Pro Display XDR works with unsupported Macs … with a catch

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You don't need a Mac Pro to enjoy Pro Display XDR.
Photo: Apple

Only a handful of the latest Macs are fully compatible with Apple’s stunning new Pro Display XDR. But it turns out that other machines — such as the $5,000 iMac Pro — will work, too.

Just don’t expect a full 6K resolution.

When the Pro Display XDR went on sale this week, Apple published a new support document that outlines which of its machines can drive a full 6K (6016 x 3384) resolution. And there aren’t many.

The very latest computers — Mac Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro — work just fine, as you would expect. So do the 2019 iMac, and 15-inch MacBook Pro units introduced in 2018 or later.

Apple says you’ll get 6K at up to 60Hz with older machines, too … so long as they have a Thunderbolt 3 port … into which you will need to plug an eGPU that offers the necessary “Titan Ridge” controller.

But if you’re willing to settle for less than 6K, that eGPU may not be necessary.

Pro Display XDR works with older Macs

Some older Apple machines will work just fine with Pro Display XDR — without external video cards — at lower resolutions.

Thomas Grove Carter confirmed in a tweet that he got Apple’s new screen working with an iMac Pro at a maximum resolution of 5K. The same is likely to be possible with other machines.

You might argue that it makes no sense to spend $4,999+ on a Pro Display XDR just to use it at 5K. And you’d be right. But if you’re buying the screen anyway for another Mac, it’s good to know older machines will work.

We’re still waiting to find out you can use the screen with iPad Pro.

If you’ve tried plugging a Pro Display XDR into an older Mac, let us know how it worked out for you. Did you get it working at a lower resolution? Or did you get nothing at all?