Category Archives: Displays

Apple Retina 5K Thunderbolt Display release date? Not so fast.

This week Apple announced a new 27‑inch iMac with Retina 5K display. All this talk about 4.7 million pixels had some Apple fans drooling and others wondering if a Thunderbolt Display with the same resolution was on the way. Turns out that even though Thunderbolt 2 technology is somewhat new to the market, it can’t handle the 5K resolution.

This is sad news for creative professionals and others who use the MacBook / Thunderbolt Display system on a daily basis. It makes life easy: Dock at home, dock at work and a laptop for use anywhere else. Let’s not forget the Mac Pro which is popular with video professionals who also use Apple’s brilliant display. The Thunderbolt 2 which supports DisplayPort 1.2 maxed out at 3840 x 2100 resolution. There is some good news however, DisplayPort 1.3 was announced just last month. The increased bandwidth of 32.4 Gbps allows for 5K monitor support and a crazy 5120 x 2880 resolution. With that said, is it possible we could see a Thunderbolt 3 in the near future? Don’t hold your breath. The Thunderbolt Display is now over 3 years old and Apple has showed no hints of releasing an update anytime soon.

Connections for New iMac with Retina 5K Display

The only possibility at this time is to use two Thunderbolt Ports to run a single 5K monitor. For those who use the Mac Pro this could be an option. The Mac Pro is the only mac powerful enough to attempt this and even then it means tying up more connections you might need. Not to mention many video professionals use multiple monitors, at this time it just doesn’t seem practical.

It’s crazy to think at it’s introduction the Thunderbolt technology was so advanced that many companies didn’t even have products for it yet and some still don’t. Now years later display technology is taking a giant leap over connection speed. It might be possible that Apple is holding off on purpose waiting to see how the new iMac performs in the market and where exactly the display port technology standards are heading, before releasing a new Retina 5k Thunderbolt Display. Of course we can all imagine the cost of that new display based on Apple’s current prices, but for some budget buyers, there is always the option to purchase a refurbished Thunderbolt Display from Apple at a reduced cost before the new monitors start hitting the market. As it stands the Thunderbolt Display is still the best monitor for MacBook and MacBook Pro.


Best monitors for retina MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt Port

If you already have the latest Apple MacBook Pro (Retina Display) laptops in either 13” or 15” you’re probably at times dissatisfied with the screen size. Sure it’s great for traveling, surfing the web and light work but sometimes you need more real estate. Having a larger size screen can reduce eye strain, allow you to open multiple windows at once and in the end get your work done faster. Lets take a look at the most popular monitors used by MacBook enthusiasts.

LG Electronics IPS Curved 34UC97-S 32.7-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor



  • 21:9 Ultra Wide Curved WQHD
  • IPS Panel for more accurate colors
  • Thunderbolt & Mac Compatible
  • SRGB over 99% color space
  • Multiple Ports include 2 HDMI, 2 USB, Display Port, & Thunderbolt

This is the first true 21:9 monitor ever. It’s Mac compatible and one of the nicest displays money can buy. If you do tons of video editing, music production, graphic design or need multiple programs open at one time, this is for you. Since this monitor uses IPS technology it means you get more vivid colors, however one draw back is that you get a slight light-leak at the edges of the monitor. Some people understand this is a natural effect, but others are bothered by it. The resolution is a staggering (3440×1440) which looks amazing on the slightly curved screen. With two thunderbolt ports, it’s clear LG is targeting Macbook users specifically with this model. It will cost you, ($1,299-$1,444) but the amount of extras and size of the monitor are well worth splurging if you want the best.
(Click here for latest prices on LG Monitors)

Apple Thunderbolt 27” Display



  • 27-inch IPS display with LED backlighting
  • Thunderbolt and MagSafe All-in-One Cable Connectors
  • 2560 x 1440 Resolution; 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • 3 USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet port, FireWire 800 port, Thunderbolt port
  • The following models are Thunderbolt capable: MacBook Air (Mid 2011) and later, MacBook Pro (Early 2011) and later, MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012), Mac mini Server (Mid 2011), Mac mini (Mid 2011), iMac (Mid 2011)
  • FaceTime HD camera

The MacBook Pro and Thunderbolt Display are designed to work together. Forget dozens of cables, this monitor works with just the power cord and thunderbolt cable. You can easily add additional devices to the back of the monitor. For some the price might be too high ($949 USD), however you get what you pay for with this monitor. The resolution is stunning and you benefit from the speed of thunderbolt.
(Click here for latest prices on Apple Thunderbolt Displays)

LG Electronics UM95 34” Monitor



  • UltraWide format provides additional real estate for you to multitask or watch multiple inputs at once
  • Ultra QHD (3440×1440) resolution provides the additional resolution you have been looking for
  • Dual-link functionality allows you to view two separate inputs at the same time
  • HDMI, Display Port, USB 3.0, and Thunderbolt 2 inputs allow you to connect to all your devices
  • The gorgeous Cinema Screen design with integrated 7W speakers look stunning on or off

This is one of the only monitors that currently has thunderbolt ports other than Apple. The resolution is on par with Apple’s display and you get 34” of wide screen format! If you are a movie buff and need a larger screen then this monitor is for you. Not to mention it has a sleek looking modern design. The price may seem steep at ($999 USD), but LG has a tradition of quality and solid pricing. Any other brand major brand would have priced this significantly higher.  (Click here for latest price)

Dell UltraSharp U2713HM 27″ Monitor



  • WQHD resolution and accurate colors out of the box: Superb clarity with 2560 x 1440 resolution and over 3.6 million pixels. Features a color gamut of more than 99-percent sRGB
  • Excellent comfort and usability: Full adjustability including swivel, tilt, height adjustability and pivot which lets you easily switch to portrait mode
  • Seamlessly connect your monitor to your desktop, laptop and peripherals such as digital cameras and Blu-ray or DVD players. Digital and analog connections include four USB 3.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.2, DVI (HDCP) and HDMI

Priced at just ($529.99 USD), this is the most economical model for your MacBook Pro in the 27” range. While it lacks thunderbolt technology it makes up ground in affordability and unique features. For example this is the only monitor out of the three, that can be easily turned completely vertical. To connect to this monitor and experience it at full resolution, you will need a mini-display (thunderbolt compatible) to display port cable, not included. If you like Dell brand monitors check out our reviews of the best Dell monitors for Mac computers.
(Click here for latest price on Dell Monitor)

Samsung 28-Inch Ultra High Definition LED Monitor (U28D590D)



  • 4K, 3840 x 2160 Resolution (UHD)
  • Sharper Viewing Angle with T-shaped Stand
  • 1 Billion Color Support and 1ms (GTG) Response Time
  • HDMI, DisplayPort, 3.5mm audio out

This Samsung 28″ monitor showcases some nice features sure to make any professional or gamer happy. First the 4K resolution is stunning. The realism will blow you away when doing work or watching movies. It comes with a DisplayPort so it is compatible with your Mac computers. Additionally it has two HDMI ports, so now you can hook up your Playstation or Xbox and simply switch back an forth between your computer and gaming systems with a click of a button. For people who need a monitor on a budget and like the look of a traditional PC monitor with modern flare, this is the one for you ($499-$599).

(Click here for latest price on Samsung Monitors)

Bottom Line

You can always search for other models compatible with your MacBook Pro, but these by far are the most popular. You’ve spent the money to buy one of the best computers out there, then there is no reason not to get the full benefits buy choosing a great monitor. We could review some lower end models but they generally have poor reviews and low resale value. In the future look out for our reviews on compatible 4K resolution monitors. Right now they are just a little to pricey to be considered affordable poplar options.

Should I buy the Apple Cinema or Thunderbolt Display

If you’re in the market for a secondary display to supplement your MacBook screen, then you may be considering both the Apple Cinema Display and the revolutionary new Thunderbolt Display. Though there is no doubt that the Thunderbolt Display is impressive (in fact there are rumors of a future 5K Thunderbolt Display), the Cinema Display is still an excellent option as far as image quality.

So, should you save some money and get a used Apple Cinema Display through eBay, or are you better off investing in the stunning Thunderbolt? Which you choose may depend on the technology you require, or it may simply be down to price.

Cinema Displays are frequently offered by different eBay sellers, with 27-inch models currently selling for approximately $600.00. Older ones can be found even cheaper, with some as low as $100.00 and $200.00, but of course they don’t possess the same quality you’d expect with models that are a year or two old.

One important aspect to consider is the risk involved when buying something like a Cinema Display from an eBay seller. Bargains can be found, but they don’t always offer the best deals, so it’s imperative you do your research before you think you’re saving money. Too often, people assume something is a bargain when it’s on eBay, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

Also, you may not have any recourse if something goes wrong. While there are sellers on eBay who offer warranties and excellent return policies, they aren’t standard. Many don’t accept returns, leaving consumers with no recourse if something goes wrong. Should you be keen on finding a used Cinema Display on the popular auction site, however, you can check out those factors in advance. It’s also a good idea to go with a seller who has consistently positive feedback from at least 100 different customers.

Instead of eBay, some Apple fans looking for a deal turn to the computing giant itself, and seek out a refurbished Cinema Display. Prices of such items may be similar to those on eBay, and in some cases slightly higher. However, a refurbished model from Apple has gone through a thorough inspection and is virtually like brand new. It will also come with a limited warranty to protect against any defects during the initial period of ownership.

Cinema Displays are known for their high-end quality and excellent color accuracy. They also have a higher response time than an average computer monitor. These features make them an excellent choice for photographers, videographers, programmers and designers.

Connect Two Thunderbolt Displays to a MacBook Pro

The new Thunderbolt will likely set you back another $400.00, as a brand new 27-inch model retails online from the Apple Store for $999.00. However, for those willing or able to invest in the best monitor for macbook pro retina, it will equip them with the latest in technology and a host of extremely useful features.

The Thunderbolt Display has I/O technology built right in, allowing the movement of data at unprecedented speeds. Far more than just a computer monitor you can plug into your MacBook when the 13-inch or 15-inch screen isn’t enough, it allows for the connection of up to six devices directly through a single, compact port. The Thunderbolt boasts a MagSafe connector, providing it with the ability to power and charge your MacBook. It’s also a plug and play hub for high-resolution display, top-quality audio, high definition FaceTime, support for FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet. With transfer rates twenty times faster than USB 2.0 and twelve times faster than FireWire 800, it’s the ultimate docking station, and can transform even a MacBook Air into a complete workstation.

The Thunderbolt hardware interface was initially released in February 2011 and current models of MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini all come equipped with a Thunderbolt port. With unparalleled color consistency and a 16:9 aspect ratio, it is an excellent investment for anyone looking to expand the capabilities of their MacBook.