Ever since I bought my new cylindrical Mac Pro just over a year ago, I’ve wanted a retina display to plug in to it. That time has finally come as I’ve purchased an LG 31MU97 31″ true 4K monitor.
A “retina” display is one that has so many pixels that you can’t see them. Most desktop displays are around 100ppi (pixels per inch) and this can be seen quite easily with the naked eye. Smartphones and tablets have been using much higher pixel densities for some time now. The iPad is typically 218ppi and some Android phones boast over 300ppi.
Instead of mapping their on screen elements across the same number of pixels, these high resolution screens use “virtual” resolutions with the elements made up of vastly more pixels thereby giving you enhanced definition – you can’t see the pixels (that’s why it’s called “retina” in Apple circles).
The reason I’ve wanted a desktop retina display for a while now is that all of my other computing devices have one – my iPhone 5s, iPad 3 and MacBook Pro all use high resolution pixel packed screens; and they look gorgeous as a result. Ironically, my most expensive computer – the one I use the most and every day of the week has had the worst quality display connected to it.
Don’t get me wrong, the display I’ve been using for the last 4 and half years (a 30″ Apple Cinema HD Display) is the best screen I’ve ever owned. Until now. I’ll be sorry to see it go.
When the Mac Pro launched in late 2013, Apple demonstrated it attached to Sharp 4K displays. These cost thousands and were out of the reach of most users, especially those of us who had just dropped a load of cash on a new cylindrical Mac masterpiece. Since then I’ve been watching the market closely.
First of all TN panel based 4K monitors dropped in price to a really good level, mainly prompted by gamers who were buying these displays ideal for their hobby. Professional users have been waiting for higher quality IPS panels to do the same thing. It’s taken a while, however there are now plenty of UHD screens out there at an affordable price.
What to buy?
For a long time I wondered what display to purchase. I toyed with the idea of getting 2 Dell P2715q’s. These are UHD (3840 x 2160) and about two thirds of the price of the screen I eventually purchased. I also considered screens from BenQ, Asus and Acer. All of these were UDH.
I finally went for the LG 31MU97. This screen is true 4K (4096 x 2160) and costs a little more than the UHD versions, but with added features. As well as the wider aspect (not entirely necessary for me, but still welcome) it had both sRGB and Adobe RGB compatibility. This is ideal for me with both my web and print work.
I followed a thread over on Mac Rumors for a while with some people reporting problems with the LG, however these were all but solved with the release of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3. I took a bit of a punt buying the display, however I’ve now been using it for 5 days and am very pleased with it!
The colours pop out of the screen, text is sharp and highly readable and you can’t see any pixels. Despite running D300 cards, the Elite Dangerous Mac beta plays fine at 4K, although with a reduced frame rate. I’m still playing around with the settings, sometimes running at a lower resolution with higher detail and other times lower detail with high res. Not sure which way I’ll finally jump.
For desktop work, I’m using a scaled resolution of 2560 x 1350 which is close to the display resolution of my old 30″ ACD, but a little larger, which is better for my eyesight!
Very please with the purchase. If you have any questions, please post them below and I’ll answer them.