Meet LG’s new Macbook Pro compatible 4K and 5K monitors with Thunderbolt 3

by on October 30, 2016

Stephan Jukic – October 30, 2016

Apple and LG have essentially partnered up on a sort of dual product release that wonderfully meshes to create one very powerful new computing and display option for consumers who love ultra HD resolution and awesome connectivity specs.

First there was Apple’s unveiling of its new late-2016 Macbook Pro 15 and 13 inch laptops with tremendously powerful GPU specs and the latest in ultra-wide bandwidth USB-C Thunderbolt 3 connectivity which together can support multiple 4K and even 5K PC monitors. Then to perfectly complement these new Apple machines, LG announced the impending release of new 4K and 5K PC monitors which of course also offer Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. The 4K model, called the “UltraFine” 21.5, offers a display size of 21.5 inches while the 5K “UltraFine” monitor comes with a 27 inch display.

LG is in fact specifically advertising its two new DCI 4K and 5K monitors as being built to seamlessly integrate with the macOS ecosystem and Apple’s new Macbook Pro models so these product releases are very definitely a sort of joint effort between the two companies.

And let there be no doubt about it, at least from the published specs we’re seeing for the new UltraFine monitors, these models are excquisite pieces of PC technology. For starters, both monitors offer resolutions which go well beyond the usual 4K PC monitor pixel count of 4K UHD at 3840 x 2160 pixels. Instead, the 4K LG model offers a DCI (Digital Cinema) “true” 4K resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels (which means it offers roughly 500,000 more pixels than a typical 4K UHD monitor) and the 5K monitor offers the much more rarified 5K display resolution of 5120 x 2880 pixels. This latter 5K resolution is something currently only offered on the market by Dell’s Ultrasharp 5K monitor and Apple’s own 5K iMac desktop computers.


Both monitors also offer the excellent wide viewing angles of IPS display and some truly high brightness specs at 500 cd/m2, which is well above the PC monitor average of 280 to 350 cd/m2. Additionally, the refresh rates of both machines sit at a smooth 60Hz and the monitors offer some truly stunning cinematic color at more than 92% DCI-P3 color space coverage. The 5K monitor even offers 10-bit color for a total of 1.07 billion RGB color value variations.

Basically, both models come with display specs that almost them on par with HDR 4K TVs in how well they render visuals.

And while the above display specs for the two new monitors are stunning enough by themselves, their most impressive feature is quite possibly the remarkably robust connectivity both the UltraFine 21.5 and UltraFine 27 offer. Just like the Macbook Pro machines which they’re built to so smoothly complement, the LG monitors offer the tremendous bandwidth power of USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 integration. This means data transfer rates well above 40Gbps and the ability to handle dual DisplayPort 1.2 streams over a single USB-C connection in both displays. In fact, the 5K model requires the bandwidth equivalent of two DisplayPort 1.2 connections just to render graphics from a Macbook Pro onto its 5120 x 2880 display. The USB-C ports of the two UltraFine monitors also allow for large electrical power transfers, meaning that these ports can actually be used to charge a laptop or other connected device at high speed.

Both the 21.5 inch UltraFine and the 27 inch UltraFine also come with stereo speakers while the 27 inch 5K model also features a built-in microphone for video and audio conferencing.

One major warning about the two UltraFine monitors is however definitely worth mentioning here to owners of Windows machines who want to get their hands on them. While the specs and performance of both displays are apparently stunning, these machines have definitely been built with Apple machines in mind and more specifically, they’re maximally compatible with the new Macbook Pro laptops.


First of all, neither monitor offers a more basic sRGB color setting. For Apple machines this is no problem due to their far more robust color management systems for software and display but for Windows color management technology, the LG displays will likely create oversaturated color tht can’t be made to go away easily.

Additionally, that robust and cutting-edge connectivity that the two UltraFines come with sort of limits them to Apple’s Macbook devices in most ways. Even the product specifications for the two new monitors indicate that they need the USB-C connectivity and in the case of the 5K monitor the USB-C + Thunderbolt 3 connectivity of the Macbook Pro to really function. This it seems that owners of Windows laptops and PCs might want to stay away from these otherwise very impressive PC monitors.

The LG UltraFine 21.5 inch and 27 inch monitors aren’t shipping for sale quite yet but they have been listed online and on Apple’s website for $699.95 for the 4K model and $1,299.95 for the 27 inch 5K model. The 4K laptop will start shipping in November and the 5K model will ship in December.

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  • Luke
    October 31, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    Since no one else commented (hopefully, because no one else has read this “article”), I’m going to point out a couple of things:
    – “…awesome connectivity specs.” While Thunderbolt 3 is a great connection technology, a few other options would have certainly been great. The monitors therefore definitely do not offer “awesome connectivity specs”.
    – “…tremendously powerful GPU specs…” of the new MBP? If you say so…
    – Not just Dell and Apple, but Philips have a 5K monitor on sale as well.
    – 500 cd/m^2 of brightness is hardly of value for any professional user or prosumer and that probably is who these devices are aimed at, is it not?
    – Both monitors are almost as good as 4K TVs in terms of rendering visuals? This was an actual joke, right?
    – “Data rates well above 40 Gbps” for Thunderbolt 3? No, in fact 40 Gbps is the absolute maximum and is currently only reached with cable lengths of 50 cm (so a lot of Thunderbolt 3 connections currently “only” get 20 Gbps).
    I could go on, but quite frankly I’m so tired of this type of “journalism”. If you don’t know sh*t, don’t write about sh*it. It’s actually that simple.


    • Stephen
      November 3, 2016 at 12:32 am

      Hello Luke, thank you for your thoughtfully rude comment. Now, onto your points.

      Given the rarity of Thunderbolt 3 and its power, yes I’d definitely call it an impressive connectivity spec compared to its predecessors. “Awesome” may be a bit hypey but it fits well enough.

      The Philips was an accidental omission but it has been corrected, thanks for that

      500 cd/m2 is indeed very good PC monitor brightness by the standards of average 4K PC monitor display brightness, even many 4K TVs don’t reach this level, so you possibly don’t know what you’re even talking about if the claim seems strange to you.

      Given their 10-bit color, their wide DCI color space coverage (at least from what we’ve heard of their specs), yes they do actually offer what is very close to HDR color performance even if they lack other HDR attributes

      So yes, Thunderbolt 3 handles 40Gbps in other words.


      • Luke
        November 3, 2016 at 1:37 pm

        Hi Stephen, I apologize for my comment indeed being quite rude. I was just a little more incensed after reading your piece than usual. I’m an engineer in this field and when I read certain news I just sometimes forget that most other people don’t actually care that much about the intricate details of these technologies.

        To your replied points:
        HP also have a 5K consumer display (the Z27q), which tells me it was not really an accidental omission, you simply did not do your research well enough.
        Regarding the brightness of the monitors, I wasn’t stating that 500 cd/m^2 isn’t actually pretty bright (which it obviously is). Instead, I was pointing out that no professional or prosumer (normally) needs a higher maximum brightness of 120 to 140 cd/m2, because these people work in (somewhat) controlled environments regarding illumination (or they simply close their blinds when working).
        I don’t quite understand your point about HDR. I was simply rejecting your premise that Thunderbolt 3 offers data rates “well above 40 Gbps”, which is factually false. It manages speeds of up to 40 Gbps, unless you use longer cables than 50 cm, then the speeds you can achieve are lower.


  • Chris
    December 27, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Will a TV at 5k like samsung or panasonic perform well for a macbook pro late 2016 instead of the expensive LG monitor.
    Its a nightmare with apples recent antics and I can’t use my cinema display thats on a different mini display instead of thunderbolt and there is no adapter for that due to different protocols I think.


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