Category Archives: MacBook Pro

9to5Toys Last Call: 13″ Retina MacBook Pro late 2013 $1000 w/MIR, Seagate 5TB HDD $130, iPhone 6/Plus case $2, more

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Today’s can’t miss deals:

apple-macbook-pro-me864ll-a-13-3-inch-laptop-with-retina-display-newest-version

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro w/ Retina display 2.4GHz/4GB/128GB (late 2013) $1,000 w/ MIR (Reg. $1,300)

seagate-backup-plus-5tb-black

Seagate 5TB Backup Plus USB 3.0 External Desktop Hard Drive $130 shipped (Reg. $160)

Ultra Thin Soft TPU Transparent Clear Skin Case Cover for iPhone 6:Plus (multiple colors)-sale-01

iPhone 6/Plus Ultra Thin TPU Case (multiple colors) for $2 shipped

smartthings-home-sensors

Review: SmartThings offers an open and flexible home automation experience with a few caveats

More new deals:

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More deals still alive:

New products/ongoing promos/info:

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Filed under: Tips and Tricks Tagged: 13-inch, 9to5Toys, Amazon, app deals, Apple, Best Buy, Daily Deals, free apps, Gold Box, iPhone 6/Plus case, MacBook Pro, Retina Display, Seagate 5TB Backup Plus, video games

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Opinion: Does the minimalist 12-inch MacBook Air design represent the future of MacBooks?

comparison-copy

While we’ve been expecting the 12-inch MacBook Air for quite some time and some of the details have long been rumored, the design exclusively revealed in Mark Gurman’s report has raised eyebrows throughout the tech world. Especially the most dramatic element: the reduction of the ports to just one multifunction USB-C socket, a headphone socket and a pair of microphones.

The $64,000 questions are: will this ruthlessly cut-down approach prove workable—and is this a design unique to this one machine, or does it represent the future of all MacBooks … ?

Let’s start with a note of reassurance. The USB Type C port is an extremely clever thing indeed—it’s the very epitome of multifunctional ports. It can provide power. It can feed an external display. You can connect it to external storage. You can plug-in any of the myriad devices you connect to existing USB ports, from cameras through printers to cardreaders. No functionality will be lost.

And we should add, while we’re discussing good news, that one of the nice features of USB Type C is that the plug is reversible, just like a Lightning cable. This would end once and for all the frustration of what someone once described as ‘USB, the only binary choice that takes three goes to get right.’

But, at first glance, some of the functionality we’re used to could become rather less convenient. At home or in the office, we’re going to need some kind of dock or hub to connect multiple devices, and the simple convenience when travelling of charging our iPhone via USB while the MacBook charges from the mains would be lost.

And what about MagSafe? I love MagSafe. Not just because it has saved me from an expensive MacBook nose-dive on more than one occasion, but also because it’s so damn easy to use—none of the fiddling around with the power lead you get with lesser laptops. Just hold the connector somewhere near the right spot and it snaps into place.

silvergray-copy

But I think we need to give Apple some credit here: usability is in the company’s bloodstream, so it’s not like it won’t have considered these issues. Simultaneously charging a MacBook and iPhone while travelling could be as simple as adding a USB port to the power brick, and MagSafe could be incorporated with a simple adapter.

And we need to remember that 9to5Mac readers are very different to mass-market consumers: I would bet good money that a high proportion of MacBook Air owners don’t ever connect their machine to anything other than power and the occasional USB key. Thunderbolt-style daisy-chaining of devices is a techhead and AV pro thing, not a person-in-the-street thing.

Which is all well and good if we’re talking about a single machine, and especially if—as has been suggested in the past—this is intended as an entry-level MacBook. But that is very much an unknown.

This might indeed be a cut-down machine, built to a price. We could even get totally crazy, and envisage it as the Apple version of a Chromebook: a machine with almost no internal storage, simply designed to connect you to the Internet, where you use iWork for iCloud. I don’t think that’s likely, but Apple was the first company to ditch optical storage from its laptops, and the first mainstream manufacturer to switch to machines which essentially cannot be upgraded. The company is certainly not afraid to declare that a brave new world has arrived.

keyboardsilver-copy

But what if it’s not an entry-level machine? What if it’s instead a premium machine, designed to sit above the current MacBook Air range? What if it has a Retina screen and enough on-board SSD storage that the need to connect to external devices is reduced? And what if, rather than a new design for a single MacBook Air model, Apple sees this as a template for the future of the entire MacBook range?

There’s reason to think this might be the direction in which Apple is headed. It has long been working hard to move us away from wires. iPhones, which once needed to be physically plugged into a Mac even to activate them, got first wireless sync and then iCloud backup. There’s been a lot of focus on iWork for iCloud – including the eventual return of its long-lost Dropbox equivalent, iCloud Drive. And new cloud-based features built into OS X and iOS like AirDrop, Handoff and other Continuity features intended to free us from the need to do anything as 20th Century as connect a USB key.

profilel-r-copy1

But there’s a problem with this glorious new wireless world. Mass-market consumers might be happy with a single port, but what about power users and AV professionals? People using multiple monitors. People who need to connect scanners, printers, cameras, microphones, audio interfaces, digital speakers and external drives. People using Thunderbolt to daisy-chain high-speed devices.

Apple has in the past given mixed messages to its pro users. On the one hand, it abandoned optical drives at a time when many AV pros were still using them; it discontinued the mobile professional’s favorite laptop, the 17-inch MacBook Pro; and there was the Final Cut Pro X debacle, where many AV pros thought Apple had lost touch with their needs. Many of us wondered at times whether Apple now viewed itself exclusively as a manufacturer of consumer products, with the business market seen as largely irrelevant.

But on the other hand, it finally updated the Mac Pro—a machine which is almost the definition of a niche market—and entered into an alliance with IBM to make a big push into the enterprise market with iOS devices. There is also that persistent rumor of the 12-inch iPad Pro, a device that only really makes sense in my opinion when targeting business users.

profilecompare-copy

So where does this leave us? I think pro users needn’t be concerned. All my examples of Apple seemingly moving away from this market are old ones, while my examples of it embracing business usage are far more recent. I don’t see the MacBook Pro range reducing to a single port plus mic and headphone socket anytime soon.

But I do think this is the direction in which Apple is headed. I think this vision was why Apple worked so hard with Intel to develop what became Thunderbolt: a single, high-speed, daisy-chainable, multi-function port. The standard didn’t take off in the way Apple hoped it would, but USB Type C will for sure.

The standard isn’t there yet. A single USB port—even one as clever as this—isn’t going to deliver the connectivity professionals need, but it’s an evolving standard. Give it a year or three to evolve into an even more capable super-port, and combine that with the faster and more ubiquitous wireless connectivity we’re going to see over that same timescale, and we may not be so far from the day when a MacBook with a single port can meet all of our needs—consumers and professionals alike.

Do you share my vision, or do you think that multiple ports and wires will be part of our future for a long time yet? Take our poll, and let us know your views in the comments.


Filed under: Mac, Opinion Tagged: 12-inch MacBook, 12-inch MacBook Air, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, USB type-C

Continue reading more about Mac, MacBook, and MacBook Air at 9to5Mac.

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Opinion: Does the minimalist 12-inch MacBook Air design represent the future of MacBooks?

comparison-copy

While we’ve been expecting the 12-inch MacBook Air for quite some time and some of the details have long been rumored, the design exclusively revealed in Mark Gurman’s report has raised eyebrows throughout the tech world. Especially the most dramatic element: the reduction of the ports to just one multifunction USB-C socket, a headphone socket and a pair of microphones.

The $64,000 questions are: will this ruthlessly cut-down approach prove workable—and is this a design unique to this one machine, or does it represent the future of all MacBooks … ?

Let’s start with a note of reassurance. The USB Type C port is an extremely clever thing indeed—it’s the very epitome of multifunctional ports. It can provide power. It can feed an external display. You can connect it to external storage. You can plug-in any of the myriad devices you connect to existing USB ports, from cameras through printers to cardreaders. No functionality will be lost.

And we should add, while we’re discussing good news, that one of the nice features of USB Type C is that the plug is reversible, just like a Lightning cable. This would end once and for all the frustration of what someone once described as ‘USB, the only binary choice that takes three goes to get right.’

But, at first glance, some of the functionality we’re used to could become rather less convenient. At home or in the office, we’re going to need some kind of dock or hub to connect multiple devices, and the simple convenience when travelling of charging our iPhone via USB while the MacBook charges from the mains would be lost.

And what about MagSafe? I love MagSafe. Not just because it has saved me from an expensive MacBook nose-dive on more than one occasion, but also because it’s so damn easy to use—none of the fiddling around with the power lead you get with lesser laptops. Just hold the connector somewhere near the right spot and it snaps into place.

silvergray-copy

But I think we need to give Apple some credit here: usability is in the company’s bloodstream, so it’s not like it won’t have considered these issues. Simultaneously charging a MacBook and iPhone while travelling could be as simple as adding a USB port to the power brick, and MagSafe could be incorporated with a simple adapter.

And we need to remember that 9to5Mac readers are very different to mass-market consumers: I would bet good money that a high proportion of MacBook Air owners don’t ever connect their machine to anything other than power and the occasional USB key. Thunderbolt-style daisy-chaining of devices is a techhead and AV pro thing, not a person-in-the-street thing.

Which is all well and good if we’re talking about a single machine, and especially if—as has been suggested in the past—this is intended as an entry-level MacBook. But that is very much an unknown.

This might indeed be a cut-down machine, built to a price. We could even get totally crazy, and envisage it as the Apple version of a Chromebook: a machine with almost no internal storage, simply designed to connect you to the Internet, where you use iWork for iCloud. I don’t think that’s likely, but Apple was the first company to ditch optical storage from its laptops, and the first mainstream manufacturer to switch to machines which essentially cannot be upgraded. The company is certainly not afraid to declare that a brave new world has arrived.

keyboardsilver-copy

But what if it’s not an entry-level machine? What if it’s instead a premium machine, designed to sit above the current MacBook Air range? What if it has a Retina screen and enough on-board SSD storage that the need to connect to external devices is reduced? And what if, rather than a new design for a single MacBook Air model, Apple sees this as a template for the future of the entire MacBook range?

There’s reason to think this might be the direction in which Apple is headed. It has long been working hard to move us away from wires. iPhones, which once needed to be physically plugged into a Mac even to activate them, got first wireless sync and then iCloud backup. There’s been a lot of focus on iWork for iCloud – including the eventual return of its long-lost Dropbox equivalent, iCloud Drive. And new cloud-based features built into OS X and iOS like AirDrop, Handoff and other Continuity features intended to free us from the need to do anything as 20th Century as connect a USB key.

profilel-r-copy1

But there’s a problem with this glorious new wireless world. Mass-market consumers might be happy with a single port, but what about power users and AV professionals? People using multiple monitors. People who need to connect scanners, printers, cameras, microphones, audio interfaces, digital speakers and external drives. People using Thunderbolt to daisy-chain high-speed devices.

Apple has in the past given mixed messages to its pro users. On the one hand, it abandoned optical drives at a time when many AV pros were still using them; it discontinued the mobile professional’s favorite laptop, the 17-inch MacBook Pro; and there was the Final Cut Pro X debacle, where many AV pros thought Apple had lost touch with their needs. Many of us wondered at times whether Apple now viewed itself exclusively as a manufacturer of consumer products, with the business market seen as largely irrelevant.

But on the other hand, it finally updated the Mac Pro—a machine which is almost the definition of a niche market—and entered into an alliance with IBM to make a big push into the enterprise market with iOS devices. There is also that persistent rumor of the 12-inch iPad Pro, a device that only really makes sense in my opinion when targeting business users.

profilecompare-copy

So where does this leave us? I think pro users needn’t be concerned. All my examples of Apple seemingly moving away from this market are old ones, while my examples of it embracing business usage are far more recent. I don’t see the MacBook Pro range reducing to a single port plus mic and headphone socket anytime soon.

But I do think this is the direction in which Apple is headed. I think this vision was why Apple worked so hard with Intel to develop what became Thunderbolt: a single, high-speed, daisy-chainable, multi-function port. The standard didn’t take off in the way Apple hoped it would, but USB Type C will for sure.

The standard isn’t there yet. A single USB port—even one as clever as this—isn’t going to deliver the connectivity professionals need, but it’s an evolving standard. Give it a year or three to evolve into an even more capable super-port, and combine that with the faster and more ubiquitous wireless connectivity we’re going to see over that same timescale, and we may not be so far from the day when a MacBook with a single port can meet all of our needs—consumers and professionals alike.

Do you share my vision, or do you think that multiple ports and wires will be part of our future for a long time yet? Take our poll, and let us know your views in the comments.


Filed under: Mac, Opinion Tagged: 12-inch MacBook, 12-inch MacBook Air, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, USB type-C

Continue reading more about Mac, MacBook, and MacBook Air at 9to5Mac.

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Apple’s next major Mac revealed: the radically new 12-inch MacBook Air

SilverGray copy

Apple is preparing an all-new MacBook Air for 2015 with a radically new design that jettisons standards such as full-sized USB ports, MagSafe connectors, and SD card slots in favor of a markedly thinner and lighter body with a higher-resolution display. Sources within Apple, who have used internal prototype versions of the upcoming computer, have provided in-depth details about the machine, and our exclusive artist renditions of the revamped MacBook Air provide the first close look at Apple’s first major step in mobile Mac computing since the Retina MacBook Pro launch in 2012.

Comparison copy

The 12-inch MacBook Air will be considerably smaller than the current 13-inch version, yet also slightly narrower than the 11-inch model. The new 12-inch version is approximately a quarter-of-an-inch narrower than the 11-inch version, yet it is also a quarter-of-an-inch taller in order to accommodate the slightly larger display. In order to fit the larger screen into a footprint about the size of the current 11-inch model, the bezels on the display have been reduced on all sides.

KeyboardSilver copy

Besides a new look for the front of the computer, the entire unibody has been revamped from the keyboard to the trackpad to the speakers. Taking cues from the 12-inch PowerBook introduced by Steve Jobs over a decade ago, the new keyboard sits edge-to-edge across the width of the laptop. In addition to going edge-to-edge, the entire key set has been subtly redesigned so that each key sits noticeably closer together. Apple has squeezed the keys closer in order for the computer to be as narrow as possible, which can be seen in the rendition below:

KeyboardSpacing copy

Apple has also relocated some of the function keys across the top and simplified the arrow key array in order to keep the keyboard as narrow as possible without taking away from overall usability. In addition to the keyboard, the trackpad has been changed. The trackpad is approximately the same width as that on the 11-inch MacBook Air (if not ever-so-slightly wider), but it is apparently slightly taller, nearly touching the bottoms of the keyboard and the frame. In line with earlier rumors, it also appears that the new trackpad does not have the same clicking effect as found on current and earlier MacBook models.

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The elimination of physical feedback in the click is part of Apple’s plan to reduce the thickness of the MacBook to a bare minimum. As can be seen in 9to5Mac artist Michael Steeber‘s rendition above, the new 12-inch Air (on the left) is far thinner than the current 11-inch model (on the right). Taking cues from the current Air, the future model has a teardrop-like, tapered design that gets thinner from top to bottom. Above the keyboard are four redesigned speaker grills that actually double as ventilation holes for the fan-less device to keep cool.

The upcoming laptop is so thin that Apple employees are said to refer to the device as the “MacBook Stealth” internally. In order to reach that new level of portability, Apple not only slimmed down the trackpad and tweaked the speakers but the ports as well:

ProfileL-R copy

The upcoming 12-inch Air has the fewest amount of ports ever on an Apple computer, as can be seen in the rendition above. On the left side is a standard headphone jack and dual-microphones for input and noise-canceling. On the right side is solely the new USB Type-C port. Yes, Apple is currently planning to ditch standard USB ports, the SD Card slot, and even its Thunderbolt and MagSafe charging standards on this new notebook. We must note that Apple tests several designs of upcoming products, so Apple may choose to ultimately release a new Air that does include the legacy components, though there is very little space on the edges for them.

As we’ve reported on multiple occasions, the new USB Type-C connector is smaller, faster, and more capable than the standard USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports on existing computers. The connector is able to replace the Thunderbolt Display port on the current Apple laptops as USB Type-C actually has the technology to drive displaysAdditionally, the latest specifications from the USB foundation indicate that USB Type-C can actually be used to power computers, which makes the standard MagSafe plugs unnecessary on this new device. The connector is also reversible like Lightning on iPads and iPhones, which should make the overall experience a bit more intuitive. 

KeyboardGray copy

As the new MacBook may only have a single port, it would make sense for Apple to create a hub of some sort for users to be able to plug in multiple devices into the new laptop. Apple already ships all sorts of adapters for its Macs and iOS Devices, so adding yet another attachment to the accessory portfolio would not be unprecedented. With Apple moving to a new “Space Gray” color on its iOS devices and on some Macs (such as with the 2013 Mac Pro), it seems possible that this new MacBook may come in a new gray color, as shown off in some of our renditions.

The latest rumors indicate that the new MacBook Air will ship in mid-2015 (perhaps around WWDC), while other reports have claimed that the new Air is already nearing production. With Intel revealing the latest news on the Broadwell chipset family at CES this week, the ball is likely now in Apple’s court for pushing the future of mobile computing into the world.


Filed under: AAPL Company, Mac Tagged: 12-inch, Apple, keyboard, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, OS X, PowerBook, Retina Display, Thinner

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Overheating MacBook fixed by drilling 60 holes in casing for increased airflow

MacBook-Speed-Holes-01

This is an interesting story from an iFixit programmer who attempted to fix his overheating MacBook Pro—an issue that many users have—by drilling a ring of holes in the MacBook’s body to increase airflow under its fans.

With a 1/16” bit, we drilled holes in the bottom case, under the fans (we figured out where the blades of the fan were exposed based on the dust pattern stuck to the inside of the bottom case). The speed holes worked: The boot chime rang. The screen glowed. The fans blew.

It’s too early to know if the fix will help long term, but initially the holes have decreased temperatures to an average in the 40s and 50s opposed to an average between 80º and 90º C and as high as 100º C before the modification.

The holes came only after trying a number of methods of fixing the dead MacBook, including baking the logic board in an oven, which temporarily provided some relief:I cracked open the back of my laptop, disconnected all eleven connectors and three heat sinks from the logic board, and turned the oven up to 340º F. I put my $900 part on a cookie sheet and baked it for seven nerveracking minutes… After it cooled, I reapplied thermal paste, put it all back together, and cheered when it booted. It ran great for the next eight months. Temperatures averaged in the 60s and 70s C—although recently, they began creeping up again.”

MacBook-Speed-Holes-02

The full story of how the overheating MacBook Pro was saved is on iFixit’s blog here.


Filed under: Mac Tagged: fans, heat issues, MacBook, MacBook Pro, overheating, Pro

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Mac Pro monitor review: The best 4K & UHD monitors for Mac

4K-displays-Sharp-Dell-LG-01

So Apple didn’t release a 4K (or 5K) standalone Retina display alongside the new 5K iMac, but you can’t hold off any longer on a shiny new display for your Mac Pro. I found myself in the same predicament not too long ago and decided to put a number of displays to the test in recent months. 4K might offer 4x the resolution of your standard 1080p display, but for the short time they’ve been around, they’ve also cost about 4x as much as the alternatives. The good news: There are a few Mac Pro compatible 4K displays (and UHD alternatives) finally starting to hit more reasonable price points just as recent OS X updates fix some issues early adopters first had with the higher resolution displays.

I’ve been testing Mac Pro compatible displays from Dell, Sharp, Samsung, LG, and others that are officially supported by Apple, and put together a list of my thoughts and top picks for those planning on picking up a new Mac Pro this holiday season. Despite my tests being done mostly on a new, stock Mac Pro, these picks stand for Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook users as well.

Apple last made silent minor tweaks to the Thunderbolt display in July 2012, but otherwise it has remained the same since its introduction over 3 years ago. I don’t have much bad to say about Apple’s display— it’s tried and tested and a solid choice— but at $999 almost three years later, I’m inclined to recommend these new 4K displays over Apple’s.

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BEST OVERALL - DELL 31.5” UltraSharp UP3214Q – $1,699 |

In my tests, the Dell UltraSharp UP3214Q offered the fewest compromises with most shortcomings being OS X related and often much more pronounced in other 4K displays, especially anything in what would be considered an affordable price point for most. Color accuracy, refresh rate, a high-quality IGZO panel, and a solid physical design, most of the other displays I tried didn’t impress in at least one or more of these categories, but the Dell stood strong.

Using this Dell 4K monitor was the first time an external display has been able to live up to the experience of my Retina MacBook Pro, which I had been using since its launch in 2011 before acquiring a new Mac Pro this year. One thing is true for all of these 4K displays: Once you go 4K, there’s no going back. This is a bigger problem for those coming from a Retina MacBook to a new Mac Pro like myself: 1080p simply doesn’t cut it once you’ve experienced super crisp text on a Retina display making 4K a necessity for many.

4K-displays-Sharp-Dell-LG-03

OS X supports the Dell UP3214Q at 60Hz after manually enabling DisplayPort 1.2 (the same can’t be said for all supported 4K displays) and that’s what I opted for using a mini DisplayPort 1.2 cable into the Thunderbolt port on my Mac Pro and the mini DisplayPort on the monitor. That works with MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013), Mac Pro (Late 2013), and iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014).

The monitor includes 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 mini-DisplayPort, 4 USB 3.0 and a 6-in-1 media card reader, and the stand offers adjustable height, swivel and tilting.

Dell-4K-3840-2160 Dell-4K-3008-1692

OS X 10.9.3 introduced scaling options for 4K displays not unlike those available for Apple’s own Retina displays. That corrected a lot of the initial complaints about 4K displays with Macs and made the higher resolution displays usable. Apple’s “Best for Display” option, which gives you the display’s full 3840 x 2160 resolution, still made UI elements a bit too tiny for my liking, so I opted for the next down scaling preset that looks like 3008 x 1692 but keeps everything on the display incredibly sharp and easy to read. A side by side comparison of those two resolutions (other scaling options exist) is above. For iOS and Mac users, it’s as close as you’ll get to the experience of a Retina display iPhone or Mac considering the larger 31.5-inch Dell has a much lower 140 PPI pixel density.

I still do have a few hiccups even with the latest Yosemite release using the Dell, and it appears to be related to 4K resolution support as the same issues appeared on displays from Sharp and others, but not lesser resolution UHD options. From time to time I experienced minor screen tearing effects when scrolling and the Dell has issues waking up when my Mac Pro has been asleep for extended periods of time, often requiring a reboot using the display’s power button. While annoyances, neither issue kept me from making this my main display and the top pick among all of the 4K displays I’ve tested.

To top it all off, the Dell has become what I’d consider affordable down from its starting price of $2999 to as low as $1500 and dropping today (Amazon).

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RUNNER UP – LG 34” 21:9 UltraWide QHD (34UM95) | $824

It’s not quite 4K, but LG’s new 21:9 Thunderbolt display gives the 4K displays a run for their money by offering one of the most attractive so-called UHD displays that, apart from resolution, beats out most displays on this list in just about every other aspect. At a resolution of 3440 x 1440, the super wide screen format has a lot to offer for pros that spend most of their time in timeline-based editing apps like Logic Pro or Final Cut. You lose a bit of the print quality crispness on text when coming from the Dell and other 4K resolution monitors, but with everything else it offers and a lower price point might make this a better option for many Mac Pro users.

The display didn’t have any of the growing pains experienced with the 4K displays, as mentioned above with the Dell and below with the others. LG made the display to be completely Mac Pro compatible. There’s a lot to like about the Thunderbolt ports at the rear: One allowed me to connect to the Mac Pro using a Thunderbolt cable at the full 3440 x 1440 resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate, while the other acts as a spare for daisy chaining up to six Thunderbolt devices or additional displays.

The monitor includes 2 HDMI ports, headphone out, 1 Display Port, and 2 Thunderbolt ports.

LG-21x9-widescreen-monitor-02

The 21:9 widescreen format is truly an experience all its own. It’s essentially like having two 20.5-inch, 5:4, 1720×1440 displays side by side in one 34-inch panel, and LG also has a Screen Split app that works well for easily docking windows side-by-side in various configurations to get the most out of the wide screen while multitasking. It’s great for pro apps that take full advantage of the wider format for timelines and other features, although it feels a bit vertically challenged in comparison to 4K monitors on the list if a horizontal workflow isn’t your thing.

Content made for the 21:9 widescreen format won’t look better anywhere else, and any content such as games that do not support the widescreen will get black bars along the side of the display essentially giving you a 16:9 display square in the middle. But it’s not my top pick for everyday mainly because the 4K displays blew it away for overall screen real restate while offering crystal clear, nearly print quality text, something that is extremely important in my decision for an everyday work display while multitasking. Having this is as a second monitor for working in pro apps that can benefit from the widescreen is a no-brainer, and it’s by far the nicest looking display on the list from a purely aesthetic standpoint.

LG-UltraWide-34-4K-01

The 34” 21:9 Ultrawide WQHD display I reviewed currently sells for $824 (Amazon), and LG has since released a curved version of this display— The 34” 21:9 UltraWide Curved Monitor— that has a slightly different stand and some other tweaks for $1299 or $1799 on (Amazon).

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC

SHARP 32″ (PN-K321) 4K Ultra HD LED Monitor – $2,900|

If it weren’t for the fact this display still rings in at around $3,000, around twice as much as the Dell monitor above and most others on this list, Sharp might have come in closer to the top. But I couldn’t justify spending twice as much on it when comparing the two displays side by side and living with them for the past couple months. The benefits of Sharp’s IGZO panel brings the same best in class marks for colors and viewing angles present in Dell’s monitor, but I’d put it a notch behind Dell in other categories including overall design, price, and user experience for configuration and more. While the Dell has come down in price by about half of its original asking price, the Sharp remains too pricey to recommend over other options.

One category the Sharp definitely wins in is build quality. The whole package is quite a tank in comparison to the Dell, which cuts down on any potential wobbling, although it’s mainly the weight of the display, a wider base, and slightly beefier stand.  That’s not to take away from the Dell’s hardware, which is solid and not too long ago cost about the same as the $3000 Sharp.  The stand is comparable to Dell’s with adjustable height, swivel and tilting action. On the back the display has two HDMI ports, 1 DisplayPort, and audio in/out. 

Apple continues to offer this display as an add-on alongside the Mac Pro and through its online store for $3595. Or get it on Amazon for as low as $2900. 

Asus-4K-Monitor-01

ASUS 31.5” (PQ321Q) 4K Monitor – $1469 |

With a 31.5-inch IGZO panel from Sharp like the Dell UP3214Q, there isn’t much to complain about with this display and it remains a solid option if you aim to save a couple hundred dollars over our top pick. But with the Dell coming down in price and often on sale for the same price or less than the Asus, there aren’t many reasons to recommend this display over Dell’s unless you simply prefer its design.

It includes an 2 HDMI ports, 1 DisplayPort 1.2, Audio in/out and is essentially the same design as the Sharp display above.

UNDER $1000 – DELL 24” (UP2414QAs low as $300 |

Dell-UP2414Q-01Dell’s UP24 looks like a smaller, 24-inch version of our top pick, the 31.5” UltraSharp UP3214Q, but it includes an LG panel of lesser quality that leaves much to be desired when it comparing it to the 31.5-inch version’s IGZO panel from Sharp. Still, at $600, it’s an officially supported option that is probably your best bet if your budget doesn’t allow for any of the picks above. Apple also supports this display with a refresh rate of 60 Hz — the only display with support in this price range– when using a DisplayPort 1.2 cable and manually enabling the setting for MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013, Mac Pro (Late 2013), and iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014. 

On sale for $300 (Microsoft Store) | $389 (Amazon)

COMING SOON:

LG-4K-display-mac

The new LG 4K has promise: Apple just added this recently announced LG display to its list of officially supported 4K and UHD displays for OS X. We’re awaiting a review unit and will do a full review when it arrives and also update this comparison (perhaps we’ll have a new winner!).

GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR |

Other 4K displays exist, but straying from Apple’s official list of supported displays is dangerous territory with a long list of compatibility issues documented online for the majority. Things are a little better for compatibility with these cheaper displays if you can deal with an often choppy 30Hz refresh rate or a less than spectacular panel, and MacBook users seem to be having more success with unsupported displays than Mac Pro users.

Samsung-4K-display-01

We got a $400 Samsung 4K display up and running on a custom Mac setup, but it’s not a route I’d recommend going. There’s a reason Samsung’s 28-Inch 4K Monitor (U28D590D) isn’t officially supported by Apple, and at a $500 price tag and dropping, you can probably imagine you’ll be getting what you pay for here when it comes to both build quality and compatibility.


Filed under: AAPL Company, Mac Tagged: 34UM95, 4k, 5K, best monitor, Dell, Display, lg, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, OS X, PN-K321, Resolution, review, scaling, Sharp, UHD, UP3214Q

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Mac Pro monitor review: The best 4K & UHD monitors for Mac

4K-displays-Sharp-Dell-LG-01

So Apple didn’t release a 4K (or 5K) standalone Retina display alongside the new 5K iMac, but you can’t hold off any longer on a shiny new display for your Mac Pro. I found myself in the same predicament not too long ago and decided to put a number of displays to the test in recent months. 4K might offer 4x the resolution of your standard 1080p display, but for the short time they’ve been around, they’ve also cost about 4x as much as the alternatives. The good news: There are a few Mac Pro compatible 4K displays (and UHD alternatives) finally starting to hit more reasonable price points just as recent OS X updates fix some issues early adopters first had with the higher resolution displays.

I’ve been testing Mac Pro compatible displays from Dell, Sharp, Samsung, LG, and others that are officially supported by Apple, and put together a list of my thoughts and top picks for those planning on picking up a new Mac Pro this holiday season. Despite my tests being done mostly on a new, stock Mac Pro, these picks stand for Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook users as well.

Apple last made silent minor tweaks to the Thunderbolt display in July 2012, but otherwise it has remained the same since its introduction over 3 years ago. I don’t have much bad to say about Apple’s display— it’s tried and tested and a solid choice— but at $999 almost three years later, I’m inclined to recommend these new 4K displays over Apple’s.

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BEST OVERALL - DELL 31.5” UltraSharp UP3214Q – $1,699 |

In my tests, the Dell UltraSharp UP3214Q offered the fewest compromises with most shortcomings being OS X related and often much more pronounced in other 4K displays, especially anything in what would be considered an affordable price point for most. Color accuracy, refresh rate, a high-quality IGZO panel, and a solid physical design, most of the other displays I tried didn’t impress in at least one or more of these categories, but the Dell stood strong.

Using this Dell 4K monitor was the first time an external display has been able to live up to the experience of my Retina MacBook Pro, which I had been using since its launch in 2011 before acquiring a new Mac Pro this year. One thing is true for all of these 4K displays: Once you go 4K, there’s no going back. This is a bigger problem for those coming from a Retina MacBook to a new Mac Pro like myself: 1080p simply doesn’t cut it once you’ve experienced super crisp text on a Retina display making 4K a necessity for many.

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OS X supports the Dell UP3214Q at 60Hz after manually enabling DisplayPort 1.2 (the same can’t be said for all supported 4K displays) and that’s what I opted for using a mini DisplayPort 1.2 cable into the Thunderbolt port on my Mac Pro and the mini DisplayPort on the monitor. That works with MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013), Mac Pro (Late 2013), and iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014).

The monitor includes 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 mini-DisplayPort, 4 USB 3.0 and a 6-in-1 media card reader, and the stand offers adjustable height, swivel and tilting.

Dell-4K-3840-2160 Dell-4K-3008-1692

OS X 10.9.3 introduced scaling options for 4K displays not unlike those available for Apple’s own Retina displays. That corrected a lot of the initial complaints about 4K displays with Macs and made the higher resolution displays usable. Apple’s “Best for Display” option, which gives you the display’s full 3840 x 2160 resolution, still made UI elements a bit too tiny for my liking, so I opted for the next down scaling preset that looks like 3008 x 1692 but keeps everything on the display incredibly sharp and easy to read. A side by side comparison of those two resolutions (other scaling options exist) is above. For iOS and Mac users, it’s as close as you’ll get to the experience of a Retina display iPhone or Mac considering the larger 31.5-inch Dell has a much lower 140 PPI pixel density.

I still do have a few hiccups even with the latest Yosemite release using the Dell, and it appears to be related to 4K resolution support as the same issues appeared on displays from Sharp and others, but not lesser resolution UHD options. From time to time I experienced minor screen tearing effects when scrolling and the Dell has issues waking up when my Mac Pro has been asleep for extended periods of time, often requiring a reboot using the display’s power button. While annoyances, neither issue kept me from making this my main display and the top pick among all of the 4K displays I’ve tested.

To top it all off, the Dell has become what I’d consider affordable down from its starting price of $2999 to as low as $1500 and dropping today (Amazon).

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RUNNER UP – LG 34” 21:9 UltraWide QHD (34UM95) | $824

It’s not quite 4K, but LG’s new 21:9 Thunderbolt display gives the 4K displays a run for their money by offering one of the most attractive so-called UHD displays that, apart from resolution, beats out most displays on this list in just about every other aspect. At a resolution of 3440 x 1440, the super wide screen format has a lot to offer for pros that spend most of their time in timeline-based editing apps like Logic Pro or Final Cut. You lose a bit of the print quality crispness on text when coming from the Dell and other 4K resolution monitors, but with everything else it offers and a lower price point might make this a better option for many Mac Pro users.

The display didn’t have any of the growing pains experienced with the 4K displays, as mentioned above with the Dell and below with the others. LG made the display to be completely Mac Pro compatible. There’s a lot to like about the Thunderbolt ports at the rear: One allowed me to connect to the Mac Pro using a Thunderbolt cable at the full 3440 x 1440 resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate, while the other acts as a spare for daisy chaining up to six Thunderbolt devices or additional displays.

The monitor includes 2 HDMI ports, headphone out, 1 Display Port, and 2 Thunderbolt ports.

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The 21:9 widescreen format is truly an experience all its own. It’s essentially like having two 20.5-inch, 5:4, 1720×1440 displays side by side in one 34-inch panel, and LG also has a Screen Split app that works well for easily docking windows side-by-side in various configurations to get the most out of the wide screen while multitasking. It’s great for pro apps that take full advantage of the wider format for timelines and other features, although it feels a bit vertically challenged in comparison to 4K monitors on the list if a horizontal workflow isn’t your thing.

Content made for the 21:9 widescreen format won’t look better anywhere else, and any content such as games that do not support the widescreen will get black bars along the side of the display essentially giving you a 16:9 display square in the middle. But it’s not my top pick for everyday mainly because the 4K displays blew it away for overall screen real restate while offering crystal clear, nearly print quality text, something that is extremely important in my decision for an everyday work display while multitasking. Having this is as a second monitor for working in pro apps that can benefit from the widescreen is a no-brainer, and it’s by far the nicest looking display on the list from a purely aesthetic standpoint.

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The 34” 21:9 Ultrawide WQHD display I reviewed currently sells for $824 (Amazon), and LG has since released a curved version of this display— The 34” 21:9 UltraWide Curved Monitor— that has a slightly different stand and some other tweaks for $1299 or $1799 on (Amazon).

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SHARP 32″ (PN-K321) 4K Ultra HD LED Monitor – $2,900|

If it weren’t for the fact this display still rings in at around $3,000, around twice as much as the Dell monitor above and most others on this list, Sharp might have come in closer to the top. But I couldn’t justify spending twice as much on it when comparing the two displays side by side and living with them for the past couple months. The benefits of Sharp’s IGZO panel brings the same best in class marks for colors and viewing angles present in Dell’s monitor, but I’d put it a notch behind Dell in other categories including overall design, price, and user experience for configuration and more. While the Dell has come down in price by about half of its original asking price, the Sharp remains too pricey to recommend over other options.

One category the Sharp definitely wins in is build quality. The whole package is quite a tank in comparison to the Dell, which cuts down on any potential wobbling, although it’s mainly the weight of the display, a wider base, and slightly beefier stand.  That’s not to take away from the Dell’s hardware, which is solid and not too long ago cost about the same as the $3000 Sharp.  The stand is comparable to Dell’s with adjustable height, swivel and tilting action. On the back the display has two HDMI ports, 1 DisplayPort, and audio in/out. 

Apple continues to offer this display as an add-on alongside the Mac Pro and through its online store for $3595. Or get it on Amazon for as low as $2900. 

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ASUS 31.5” (PQ321Q) 4K Monitor – $1469 |

With a 31.5-inch IGZO panel from Sharp like the Dell UP3214Q, there isn’t much to complain about with this display and it remains a solid option if you aim to save a couple hundred dollars over our top pick. But with the Dell coming down in price and often on sale for the same price or less than the Asus, there aren’t many reasons to recommend this display over Dell’s unless you simply prefer its design.

It includes an 2 HDMI ports, 1 DisplayPort 1.2, Audio in/out and is essentially the same design as the Sharp display above.

UNDER $1000 – DELL 24” (UP2414QAs low as $690 |

Dell-UP2414Q-01Dell’s UP24 looks like a smaller, 24-inch version of our top pick, the 31.5” UltraSharp UP3214Q, but it includes an LG panel of lesser quality that leaves much to be desired when it comparing it to the 31.5-inch version’s IGZO panel from Sharp. Still, at $600, it’s an officially supported option that is probably your best bet if your budget doesn’t allow for any of the picks above. Apple also supports this display with a refresh rate of 60 Hz — the only display with support in this price range– when using a DisplayPort 1.2 cable and manually enabling the setting for MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013, Mac Pro (Late 2013), and iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014. 

$690 (Amazon)

COMING SOON: LG 31″ Cinema 4K Monitor (31MU97) | $1399

LG-4K-display-mac

The new LG 4K has promise: Apple just added this recently announced LG display (31MU97) to its list of officially supported 4K and UHD displays for OS X. We’re awaiting a review unit and will do a full review plus update this comparison once it arrives (perhaps we’ll have a new winner!).

It features a “Digital Cinema 4K” native resolution of 4096 x 2160, slightly higher than the other 4K displays on this list, an IPS LED panel like our top picks, 2 HDMI, 4USB, 1 headphone port, 1 Display Port, and 1 mini Display Port. Its stand also allows switching to a portrait landscape on the fly, without requiring a third-party Vesa mount, and it starts at a competitive $1399 as it rolls out to various markets slowly.

It’s available to order now for $1,399 in select regions (Amazon).

GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR |

Other 4K displays exist, but straying from Apple’s official list of supported displays is dangerous territory with a long list of compatibility issues documented online for the majority. Things are a little better for compatibility with these cheaper displays if you can deal with an often choppy 30Hz refresh rate or a less than spectacular panel, and MacBook users seem to be having more success with unsupported displays than Mac Pro users.

Samsung-4K-display-01

We got a $400 Samsung 4K display up and running on a custom Mac setup, but it’s not a route I’d recommend going. There’s a reason Samsung’s 28-Inch 4K Monitor (U28D590D) isn’t officially supported by Apple, and at a $500 price tag and dropping, you can probably imagine you’ll be getting what you pay for here when it comes to both build quality and compatibility.


Filed under: AAPL Company, Mac Tagged: 34UM95, 4k, 5K, best monitor, Dell, Display, lg, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, OS X, PN-K321, Resolution, review, scaling, Sharp, UHD, UP3214Q

For more information about AAPL Company, OS X, and Mac continue reading at 9to5Mac.

What do you think? Discuss "Mac Pro monitor review: The best 4K & UHD monitors for Mac" with our community.