We voted the LG 27MD5KL-B 5K UltraFine 27″ monitor as one of the best external monitors for many different Macs and in this LG 27 inch 5K monitor review, we look at what makes this LCD monitor such a great option for Mac users.
LG monitors are some of the best displays you can get for Macs and Apple even helped LG develop the UltraFine display as it contains a very similar panel to the 27 inch 5K iMac display.
In fact Apple used to sell the LG 5K 27MD5KL-B UltraFine 27 inch monitor on its website until the release of it’s own impressive Apple Studio Display.
Now only the smaller 4K 27 inch LG 24MDKL-B is the only non-Apple display sold on the Apple website (pictured below) although it’s not as good as the 5K UltraFine 27 inch model we reviewed here.
In this LG 27MD5KL-B review, we take a closer look at why it’s a great choice for Mac users.
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LG 5K 27 Inch Monitor Overview
It’s also a lot cheaper than Apple’s two main displays.
The Apple Studio Display costs $1,599 and Apple Pro XDR Display $4,999 and not everyone has that kind of budget to spend.
The LG 5K 27 Inch display is marketed as “For Apple Macs” although the fact is pretty much any LG monitor will work with a Mac.
However, if you need the highest possible resolution outside of Apple displays, the superb LG UltraFine 34 inch offers stunning 5K resolution at 218 pixels per inch (ppi).
This is the same PPI as both the Apple Studio Display and Apple Pro XDR Display and even more than the stunning 5K LG 34 inchLG 34BK95U-W UltraFine display which supports a mere 163 ppi.
So in terms of pixel resolution compared with Apple displays, you can’t get much closer than the LG 5K 27 inch 27MD5KL-B UltraFine.
However, due to limitations in macOS that make everything look extremely small at 5K on a non Apple external display, it’s advisable to use a scaled resolution which we go into in more detail later on.
LG 5K 27 Inch Monitor Specifications
The LG 27MD5KL-B UltraFine 27” specifications are as follows:
- 5K UHD 5120 x 2880 resolution with 16:9 aspect ratio
- 27 Inch Wide-screen flat-panel IPS monitor
- LG 27MD5KL-B Comes with Built-in camera and speaker
- 60Hz refresh rate
- 178° horizontal and vertical viewing angles
- Support for 218 ppi resolution
One of the first things that hits you with the LG UltraFine 27 inch is the incredible depth of color on the screen.
This is due to the incredibly high 218 pixel per inch (PPI) resolution of the LG UltraFine 27 inch.
In fact, it’s the only external monitor we’ve found which has the same stunning PPI as the Apple Studio Display, Apple Pro XDR Display and the M1 MacBook Pro retina display.
This makes the 5K LG 27 Inch an ideal choice for using graphic design software such is the razor sharp level of detail at 218 ppi.
This is even higher than the excellent 5K LG 34 inchLG 34BK95U-W UltraFine display which only supports 163 ppi although this is still pretty high in itself for a non Apple external monitor.
This depth of color combined with 5K resolution means you get a 50% bigger pixel count compared to a 4K monitor like the smaller 27 inch 4K LG 24MDKL-B.
However, unlike the 34 inch 5K LG display, the 27 inch 5K does not support High dynamic range (HDR) which helps makes bright and dark parts of an image incredibly intense and contrasted.
This means the LG 5K 27 inch is not VESA Certified to HDR 600 for peak luminance of 600 nits so if HDR and luminance are important factors for you, you may be better going with the LG 5K 34 inch IPS LED display instead.
The IPS technology in the 27 inch 5K LG UltraFine does however control colors amazingly well with 98% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space which is the industry standard for the film industry making it a great external monitor for video editing on any Mac.
You can test the screen’s ability to display P3 wide color on WebKit to try this out.
It supports 1.07 billion colors and the Nanometer-sized particles on the screen’s LED is designed to absorbs excess light for richer color expression.
The 27 inch screen is generous and as big as the 27 inch iMac to provide plenty of space for multi-tasking, especially at full 5K.
However for video editing on a Mac, you may be better with the 5K LG 34 inch screen as the bigger screen estate allows video editors to have video assets open on a 5:9 area while also editing or watching a 16:9 4K video on the same screen.
The monitor’s 5K2K 21:9 display supports full 5K UHD 5120 x 2880 resolution which as mentioned, is ideal for video editing and graphic design on a Mac although for text editing this can make the text look rather small and you might need to scale down the resolution to prevent squinting.
In terms of positioning, you can change the tilt of the stand 15 degrees forward and -5 degrees backwards and height up to 110mm on the aluminum stand that comes with the lg 5k 27 inch ultrafine.
There’s a little bit of wiggle room to tilt left and right but if you need swivel though, you’ll have to add a VESA stand mount connection (the monitor is 100 x 100 VESA compatible).
The build quality on the LG UltraFine 27 inch 5K is sufficient but uses plastic throughout (except the foot of the stand) which means it does feel a bit “wobbly” on the stand if nudged or bumped.
LG 5K 27 Inch Mac Integration
One thing we really like with the 27 inch 5K LG UltraFine is that you can also control the volume and brightness from your Mac’s keyboard.
This is something that not all monitors allow as usually you have to adjust them on the monitor itself proving again that integration with Macs has been taken that bit more seriously in the LG 5K 27 inch 27MD5KL-B UltraFine monitor.
Another really useful touch is the integration of a webcam and speakers in the LG 5K 27 inch monitor.
While some monitors have speakers, most come without a webcam and you can’t use your Mac’s iSight camera with an external monitor.
So the inclusion of an integrated webcam makes team meetings, chatting with friends on FaceTime or even gaming sessions much easier.
On the downside, the 1920 x 1080 resolution quality on the LG 5K 27 inch 27MD5KL-B UltraFine webcam isn’t brilliant although you could also try using a digital camera as a webcam instead.
LG 27 Inch 5K Monitor Connectivity
In terms of ports, there’s a dedicated Thunderbolt 3 port (with 2 meter Thunderbolt cable included) which provides 85W of charging power to a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.
There are also an additional 3 USB-C ports which are ideal for connecting an external hard drive.
Note that you cannot connect the LG 27MD5KL-B via HDMI 2.0 (which only supports up to 4K anyway) or DisplayPort (which does support 5K) although this is no big drawback as we strongly recommend connecting via Thunderbolt 3 which offers several advantages.
HDMI 2.0 does not have the bandwidth to handle anything above 4K resolution and the results look terrible when connected to a Mac.
Thunderbolt 3 supports much higher bandwidth for resolution and means that you only need a single cable for video, audio, and data as well as MacBook Pro or MacBook Air battery charging up to 85W.
Thunderbolt 3 also supports 40 Gb/s data transfers for high-bandwidth video and either a 4K signal to two different screens or 5K/60 fps to a single screen.
Note that the base model M1 and M2 chip Macs can only support one external monitor even if you have more than one Thunderbolt port although there are workarounds to connect more than one monitor to M1/M2 Macs.
Gaming On The LG 27 Inch 5K Monitor
The refresh rate of the LG 27MD5KL-B UltraFine is 60Hz which isn’t ideal for gaming or having to edit fast moving video editing or ProMotion footage on.
Although there is an integrated webcam for chatting when gaming in the 5K LG UltraFine 27 the quality also isn’t great and you may want to consider either buying an external webcam or using a digital camera as a webcam instead.
Note that we don’t recommend using the LG 27 Inch 5K with an eGPU on an Intel Mac.
Users have reported many issues with the monitor when connected via eGPU although some have also managed to get it working well too.
This is not an issue for Apple Silicon M1 or M2 Mac users as eGPUs don’t work with M1/M2 Macs anyway.
LG 5K 27 Inch UltraFine vs Apple Studio Display
Many users choose the LG 5K 27 Inch UltraFine as a cheaper alternative to the Apple Studio Display.
However, although the Apple Studio Display is more expensive, it does have some advantages over the 5K LG UltraFine 27 inch display:
- The Apple Studio Display supports 600 nits of brightness vs 500 nits in the LG UltraFine
- The Apple Studio Display has a Quality Aluminum casing vs plastic casing in the LG UltraFine
- The Apple Studio Display has a high quality six speaker system vs two in the LG UltraFine
- The Apple Studio Display supports True Tone which the LG UltraFine does not
- The Apple Studio Display USB-C ports are the fastest 3.1 Gen 2 vs the slower USB 3.0 in the LG UltraFine
- The Apple Studio Display features a 12 megapixel ultra-wide camera with support for Center Stage compared to a 1080p webcam in the LG UltraFine 5K 27 inch model.
- The Apple Studio has a professional studio quality three microphone array vs one in the LG UltraFine
However, neither the Apple Studio Display or the 5K LG UltraFine 27 inch support ProMotion or have mini-LED backlighting although it’s rumored these will be added to the Apple Studio Display in 2023.
LG 5K Scaling Issues On Macs
The big problem Mac users have with 5K external displays others than the Apple Studio Display and Apple Pro XDR display are scaling issues.
In full 5K, the monitor is great for video editing software like Final Cut Pro X with long timelines but not so good for reading text, word processing or desktop publishing as it minimizes the size of everything.
When using non Apple 5K displays such as the LG UltraFine 27 inch 5K, Mac users find that they can hardly read the tiny text when the monitor is using 5K resolution on a Mac due to technical limitations in macOS.
To prevent this, make sure that in the Display settings in macOS, that the “Default for Display” setting is selected.
This will automatically select the best possible setting to use the LG UltraFine 27 inch 5K with a Mac although it may only be half of the monitors full resolution.
However, you can also change the resolution manually yourself and force it to use 5K by going into System Preferences > Displays and then hold down the Option key and click on Scaled.
You can then change the setting to full 5120 x 2880 5K although you will find that everything appears extremely small on your screen.
It’s therefore better to use a scaled resolution such as 3200×1800 or 2880×1620 which still provide a very clear and sharp picture and make it much easier to read text.
You can also use an app such as Display Menu ($1.99) to make this easier or there is also free open source software which allows you to customize scaling on macOS.
You can read more on how to fix 5K display scaling on issues on a Mac here.
LG 27 Inch 5K Monitor Drawbacks
Some users have reported problems with the LG 5K 27 inch 27MD5KL-B UltraFine monitor not reactivating after their Mac has gone to sleep.
This seems to be because that in some cases, the monitor does not save the settings and keeps resetting itself on waking-up.
However, this seems to be a random issue that affects a small number of users and may have been fixed in Apple updates to macOS.
As already mentioned, the fact that at full 5K, everything looks small on the LG 27MD5KL-B is also a bit frustrating but this is the case with all non Apple 5K monitors on a Mac and simply requires scaling the resolution lower.
The plastic built quality on the LG 27 Inch 5K feels a bit flimsy for a monitor in this price range although it’s very common now in many big brand external displays.
Finally, the 27 inch LG 27MD5KL-B only comes with a one year LG guarantee compared to 3 years with the 34 inch 5K LG34BK95U-W UltraFine.
The reason for this is simply that the 34 inch model comes from the business division of LG while the 27 inch is from the commercial division which provide shorter guarantees.