Our Thoughts On The Apple Pro Display XDR

June 12, 2019

The XDR looks like an impressive display from Apple but - is it a reference monitor? It sure is priced like one!


From The MailBag Episode 71

An Impressive Display From Apple – Is It A Reference Monitor?

Alongside last week’s announcement from Apple of the 2019 Mac Pro – a new modular, upgradable and seemingly powerful workstation.  Apple also took the wraps off a brand new 32in HDR display called the ProDisplay XDR.  Yes, you read that right – XDR (for Xtreme of course!).

During the announcement of the display, Apple was quick to point out a problem – good HDR monitors are currently very expensive! They even brought up a picture of a Sony BVMX300 (or it might have been a BVM-HX310) comparing their display and it’s (marketed) superiority to other reference displays on the market.  Even for Apple, it seemed pretty aggressive.


On paper, the new Apple Pro Display XDR seems like a mighty fine HDR monitor, but is it a reference monitor that colorists can trust? If not, who is this monitor for? Image courtesy of Apple.


The monitor (in my opinion) does look pretty striking. Although everyone might not be a fan of the cheese grater back, it’s a pretty smart way to handle the heat that so many HDR displays have in abundance.

Here are some other specs of the display:

  • 16×9 aspect 6016 x 3384 ‘6k’ resolution with a total of 20.4 million pixels
  • IPS LCD available in Standard or Nano-texture glass (supposedly better than traditional matte treatments)
  • 1000nits full screen, 1600nit peak (not mentioned how much of screen can do 1600 nits)
  • 10bit, P3 color with 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 576 full-array local dimming zones
  • ‘Reference modes’ – P3-ST2084, BT.709-BT.1886, P3-DCI, P3-D65, sRGB
  • 4x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
  • Depending on the variant you get the display will set you back $4999 (standard glass) or $5999 (nano-texture glass).  Apple also sells an optional stand for $999 or a matching VESA adapter for $199.

At first glance, this is one hell of a monitor given its specs and price point. But are those specs worth of being called a reference monitor? Can/will the ProDisplay XDR compete with the likes of the Sony BVM-X300 or HX310, Flanders 310k/311k, and other top end HDR reference monitors?

In this installment of From The Mailbag, Mixing Light contributor Joey D’Anna hung around after our Mac Pro discussion to discuss this monitor with Robbie, Patrick, and Dan.  In this Mailbag we cover some of the specs of the monitor, what’s good, what’s bad, who this monitor is for and even if the monitor isn’t a reference monitor will it help push HDR to more and more content creators?

Update: After we recorded this episode Blackmagic announced a new addition to their Terranex Mini line of converters, this one called SDI > Displayport 8k.  This box will convert up to Quad 12G (8k) to USB-C style Display port to connect to displays like the ProDisplay XDR.  This is great news for those of you interested in connectivity along an SDI path.

Update: Also after we recorded, and noted by James in the comment section. BMD via their forum, product manager Peter Chamberlain announced that in a later update to Resolve, for the first time, full-screen playback will be supported from the GPU not just a BMD video I/O device. That development is clearly because of the Pro Display XDR

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Homepage Forums Our Thoughts On The Apple Pro Display XDR

  • James L

    Great discussion.

    You may be interested to see this post by Peter Chamberlin on the BMD forum:

    “…with today’s announcements I would also like to mention that in a coming DaVinci Resolve Studio release, likely when the new MacPro and display ships, we will support a full screen 2nd monitor display directly from the GPU for those who don’t need the longer cable connections supported by the Teranex Mini SDI to DisplayPort 8K HDR.”

    I read (somewhere, can’t find a link to it and didn’t save it at the time) that at the WWDC demo room running Resolve on the new monitor they were running a beta of this feature.

    As you brought up in the discussion, scaling for 6K and how it’s handled is still a question even with that direct output.

  • Greg Greenhaw

    Is there another 4k-8k hdr computer screen you would recommend?

  • Marc Wielage

    I think we’ve all been through this before with HP’s “Dreamcolor” displays more than 10 years ago. A lot of people back then erroneously believed, “wow, now we’ll have a Grade-1 quality mastering display for $2000!”, but it just didn’t happen. I’m disappointed that Apple would create so much hype for a monitor with questionable specs… plus it only has a TB3 input and no physical controls. I’ll be very curious to see how it calibrates to known standards when it’s released, but I think it’s pie-in-the-sky BS at this point.

  • James L

    So true! The Dreamcolor nonsense is exactly what I thought when Apple announced this monitor. Dreamcolors worked well enough to use on set and as an editing GUI, and I imagine the general use cases for Apple’s XDR monitor will be similar.

  • Robbie Carman

    thanks James! We did discover that after we recorded. I’ve added to the update section in the post.

  • Frederick Y

    Thanks gents. I think you nailed it on the head. Keeping current UI monitors and going with
    XM310K/XM311K to add to our DM250s. Not a reference grade monitor. Probably great for a new workstation in a smaller editor room, but still way pricey.

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