Ever since the Mac Pro was released in December, we’ve faced an onslaught of 4k displays. We reviewed Seiki’s budget offering last year, and while we liked it overall, it did have more than its fair share of set backs. For instance, you could only use the full 4k resolution at 30Hz, which meant that there would be noticeable lag when using the display as a monitor. Despite the low refresh rate, the display was still a great deal at its then $450 price point (now down to $390) and truly got us excited for the potential of 4k. At CES this year, we also saw a variety of 4k displays, some of which were priced for budget-minded customers, and some of which were high-end. Noticeably missing from CES, however, was Apple’s frenemy supplier/competitor Samsung.

Samsung, at the end of May, unveiled its take on an affordable 4k display. Samsung’s U28D590D is a 28-inch 4k monitor that supports full 4k resolution at 60Hz via a DisplayPort 1.2 connection. There are also two HDMI ports, but they’ll only do 4k at 30Hz, like the Seiki. The big selling point of the Samsung monitor, aside from doing 4k at 60Hz, is that it costs just $646 on Amazon. This puts it far below any currently available 4k monitor with 60Hz capabilities. I purchased the Samsung U28D590D on Amazon while it was priced at $666 and have been using it as my primary display for the past week. How does it compare to the Seiki? Is 4k all it’s hyped up to be? Let’s discuss.

Let me preface this review by saying that I’m using the monitor in conjunction with the Hackintosh that I built back in December. You can read about that in detail here, but I’ll summarize. It’s got an Intel Core i7-4770k processor clocked at 3.5GHz, paired with an EVGA GeForce GTX760 graphics card and 16GB of RAM. Needless to say, I expected this thing to be able to run 4k at 60Hz without any hiccups whatsoever. I initially built the Hackintosh in hope of using it with the Seiki 4k display, but its limitations quickly showed that it wasn’t meant to be used day-to-day as a monitor, so it’s now a bedroom TV.


The design of the Samsung U28D590D looks like it’s high-quality and premium, but unfortunately, once you take it out of the box, it’s pretty apparent that it’s not. Much like all of Samsung’s devices, the entire monitor is made of plastic. The stand is made to appear like it’s made of metal or aluminum, and while it looks nice, it’s still cheap plastic. The back has the same finish to it as the stand, but is still plastic. As far as sturdiness goes, the monitor definitely won’t win any awards. A soft tap on the stand or screen causes the it to shake quite a bit, which is unsettling to say the least. There’s also no ability to adjust the angle or height of the display. While that’s not a huge deal, it would have been a nice addition. Overall, the design of the U28D590D is nothing to get too excited about and is certainly on the cheap side of things, but that’s just Samsung’s nature. From afar, the U28D590D looks like a high-end, premium display, but in reality, it’s cheaply made.

One annoyance is that Samsung failed to add any sort of VESA mounting capabilities to the monitor, meaning that you’re stuck using it with the original stand. There’s no ability to mount it or use a third-party base. This wouldn’t be a big deal if Samsung’s base was sturdy, but it’s not. The screen itself is half glossy and half matte. It’s more reflective than your average matte display, but nowhere near as reflective and glossy as an Apple Thunderbolt display.

In terms of ports, you won’t find many. On the back of the display itself is a DisplayPort 1.2 port and 2 HDMI 1.4 ports. As I mentioned before, however, you’ll only get 60Hz 4k out of the DisplayPort connection, not HDMI. The HDMI 1.4 spec doesn’t support 60Hz, which was the issue with the Seiki, as well. This means, however, that if you are using a recent Macbook Pro with Retina or the latest Mac Pro, you will need to buy a mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort 1.2 converter, such as this one for $14 on Amazon.

The menu system on the U28D590D is actually somewhat easy to navigate through. On the back of the display is a knob that you can push once to bring up the menu. From there, you can use the knob like a joystick almost to navigate through the menus and settings.

With Mac OS X 10.9.3, Apple made some huge, much-needed improvements to how the operating system handles 4k monitors. As we initially reported on back in March, OS X 10.9.3 allows for users with 4k monitors to adjust their resolution, much like on a Retina Macbook Pro, to create a pixel-doubled resolution. With the Samsung U28D590D, there are five screen resolution settings in the System Preferences to choose from. The lowest is 1504 x 846, which of course gives you the largest text, but makes everything hilariously large. The next highest setting is 1920×1080 which still has relatively large text and is far more realistic to use than the 1504 x 846 option.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 12.53.51 PM

The middle setting is 2560 x 1440. In my usage, this option offered an increased amount of space to work but still had easy to read text. The next setting comes in at 3008 x 1692 and is still easy to use, presuming you have good eyesight. This is the setting I found myself using more often than not. The smaller text takes some getting used to, but the added space is well worth it. Finally, the highest resolution the U28D590D supports is 3840 x 2160. The text on this setting was incredibly small and when I tried using it for an extended period of time, I quickly got tired of having to squint to read text. The added space, however, was amazing.

As I expected, my custom built Hackintosh was easily able to power the Samsung U28D590D, in addition to another 1080p Acer display, without any hiccups whatsoever. All animations in OS X were as smooth as you’d expect them to be. Scrolling through webpages, even at 3840 x 2160, was smooth, as well.

As far as actual display quality goes, I had few qualms with the U28D590D. One area in which Samsung was able to keep the cost of this display down was the technology it used. The U28D590D uses a TN panel, which is considered inferior to the IGZO panels used on other 4k displays, such as the ASUS PQ321Q. The ASUS monitor, however, is currently going for $2400. I haven’t personally used one of the higher end ASUS or Sharp 4k displays, but in my research and time with the Samsung U28D590D, I’m pretty confident that, for me personally, there’s no reason to shell out another $1,800 for the higher end panels.

Of course, there are some issues with the TN panel over an IGZO or IPS display. For one, viewing angles will be considerably worse with a TN panel, but if you’re sitting in a desktop environment, rarely moving the display, this shouldn’t be a big issue at all. By no means am I an expert in terms of display technology and quality, but in my opinion, color reproduction with the display was fantastic and no worse than any IPS display I’ve used. The 1ms response time also means that gaming will be relatively smooth.

Wrapping up

The Samsung U28D590D is a phenomenal monitor, especially for the price. 4k is the future of display technology, and Samsung being able to launch a 60Hz 4k monitor for $680 is incredibly impressive. The 4k Seiki display got us excited for 4k and its potential, but the limited refresh rate meant that using it as an actual monitor was unlikely. Although the Samsung is a bit more pricey than the Seiki, and of course smaller, the extra money for 60Hz is well worth it.

Having come from a 27-inch 1080p Acer display, I can safely say that once you go to a 4k monitor, it’s nearly impossible to back to anything of lower resolution. Sure, it would have been nice for Samsung to use an IGZO panel for the U28D590D, but it had to keep the price down somehow. There are also rumors that Apple is planning both a 4k Thunderbolt display and Retina iMacs. It’s hard to say how they will compare to the Samsung U28D590D, but they will without a doubt cost more.

The Samsung U28D590D is available on Amazon for $646.

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46 Responses to “Review: Samsung’s U28D590D 28-inch 4k monitor finally brings quality 4k at an affordable price”

  1. TN Panel = Nope, nope, nope.

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  2. PMZanetti says:

    Would be nice if there was a Mac mini that could plug into one of these. What a disgrace Apple. Get with the program.

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    • Yunhua Ji says:

      I don’t think Apple will compromise on low quality products. This display is still not officially supported by Apple, that’s why the author feel it unusable at full resolution. No retina optimization.

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      • There is Retina optimization. Just like on a Retina Macbook Pro, there are settings to adjust the resolution. The “pixel doubled Retina” setting is there.

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    • rafalb177 says:

      I’d still prefer the Mac mini as it is rather than cheap half-ass solution form Samsung.

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    • It’s not Apple’s fault. It’s Intel’s since they provide the integrated graphics chipset driving the display. If you want a discrete graphics card, then buy a Mac with a discrete graphics card.

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  3. Yunhua Ji says:

    Pay more & get more. Pretty fair.

    Apple will definitely pursue for quality instead of cost.

    I still strongly doubt whether Hackintosh can make full use of your hardware.

    In addition, though it is true that software is the core of Apple products, the experience is that fancy only when paired with Apple’s hardware. The improvement in everyday experience worth way more the price difference of hardware, not to say the additional pleasure with Apple’s industry design.

    Going retina is an irreversible progress. Once you tried, you get addicted.

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  4. Andrew Gould says:

    I purchased one of these but the menu is all in Korean? Or maybe Japanese? Did yours arrive like this? If so, any clues as to where the language setting is to switch it to English?

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  5. I have the same display connected to rMBP (late 2013 with nvidia GT750M) and use the app “Display Menu” to enable all possible resolutions. The rMBP can drive the internal screen in retina resolution at the same time.

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  6. 1. It’s Samsung, so I’ll never use it. No Samsung products allowed in this house.
    2. The price is hitting the floor, it’s no wonder there aren’t more 4K displays around, there’s simply no room for margin anymore. You can bet this is why Apple hasn’t released anything, as I know they were prototyping their own 4 to 5 years ago already.

    The last time I used a 4K display it was IBM’s T221, the first display to support 3840×2400. We were driving it at about 15Hz at the time, and there was no support in the OS to resize anything but icons and a few bits of Finder’s text. This was over 10 years ago. The first time I used that display was 2002. In those few years the price dropped on that model from over $30000 (yes 30 THOUSAND US dollars) to just under $25000. It’s amazing how low priced this resolution is today, but such a shame it’s taken this long to get even minimal OS support for high resolutions.

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    • You’re really narrow-minded. So what its a Samsung. You do realize Samsung supply displays for Apple’s Macbook Pros w/Retina Display. I have a Samsung in my MID 2012 RMBP. Its fantastic. Apple does not manufacturer displays. It specs them to other companies like Samsung and LG.

      As to the price hitting the floor. Supply, demand and competition drive prices. LED TVs started high now they are reasonably priced. You should not make the mistake associating price with quality.

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      • I’m with you on Samsung. Put your money where your mouth is and don’t support corrupt companies: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/tax-evasion-bribery-and-pricefixing-how-samsung-became-the-giant-that-ate-korea-8510588.html

        Anyway, on to more important things. The 4K monitor that everyone seems to overlook is the Dell UP2414Q. It’s usually on sale for $850 (but bounced around to as much $950). I find it more interesting, as at the smaller size, it’s actually far closer to “Retina” than the 28″ Samsung. It’s 184dpi, vs the Samsung at 157 (vs 220 dpi on the RMBP). Supports 60Hz over DisplayPort like the rest and covers 99% of AdobeRGB to boot. Only had a few minutes with it, but it looked great.

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      • Apple can use the suppliers they wish for their contracts – I have in the past also selected Apple models based on component suppliers – yes I can find out what’s in any specific sky ahead of time. I don’t allow Samsung because I’m educated and open minded, not because I’m narrow minded. I’ve worked in a number of levels of tech for 20 years, including for a supplier to Apple, where I worked very closely with Apple engineering and test teams regularly.

        When you say “LED TV” you actually mean LCD TV, because there’s no “TV” outside a stadium large-format screen that uses LEDs to produce a picture. The TVs are all LCD through and through, using only LEDs for back light. And Samsungs while having a nice plastic or metal frame are all fall short in picture quality to my eyes. You can buy better for cheaper elsewhere, with far better LED backlighting as well, including local dimming support.

        Anyway, Samsung are a wretched company and I choose not to give them any of my money. One of the reasons I also try as hard as possible not to use anything from Google besides search (for the time being).

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      • thejuanald says:

        I fully support your choice to not want Samsung in your house, but please tell me where you’ll find a better LED backlit tv for cheaper. I think your bias is showing there. My 60″ UN60F7100 from Samsung blows anything in that price point or below out of the water.

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    • frankman91 says:

      Agreed with Greg…why no Samsung?

      I have all Samsung TV’s in my house except for the Sony in my living room and they are AMAZING tv’s; to the point that I secretly hope my Sony kicks the bucket. They are also paired with Samsung BR players, no issues with any of it. As far as i’m concerned they make great stuff.

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    • andreww500 says:

      I completely agree with you. I hate the way Samsung operates and treats their customers so I refuse to buy any of their products… Not that they make any that I actually want, but still…

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      • Samsung makes parts for a ton of Apple products. So, like it or not, you’re still giving Samsung your business.

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      • Frank Tank says:

        Apple also buys Samsung memory chips for many Apple products. So andreww500, to keep true to your pledge of not buying Samsung products? Are you going to actually do something and force Apple to not buy Samsung products?

        Like

  7. Can this monitor run in portrait mode at 60 Hz full 4K resolution? I have the Dell UP2414Q and I could only get 60 Hz 4K working in landscape. The Dell uses MST. I think this Samsung does 60 Hz with SST. Wonder if that will make a difference in the ability for OS X to do rotation.

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    • reinhrst says:

      The monitor cannot be put in portrait mode, unless you build your own mounting solution.

      On OSX I can rotate the picture just fine, but that is on HDMI 30Hz. My MBP13″ doesn’t support MST.

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  8. It’s unconscionable that they would fail to provide four screw holes on the back to accommodate a standard VESA mount, especially since as you say it has a flimsy stand that cannot be adjusted. How much cost would it add to include an internal metal mounting bracket for four screws?

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  9. scumbolt2014 says:

    Just another “get-it-out-first-fast” plastic piece of Scamscum shit. No wonder LeBron uses there phones, they both suck.

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  10. If I connect this display to 2013 Macbook Air, what do I get at best?

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  11. telecastle says:

    A little revelation – aluminum IS metal.

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  12. Hm, you hint at a frustrating point about resolution. I had imagined using a 4K display in pixel-doubled mode like a MacBook Retina, but at 3840/2=1620, the GUI would be massive (but images would be native and look amazing) on a 27-inch display, which is why you scale to 3008x, correct?

    Thats kind of a bummer to not be able to use native resolution.

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    • It’s actually not too bad. The native resolution of the RMBP is really too low to use pixel doubled as well – I use it at the 1920 effective mode. At these high dpi’s, it’s very forgiving. And remember, this isn’t like the old non-native modes that looked terrible on and old LCD. These are still using the native resolution of the panel, it’s the OS that’s scaling everything.

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  13. Bob Forsberg says:

    I would encourage the owners of this site to redirect politically based comments to the round file and continue the good work of evaluating product.

    Like

  14. jackg1012 says:

    I have a 15-inch Retina Macbook Pro (2012, the first Retina MPB). Will this be able to power the display at full resolution and good refresh rates?

    Like

  15. friedmud1 says:

    “By no means am I an expert in terms of display technology and quality”

    That quote says it all. This is the most IRRESPONSIBLE product review I have ever read! That’s right: this review is actually _dangerous_!

    My credentials:
    – I have _2_ of these Samsung U28D590D monitors.
    – I have one ASUS PQ321Q 4k monitor
    – I have one Sharp PNK321 4k monitor
    – I have 6 brand new mac pros and 6 previous gen mac pros and more than one of every generation macbook pro for the last 6 years.

    I have hooked these monitors to all of the above.

    The Samsung monitors are HORRIFIC. Firstly: THEY DO NOT WORK PROPERLY WITH THE NEW MAC PROS AT 60HZ!!!!! A good description is here: http://www.tekrevue.com/os-x-10-9-3-4k-displays/ or on the apple forums: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6080897?tstart=0

    I cannot believe that you didn’t even test this! You hooked it up to your damn hackintosh (what are you even doing writing a review on a mac site with a hackintosh! Get out of here!) and called it good. Ridiculous!

    Even if it did work with the new Mac Pros it would still be awful. The viewing angle is terrible. I knew that it would be going in… but I wasn’t prepared for just how terrible it is _vertically_. You have to look at the monitor from _below_ in order to get any good color out of it! This is exactly wrong for ergonomics… where you should have your monitors position a bit below your eyeline to reduce stress on your neck. If it were just off angle viewing I wouldn’t care quite so much… but with the vertical being so terrible it’s unacceptable.

    Even if the viewing angle wasn’t terrible the monitor would still be awful. The materials are TERRIBLE. If I barely touch my desk it sends these monitors wobbling on their terrible little stand. The stand barely has any adjustment to it either. Further, these screens show up in Korean mode (both of mine, which I bought at two different times came in Korean). The On Screen menu is terrible as well.

    The ASUS and Sharp (which are the same monitor with different logos BTW) are both beautiful with high quality materials. They are REAL monitors. This Samsung is a toy. They are also expensive. If you can’t afford the ASUS or Sharp… then keep waiting until next year.

    Bottom line: This “review” should be pulled. It is crazy wrong in every way… and might even lead to a lot of people with the new Mac Pro buying these only to get a screwed up image at 60hz.

    If anyone would like to contact me to ask me more about any of this hardware just reply…

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    • LOL! This monitor doesn’t work with a mac pro??? Ho! Ho! What’s the point then? I agree about the Hackintosh… that’s not a mac, it just plays one on tv… get out of here, hahahaha…

      How about a list of what it does work on?

      Plus that’s the oddest review I’ve read in awhile; blasting the product on how cheap and crappy it looks and then farther down saying it looks pretty good and you wouldn’t switch back.

      Surprised Samsung put out such a piece of junk….

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      • A Hackintosh is actually illegal according to Apple’s EULA on its OS. To use one or encourage others to use one is, shall we say, unethical. But separate from that, I’m extremely disappointed with this website that it would publish a review of a product that I might very well have purchased. Thank you to friedmud1 for setting me straight and avoiding a $650×2 = $1300 mistake.

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  16. friedmud1 says:

    A little more: I am actually currently using these 4k Samsung monitors every day with both of them hooked up to a previous gen 12-core Mac Pro with an Nvidia Quadro K5000 video card. That card runs these two monitors well. (well, it runs them as well as they can be run).

    They replaced the 3×30″ Dell monitor setup I was using on that machine. I actually wish I hadn’t bought these (the old monitors are currently in use by interns… I will get them back at the end of the summer… which is when I will dump these 4k monitors).

    The ASUS 4k is currently hooked up to a huge Linux box with a Quadro K6000 in it. That box is used for scientific visualization… and that setup works WONDERFULLY.

    The Sharp 4k I am using on my new Mac Pro by itself. That’s a really awesome setup. I use it at its native resolution (which is a bit small, but since I use only a single monitor on that machine I can move the monitor really close to me). This gives me a TON of space for code I write (I can get 4 Emacs panes side-by-side on it… awesome).

    Like

  17. How does the PPI compare to a retina MacBook Pro is the most important think. Does it feel like 4K is retina? That’s what I want to know.

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    • friedmud1 says:

      It isn’t as nice as a 15″ Retina MacBook pro. Not quite enough PPI. If you use it at the half-resolution HighDPI setting it does look good (text is pretty smooth at normal viewing distances)… but you only get ~1080P type of screen real estate… which is simply not enough. I run my two Sammys at one of the fairly small interpolated resolutions… which does look a bit smoother than my old 30″ 2560×1600 monitors… but not by much.

      Like

  18. The ASUS PB287Q uses an identical panel, has a tilt/swivel/whatever base and standard VESA mount for $650 at Newegg.

    It was just released this week.

    HTH

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  19. $666? Does Sammy secretly work for the devil?

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  20. Who really cares if it is illegal to use OSX on a hackintosh. Its not like they made any of the hardware in the device. One intel chip is the same as the next intel chip. If you purchased the software you should be able to use it on what you feel like. Don’t get me wrong I love apple products but sometimes they need to get over themselves. It’s their OS not their hardware that truly makes them different from the next guys.

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  21. I purchased one of these monitors to use with my late 2013 rMBP with the nVidia 750m in late May. A few things I have to say about it after using it every day for the past 3 weeks:

    The 4k image itself is stunning, TN panel or not. I run in the “looks like 2650×1440″ setting on my Mac and It is every bit as sharp as my retina MacBook Pro. I run it in full resolution in windows via bootcamp and scale the OS to 150% so everything stays sharp but is still useable without eye strain.

    You NEED a device with a displayport 1.2 spec because it uses MST to run as full 3840×2160 at 60z. You can run at full res over hdmi but only at 30z and that sucks. You do not need a special mini displayport to displayport cable however, any one will do. When I connect older MacBooks using using displayport they will only recognize the monitor at 2650×1440 native like a Thunderbolt Display.

    The stand sucks and is flimsy, but how often do you touch or move your monitor? I plan on making a DIY adapter that will attach where the stand does and connect to the VESA mount currently sitting idle behind my monitor.

    For the price, good (not exceptional) quality, screen real estate and fantastic picture quality, you really can’t beat it. Wait for when amazon has these at $600 w/ free shipping and you won’t regret it. A reccomended buy for anyone who wants a larger hi-res monitor and has the spec to get it running at 4k.

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  22. Somewhat misleading article. If you have the new Mac Pro, do not buy this 28″ Samsung. You will not get a 4K image, ever. Apple has written it will not support iit. I know, I have bought one. It is total crap!

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  23. got one of these. it’s good for work because i get plenty of screen real estate. only problem i have is it takes a a few seconds for images to appear on screen at startup. this isn’t so good if you have a dual-boot menu at the start. when images finally appears, it is already the login screen of the default os.

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  24. Even though Apple’s release of 10.9.3 solved many display problems, if you look carefully, you will notice that 4K on the Samsung monitor has horizontal streaks which frequently show up. Samsung says they will eventually release a driver for Macs that will solve this. Apple is doing nothing to address it, as they say it is up to the maker of the monitors to make them compatible.

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  25. I just got this monitor. And it is great for the price you’re paying for it. One caveat, with a dual display setup – one Apple Thunderbolt display and this – one of them will not work (display is blank, mac refuses to recognize the monitor). I tried plugging in the monitors in various sequences and the second monitor to be plugged in refused to work. When the Thunderbolt display was the second to be plugged in, the USB ports on the display continued to function while the display remained blank. With an HDMI as a hook up – the dual display does work @4k. I’m pretty sure this is a Mac bug – but I didn’t have the fortitude or the time to dig in why it was happening.

    Like