Alternative 4K / 5K Monitors

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by themediadude, Aug 13, 2017.

  1. themediadude macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2017
    Does anyone have recommendations for 4K / 5K Monitors? Something that supports USB-C? The LG displays at the Apple store are a bit expensive.
  2. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    For 5k, you probably won't do better than the LG/Apple one. I think there are/were about two others (I also suspect they've been discontinued) - from HP and Dell - both of which need two DisplayPort cables. For 4k, note that the Apple/LG 4k display is also "true 4k" - 4096x2304 - whereas the majority of other "4k" displays are "'4k' UHD" - 3840x2160.

    So the Apple/LG offerings are actually reasonably good value - the only weak point IMHO is the lack of any other video input than USB-C on the 4k and Thunderbolt 3 on the 5k. Most other 4k displays will have multiple DisplayPort and/or HDMI inputs.

    Also note that although the Apple/LG 4k has a USB-C hub, the downstream ports only support slow old USB 2 speeds - 4k@60Hz in USB/DisplayPort alt-mode needs all 4 high-speed lanes of a USB-C cable. You'll hit this restriction on any 4k@60Hz USB-C display until both Macs and displays start supporting DisplayPort 1.4. TB3 can carry 4k/5k and USB 3.1 at the same time, so it does a bit better.

    If you really, really want single-cable docking, I'd go for either the LG/Apple 5k Thunderbolt display or a Thunderbolt 3 dock + 3rd Party 4k display connected to the dock via HDMI or DisplayPort. The Apple/LG 4k also looks good, but if you want to run USB3 hard drives, 1G Ethernet etc. you'll want to hook those directly to the Mac.

    If you can cope with the stress and humiliation of plugging two or three cables into your Mac (almost as bad as taking two bottles into the shower!) then there are a shedload of 4k displays of all shapes and sizes that will work with a USB-C to DisplayPort or HDMI 2 connector.
  3. themediadude thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2017
    Thank you for the detailed reply. So if I understand correctly I can use the LG display and the USB-C ports will carry data at normal speeds so I can use the LG display with USB-C hard drives?
  4. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    The Apple/LG Ultrafine 4k display connects with a USB-C cable and has 3 "downstream" USB-C ports - but these only support USB 2 speeds (480 Mbps). Fine for mice, keyboards, scanners, printers etc. but a bit slow for hard drives in this day and age (although they will work).

    The Apple/LG Ultrafine 5k display connects with a Thunderbolt 3 cable (so it needs a MacBook Pro or 2017 iMac) and has 3 "downstream" USB-C ports - and these support faster USB 3 speeds (5 Gbps).

    Basically, if you're using 4k@60Hz or higher displays and still want to run multiple devices from one port, you really need the extra bandwidth of Thunderbolt over regular USB-C.

    Disclaimer - I'm just going on specs, I haven't used these personally. However, I have wasted a lot of time getting my head around the various non-obvious details of USB-C and TB3, which have a lot of people here muddled...
  5. themediadude thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2017
    Thank you! I'm still using FireWire 800 drives at the moment!

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