My at-work Mac is one that has been around a few years but with little improvement and almost no competition unless you’re willing to spend some bucks and get coupons from a chiropractor to keep your head screwed on properly to your neck.
Yes, as much as I adore the new MacBook Pro display, what I work on each day is better. It’s the Retina 5K iMac. 5K. 27-inches. Is there a difference? As of now, even Apple’s best MacBook Pro has nothing to compare at barely 1K, totally non-Retina, a diminutive 15-inch model which looks great from a distance but pales in significance when you’re up close.
Our office has plenty of Mac and Windows PCs floating around and among them desktop models. You can buy a 21-inch 1080p iMac (at a starting price of $1,099) or jump up to a Retina 4K for just $200 more, but the 5K display is the one that puts them to shame, and not one you see on many competitors. The 27-inch sports up to a billion colors with 5,120 pixels across.
Who else has such a beautiful monster?
Until recently Apple hasn’t had much competition in this space. 4K displays are a dime a dozen by comparison, and by comparison you’ll not want to go backwards from 5K to 4K. Apple’s display is that good.
I found one almost as good.
This one is the LG UltraWide 5K, a 49-inch curved display, with USB-C ports, HDMI, USB-A ports, and even a 3.5mm headphone jack. And, yes, most of the new MacBook Pro models can power such a beast.
How does this monstrosity compare to the Retina 5K iMac display, often considered one of the best you can get for the money?
The good thing about such a comparison is there is little to compare. The iMac comes with a built-in power supply and built-in speakers. So does the LG-UltraWide. The iMac has plenty of ports. So does the LG-UltraWide. The iMac has a stand. So does the LG-UltraWide.
The iMac comes with a Mac inside. Not the LG. It’s a 49-inch curved monstrosity you might like to see but not necessarily use unless you have a specific use, and that use is two or three screenfuls at the same time.
In a very real sense, the iMac is a better buy– unless you need multiple screens of content or video to be displayed at the same time and you’re not worry about pixel density.
Simply put, the iMac’s display puts more pixels into an inch of display than the LG UltraWide. It’s basic math. 27-inches and 14.745-million pixels vs. 49-inches and the same number of pixels. The LG uses bigger pixels (or, more air between the pixels) and that reduces clarity. That difference also makes the 27-inch iMac a nearly perfect size and space combo and a very good price tag bargain (considering it comes with a Mac inside) because the tighter pixel alignment means sharper images and videos.
The benefit of a much larger curved display means you can sit a bit closer to the display– and see center, left, and right; more images or videos– but that only benefits total images, not clarity. For sheer clarity, the 27-inch Retina 5K iMac is a clear winner and a definite bargain.
You can spend about $1,500 on a 49-inch 5K display or get an entire Mac and a 27-inch display for $300 more.