June 4, 2020


Connecting People

Apple Pro Display XDR: Grading on a curve

The Pro Exhibit XDR, Apple’s 32-inch 6K exhibit.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Just after waiting around for what felt like forever for the Apple Pro Exhibit XDR to get there, it ultimately dropped out of the sky and on to my check bench — and with it, a parade of colleagues. Some came basically to pet it, not caring if it was on or not. Some commented, “It really is a lot thicker than I predicted,” which just made me laugh. Only a single dismissed the shiny, plopped himself in my chair, and effectively explained, “Let us see some HDR footage.” 


  • A true workstation-class exhibit with myriad profiles saved in components
  • 1,600-nit peak brightness for HDR editing

You should not Like

  • No components controls
  • Restricted to a solitary Thunderbolt three input

That, in a nutshell, is part of the brilliance of Apple’s marketing. The buzz it truly is created amongst nonprofessionals is vastly disproportionate to the tiny range of individuals for whom this exhibit makes serious feeling: A subset of editors on Mac-only pro movie workflows performing 1,000-nit, high-dynamic-assortment color correction. Mac-based mostly image professionals retouching on high-resolution, wide-tonal-assortment images (who will not care about Adobe RGB). Illustrators doing the job on styles with complex details. And so on. 

For them, the display’s $5,000-plus price tag tag is likely value it for the 1,600-nit peak brightness, 6K resolution and components calibration profiles for a handful of reference criteria and pseudo criteria, this kind of as Apple’s very own P3-D50 color space for design and style and print, precisely specific for Mac-only operation. (I would not reiterate the comprehensive specs.)


It starts at $5,000.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I’ve only had it for a quick time, so have not begun my official measurements or far more rigorous palms-on tests. I’m even now hoping to get the job done out some of the kinks — and certainly, there are some disheartening kinks and disadvantages. 

Our evaluation unit is the less costly $5,000 (£4,599, AU$eight,499) version of the observe — the a single with no the $1,000 (£900, AU$1,500) Nano-texture glass improve. Even though it truly is really reflective when you are staring at a black display screen, underneath normal doing the job disorders it truly is not negative as long as you will not have gentle shining straight at it. But if you do, that’s possibly a negative get the job done setup no make any difference what. The XDR is fond of fingerprints, nevertheless.

Into darkness

Some issues just jumped out the initial time I fired it up. 

Basically eyeballing, it has some of the ideal blacks I’ve observed in a desktop or laptop observe. And that incorporates OLED. Even though OLED can properly get down to zero black, the Pro Exhibit XDR actually has some usable tonal assortment in the deep shadows.

You will see some haloing around highlights on super dark backgrounds that’s just a truth of lifestyle for the zone-based mostly community dimming which makes HDR achievable and which tends to be a larger difficulty for desktop screens than TVs. The question is, does the Pro Exhibit have plenty of zones? The present generation of HDR screens with related mini LED backlights, this kind of as the Asus PA32UCG, boast 2 times as several as the Pro Exhibit XDR’s 576.

Yet another pleasant shock is skin tones. You will not notice how comparatively imprecise normally nicely-regarded screens are in comparison — like the iMac’s — till you pop open up some portraits on the Pro Exhibit.

It really is also incredibly peaceful. That’s mainly because the again is purposeful as nicely as eye catching. It really is generally a huge heat sink, built to dissipate the heat coming off the 1,600-nit-capable backlight. The supporters only have to interesting the circuit board, and blow the air out the grater. And the air coming out is interesting. I’ve applied 1,000-nit screens, and they can crank out a lot of heat out the front as nicely, even when they are not maxed out. Not this a single.

The 6K resolution (6,016×3,384 pixels) is both of those a blessing and a curse. If you are editing 6K movie, retouching 25-megapixel or larger images, doing the job on highly detailed illustration and so on, it arrives in truly useful. But the resolution, along with the HDR, is a single of the reasons components compatibility is an difficulty. 

Older Macs want not use

Driving the better resolution and better bit depth necessary for HDR involves far more bandwidth than provided by DisplayPort 1.4, the observe protocol applied by the present generation of Thunderbolt three controllers. So Apple does some voodoo starting off with MacOS ten.fifteen.2 Catalina to pump out far more data via the port. 

That’s not new. Pushing the envelope on observe resolutions and color depth has always necessary some alchemy even though waiting around for procedure chipsets to capture up. But there are sticking factors for some. For instance, if you want to use it with an iMac Pro (

$4,999 at Apple

), you want to get the Blackmagic Layout eGPU with its Intel Titan Ridge-generation controller mainly because the Thunderbolt controller in the iMac Pro is also previous.


This is just not for common people, it truly is for media specialists.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There are no components controls, either, and I truly, truly skip them. Even a little something as primary as a electricity button mainly because occasionally you just want to flip it off. If you are hooked up to an iMac, you can’t disable the Pro Exhibit and use only the internal exhibit, or vice versa. Why would you want to? Well, for a single, to continue to keep the gentle from a single observe from seeping into your peripheral eyesight. As a substitute, it looks you have to pull the plug or cable. 

Lack of components controls is a single of the issues that makes it unachievable to use with Home windows other than with Boot Camp, which has a program regulate panel for switching method presets. Even if you handle to kludge a solution to make it get the job done on a Pc or Home windows laptop, you are even now out of luck. I plugged it into an Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000-geared up laptop and it was ugly. 

I also skip obtaining many input sources and connections and being able to switch among them so I can link a solitary observe to many devices. Stripping it down to a solitary Thunderbolt three-only input looks a bit hostile in the direction of your consumer foundation.

Normally I’d ding Apple greatly for the confined compatibility, but a single matter I’ve figured out over the many years is that color management is a single of the hardest issues in tech to get proper. So if it needs to tightly circumscribe the likely purchaser foundation, especially for a initial-generation solution, I will lower the business some slack. Apple’s been burned on screens just before, immediately after all.


An additional, formal stand for the XDR charges $1,000.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Build, not take in

Want to kick again and look at HDR information on your really new observe that’s not part of Apple Television set Additionally? Excellent luck. Streaming 4K HDR from a laptop in common is confusing, but the Vega-class AMD graphics chips in the better-conclude Macs are the most confined. (They will not guidance decryption of HDCP 2.2 DRM’d information from Netflix and Amazon.) At minimum in Home windows underneath Boot Camp you can look at YouTube 4K HDR movie. 

Even if you have all the components and program items in put to just take total advantage of the display’s abilities, two truly important features are even now on the roadmap: User reference modes and guidance for custom made calibrations.

And, ultimately: Is the marketed-independently stand value $1,000 (£949, AU$1,699)? Nope. The truth that the stand matches the display screen doesn’t compensate for not being able to swivel the observe, reduced it plenty of to align its center with an iMac exhibit or to lock into a completely horizontal position. Whilst, the latter may possibly not make any difference also significantly to you except you have an practically OCD-like compulsion to adjust anything at all on the wall that’s askew.

You want a little something to participate in with that glides prettily? Get oneself a fidget spinner and set the Pro Exhibit XDR on an arm or an ugly-but-far more-simple stand. 

This assessment is a get the job done in development and will be up-to-date as tests carries on.