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November 17, 2016

USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 Display Buyer’s Guide for New MacBook Pro

by John_A

Apple’s new MacBook Pro models feature between two and four Thunderbolt 3 ports that carry power, USB, DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA over a single cable, creating one standard for connecting most accessories and peripherals. Thunderbolt 3 uses the same connector type as USB-C, also called Type-C, meaning the new MacBook Pros are compatible with a growing lineup of USB-C external displays.

USB-C displays can display up to 4K video, transfer data, and charge the new MacBook Pro at up to 60W over a single cable connected between the display and notebook. LG’s new UltraFine 5K display, meanwhile, uses Thunderbolt 3 to display 5K video and fully charge the new MacBook Pro at up to 85W. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar can drive dual 5K displays, while the 13-inch model can drive one 5K display.

LG launched its UltraFine 4K and 5K displays in partnership with Apple, which exited the standalone display business after discontinuing its Thunderbolt Display earlier this year. The first USB-C displays from other manufacturers were released just this year, so the current selection remains limited. MacRumors has rounded up most of the options available from LG, ASUS, Acer, and Lenovo below.

LG 27UD88

Display size: 27-inch
Display resolution: Ultra HD (3,840×2,160 pixels)
Display technology: IPS LED
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Color gamut: sRGB (over 99%)
Brightness: 350 cd/m2
Ports: 1 input USB-C, 2 USB 3.0, 2 HDMI 2.0, 1 DisplayPort 1.2
Cables included: USB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB, HDMI, DisplayPort
Power delivery to MacBook Pro: Up to 60W
Price: $699 at B&H Photo Video or $740 on Amazon

LG 38UC99

lg-38uc99
Display size: 37.5-inch curved
Display resolution: Wide QHD+ (3,840×1,600 pixels)
Display technology: IPS LED
Aspect ratio: 21:9 (ultrawide)
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Color gamut: sRGB (over 99%)
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Ports: 1 input USB-C, 2 USB 3.0, 2 HDMI 2.0, 1 DisplayPort 1.2
Cables included: USB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB, HDMI, DisplayPort
Power delivery to MacBook Pro: Up to 60W
Price: $1,499 at B&H Photo Video or $1,699 on Amazon

LG UltraFine 5K

lg-ultrafine-5k
Display size: 27-inch
Display resolution: 5K (5,120×2,880 pixels)
Display technology: IPS LED
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Color gamut: DCI-P3 wide color gamut
Brightness: 500 cd/m2
Ports: 1 Thunderbolt 3 and 3 USB 3.1 Type-C
Cables included: Thunderbolt 3
Power delivery to MacBook Pro: Up to 85W
Price: $974 from Apple until December 31, 2016. $1,299.95 after. Available December.

LG UltraFine 4K

lg-ultrafine-4k
Display size: 21.5-inch
Display resolution: 4K (4,096×2,304 pixels)
Display technology: IPS LED
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Color gamut: DCI-P3 wide color gamut
Brightness: 500 cd/m2
Ports: 1 input USB-C, 3 USB 2.0 Type-C
Cables included: USB-C to USB-C
Power delivery to MacBook Pro: Up to 60W
Price: $524 from Apple until December 31, 2016. $699.95 after.

Lenovo ThinkVision X1

lenovo-thinkvision-x1
Display size: 27-inch
Display resolution: Ultra HD (3,840×2,160 pixels)
Display technology: IPS LED
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Color gamut: sRGB (100%)
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Ports: 1 input USB-C, 1 HDMI 2.0, 1 DisplayPort 1.2
Cables included: Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB
Power delivery to MacBook Pro: Up to 60W
Price: $639 from Lenovo or $760 on Amazon

ASUS MB169C+

asusmonitor
Display size: 15.6-inch
Display resolution: 1080p (1,920×1,080 pixels)
Display technology: IPS
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Color gamut: Unknown
Brightness: 220 cd/m2
Ports: 1 input USB-C
Cables included: Unknown
Power delivery to MacBook Pro: None
Price: From $157.84 on Amazon

Acer H277HU

acer-h277hu
Display size: 27-inch
Display resolution: 1440p (2,560×1,440 pixels)
Display technology: IPS LED
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Color gamut: sRGB (100%)
Brightness: 350 cd/m2
Ports: 1 input USB-C, 2 USB 3.0, 1 HDMI 2.0, 1 DisplayPort, 1 DVI
Cables included: USB-C to USB-C and others
Power delivery to MacBook Pro: Up to 60W
Price: $458.99 on Amazon

Which to Buy

The best option is LG’s UltraFine 5K display. The display’s Thunderbolt 3 port enables pass-through charging to the new MacBook Pro at up to a full 85W. It is also the brightest display at 500 cd/m2 and it has a wide DCI-P3 color gamut that shows more vibrant colors compared to the traditional sRGB standard. The 27-inch display has a built-in camera, microphone, stereo speakers, and three USB-C ports at 5 Gbps speeds. Apple’s sale price of $974 is expensive overall but reasonable for 5K displays.

An affordable Thunderbolt Display replacement is Acer’s H277HU display. It has the same 27-inch screen size, 1440p resolution, and LED-backlit IPS display technology as the Thunderbolt Display. The display familiarly connects to and charges the MacBook Pro at up to 60W over a single cable. It runs at a full 60Hz refresh rate and has a decent variety of ports: 2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 HDMI 2.0 port, 1 DisplayPort, and 1 DVI port. Amazon’s price of $458.99 is very reasonable.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Tags: USB-C, 4K displays, 5k displays, Thunderbolt 3
Buyer’s Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)
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