Apple Studio Display review: A well-calibrated and equipped 27-inch 5K monitor

A little over two years after the release of the €5,000 Pro Display XDR monitor without stand, Apple decided to bring a slightly more affordable model to the market in addition to the release of the Mac Studio (hormone-enhanced Mac Mini). This Apple Studio Display replaces the discontinued Apple Thunderbolt Display in 2016. It picks up good ideas, but not all, as it ignores, for example, the Ethernet port. Apple is content to only offer USB-C ports. Otherwise, there is a 27-inch IPS panel with a very high resolution of 5120 x 2880 pixels in 16/10 format, a high-performance audio system consisting of six speakers, a 12-megapixel webcam, three microphones and a processor. The Apple A13 is used for spatial audio processing, centering the camera face, and activating the Siri voice assistant.

Apple Studio and Mac Studio display.

The Apple Studio Display is sold for 1750 euros in the basic version with a standard stand. You have to add 250 euros for the nano-textured anti-reflective coating of our test model. Apple also offers an optional height-adjustable stand for $460. The original leg can be replaced with a VESA support at the same price. Our test was carried out with a model without an adjustable leg and with an anti-reflective coating (2000 €).

The Apple monitor doesn’t really have any competition in the market as it is mainly targeted at Mac users due to its exclusive features (Hey Siri, Spatial Audio, Camera Center Frame feature). For others, there are very good monitors that are sold at a lower price, such as the Asus TUF VG28UQL1A with a 28-inch Ultra HD 144Hz panel and an HDMI 2.1 connector that is compatible with Xbox Series S/X and PS5 consoles. If we are looking primarily for design, we can look at the Asus ProArt PA279CV (27-inch, IPS, Ultra HD, 60Hz), MSI Creator PS321QR (32-inch, IPS, 144Hz, Quad HD) or Huawei MateView. 28.2 (28 inches, 3:2 aspect ratio, Ultra HD+, 60Hz).

Apple Studio Display: neat design.

Apple Studio Display: neat design.

The strict and elegant design of the Apple monitor is clearly reminiscent of the design of the iMac M1. As always with Apple, the finish is impeccable.

Perforation of the case in the upper part contributes to the cooling of the entire case.

Perforation of the case in the upper part contributes to the cooling of the entire case.

Like the iMac, the glass plate is glued directly to the aluminum frame. On the other hand, there are perforations on the top edge to dissipate the heat of the internal components.

Only one adjustment for the main Apple Studio display: Tilt.

Only one adjustment for the main Apple Studio display: Tilt.

Initially, Apple Studio Display only offered tilt adjustment between -5° and +25°. To have a height adjustment of 10.5 cm, you must select an additional leg. Finally, the monitor can be compatible with the 100 x 100mm VESA mount system, but you must choose between a standard stand or a VESA kit when ordering. The VESA kit is also expected to be sold separately at a later date, but not at launch.

The back of the monitor.

Like the front, the back of the monitor is very smooth. We only find the connectors on the left, oriented perpendicularly, and the power cable in the center. The hole in the middle of the foot also serves as a passage for the cable.

Third microphone on the back.

Third microphone on the back.

Surprise! The third microphone is located on the back of the monitor.

Connection.

Unfortunately, connectivity is oversimplified as Apple Studio Display only offers Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), a compatible USB-C DisplayPort (DP Alt Mode) input for compatibility with PCs using USB-C for the display, and three ports USB. -C ports (10Gbps) for peripherals (USB key, hard drive, Ethernet…). This monitor does not have a classic HDMI input, nor a DisplayPort or mini-DisplayPort input. There is also no headphone jack or regular USB port. On the other hand, it features a high-performance audio system with six speakers, three noise-cancelling microphones, and Hey Siri support for hands-free Siri (Mac only). The good thing is that the Thunderbolt 3 port puts out 96W and therefore can easily charge all Apple laptops, even the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the most power hungry.

Built-in webcam.

The Apple Studio Display features a 12-megapixel ƒ/2.4 ultra-wide-angle (122°) camera. As with all Macs, a green LED to the right of the camera indicates that it is taking a picture. The quality of the capture is much higher than what is usually found on monitors. The 122° ultra-wide angle is also impressive compared to the competition, often limited to 90°. It also takes on its full meaning with Frame Centering, which allows you to reframe the shot to the face or faces present on the screen. This feature is available on other models as well, but on an Apple monitor, this “Center of Frame” feature crops the image on subjects very quickly. Please note that this only works on Mac. Image quality is pretty average. It performs better than other built-in webcams, especially in daylight, but struggles a bit in low light.

Our Apple Studio Display is equipped with a nano-texture anti-glare filter, an option that costs 250 euros but deserves to be amazing. We only measured reflectance at 9.9% reflections compared to a mirror, which is the best recorded in our lab for all screens combined; The iPad Pro 12.9″ 2021 M1 gets 27%, the iPad Air 2019 gets 23%, and only Samsung TVs equipped with a dedicated anti-glare filter like the Samsung QE65QN95A get 19.9%.

Apple Studio Display with its faithful companion Mac Studio.

Apple Studio Display with its faithful companion Mac Studio.

Blasphemy: Apple Studio display connected to PC!

Blasphemy: Apple Studio display connected to PC!

The 27-inch Apple Studio Display sits comfortably on our standard 140 x 60 cm desk. The stand is just 16.8 cm deep, leaving plenty of room for your keyboard. The latest versions of Windows and macOS operating systems correctly handle 5K resolution and allow 200% upscaling to Quad HD equivalent. The text elements are large enough to be read and the image is clear. On the other hand, the native resolution of 5120 x 2880 pixels on a 27-inch panel (i.e. 217 pixels per inch (ppi)) is nearly impossible to use without upscaling.

Note that photo-editing software like Photoshop does a great job with this scaling in the interface, but renders images using the panel’s native resolution; photo editing enthusiasts benefit from a very high level of detail.



Unsurprisingly, Apple lives up to its reputation and the monitor is perfectly calibrated right out of the box with the Apple Display profile (P3 – 600 cd/m²). The temperature curve is perfectly stable with an average of 6790K which is very close to the 6500K video standard. Same observation from the gray level side: the gamma curve is stable with an ideal average of 2.2. Finally, the average delta E is measured at 1.2—well below the threshold of 3 below which the eye no longer perceives differences between hues—resulting in displayed colors that match those transmitted by the source. No color exceeds a delta E of 3. When the brightness is reduced to 8 to achieve white close to 150 cd/m², the image quality remains the same, even with a slightly more accurate color temperature (6740 K). Therefore, it makes no sense to calibrate this screen with a special sensor.

The native contrast ratio of 1070:1 is slightly lower than that of the Asus TUF Gaming VG27AQ and Iiyama ProLite XUB2792QSN, higher – 1200:1. This is average for an IPS panel, but not bad. In any case, it’s far from the contrast you’ll find on the best VA monitors on the market, like the Philips Momentum 436M6 or MSI Optix MAG271CR, which benefit from a ratio of over 4000:1. The darkest scenes and flat black areas appear greyish, especially in a dark room. However, it doesn’t pose any problem in daytime use. The maximum brightness, measured at 602 cd/m², ensures good visibility even in bright daylight. Unfortunately, this monitor does not support HDR. At Apple, HDR compatibility is only guaranteed on Oled panels (iPhone) and Mini-Led LCDs (12.9-inch iPad Pro, 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, and Pro Display XDR monitor).

The average difference in white uniformity is 10% on this 27-inch panel. There are no differences in brightness perceived by the eye. We didn’t notice any light leaks around the corners or turbidity (cloud effect) on our test model. The IPS technology also offers very good viewing angles and very little change in brightness or color as you move away from the viewing axis.

We verified that the Apple Monitor does not use pulse-width modulation (PWM) for brightness control; therefore, it is devoid of flicker and does not cause headaches for those who are sensitive to this phenomenon.

We connected the Studio Display to a desktop PC with a GeForce RTX 2080. After that, the monitor was listed as G-Sync compatible without certification. However, on the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 laptop equipped with the RX6800S graphics card, the Apple monitor is not listed as FreeSync compatible. Apple does not mention this compatibility.

We measured an afterglow time of 13.5 ms. This is a very average afterglow time for an IPS monitor. In comparison, the Asus TUF VG27AQ with a Quad HD 144Hz panel is content with 8ms. We find even more sensitive VA models for gamers (Samsung Odyssey G7 27 and 49G9) – 4.5ms. In practice, this 12ms persistence time results in a blur effect behind moving objects. Finally, we measured the display latency (input delay) to about 11 ms (at 60 Hz). Thus, there is no delay between the mouse action and its reflection on the screen.

Strengths

  • Image quality.

  • Design.

  • Outstanding monitor audio system.

  • Peak brightness (600 cd/m²).

  • Stunning anti-reflective coating with nano texture.

Vulnerable points

  • Does not support HDR.

  • No HDMI input.

  • No height adjustment.

  • only 60Hz.

How does assessment work?

The Apple Studio Display is a good screen that benefits from near-perfect picture quality right out of the box, but suffers from the limited contrast that comes with using an IPS panel. The audio system produces an unusual sound for a monitor, and the webcam produces a much better image than other monitors. Finally, our model’s nano-textured anti-reflective coating is also impressively effective. However, the Apple monitor is clearly aimed at Mac users, and it will be hard to find a place for it elsewhere; This is due to very limited connectivity (no HDMI input), refresh rate limited to 60Hz, and no height adjustment (available as an option).

Additional Notes

  • Ergonomics

  • Colors and Contrast

  • Reactivity

  • Consumption

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