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Apple Studio Display vs. Pro Display XDR: The Same, Yet Not

The devil's not in the details when choosing between these two monitors, it's right in front of your face.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read
$5,699 at Amazon
Apple Pro Display XDR


  • A true workstation-class display with myriad profiles stored in hardware
  • 1,600-nit peak brightness for HDR editing

Don't like

  • No hardware controls
  • Limited to a single Thunderbolt 3 input

A sigh of disappointment emerged from a lot of folks when Apple announced its new Studio Display at its March product launch event. Many were hoping the $1,599 monitor would be a smaller, less expensive version of its $4,999 sibling, the Pro Display XDR. And to a certain extent, it is. But it's still left me waiting for a less-expensive model of the Pro Display XDR.

Rather than say, simply scale back the brightness, reduce the size and simplify the stand of the Pro, which would serve the same audience for far less money, Apple's created a mainstream monitor that will likely be good enough for the larger group of creators-slash-Apple devotees. I don't doubt that Apple's nailed the color accuracy, but there are a lot of unknowns at the moment. 

HDR vs. webcam and speakers

Aside from the size, this is the biggest "which one?" gap between the two, and the main characteristics which make them aimed at very different uses. The Pro Display XDR is a purist's monitor, with a design and feature set geared toward content creation and nothing but. The Studio Display, on the other hand, seems like it wants to be all things to all people; on paper it looks like an iMac without the system attached or an older-generation iPad Pro, right down to having a processor inside.

Basic specifications

Apple Pro Display XDRApple Studio Display
Price (MSRP) $4,999$1,599
Options Nano-texture glass, $1,000; Pro stand, $999; VESA mount, $199Nano-texture glass, $299; Tilt-and height-adjustable stand, $399; VESA mount adapter, no extra cost but doesn't look like it works with Apple's stands
Size (diagonal inches) 3227
Panel type IPS with oxide TFTIPS
Backlight type WLEDWLED
Local dimming zones 576n/a
Resolution 6K (6,016x3,384)5K (5,120x2,880)
Aspect ratio 16:916:9
Pixel pitch (ppi) 218218
Contrast 1m:11,200:1
Panel bit depth 1010
Controls The display has no buttons and requires MacOS 10.15.2 in order to select reference modes; create custom calibrations, adjust brightness, Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG playbackThe display has no buttons and requires MacOS 10.15.2 or later in order to select reference modes; brightness; calibration
USB-C (out) 3 x USB 23 x 10Gbps USB
USB-C Thunderbolt 3 11
Accessories included 6.5 ft./2m Thunderbolt 3 cable3.3 ft./1m Thunderbolt cable
Other features n/a12-megapixel webcam with 122 degree field of view, six-speaker surround
Release date December 2019March 2022

The 1,600-nit Pro Display XDR is bright enough for HDR content editing, while the Studio Display doesn't support HDR, even for playback, as far as I can tell. (The specs don't list HDR10 support, which is required to understand HDR data.) Yes, 600 nits doesn't make for great HDR, but I've used DisplayHDR 600 displays with Windows and it's passable. 

The Studio Display's webcam and speakers are really what give it the iMac-ish sensibility, and one of the reasons I think Apple intends to permanently replace the now-discontinued 27-inch iMac with this monitor plus your choice of one of the mini desktops, the Mac Mini or the new Mac Studio. But that would make the glaring lack of HDR playback even glarier.

Watch this: Meet the Mac Studio and Mac Studio Display

Neither one of them supports anything beyond 60Hz refresh rate (unlike the ProMotion screens on the higher-end iPads and iPhones). It's understandable in the Pro Display XDR, which is two years old, but less so in the Studio Display. Unless Apple is trying to cement the idea that all your recreation should take place on a mobile device. (Which, sadly, might be true.)

Color matching

The thing is, once you remove HDR from the equation they've got almost identical reference modes. The big question mark hanging over the Studio Display is whether you can create custom profiles stored in hardware (not software), a capability that came to the Pro Display XDR a while after it launched. Hardware calibration profiles make a big difference when you're trying to match colors across multiple monitors, especially when the monitors are from multiple manufacturers; it's a feature that differentiates a consumer display from a workstation-level one. 


Apple Pro Display XDRApple Studio Display
P3 100%100%
Rec. 709/sRGB 100%100%
Maximum brightness SDR (nits) 500600
Typical brightness SDR (nits) 500600
Maximum brightness HDR (nits) 1,600n/a
Typical brightness HDR (nits) 1,000n/a
Reference modes sRGB, P3-D50 (Adobe RGB alternative), P3-500 nits (Apple display), P3-1600 (native), DCI-P3 (6300K, gamma 2.6), Display P3 (6500K, gamma 2.2), HDR (P3, ST 2084), HD/BT.709, PAL/SECAM, NTSCsRGB, P3-D50 (Adobe RGB alternative), P3-600 (Apple Display, native), DCI-P3 (6300K, gamma 2.6), Display P3 (6500K, gamma 2.2), HD/BT.709, PAL/SECAM, NTSC
HDR support Dolby Vision, HLG (only with MacOS)None


Both offer the glare-eliminating Nano-texture glass option, and both have overdesigned stands that result in extra cost for essential capabilities -- notably, the ability to adjust the height. The prices and price premiums are different, which makes sense. The Pro Display XDR screen is very heavy, and requires a sturdier base and hinge.

Stand vs. stand

Apple Pro Display XDRApple Studio Display
Portrait/landscape rotation Only with optional standNone with Apple's stands; supported via VESA mount adapter and third-party accessories
Tilt angles (degrees) Only with optional stand: -5 to 25 degrees-5 to 25 degrees
Swivel  NoneNone
Height adjustment Only with optional standOnly with optional stand

Alongside the new Mac Studio, Apple introduced an all-new Studio Display. Preorders are open now for this monitor, with shipments starting later this month. It features Apple's A13 chip, a 12MP ultra-wide camera for use with Center Stage, Spatial Audio and so much more.

Read more about the Apple Studio Display.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple's 32-inch display is a true workstation-class monitor with myriad profiles stored in hardware, plus it supports up to 1,600 nits for editing HDR. It's about two years old now, though, so ancillary specs, such as the single Thunderbolt port, aren't that up to date. And like the Studio Display, it has no hardware controls, which ties it firmly to the Mac.

Read Apple Pro Display XDR review.

I look forward to ferreting out the unknowns as well as answers to other questions once we get our hands on the Studio monitor for testing.