Apple Pro Display
Can Apple’s newest display satisfy every kind of pro?

It’s been a long time since Apple made a standalone display; the Apple Thunderbolt Display was discontinued in 2016. We still use this monitors at Sopra Steria and love them. I also have 2 of them at home but are now using Azus wide monitors. Apple tried to point customers looking for an external display at an LG 5K monitor for a while, but it was fairly buggy, leading the company to promise pro customers a high-end display of its own when it also promised to reboot the Mac Pro in 2017.

And now it’s here: the Pro Display XDR, part of Apple’s aggressive retrenchment in the professional market with the new Mac Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The Pro Display XDR is a 32-inch 6K LCD that can hit 1,600 nits of peak brightness (Iphone has about 6-800), with 1,000 nits of sustained brightness from a full-array local dimming backlight composed of 576 special blue LEDs. It supports true 10-bit color and the full DCI-P3 color gamut, and Apple says that it can hit a million-to-one contrast ratio using certain industry-standard test patterns.

Made for creative

These are all very impressive specs — so impressive that Apple confidently says the Pro Display XDR is the “world’s best pro display.” It’s also so impressive that the company spent a lot of time at the launch event comparing it to a $43,000 Sony reference OLED that is usually used for high-end color grading work in film and TV production.The Pro Display XDR costs $4,999, with a $999 optional stand. Even at $6,000 total, that’s substantially less than $43,000, a number Apple certainly wants you to think about to put the price in perspective.

And I think maybe everyone would have been better off if Apple had never mentioned that $43,000 Sony at all 😉 The outside of the Pro Display XDR is notable both for what’s there and especially for what’s not there. What’s there is Apple’s striking new pattern of cooling vents across the back, which looks like overlapping alien heads or the fever dreams of a depressed honeybee that just wants to draw for a living. It’s fair to say no other display has ever looked like this from the rear.

Details

There are four USB-C connections on the back, but they are far more confusing than you’d expect. (Or perhaps not, given that USB-C is generally confusing.) One of the USB-C connectors, marked by a lightning bolt icon, is a Thunderbolt 3 port, which is how you plug the display into your Mac. The other three USB-C connectors operate at different speeds, depending on your computer: most supported Macs can only run them at USB 2 speeds, but the 16-inch MacBook Pro can run them at the USB 3 speeds because its video card supports a new standard called Display Stream Compression that leaves enough bandwidth on the Thunderbolt bus for faster USB connections. The Mac Pro does not offer video cards that support DSC, in case you’re wondering.

Some have stated that the USB-C ports on the back of the Pro Display XDR only run at USB 2 speeds on most computers. So USB-C is going just great. Speaking of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, during some tests it got very hot while running the Pro Display XDR.  After about 45 minutes, the laptop got pretty warm, and the fans had spun up. This isn’t a huge surprise — pushing that many pixels isn’t easy — but don’t expect to use this thing with a laptop and have things stay cool.

Rune Wold

Author Rune Wold

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