Apple Pro Display XDR: Grading on a curve


The Professional Display XDR, Apple’s 32-inch 6K screen.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Soon after waiting around for what felt like forever for the Apple Professional Display XDR to get there, it lastly dropped out of the sky and on to my take a look at bench — and with it, a parade of colleagues. Some came merely to pet it, not caring if it was on or not. Some commented, “It can be a ton thicker than I expected,” which just created me snicker. Only a person disregarded the shiny, plopped himself in my chair, and primarily explained, “Let’s see some HDR footage.” 


  • A true workstation-course screen with myriad profiles stored in components
  • one,600-nit peak brightness for HDR editing

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  • No components controls
  • Minimal to a single Thunderbolt 3 enter

That, in a nutshell, is element of the brilliance of Apple’s internet marketing. The excitement it really is created amongst nonprofessionals is vastly disproportionate to the compact selection of people today for whom this screen would make serious feeling: A subset of editors on Mac-only pro video clip workflows carrying out one,000-nit, high-dynamic-selection shade correction. Mac-based mostly photograph professionals retouching on high-resolution, wide-tonal-selection pictures (who will not treatment about Adobe RGB). Illustrators performing on types with complicated specifics. And so on. 

For them, the display’s $5,000-moreover value tag is probably value it for the one,600-nit peak brightness, 6K resolution and components calibration profiles for a handful of reference benchmarks and pseudo benchmarks, this kind of as Apple’s own P3-D50 shade house for design and style and print, especially targeted for Mac-only procedure. (I will not reiterate the entire specs.)


It commences at $5,000.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I’ve only experienced it for a temporary time, so have not started my formal measurements or extra arduous palms-on tests. I am still attempting to perform out some of the kinks — and indeed, there are some frustrating kinks and negatives. 

Our analysis unit is the more affordable $5,000 (£4,599, AU$8,499) edition of the check — the a person with no the $one,000 (£900, AU$one,500) Nano-texture glass enhance. Whilst it really is quite reflective when you might be staring at a black display screen, below regular performing conditions it really is not poor as extensive as you will not have mild shining immediately at it. But if you do, which is possibly a poor perform setup no matter what. The XDR is fond of fingerprints, even though.

Into darkness

Some factors just jumped out the to start with time I fired it up. 

Basically eyeballing, it has some of the ideal blacks I’ve witnessed in a desktop or laptop check. And that features OLED. Whilst OLED can effectively get down to zero black, the Professional Display XDR truly has some usable tonal selection in the deep shadows.

You will see some haloing close to highlights on tremendous darkish backgrounds which is just a point of everyday living for the zone-based mostly area dimming which would make HDR attainable and which tends to be a greater issue for desktop displays than TVs. The query is, does the Professional Display have enough zones? The present era of HDR displays with comparable mini LED backlights, this kind of as the Asus PA32UCG, boast twice as many as the Professional Display XDR’s 576.

Yet another pleasant surprise is skin tones. You will not understand how comparatively imprecise frequently nicely-regarded displays are in comparison — like the iMac’s — right until you pop open up some portraits on the Professional Display.

It can be also really peaceful. Which is mainly because the again is functional as nicely as eye catching. It can be essentially a significant heat sink, intended to dissipate the heat coming off the one,600-nit-able backlight. The enthusiasts only have to great the circuit board, and blow the air out the grater. And the air coming out is great. I’ve made use of one,000-nit displays, and they can deliver a ton of heat out the front as nicely, even when they’re not maxed out. Not this a person.

The 6K resolution (six,016×3,384 pixels) is equally a blessing and a curse. If you might be editing 6K video clip, retouching 25-megapixel or greater pictures, performing on highly in depth illustration and so on, it comes in truly helpful. But the resolution, alongside with the HDR, is a person of the factors components compatibility is an issue. 

More mature Macs need not implement

Driving the greater resolution and greater bit depth necessary for HDR involves extra bandwidth than equipped by DisplayPort one.4, the check protocol made use of by the present era of Thunderbolt 3 controllers. So Apple does some voodoo setting up with MacOS ten.15.two Catalina to pump out extra information by means of the port. 

Which is not new. Pushing the envelope on check resolutions and shade depth has usually needed some alchemy even though waiting around for system chipsets to capture up. But there are sticking points for some. For occasion, if you want to use it with an iMac Professional (

$4,999 at Apple

), you need to get the Blackmagic Style eGPU with its Intel Titan Ridge-era controller mainly because the Thunderbolt controller in the iMac Professional is far too previous.


This is not for regular people, it really is for media gurus.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There are no components controls, either, and I truly, truly miss out on them. Even a little something as primary as a electrical power button mainly because in some cases you just want to convert it off. If you might be hooked up to an iMac, you won’t be able to disable the Professional Display and use only the inner screen, or vice versa. Why would you want to? Well, for a person, to continue to keep the mild from a person check from seeping into your peripheral vision. As an alternative, it appears to be you have to pull the plug or cable. 

Absence of components controls is a person of the factors that would make it unachievable to use with Windows apart from with Boot Camp, which has a program management panel for shifting method presets. Even if you take care of to kludge a resolution to make it perform on a Personal computer or Windows laptop, you might be still out of luck. I plugged it into an Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000-equipped laptop and it was unattractive. 

I also miss out on acquiring a number of enter sources and connections and being ready to swap among them so I can connect a single check to a number of units. Stripping it down to a single Thunderbolt 3-only enter appears to be a bit hostile toward your person foundation.

Generally I would ding Apple closely for the restricted compatibility, but a person detail I’ve uncovered about the decades is that shade management is a person of the toughest factors in tech to get correct. So if it would like to tightly circumscribe the potential purchaser foundation, primarily for a to start with-era product or service, I’ll slice the company some slack. Apple’s been burned on displays right before, just after all.


An excess, formal stand for the XDR expenses $one,000.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Generate, not take in

Want to kick again and check out HDR information on your quite new check that’s not part of Apple Tv In addition? Very good luck. Streaming 4K HDR from a laptop in typical is confusing, but the Vega-course AMD graphics chips in the greater-conclude Macs are the most restricted. (They will not help decryption of HDCP two.two DRM’d information from Netflix and Amazon.) At minimum in Windows below Boot Camp you can check out YouTube 4K HDR video clip. 

Even if you have all the components and program items in position to choose total edge of the display’s capabilities, two truly vital attributes are still on the roadmap: Person reference modes and help for custom made calibrations.

And, lastly: Is the marketed-individually stand value $one,000 (£949, AU$one,699)? Nope. The point that the stand matches the display screen doesn’t compensate for not being ready to swivel the check, reduce it enough to align its centre with an iMac screen or to lock into a flawlessly horizontal situation. Whilst, the latter may possibly not matter far too a great deal to you until you have an almost OCD-like compulsion to adjust anything on the wall which is askew.

You want a little something to perform with that glides prettily? Get yourself a fidget spinner and put the Professional Display XDR on an arm or an unattractive-but-extra-sensible stand. 

This evaluation is a perform in development and will be up-to-date as tests carries on.