Is the Apple Studio Display Worth It?

Yes it is, but no matter which way you look at it, it's an expensive yes.

The Apple Studio Display is Expensive

Let's get the main sticking point out of the way. Starting at an eye watering £1,499 and going all the way up to a staggering £2,149, the Apple Studio Display is definitely a luxury purchase. You can lessen the blow of this by getting a refurbished model, like I did myself, which I'd highly recommend. You'd never be able to tell it was a refurb if it was gifted to you.

Is the base model enough?

Yes, but it pains me to say that you probably want the tilt and height adjustable stand, which bumps the price up another £400. I found that I've needed to put a thick book underneath the monitor to get it high enough, which is quite the kick in the teeth when you've already spent so much money on the thing.

If you use your laptop - 13 or 15" MacBook Air / 14" MacBook Pro on your desk. The top of the laptop screen will cover the lower part of the studio display and trust me, this is annoying enough to use a book or wish you bought the clearly money grabbing, height adjustable stand.

Anyway, back to the base model, aka the cheapest model. Height woes aside, it's absolutely fantastic. If you're coming from a 1080p or 1440p monitor, you're going to get that wow moment when you first load up your home screen. Let me tell you what I like about the Studio Display.

What I like about the Apple Studio Display

First let me give you my use case. I'm a software developer and I look at code and websites most of the day. I want a screen that gives me amazing text readability, high brightness, looks and sounds good. I'm not really bothered about colour accuracy or refresh rate.

  • The 5k 60Hz display is fantastic. Truly an upgrade over any 1080p or 1440p screen.
  • The screen brightness goes up to 600 nits, which for a standard room is more than enough.
  • The speakers are awesome. They produce a rich, clear sound with some beefy bass to boot.
  • With its aluminium finish it looks really smart on my desk.
  • The thunderbolt cable gives you up to 96W of power which should be more than enough to charge your laptop and other devices.
  • It has 3 additional USB-C ports which you can use to connect your other devices and dongles to.
  • It's designed to work with Macs and integrates with Mac Os perfectly. You can even plug it into a windows machine, via a thunderbolt port and it will also work.

So as you can see, it ticks all 4 boxes of my requirements and then some more!

The Studio Display Image Quality is Fantastic

Image quality on the studio display is exactly what you'd expect from a 5k screen - Fantastic. You'll have heard and read the same feedback from other reviews, however it really is one of those things you have to experience yourself.

It was very much a wow moment when I turned it on and got to my login screen. The display was so bright and the picture quality was so sharp and clear. As standard the studio display comes with a glossy screen, which if you've used a MacBook, is the same type as that. Reflections and sunlight can make viewing a little difficult, however in my case I just close my curtains. Simple as that really. If you are in an office and don't have the luxury of moving or closing the blinds. The nano texture display which gives you more of a matte screen might suit you better.

The Studio Display speakers are Great

I think the main thing you notice with the sound quality on the studio display is that it has really decent bass. I'm not an expert in sound so you're getting a layman's description here. Of all the sets of speakers I've had and listened to across all the laptops and desktop PCs with external speakers. The Studio Display is the best. And it sounds good when you turn the volume up too. There's no distortion and it handles all of my music genres just fine.

It looks really good on your desk

The aluminium case and stand look great and you're getting that Apple aesthetic. With the way the power cable hides behind the stand the only visible cable you have on your desk is the supplied 1M Thunderbolt cable. It can really help you tidy up your desk.

If you're coming from another monitor, you know the standard black, creaky plastic monitor with beefy bezels, the studio display looks incredible next to it.

What I don't like about the Studio Display

  • It really should come with the height and tilt adjustable stand as standard. This is just a cash grab from Apple and it's really shameful that they always do this.
  • The Bezels are a little on the chunky side, but it's not really a big deal, The monitor looks so good that you quickly forget about them.
  • It's very expensive. A refurbished model is a must, if you can find them in stock!

My Price Justification

As I've mentioned above, the Studio Display is mega expensive, however I tried to look at it from a different perspective. I spend a good part of 8 hours a day looking at my screen. Do I want to be looking at a 24" 1080p screen, a 27" 1440p screen on a 27" 5k screen?

Do I want less eye strain, more brightness and razor sharp text? The answer is of course I do! People like to make the same example with sleep and those really expensive mattresses (I don't have one by the way!) and this was my justification.

I'd recommend picking up a refurbished version if they are in stock.

The base models go for £1,269 and $1,359 which is about £230 / $240 saving. I'm one of those people who likes to do lots of research before I buy something expensive and I always sleep on it before I buy something to see if I still feel the same way in the morning. I did have some apprehension making the purchase but once I had it plugged in and fired up I knew I had made the right decision.

I'd happily keep this monitor on my desk for many years to come.

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