Amid the swirl of rumors leading up to Apple’s October 2016 press conference, there was a quiet hope from some users that Apple would bring back its Cinema Displays. Apple stopped selling these massive monitors in 2014, and if the 27-inch 5K LG display it showed off Thursday is any indication, those hopeful few may have to keep waiting.
Details on the monitor are slim at best. The display will be one of just a small handful of 5K displays on the market, sitting at a sky-high 5,120 x 2,880. It joins the Dell UP2715K and the existing iMac panel in the over-4K club, which typically require some complex connection schemes to work.
But thanks to Thunderbolt 3, which sports more than enough bandwidth for 5K resolutions, the LG can connect to the new MacBook Pro, as well as any other Thunderbolt 3 system, with just a single Thunderbolt 3 cable. We’ve seen a handful of monitors begin to support Thunderbolt 3, which can carry both DisplayPort and HDMI singles, but they tend to be high-end options, like the LG 5K UltraFine.
Another advantage of Thunderbolt 3 is it provides enough bandwidth to support some extra bells and whistles. LG Ultra Fine displays can cram in front-facing webcams, microphones, speakers, and a trio of downstream USB Type-C ports rated at 5Gbps each. It also charges your MacBook Pro at up to 85W.
The downside to all of this is that it likely means we won’t be seeing first-party displays from Apple anytime soon. To be fair, brands like LG have a lot more experience producing these panels, although the store page for the LG claims it requires MacOS Sierra and a Thunderbolt 3-enabled Mac, so Windows and Linux users may have to look elsewhere.
At $1,300, the LG UltraFine 5K display doesn’t come cheap, but it’s actually competitively priced compared to the Dell, which sits closer to $2,000, and carries a $2,500 MSRP. If that’s a little rich for you, there’s also a 21.5-inch, 4K version for just $700, and unlike the 5K model, you can actually pre-order the smaller one now.
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