Review: LG 23.7-inch Thunderbolt 3 4K UltraFine Display excels with Mac integration

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in Current Mac Hardware
LG's 24-inch 4K display is a great option for prosumers who are looking for a forward-thinking monitor that tightly integrates to their Mac with superior quality.

Daisy chaining multiple UltraFine displays over Thunderbolt 3
Daisy chaining multiple UltraFine displays over Thunderbolt 3


We are always on the lookout for great monitors so we were excited when LG released a more capable 23.7-inch 4K UltraFine display that also supports daisy-chaining over Thunderbolt 3. This new 23.7-inch 4K display is replacing the outgoing 21-inch 4K display that was previously sold by Apple and builds on it in a number of ways.

Included in the box is a Thunderbolt 3 cable, a USB-C cable, and a power cable alongside the monitor itself. Let's check out how it stacks up.

Excellent third-party hardware






The gold standard of hardware and monitor design is often held by Apple. Not just with standalone monitors, but the displays and build structure of the iMac line. This is a lofty bar to hold LG against and one that isn't entirely fair. Still, it is all but impossible to not draw comparisons between LG's 23.7-inch monitor and any of Apple's displays.

Apple has stringent guidelines for third-party accessories and ones LG must abide by in creating its for-Mac monitor line. If you have tried out LG monitors in the past or that aren't destined for Apple stores you see a different approach.

For example, the 23.7-inch UtlraFine display doesn't have an external power supply of any sorts, and instead, like all of Apple's desktops, has the power supply integrated into the monitor. This is far preferable to the hefty external power brick that LG normally uses.

LG 23.7-inch UltraFine display
LG 23.7-inch UltraFine display


As for the hardware itself, it is either just OK or excellent depending on who you are comparing it to. Comparing it to Apple and it is decent -- but not amazing. Compare it to the larger swath of terrible mass-market monitors, LG has knocked it out of the park.

The body is very dissimilar to the previous UltraFine displays. Primarily made of plastic with a black metal base. Unlike the other UltraFine monitors, this one comes assembled out of the box requiring just a power cable to be ready to go. The plastic that the body is made of doesn't feel cheap. It feels strong and solid -- but still plastic.

LG 23.7-inch UltraFine display has decent bezels
LG 23.7-inch UltraFine display bezels are a little chunky but not too big


There are slightly chunky bezels around the monitor, all symmetrical in size. They are larger bezels than on the LG UltraWide display we reviewed but still smaller than on Apple's iMacs.

The screen of the monitor is somewhat adjustable with similar degrees of motion to the other UltraFine displays. It can tilt down roughly five degrees and can tilt up about 25-degrees. It can move up and down about five inches. There is no horizontal rotation to be found, so in that case just rotate the base.

LG 23.7-inch UltraFine display tilting
You can tilt the LG 23.7-inch UltraFine display up around 25-degrees and down about 5-degrees


LG has achieved quite a bit of smoothness to the monitor movements though they aren't as smooth and effortless as they are with the iMac or Apple's new -- and expensive -- Pro Display XDR. When you adjust the display up or down, there can be a bit of a jump right at either end and the springs help offset the weight and pop into place.

Mac integration

LG 23.7-inch UltraFine display has two Thunderbolt 3 and three USB-C ports
LG 23.7-inch UltraFine display has two Thunderbolt 3 and three USB-C ports


A quick survey of the monitor will reveal five Type-C ports. Two of these ports are Thunderbolt 3 and are denoted by a white ring around them and the Thunderbolt logo. The remaining three are all USB Type-C. This port selection feels very much designed for the Mac, and for the future. Three surplus USB-C ports is quite generous and for those looking to the future is what is needed rather than legacy USB-A.

It may be helpful for some to have a USB-A port or two around back, but in a year or two as everyone continues moving to USB-C most will be yearning for more Type-C ports rather than the already DOA Type-A. We've already taken our workflow all USB-C by opting for new cables as to not be hampered by dongles.

Using the Akitio Node Lite in a Thunderbolt 3 daisy chain
Using the Akitio Node Lite in a Thunderbolt 3 daisy chain


Thunderbolt 3 is particularly advantageous for users, allowing an unprecedented amount of flexibility. In our workflow, we are able to daisy chain several devices together with only a single cable getting plugged into our MacBook Pro. From our Mac, the Thunderbolt 3 cable goes into the first LG UtlraFine followed by a second LG UltraFine, then into our Akitio Node Lite with a 1TB Intel Optane SSD followed by our LaCie 20TB 2Big drive.

LG includes a 2 meter Thunderbolt 3 cable and a USB-C cable
LG includes a 2-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable and a USB-C cable


Not only does all of that get powered and connected over a single Thunderbolt 3 cable -- of which a two-meter version is included in the box -- but it powers our Mac as well. It will deliver 85W of power which is two watts short of the maximum input our 15-inch Pro can take.

Also missing from this display is any form of button. Yes, there are no buttons to these displays. That is very "Apple" in design in that there is nothing to do or configure. No settings to deal with. It is as simple as plug it in and you are good to go.

This display also supports both Apple's Night Shift technology as well as True Tone. Both features that are seldom seen in third-party displays. To adjust the brightness, you can do that through the Mac as well instead of some hidden buttons on the display.

A better option than the discontinued 21-inch

LG introduced this monitor soon after discontinuing the 21-inch 4K UltraFine display. That is fine by us as the new 23.7-inch is a far better value.

This monitor gives you a couple extra diagonal inches of screen real estate for the exact same price. The new monitor can also output 85W of power compared to only 60W on the outgoing version.

LG's logo is fairly small on the 23.7-inch 4K UltraFine display
LG's logo is fairly small on the 23.7-inch 4K UltraFine display


One way the 21-inch does win out though is in pixel density. Both the 21-inch and 23.7-inch monitors are 4K displays, but since the latter has a larger physical size, the pixel density is slightly reduced. It has gone from 219 to 186 PPI. When we look at it from a normal distance, this change isn't much apparent. Because of the larger screen size, you should naturally be sitting slightly further away anyway which makes the PPI a moot point.

A huge factor for most will be the second Thunderbolt 3 port found on this machine which allows such easy daisy chaning of additional Thunderbolt 3 devices or additional displays. Without that port, they would either need two ports on your machine or require an adapter or hub. Simply put, the second Thunderbolt 3 port is crucial for a pro workflow and monitor.

An incredible display

The physical dimensions of the monitor sit at 3840 x 2160 60Hz UHD. By default, macOS scales to 1920 x 1080 running with pixels doubled. There are other resolutions available and you can run at its native resolution but on-screen objects will be quite small and uncomfortable to manipulate.

Using Affinity Photo to edit photos on the external display
Using Affinity Photo to edit photos on the external display


It also covers the P3 wide color gamut and touts 500 nits of brightness -- same as Apple's MacBook Pro displays.

We tested the monitors out for a few weeks before forming any full opinions but were largely impressed with the capabilities of the display. Everything looked sharp and the colors popped excellently. Color accuracy seemed spot on out of the box with no additional correction needed, contrast seemed great and the viewing angle was also wide enough when a group gathered around the monitor to look over our content.

You can find other competing 4K monitors in the $300 range but there is a pretty drastic difference in features, macOS integration, and build quality. A quick look at the alternatives you see a lot of thin, glossy, cheap feeling plastic with giant bezels and gaudy logos.

They have buttons that are necessary to turn the monitor on and off as well as to adjust the brightness. They have external power bricks that are large and inconvenient. And they use HDMI or DisplayPort rather than Thunderbolt 3. There is no support for the P3 wide color gamut. They don't deliver power to your Mac and they certainly don't have a built-in hub of USB-C ports and can't be daisy chained together.

Multiple monitor setup with Thunderbolt 3
Multiple monitor setup with Thunderbolt 3


There are going to be plenty out there that are okay with the trade offs for a cheaper price, but as Mac users we tend to place more importance on the integration, the design, and quality of the monitor. It may not live entirely up to the bar set by Apple's hardware but it still stands far above the rest of the market.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Where to buy

The new LG UltraFine 4K Display (24MD4KL-B) can be ordered from Apple for $699.95.
bitman
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 669member
    I picked up one of these screens for my office last week. Color and sharpness are excellent. Difficult to over-emphasize how cool having just one cable for screen and power is… if you like the convenience and tidiness of wireless keyboards and mice, hoo-boy are you in for a treat.

    I disagree with the reviewer regarding this point…
    This monitor gives you a couple extra diagonal inches of screen real estate for the exact same price… One way the 21-inch does win out though is in pixel density. Both the 21-inch and 23.7-inch monitors are 4K displays, but since the latter has a larger physical size, the pixel density is slightly reduced. It has gone from 219 to 186 PPI. When we look at it from a normal distance, this change isn't much apparent. Because of the larger screen size, you should naturally be sitting slightly further away anyway which makes the PPI a moot point.
    Uh, so which is it, you get a couple extra diagonal inches, or you should sit farther away to make PPI (and that extra couple inches) moot?

    I was hoping that the dip from 220-DPI (like the 27" iMac) to 186 would not be noticeable, but it is. Everything on the screen is "Duplo sized," you need to use resolution scaling in order to make the UI match a Macbook display. 

    Given that their 27" offering quietly disappeared from the market, and now this shows up with a refined housing, I'm crossing my fingers and hoping on a redesigned 27" for home.
    edited June 9 sirozhaazentropyjeffharris
  • Reply 2 of 36
    boboliciousbobolicious Posts: 607member
    ...a few concerns/questions...

    - webcam (macOS feature, is there an Apple desktop Facetime solution?)
    - speaker quality?
    - rotation (macOS feature with no hardware support, easy to offer, why not?)
    - vesa (not mentioned, listed as VESA cover on Apple.com)

    edited June 9
  • Reply 3 of 36
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 669member
    No rotation. Comes with a VESA (I'm using it). 

    (Why not? One more thing to break, those mounts have to be strong. Better to let the fringe who wants this to bring their own VESA arms IMO)

    I believe there's a webcam, no idea if there's speakers.
  • Reply 4 of 36
    thttht Posts: 3,252member
    Waiting, waiting, waiting on Apple to take the 27” 5K display in iMacs and make it a Thunderbolt Retina Display, with modern MacBook Pro aluminum and glass industrial design. 0.6 inches thick, 3 TB3 ports, 2 USBA, Ethernet, SD card slot, speakers, and front camera. Hard to believe they won’t sell a million units of these per year for the next 5 years at least, at $2000 per unit.

    My Thunderbolt Display is getting pretty long in the tooth now.
    azentropyarthurbadavgreg
  • Reply 6 of 36
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 669member
  • Reply 7 of 36
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 669member

    tht said:
    Waiting, waiting, waiting on Apple to take the 27” 5K display in iMacs and make it a Thunderbolt Retina Display, with modern MacBook Pro aluminum and glass industrial design. 0.6 inches thick, 3 TB3 ports, 2 USBA, Ethernet, SD card slot, speakers, and front camera. Hard to believe they won’t sell a million units of these per year for the next 5 years at least, at $2000 per unit.

    My Thunderbolt Display is getting pretty long in the tooth now.
    Same. I've lost hope, though, I think they're too resource-constrained to bother.

    The LG 27" used the same panel as the 5k iMac, but as I mentioned earlier, it's gone from the market. I'm hoping this 24" is a sign that they're just refreshing the hardware, it had a lot of problems on the initial release.
    racerhomie3
  • Reply 8 of 36
    boboliciousbobolicious Posts: 607member
    Eric_WVGG said:
    ...exactly...

    40" @ 4k is ~110dpi (less squinting) and matches the Apple Cinema & Thunderbolt Apple display DPI, and may run on many macs backward compatible beyond even 2010, with multiple inputs... With scaling I suspect I'd be looking hard at the 32" HDR / IPS options myself...

    I do agree it would seem logical to add a 27" iMac panel option similar to the Apple Thunderbolt display in a slimmed, tapered aluminum enclosure and a few hub ports like TB-3/USB-C & possibly 10Gb Enet...

    edited June 9
  • Reply 9 of 36
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 589member
    tht said:
    Waiting, waiting, waiting on Apple to take the 27” 5K display in iMacs and make it a Thunderbolt Retina Display, with modern MacBook Pro aluminum and glass industrial design. 0.6 inches thick, 3 TB3 ports, 2 USBA, Ethernet, SD card slot, speakers, and front camera. Hard to believe they won’t sell a million units of these per year for the next 5 years at least, at $2000 per unit.

    My Thunderbolt Display is getting pretty long in the tooth now.
    You didn’t mean $2,000 per unit, right? You meant $1,000 per unit. You can buy a 27” 6-core iMac for $1799. There’s at least $800 of compute in that iMac. 
  • Reply 10 of 36
    kaitain4kaitain4 Posts: 16member
    You need a new sound track for these vids. The one you use sounds like an old tape deck on its last legs! Distracting.
  • Reply 11 of 36
    thttht Posts: 3,252member
    sirozha said:
    tht said:
    Waiting, waiting, waiting on Apple to take the 27” 5K display in iMacs and make it a Thunderbolt Retina Display, with modern MacBook Pro aluminum and glass industrial design. 0.6 inches thick, 3 TB3 ports, 2 USBA, Ethernet, SD card slot, speakers, and front camera. Hard to believe they won’t sell a million units of these per year for the next 5 years at least, at $2000 per unit.

    My Thunderbolt Display is getting pretty long in the tooth now.
    You didn’t mean $2,000 per unit, right? You meant $1,000 per unit. You can buy a 27” 6-core iMac for $1799. There’s at least $800 of compute in that iMac. 
    Yes, I meant $2000. Yes, it would more expensive than the base model iMac 5K, and yes, it would be a competitive price.

    The 27” ultrafine 5K is $1300 with whatever plastic ID and limited port selection it has. An Apple branded monitor with aluminum+glass, speakers, front cam and microphone, TB3 ports, USBA ports, Ethernet and SD card slot at $2000 would be a competitive price. There really aren’t 5K monitors except for the LG, so competition is limited and not much price pressure.

    There are a lot of Mac customers who would want it. There’s about 40m to 50m Macs with TB3. There only needs to be 10% of the installed base to hit 5m units.
  • Reply 12 of 36
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 819member
    A webcam and a microphone would be negatives to me. Not neutrals, but negatives.
    Metriacanthosaurus
  • Reply 13 of 36
    thttht Posts: 3,252member
    Eric_WVGG said:

    tht said:
    Waiting, waiting, waiting on Apple to take the 27” 5K display in iMacs and make it a Thunderbolt Retina Display, with modern MacBook Pro aluminum and glass industrial design. 0.6 inches thick, 3 TB3 ports, 2 USBA, Ethernet, SD card slot, speakers, and front camera. Hard to believe they won’t sell a million units of these per year for the next 5 years at least, at $2000 per unit.

    My Thunderbolt Display is getting pretty long in the tooth now.
    Same. I've lost hope, though, I think they're too resource-constrained to bother.

    The LG 27" used the same panel as the 5k iMac, but as I mentioned earlier, it's gone from the market. I'm hoping this 24" is a sign that they're just refreshing the hardware, it had a lot of problems on the initial release.
    My work would buy one for me at the drop of a hat if it was available. Just need something with the same point size as my MBP, and none of the non LG 22 and 27 inches really do it.

    8 years and counting now? I first started using the TB display with the TB2 MBP way back...
  • Reply 14 of 36
    lendenlenden Posts: 2member
      Can the monitor support other devices now that it has a separate TB3 input? Like a PS4? Or is it just limited to Macs only? I was thinking about getting one for my Mac but ideally I’d like to connect my PS4 or Windows laptop as well to the other TB3 input and just switch inputs. Considering there’s no physical buttons maybe there’s no other inputs?
  • Reply 15 of 36
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 589member
    tht said:
    sirozha said:
    tht said:
    Waiting, waiting, waiting on Apple to take the 27” 5K display in iMacs and make it a Thunderbolt Retina Display, with modern MacBook Pro aluminum and glass industrial design. 0.6 inches thick, 3 TB3 ports, 2 USBA, Ethernet, SD card slot, speakers, and front camera. Hard to believe they won’t sell a million units of these per year for the next 5 years at least, at $2000 per unit.

    My Thunderbolt Display is getting pretty long in the tooth now.
    You didn’t mean $2,000 per unit, right? You meant $1,000 per unit. You can buy a 27” 6-core iMac for $1799. There’s at least $800 of compute in that iMac. 
    Yes, I meant $2000. Yes, it would more expensive than the base model iMac 5K, and yes, it would be a competitive price.

    The 27” ultrafine 5K is $1300 with whatever plastic ID and limited port selection it has. An Apple branded monitor with aluminum+glass, speakers, front cam and microphone, TB3 ports, USBA ports, Ethernet and SD card slot at $2000 would be a competitive price. There really aren’t 5K monitors except for the LG, so competition is limited and not much price pressure.

    There are a lot of Mac customers who would want it. There’s about 40m to 50m Macs with TB3. There only needs to be 10% of the installed base to hit 5m units.
    There wouldn’t be the sales numbers you speak of at $2,000 per unit. At $1,000, there would be exponentially more units sold. 
  • Reply 16 of 36
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,701member
    Where's the Ethernet jack?
  • Reply 17 of 36
    thttht Posts: 3,252member
    sflocal said:
    Where's the Ethernet jack?
    There isn’t any. 

    There’s just the 3 USBC ports and the 2 TB3 ports. There isn’t a front cam and mic either. At least there are speakers. 


  • Reply 18 of 36
    Seems also to be $50 cheaper than the outgoing model. So 2'' larger and $50 cheaper with higher wattage output (85W vs 60W), makes this a consideration for me. Yes, resolution is slightly yes, but I'm not one of those freaks.
  • Reply 19 of 36
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,171member
    lenden said:
      Can the monitor support other devices now that it has a separate TB3 input? Like a PS4? Or is it just limited to Macs only? I was thinking about getting one for my Mac but ideally I’d like to connect my PS4 or Windows laptop as well to the other TB3 input and just switch inputs. Considering there’s no physical buttons maybe there’s no other inputs?
    PS4 doesn’t have Thunderbolt, so how would you even connect it? There are no other inputs to switch to. The other TB3 port is for daisy chaining, not another input. 
  • Reply 20 of 36
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,701member
    tht said:
    sflocal said:
    Where's the Ethernet jack?
    There isn’t any. 

    There’s just the 3 USBC ports and the 2 TB3 ports. There isn’t a front cam and mic either. At least there are speakers. 


    I know.  If anything, my question was rhetorical.

    I know there's no ethernet jack.  Since it's a TB3 (or TB2) monitor, it should include ports as would a Thunderbolt dock would have, and that means an ethernet jack, and possible (but not expected) an SD card slot.  

    Sure, I suppose one can simply get a TB3->Ethernet dongle but that's beside's the point.  That's the great thing about Apple's Thunderbolt2 monitor.  It did include an Ethernet jack.  The additional cost is negligible for something at this price range.
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