As a recent owner of an M1 Mac mini, I will tell you that one of the most agonizing decisions you’ll have to make is what monitor to get. There’s the absurdly expensive Apple Pro Display XDR, a sampling of LG UltraFines that are commonly found with Macs, and then a whole rest of the industry that has some great stuff available for even better prices.
Filmmaker Ben Aqua has been digging into the M1 Mac mini (along with the companion MacBook Pro and MacBook Air) and one of his latest projects is finding the best monitor. You have to find a good balance of features and price and Aqua thinks the LG 27UK850-W is the perfect display for any M1 Mac which seems to have been replaced by the newer 27UL850-W.
As for color, the 27UK850-W is a 10-bit panel. This gives it excellent color rendering with smooth gradations. Helping it out is the 4K resolution. Being a 27” display means that you get nice, sharp lines and text on this monitor.
It has 99% sRGB for working with most basic outputs. Generally speaking the monitor just looks good. It’s not quite your calibrated 5K display, but for the money is is a solid purchase.
The price is usually around $450. And the newer model, the 27UL850-W comes in at $490. Both relatively affordably without being bottom of the barrel cheap monitors.
One major reason to consider spending a little more is that this monitor features USB-C connectivity. That means just one cable to connect everything to the Mac.
However, the extra USB ports are going to be limited in use as you shouldn’t be putting your editing hard drives into these are they are slower. Maybe your keyboard and mouse for docking your device when you come home.
This USB-C connection will support Power Delivery up to 60W, meaning you can charge up your laptop while it is plugged in. And it is worth reiterating that this is all from a single cable. It helps since the M1 Macs only have two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports.
Menus on monitors are kinda bad. In LG’s case, they have moved to a single joystick/button and it’s actually quite responsive. You shouldn’t have to jump into the OSD often, but when you do you want it to be painless.
Another side of this monitor is for gaming. It’s a fairly standard 4K 60Hz panel so for something like the Nintendo Switch Aqua plugged into his it’ll work wonderfully. Now, if you are doing serious gaming with first-person shooters or other games that require fast response times it might not be the best.
And it definitely won’t make the most out of a PS5 or Xbox Series X. This is more a casual gamer’s display and it does that well. It even supports HDR10 natively so you can enjoy the extra contrast and detail right away. There are even some game settings to optimize performance.
Design is often overlooked with monitors. I would argue you want something understated. It’s a basic design with relatively small bezels and a larger chin. Construction is about what you would expect for the price.
Bouncing back to the panel itself. Aqua dives into viewing angles. IPS panels are very good at maintaining color accuracy as you move from side to side. Only at the extreme angles will you maybe notice shifts or lack of contrast. You really shouldn’t be editing from the side, so nothing to really worry about.
What you might notice are small light leaks at the very edges or a slight darkening in the corners. Both of these are common on mid-range and affordable monitors and nothing you notice in everyday use. Aqua still believes that it’s a great monitor for the price.
Real quick, I noticed the exact 27UK850-W model is discontinued in some places. The 27UL850-W seems to be taking it’s place. Honestly, it looks like the exact same panel with very minor tweaks. The UL version offers an official DisplayHDR 400 rating and has additional calibration options. For a little extra cash it might be worth looking at.
Some creatives will be looking for a little more out of their display, and I’m gonna have to warn you that you will have to pay for some of those extra goodies.
I would recommend the LG UltraFine 5K, which is basically a match for the iMac 5K display and even adds the increasingly important webcam and better macOS integration you might be missing with your Mac mini. It’s just three times the price…
Or just go crazy and get the Apple Pro Display XDR. Do you have a favorite monitor for your computer?
[source: Ben Aqua]
- LG 27UK850-W 27” 4K HDR Monitor (Amazon)
- LG 27UL850-W 27” 4K HDR Monitor (B&H, Amazon)
- LG UltraFine 27MD5KL-B 27” 5K Monitor (B&H, Amazon)
- Apple M1 Mac mini (B&H, Amazon)
- Apple M1 MacBook Air (B&H, Amazon)
- Apple M1 MacBook Pro (B&H, Amazon)
- Apple Pro Display XDR (B&H, Amazon)
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