Though it’s rather plain and bland compared to Apple’s late, lamented Thunderbolt Display, the LG UltraFine 5K Display is the best external monitor for use with a new MacBook Pro. It’s pricey at $1,299, but it does support True Tone when connected to one of the new laptops (when the lid remains open) and works with the new Blackmagic eGPU.
That said, the LG display’s base and borders look boxy, clunky, and unsexy compared to the late Thunderbolt Display and that of the iMac. The 27-inch display itself on the LG UltraFine 5K — which is 18.3 inches high, 24.6 inches wide, 9.4 inches deep, and weighs 18.7 pounds — is gorgeous. It boasts a 5120-by-2880 resolution, 14.7 million pixels, P3 wide color gamut, and 500 cd/m² of brightness.
Using it with your new Apple laptop is easy. A single Thunderbolt 3 cable (included) provides up to 85W of charging power to your MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports. The cable can handle K at 60 Hz. Three downstream USB-C ports (5 Gbps) offer additional connectivity and power to compatible devices and accessories. There are no buttons on the UltraFine 5K; not even a power button. You adjust all settings via macOS with the MacBook Pro.
The UltraFine has built-in stereo speakers. The sound is mediocre; they lacked the deep bass and crispness I was expecting after I heard they utilize LG’s “Rich Bass” technology. It’s sad that they aren’t at least as good as the ones in the laptop the monitor is designed to pair with. Along the same lines, there’s no headphone jack.
One advantage the LG display stand has over the iMac (and the discontinued Thunderbolt Display) is that you can not only tilt it, but can adjust its height. If you use the tallest setting, you can “tuck” the top of your 15-inch MacBook Pro behind it, mirror the displays, and use the Touch Bar on the new laptops. If you’re a Touch Bar fan, this is the only way to go as Apple offers no external Touch Bar keyboards (although I’m expecting to see one with a 2018 iMac).
Using the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2016, you can drive one 27-inch LG UltraFine display at its full 5K resolution at 60 Hz. Using the 15-inch MB Pro, you can drive one on each side.
Should you buy it? If you’re a 2018 MacBook Pro user who wants to be able to connect to an external display, yes. The features are very Apple-like, even if the design isn’t. The UltraFine 5K works great. Just try not to look at any nearby 5K iMacs while you’re using it.
Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★