camera
  • Studio Display has a studio-quality three-mic array and six-speaker sound system
  • Both have one Thunderbolt 3 port and three USB-C ports
  • Studio Display has a built-in power cord and comes with a Thunderbolt cable (1 meter); Pro Display XDR comes with a separate power cord (2 meters), Apple Thunderbolt 3 Pro Cable (2 meters), and polishing cloth
  • Studio Display is compatible with more Macs and iPads
  • $ 1,599 versus $ 4,999 Pro Display XDR

Verdict: The Studio Display ranges from a quarter to a third of the price, no matter how you configure it. It’s hard to justify the added cost of a Pro Display XDR – even with the expensive cables and coveted $ 20 polishing cloth. What was exclusive technology from the Pro Display XDR at launch has been trickling down to cheaper devices like the MacBook Pro and iPad Pro.

Studio Display versus LG UltraFine 5K

LG UltraFine 5K Display
LG’s UltraFine 5K doesn’t have a ton of fans.
Photo: LG

The LG UltraFine 5K was developed in conjunction with Apple as their external monitor solution after discontinuing the Thunderbolt Display in 2016. It was panned for poor build quality and reliability. While some think the Studio Display is too expensive, the price makes sense when compared to the LG UltraFine 5K.

Both are 27-inch 5K Thunderbolt 3 displays with support for the P3 wide color gamut. The Studio Display certainly wasn’t going to be cheaper – and it’s easy to see what you get for the extra $ 300: True Tone, a brighter panel, an aluminum body, high-power charging, a better camera with Center Stage, the ‘ studio-quality ‘microphone and speaker system and optional nano-texture glass.

Details:

  • Both are 27 ″ displays with a 5K resolution
  • Studio Display is slightly brighter at 600 nits versus LG UltraFine 5K’s 500 nits
  • Both have P3 wide color gamut
  • Studio Display has an aluminum versus creaky plastic body
  • Studio Display supports True Tone
  • The LG UltraFine 5K comes with a height-adjustable stand included
  • Studio Display has a nano-texture glass option
  • Studio Display has a 12 MP Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage
  • Studio Display has studio-quality three-mic array and six-speaker sound system versus LG’s stereo speakers
  • Studio Display supports 96W host charging over a single cable
  • Studio Display has a built-in power cord and included Thunderbolt cable (1 m); LG UltraFine 5K comes with a Thunderbolt 3 cable (2 m), USB-C cable (1.5 m) and power cord
  • LG UltraFine 5K is compatible with more Macs and iPads
  • $ 1,599 versus $ 1,299 LG UltraFine 5K

Verdict: While the LG UltraFine 5K is currently sold out, it has not been officially discontinued. As of time writing, it still has an active page on the Apple Store – so it earns a cautious spot on this list. If you are in the market for a new display for your Mac, you still have an excellent option at a fair price in the Studio Display. If you already own an LG UltraFine 5K, hold off on replacing it. I don’t think the specs of the Studio Display are better enough to replace it outright.

Studio Display versus MacBook Pro (14- and 16-inch, 2021)

2021 MacBook Pro with M1 Pro, M1 Max
Some of Apple’s best screens are built into the new MacBook Pros.
Photo: Apple

The display built into the new MacBook Pro is unparalleled by many metrics. Its smaller resolution allows it to run at up to twice the Studio Display’s frame rate, a feature of Apple calls ProMotion. The MacBook Pro also supports HDR, where the Pro Display XDR does not.

Details:

  • Studio Display packs a 27-inch screen versus the MacBook Pro’s 14 ″ and 16 ″ screen sizes
  • Studio Display has a 5K resolution versus the MacBook Pro’s 3K and 3.5K displays
  • The MacBook Pro features ProMotion frame rates up to 120 Hz
  • Studio Display is slightly brighter at 600 nits versus 500 nits
  • The MacBook Pro supports HDR content with 1,000,000: 1 contrast ratio and 1,600 nits peak brightness
  • Both have P3 wide color gamut
  • Both have True Tone
  • Both tilt, technically
  • Studio Display has a nano-texture glass option
  • Studio Display has a 12 MP Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage; the MacBook Pro has a 1080p FaceTime HD camera
  • Both have a studio-quality three-mic array and six-speaker sound system
  • $ 1,599 versus $ 800 MacBook Pro est. display price

Verdict: Consider that, right now, the only desktop counterpart to the MacBook Pro is the Mac Studio. Configure a 16-inch MacBook Pro identically to a Mac Studio, add in a Touch ID Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, then subtract the difference in cost. You can see that buying a Mac Studio with a Studio Display is more expensive than buying an identical MacBook Pro and using its built-in display.

If you already have a MacBook Pro and you want to live the desktop / laptop lifestyle – docking to a display at home, taking your MacBook Pro solo on the go. With the Studio Display, you have a display that comes at a fair price when you consider how much bigger it is than your MacBook Pro, but you will miss out on your HDR content and ProMotion when it’s docked.

Studio Display versus iMac (24-inch, M1, 2021)

Say hello to stunning new M1 iMacs in seven colors.
The new iMac has a beautiful screen that’s the model for the Apple Studio Display.
Photo: Apple

Ever since the introduction of the Retina iMac and the subsequent discontinuation of the Thunderbolt Display, people have been clamoring for Apple to ‘just sell an iMac without the computer.’ While we are closer to that reality today, the market for desktop computers has shrunk in the last ten years. Apple no longer sells a large iMac nor a small display.

Nonetheless, the iMac was clearly used as the benchmark the Studio Display was designed from. They feature nearly identical specifications. Apart from their size, the Studio Display has a nicer built-in camera with Center Stage and options for nano-texture glass and a height-adjustable stand.

Details:

  • Studio Display packs a 27-inch screen versus the iMac’s 24-inch screen size
  • Studio Display has a 5K resolution versus 4.5K
  • Studio Display is slightly brighter at 600 nits versus 500 nits
  • Both have P3 wide color gamut
  • Both have True Tone
  • Both come with a tilt stand
  • Studio Display has a height-adjustable stand option
  • Studio Display has a nano-texture glass option
  • Studio Display has a 12 MP Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage; the iMac has a 1080p FaceTime HD camera
  • Both have a studio-quality three-mic array and six-speaker sound system
  • $ 1,599 versus $ 550 iMac est. display price

Verdict: If you are in the market for a desktop Mac with an M1 chip, you save over $ 1,000 buying an iMac compared to a Mac mini with a Studio Display, as you can see by configuring an iMac identically to a Mac mini with a Touch ID Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse. The iMac offers a much better value. The Mac mini only makes sense if you want a much cheaper (or much nicer) display, or if you have one already.

How does the Apple Studio Display fit into the lineup?

Apple Studio Display
The new Apple Studio Display.
Photo: Apple

In a world without a 27 ″ iMac, the Mac Studio with the Studio Display is the next best thing we could ask for. The Mac is freed from the constraints of fitting inside the monitor enclosure; the display is freed to be purchased separately and paired with any Mac in the lineup.

That it comes at such a fair price when considering the features and specifications is icing on the cake.





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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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