LG UltraFine 4K and 5K displays are the new Apple monitors

In case you weren't aware, Apple tends to release new monitors to go along with new devices. The refreshed MacBook Pro announcement yesterday didn't include any monitors with Apple's name on them, though. The honors were given to a pair of LG displays called "UltraFine," which the company says were designed specifically for the new MacBooks. The UltraFine displays are available in 21.5" size with DCI 4K resolution and as a 27" variant with 5K resolution.

The 21.5" model uses a 4096×2304 IPS panel that Apple says supports "millions" of colors, which seems to imply it's a 8-bit unit. Meanwhile, the 27" model 5120×2880 panel supports "billions" of colors, indicating what's likely a 10-bit panel. LG says that either monitor can reproduce 99% of the DCI-P3 color space, and that maximum brightness should reach an impressive 500 cd/m². Both monitors can charge attached laptops, and include speakers and VESA mounts.

The 4K monitor differs from its larger sibling in a few other ways. The smaller monitor uses DisplayPort over a USB Type-C connector for input duties, and has three USB 2.0 Type-C ports for connecting other devices. In contrast, the 5K display requires a Thunderbolt connection, no doubt thanks to its higher resolution. Its triad of onboard USB Type-C ports are of the USB 3.0 variety. The larger display also includes a built-in camera.

The UltraFine displays are only available from Apple for now, and the sultans of style want $700 for the 21.5" 4K model. Apple's site says that current orders for that monitor should be shipping in five to six weeks. Meanwhile, the 27" UltraFine 5K monitor isn't yet available for purchase, but will go for $1300 and arrive early December.

Comments closed
    • sreams
    • 3 years ago

    I’m currently running a 50-inch Samsung UHD TV that cost $550 (60Hz, 4:4:4). Not sure why someone would pay $150 more for a 21.5″ display that has a few more pixels.

      • Pwnstar
      • 3 years ago

      TV’s have higher input lag.

    • End User
    • 3 years ago

    For the 21.5″ version:

    [quote<]three downstream USB-C ports (480 Mbps)[/quote<] That is utterly contemptible.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      Wait, wha? Isn’t that a USB 2 data rate?

        • Lord.Blue
        • 3 years ago

        Indeed it is…and TB3 has enough bandwidth to fully saturate more than 80 USB 2.0 ports…so that makes this monitor really, crazily, over-priced.

          • adisor19
          • 3 years ago

          Yeah but this one is NOT a Thunderbolt monitor. It’s just a USB3.1 monitor and when it uses display port alternate mode, there is no bandwidth left out of that 10Gbps for USB3 transfer data rates so all you get is USB2.

          In other words : DO NOT BUY this model.

          Adi

      • smilingcrow
      • 3 years ago

      Agreed, a 4K 21.5″ screen seems dumb and the price is extortionate also.
      Anyone uniformed enough to buy into that probably has no idea what 480 Mbps means anyway.

      • willmore
      • 3 years ago

      Please see my post above. When a type C port is in alt mode, the only leftover data lines are USB 2.0. So, there’s not any point to having anything but USB 2.0 ports off of the monitors hub.

      I’m not familiar with the TB modes of type C. Maybe something better can be done there.

      Edited: It looks that TB3 should enable the monitor to have both a display connection and high speed data over the same connection. So, you’re right, this monitor should be able to support more than USB 2.0 downstream.

        • toastie
        • 3 years ago

        Except it isn’t a Thunderbolt monitor, it is DisplayPort over USB-C. Your initial statement is correct. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense at 21.5″, unless you’re running everything at a scaled 1080P resolution.

          • willmore
          • 3 years ago

          Oh, yeah, I glossed over that paragraph in the story, oops, sorry.

    • End User
    • 3 years ago

    I wish “Type-C” just meant a Thunderbolt 3 spec cable as it is backwards compatible with everything. A USB 2.0 Type-C cable is pure garbage.

      • slowriot
      • 3 years ago

      Agreed. The Type-C situation and USB in general are a complete mess.

    • Anovoca
    • 3 years ago

    It won’t be long now until Type-C will help to kill off the dockingstation for good. All that is needed now is an ability to handle network traffic.

      • End User
      • 3 years ago

      Please be more specific when you talk about “Type-C”. It can range from a USB 2.0 Type-C cable all the way up to a Thunderbolt 3 Type-C cable.

      • End User
      • 3 years ago

      Both USB and Thunderbolt have been handling network duties forever. My Thunderbolt Display has a gigabit ethernet port. Ideally you want Thunderbolt 3 Type-C moving forward.

        • Anovoca
        • 3 years ago

        Sorry, I meant the monitor to handle and forward network traffic.

          • End User
          • 3 years ago

          You should be able to connect an ethernet cable to a TB3 port on a a display via an adapter. TB3 will handle the rest.

          Edit: The 5K version of the LG display has only 1 TB3 Type C port. Sigh. So you need a USB 3.1 Gen 1 or a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C ethernet adapter to connect ethernet to the display.

            • willmore
            • 3 years ago

            When you’re using a type C port in display port alt mode, there is only USB 2.0 speed data leftover. So, I don’t see the point of the monitor having anything other than USB 2.0 type C ports off of its internal hub.

            Edited: It looks that TB3 should enable the monitor to have both a display connection and high speed data over the same connection. So, you’re right, this monitor should be able to support more than USB 2.0 downstream.

            • the
            • 3 years ago

            Using Type-C’s alt modes do not strictly require the reduction of USB speeds down to 2.0 levels. This is fully configurable with the alt mode and DisplayPort. A DisplayPort connection has four lanes for transmission but for driving lower resolutions, only one or two lanes are necessary. Thus the pins that would be assigned for the third and fourth DP lanes can be handed off to the USB controller to enable 3.1 speeds while driving, say a 1080p monitor.

            There are a couple of restrictions here. Passive Type-C to DP + USB adapters won’t offer this flexibility as the individual pins are hardwired. Older DP v1.0/1.1 monitors may require the usage of all four DP lanes for driving 1080p since they don’t support the higher speeds per DP lane.

            Thunderbolt works similar to how DP works with regards to the Type-C connector. It does get the benefit of encapsulating DP packets for transmission over the same wires used for TB. The other nice thing about Thunderbolt 3 is that the per lane data transmission is twice as fast as DisplayPort v1.2. Thus for a scenario where four DP 1.2 lanes are necessary, then only two lanes of Thunderbolt 3 are necessary for encapsulation.

            Thus for the LG 4K display here, the USB 3.0 ports on the display are [i<]likely[/i<] feed from a USB 3.0 hub using full USB 3.0 downstream bandwidth to the MacBook Pro. The LG 4K display's Thunderbolt controller takes the two Thunderbolt 3 lanes and demux them into four DP lanes. From there it is ordinary monitor logic to drive a panel. There is a way to test to see if my hypothesis is true: connect this LG 4K display behind another Thunderbolt 3 device that would require all the Type-C alt mode pins to be set for Thunderbolt 3. The result would be that the USB ports on the LG 4K display would then drop to USB 2.0 speeds since that is all that would be passed to the display's internal USB hub. The LG 5K displays [i<]likely[/i<] has a bit more complex internal circuitry. All the Type-C alt mode pins are assigned to Thunderbolt 3 as necessary to encapsulate two DP 1.2 data streams. Four Thunderbolt 3 lanes are demuxed into eight DP 1.2 lanes to drive the 5K native resolution. These eight DP 1.2 lanes feed into the same display controller used by the Dell UP2715K. USB ports on the displays are not actually fed by the Type-C's reserved USB ports. Rather, they are feed by an internal USB 3.0 PCIe controller that hangs off of the LG 5k display's Thunderbolt controller. Now for a few other fun little quirks with Type C, Thunderbolt 3 and DP 1.3/1.4. Right now, Intel doesn't offer any Thunderbolt 3 controllers that can encapsulate DP 1.3. Thus any GPU feeding the Thunderbolt controller will work at DP 1.2 speeds. Thus to get 5K resolution, the Thunderbolt 3 controllers to date have two DP inputs with four lanes each (eight total). Thunderbolt controllers that support DP 1.3 are not expected until the time CannonLake ships as that will be Intel's first chip to support DP 1.3/1.4. But wait, can't the Type-C connector assign the alt-mode pins directly from the Polaris 11 GPU on the 15" MacBook Pro to get DP 1.3 output?[b<]*[/b<] Unfortunately, the Polaris 11 GPU is not the source connected to any DP inputs. All display functionality is actually routed through the Intel GPU and thus DP is limited to 1.2 speeds. This is a requirement for GPU switching. [b<]*[/b<]Technically speaking, there would need to be a switch between the physical Type-C port with one input from the Thunderbolt 3 controller and the other from the Polaris GPU. Intel does not support a switch between the Type C connector and the Thunderbolt controller due to precision trace routing required by Thunderbolt.

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    Well all the Apple displays in the last half decade have been LG IPS panels anyway, shame about the price, but the same LG IPS panels are already on sale in other monitors without the Apple tax.

    Apple tax, milking the ignorant as usual. The Dell UP2715K is the same panel but it a more ergonomic stand and with extra features for $300 less, but being Dell there are often deep discounts if you’re patient and keep an eye on pricetracker.

      • shaq_mobile
      • 3 years ago

      or if you are in higher ed(as IT, not a student :(), dell has wicked good discounts (though not as good as HP, but HP only really brings printers to the table)

      • blastdoor
      • 3 years ago

      Too bad the Dell requires two cables to drive it at 5k.

        • adisor19
        • 3 years ago

        Bingo. This is not a Thunderbolt 3 monitor.

        Adi

      • adisor19
      • 3 years ago

      I fail to see the Thunderbolt 3 port on it. So no, this is NOT a proper replacement for the LG one.

      Adi

    • blastdoor
    • 3 years ago

    Ok, try not to laugh, but…

    I guess the existence of this Mac-ish 5k monitor could be interpreted as a very (very, very) dim ray of hope that perhaps a new Mac Pro might be coming out in the next 6 months.

    My logic here is that a new Mac Pro would need an appropriately Mac-ish 5k monitor, and prior to this, such a monitor did not exist.

      • adisor19
      • 3 years ago

      Hope you’re right but I’m not holding my breath. Sadly, a hackintosh is the way to go these days in order to get an OS X desktop for a reasonable price and with up to date hardware.

      It shows how behind Apple’s desktops are.. *sigh*

      Adi

    • Mad_Dane
    • 3 years ago

    Billions? In plural? How many bits is that panel?

      • sweatshopking
      • 3 years ago

      all of them.

      • chuckula
      • 3 years ago

      One Sagan.

        • short_fuze
        • 3 years ago

        That man had a gift for making something as nerdy as astronomy sound so … snooty. =)

    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    There’s no way Apple fans can use these monitors no matter how good they are unless they have a shiny Apple logo instead of that funny LG logo on the bezel.

      • Chrispy_
      • 3 years ago

      It’s okay, Apple fans have a near limitless supply of those white apple logo stickers that you get with every iPad.

      Why settle for just one Apple logo when you can have fourteen?

        • ronch
        • 3 years ago

        You mean they can turn every household appliance into an Apple product?? Magic!!!

          • DrCR
          • 3 years ago

          iMagic

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    Oh LG You So Fine!
    You So Fine You Blow My Budget,
    Hey LG!
    Hey LG!

      • Voldenuit
      • 3 years ago

      You get a Goldstar, Lucky One.

        • HERETIC
        • 3 years ago

        And the nickname used to be-Lucky if it Goes.

      • the
      • 3 years ago

      Ugh. That song is now in my head.

      • ronch
      • 3 years ago

      A nice letter from Disney in 3… 2… 1…

        • UberGerbil
        • 3 years ago

        Why would Disney sue when [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mickey_(song)#Other_notable_versions<]their version[/url<] was a cover of a cover?

          • the
          • 3 years ago

          To cover all their legal bases.

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