If you can’t afford Apple’s Pro Display XDR, then what? [Setups]

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The custom-made redwood desk is nice, but the Pro Display XDR is stunning.
The custom-made redwood desk is nice, but the Pro Display XDR is stunning.
Photo: Caliform@Reddit.com

Gorgeous, high-definition monitors hold a place of honor in many a computer setup. And sometimes it’s several displays, actually. But we rarely come across one of the most amazing monitors out there: the Apple Pro Display XDR. Why? Well, it costs $6,000, for one thing. Or, if you’re lucky, not quite that much.

So if you’re not a wealthy or financially irresponsible person, what’s a reasonable alternative to the Pro Display XDR?

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That’s among the first questions in the comments section of social media posts about the XDR. Redditor caliform’s post is one example. Even without the super-premium display, you can tell by the massive, custom-made, motorized redwood desk and the Mac Pro under it that there might be a few bucks around the house.

The magnificent Pro Display XDR

First, though, what’s the big deal about Apple’s fabulous XDR, other than the stupefying price tag?

Apple says “Believing is seeing” and much more:

The first 32-inch Retina 6K display ever. Up to 1600 nits of brightness. An astonishing 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and superwide viewing angle. Over a billion colors presented with exceptional accuracy. And dynamic range that transforms the professional workflow. Introducing Apple Pro Display XDR, the world’s best pro display.

So, yeah, that’s something. Something only a person who insists on having the best of everything or who does a certain type of color- and/or high-test photo- or graphics-intensive job might need.

“It’s honestly the best investment I’ve made,” caliform said, replying to gushing praise. “It is so great to have so much resolution and screen quality. I found it to slow down my i9 MBP way too much though. I think [the] M1 drives it well but I’d be sure it’s fast enough.”

Adequate alternatives

So what do the rest of us buy? Commenters in caliform’s post had some solid suggestions, listed below.

First, have an adequate computer to keep up with the display. A new M1 Mac of some sort might be a good choice.

Second, go for 5K or one of the better 4K displays. Several people mentioned LG’s UltraFine line as the “closest thing” to the XDR. We list a 27-inch 5K and a 32-inch 4K below.

Both the XDR and the 5K LG have up to 218 pixels per inch (PPI), which can display extraordinarily crisp detail. By another, more commonly seen measure, the 5K LG has 5120 x 2880 pixel resolution. That’s quite high. With high-def monitors, you want to see that second number at 1440 or higher.

Other popular choices mentioned in the post are Dell UltraSharp displays — we link to 27-inch and 30-inch screens below — and a 32-inch BenQ monitor with 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution.

How much are we talking here?

Not that this is all about money (though of course it is), but you certainly don’t have to spend $6,000. What you get won’t be a Pro Display XDR, but it will be nice.

You can get the 5K UltraFine LG, or a slightly smaller LG UltraGear with a higher refresh rate for gamers, for about $1,300. The BenQ goes for about $100 less.

Or you can get well under a grand with a plenty of 4K displays. You can get the 27-inch Dell listed below for about $300. The 30-incher, with higher pixel resolution, goes for about $900.

And if you dig that Joshua Tree wallpaper on caliform’s display, here it is.

There are, of course, many great high-def monitors out there. Which ones would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Caliform’s setup:

Mac Pro

32-inch Pro Display XDR

Magic Keyboard

Magic Trackpad

Alternative monitors:

27-inch LG 27MD5KL-B UltraFine 5K IPS Display

27-inch LG 27GN950-B Ultragear 4K Gaming Monitor

32-inch LG 32UN880-B UltraFine 4K IPS Display

32-inch BenQ PD3220U 4K IPS Monitor

27-inch Dell Ultrasharp U2719DX QHD IPS Monitor

30-inch Dell UP3017 73GTT LED Monitor