It was time to get a Apple Silicon Mac. I quickly settled on a Mac mini M2. The hard part was picking a display.
For the last few years I have been using a iMac 27 5K. The best display I have used, by far! Getting something less good for the Mac mini was out of the question.
The available options make for a short list.
- Apple Pro display XDR, silly expensive.
- Apple Studio display, a bit less silly expensive.
- LG Ultrafine 5K, expensive, wobbly and unreliable.
- Samsung ViewFinity S9 5K, seems to get the same price as Apple Studio display.
- Dell UltraSharp 32 6K monitor, really expensive but offer a lot of nice features.
Many recommend a high quality 4K display as a cheaper option. I have tested it and I can not unsee the blurry text. The iMac 5K screen has spoiled me.
Dell UltraSharp 32 6K Monitor (U3224KBA)
The Dell became available just in time so after looking up the few available reviews of it I ordered one. Things that made me interested in the Dell was:
- Large display supporting native macOS resolutions.
- Multiple USB A/C ports and one Ethernet port built in.
- Good quality webcam and speakers.
- Adjustable stand included. Take that Apple.
The large box arrived and setting it up was very straightforward.
It is large and sharp, 32 inches in glorious 6K! A nice display that gives you true macOS retina resolution. No blurry text in sight. You have space with this display. You notice the extra pixels, especially when you go back to 27 inches after a couple of days.
(32 inches ≈ 80 cm and 27 inches ≈ 70 cm to put it in a standard unit.)
The webcam and microphones are really good. The speakers however are only decent, why did they skimp out on this? Dell design is passable and the stand is sturdy. It has a lot of ports and that makes for a neat and clean setup, no need for an extra hub.
But after using it for a weekend I sent the Dell back. The reasons are:
- It gets warm, almost hot. My small office gets warm enough as it is.
- It uses nearly 100 W at peak brightness, as much as my old iMac that has a computer built in.
- The speakers were not as good as I hoped.
- It does not get as bright as my old iMac 5K.
- Dell design is not Apple design.
- It not being an Apple display makes adjusting volume and brightness a bit of a hassle. There are apps that fix this but they did not feel 100% solid to me.
- The screen is matte so colours do not pop like on the iMac. Can be a plus if you have issues with reflections.
These reasons are in descending order. All in all it did not feel like the upgrade I had expected. It getting so warm sealed the deal.
Apple Studio display
Looking at my list I only had one possible option left, the Apple Studio display.
(When I write this the Samsung ViewFinity S9 5K is becoming available as well, at the same price as the Apple Studio display.)
I did not want to give Apple all this money. I think the stand issue is just silly, I ordered mine with a VESA mount (highly recommended!). The webcam is an over engineered embarrassment. The display has more or less an built in iPhone motherboard just to handle the webcam and it is still just ok. Over processed is how I would describe it. How can my three year old iPhone have a better front camera than this new expensive display?
Besides these flaws, I must admit it is an excellent product. The screen itself is wonderful, it is the iMac 5K display in a plus version. The difference is not big but it is noticeable. It is just so nice and relaxing to look at.
Apple has added some magic to its speakers lately. The sound out of the Studio display is superb so no need for external speakers. The microphones are also really good. My external microphone is an improvement but mostly because it is closer.
Volume and brightness controls just work of course. The design is Apple, need to say no more.
If a hight adjusted stand was included in the base price and the webcam was at least as good as the front camera on an iPhone I would have nothing bad to say about the Apple Studio display. If it also supported Face ID I would say it was outstanding. Even with the high price.
At full brightness the Apple Studio display uses 56 W but at around 70%, where I find it comfortable, it only uses 32 W.
The Apple Studio display plus the Mac mini M2 use less power than my old iMac 5K, while being more powerful. This feels like an upgrade!
The Dell is 6K but I do not think that explains all the difference in power consumption. I suspect that Apple cares about this issue, and Dell does not.